Softball Bat #1: New Tool Skills

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Blog entry by cheller posted 10-08-2007 02:19 AM 3676 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Softball Bat series Part 2: The Bats are Done »

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.
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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.
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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.

Here are a couple more pictures of the almost completed bats:
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The first bat is in the middle, the second on the right, the bat on the left is the aluminum bat from which the dimensions were taken.

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The knob of bat number 2.

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

2 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4428 days

#1 posted 10-08-2007 02:25 AM

Great set of pictures. Keep us informed.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#2 posted 10-09-2007 04:47 PM

this is wonderful !!!
(I’ll be sure to show this to Rick so he can made one from our free wood we got)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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