Here's how skilled craftsmen make cricket bats by hand

Take a look at the intricate process of turning chunks of wood into refined cricket bats.

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If, like Bob Marley, you don't like cricket but love it, then you might have always wondered how cricket bats are actually made. From wood, sure, but how exactly is that wood given the characteristic shape of a cricket bat? 

Let's watch some skilled craftsman do just that, shall we? 

making cricket bats complete
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Step 1: Make the basic bat shape

The first step is to take the source wood and prepare it ready to turn into a cricket bat. While different woods can be used, the most common is typically willow.

Once the planks of wood have been selected, they are then trimmed down using a bandsaw. With that done, the bottom end of the plank is given a rough curved shape and an elongated v-shape is cut into the top of the bat to fit the handle.

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making a cricket bat v shape
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The V-shape is cut into the wood using a specially designed rack and circular saw. This allows the wood to be held at a set angle to the blade to ensure consistency in the V-shaped cut. 

Next, the handle is made from a thinner length of wood and either cut into shape or turned into something like a lathe to give it a cylindrical shape. Like the main body of the bat, the handle is also cut using the same machine to create the matching V-shape at the end. 

With the handle ready, it is then glued into place into the matching recess in the bat and left to cure. 

make a cricket bat back
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Once the glue is cured, the bat is then returned to a band saw to cut the characteristic rear profile of the cricket band by hand. Small slithers or wood are gradually removed to achieve this. 

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The bat is gradually whittled down to size in a similar fashion by gradually cutting away thin slivers of wood. For this producer, this is all judged by eye and takes many years to master. 

Step 2: Shaping the bats

With the basic shape of the bat now complete, the next step is to give the bat its characteristic thickened shape. This is also done by hand using a routing machine. 

The bat is passed over the cutting edge and small amounts of wood are progressively removed to leave the front flat, and the rear bulkier and more angled towards the bottom. 

Template pieces of wood are also used to check that the dimensions are standard. 

making a cricket bat routing
Source: Newsflare

Other specialized machines are also used to curve the top of the bat towards the handle. 

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Step 3: Refine the shape

With the basic shape of the bat now pretty much complete, they are passed to another team of workers to refine the shape. This is, in this case, done by hand using hand planes. 

The process is slower but allows the craftsman to have more control over the process. 

making cricket bats hand plane
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Once done, the entire piece is then given a once-over using files to further refine the shape and remove any sharp edges or burrs. 

Other machines are then used to shape the rear of the bat with a set of grooves and other details specific to this brand of the cricket bat. The bottom of the bat is also given a slight curve outwards by slowly sanding and trimming off layers of wood. 

Once the bat's main shape is complete, it is passed through another series of machines to sand down and polish the piece. 

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make a cricket bat sand
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Step 4: Add the grip

With the main bat now complete, the next step is to add the main grip of the bat. This is also done by hand and requires the craftsman to tightly wrap some string around the main handle of the bat. 

This is glued into place. Once cured, a specially designed rubber grip is then added over the top, and heat shrunk into place.

Next, other decorative features are then added to the bat including front and rear decals. These are basically stickers that are carefully laid into place.

making cricket bats decals
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With that done, each bat is then heat shrink wrapped in plastic ready for delivery and sale to the lucky new owners. But, before that there is one final step - each bat is placed in its own specially designed bag too. 

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If you enjoyed this exploration into how cricket bats are made, you made enjoy watching some other craftsmen employing their trade. How about, for example, watching how real parchment is made from scratch? 

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