Up until this summer I had never used a lathe, and that was okay. I’ve been able to do what I wanted without it. Then last spring the guys in the adult ed class I take, including the instructor, got interested in making baseball bats. I don’t know what started it but soon fully half the class was working on creating bats. At the time I was busy with other things.
I spent most of the summer session working on other projects, primarily an advent calendar for my nephew. With one more class left I realized that I had completed all the work I wanted to do in class on the advent calendar. So, I decided to join the club and make my own bat. Since I play softball, it would be a softball bat, not a baseball bat. (Primary difference between the two is the barrel diameter – softball bat barrels are narrower.
First step was to cut a couple of blanks from a slab of ash. I ended up with two blanks about 3 1/2 inches square and 36” long. The corners of the long edges were cut off at a 45 degree angle on the table saw leaving a hexagonal blank.
The center at one end was punched with an awl, and at the other end a saw was used to mark the X seen in the picture. After mounting the blank in the lathe The corners were knocked off using a gouge (I’m not so good with the precise names of the tools.) until the entire blank was a cylinder. Using an aluminum bat as a reference I measured out the transition points – the edges of the knob, the point where the handle angles into the barrel and the end of the barrel. Those were marked with a pencil then cut using a parting tool.
Then using a skew chisel, gouges and parting tool I brought the barrel down to final dimension (about 2 1/4”) and the taper into the handle was rouged out. This was the end of session #1 on bat number 1. The blank looked like this at that point.
Fast forward to last week, the first class of the fall session. I was able to finish the first bat through sanding. I was fairly please with the results although the knob is a little small. My instructor has recommended using a dog biscuit to burnish the bats, and he’s offered to provide it, but didn’t have it with him so I put the bat aside.
With the first bat finished I started in on the second bat. Class number one ended with the second blank ready for marking. On Thursday I was able to get the second bat to the same point as the first. I should be able to get them finished up next week.
I don’t know how much more turning I’ll do anytime soon. I do know that if I decide to do much more I’m also going to acquire my own tools. The tools available in class are just not sharp enough, and have been abused – broken handles, bent shafts, and the like.
It has been fun learning this new skill.
-- Chelle http://artsgranddaughter.blogspot.com