Picture of Turning a baseball bat
Making a baseball bat is fun. It's a relatively straightforward woodturning project. As little leaguers graduate from aluminum and composite bats, it's good for them to hone their skills with a classic wood bat.

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Step 1: Tools and supplies

Picture of Tools and supplies
The tools and supplies needed are

36" wood bat blank
wood lathe
turning tools
outside calipers
oil/varnish finish
fine Japanese saw 

Step 2: Choosing the wood

Picture of Choosing the wood
The first thing to do is to find a good blank of either hard maple or northern ash. The rough size should be approximately 3" round and 36" long. The straighter and tighter the grain, the less chance it will break when you use it. Material that's been graded for making bats is much better than what you find at the local hardwood store. You can find a number of good sources online.

If you can't find a round blank, you can start with a blank that's square in cross section. Then chamfer the long edges in order to make it octagonal in cross-section

The blank should be about 3" longer than the final length to allow for waste at both ends

Step 3: Marking the center

Picture of Marking the center
The next step is to mark the center of the cylinder on both sides. You can use a center finder, if you have one. If not, a good trick is to use a square to inscribe a right angle inside the circle. Draw a line where the legs of the square intersect the circumference. That line goes through the center. Do the same thing again after rotating the square 90 degrees and the intersection of those two lines is the center.

At the center, use an awl to make a hole that the centers will fit into.

i like it

Also I made it when I was 13
I made a bat on a wood lathe from 3 bits of wood glued together then plane the 4 sides got it all round then shaped the handle took me 3 months as I only worked on it for about 1 or 2 hour a week
HPandLOTR1 year ago

thats a nice job :)

carlbass (author) 1 year ago
Great question and suggestion. I usually work from the barrel down and even sand it as much as possible before moving on to the rest of the bat. I find controlling the whipping after turning down to the smallest diameter to be the most difficult so I try to do that last. I haven't made as many bats as you but I've made a few dozen.

As for the cupping, nowadays I cheat and do it on my CNC router. But before I used the CNC I did it with a handheld router. I built an adjustable fixture that allowed me to center the bat and align the long axis of the bat so it was parallel to the shaft of the bit. I just used some wedges to adjust and some toggle clamps to hold it. I then did some template routing with a straight bit to get rid of most of the waste and finished up with a cove bit. Next time I'm in the shop, I'll take a photo of the fixture and post it
bkbats1 year ago
I was forwarded a link to this site and your work because I'm trying to build a jig for my router to cup my bats. Your method was suggested.

Before I get to that, I would like to offer my suggestion from my experiences.

For me, I found it best to start with the knob first. Although I've made about 60-80 bats, I have no formal training in wood turning. The knob is the hardest part for me and most difficult to duplicate. As a result, it's where I have the greatest chance of making a mistake. I like to leave myself as much room as possible for errors.

If I start and complete the barrel and then make a mistake in the knob and handle, I can't make any adjustments.

With regards to your jig, how do you center the bat? Perhaps it's my lack of knowledge of carpentry, woodworking, etc., but how do you account for different diameters?

Is the router attached to anything? If so, how? Again, this could be my ignorance, but I'm very unclear about how you cup your bats.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide for me.
carlbass (author)  meganbillard2 years ago
They're fun to make. The only trick is controlling the whip because they get a little skinny in the middle
kmpres3 years ago
Excellent instructible! I've often longed to make a bat and even bought a lathe some 25 years ago but life intervened and I never got the chance to use it. You made turning a bat look easy so I think I might finally try my hand at it. Thanks!
affyx3 years ago
great instructable! much respect for anyone who masters the skew chisel!
how about one on making your steady rest?
carlbass (author)  affyx3 years ago
That's a good idea. I found it's easier to make the instructable while you're making it rather than after the fact. There are several commercially available steadys that work like that but I'm working on one that is circular since it will better enable me to position the wheels.
seamster3 years ago
I almost hate to ask this, but is your kid's team the "Gaters" or the "Gators"?
carlbass (author)  seamster3 years ago
It's the Gaters as in the Golden Gate not the animal -- that would have been a big screwup
Indeed that would have been a mighty screw up! I'm glad it wasn't.

Still, it reminded me of a painful mistake I made in wood shop in high school. I made an elaborate wooden sign that had a picture of a skull and crossbones that read "DANER: DO NOT ENTER!"

That was a screwup!
Or the Gaiters??? :-P

I bet it's a reference to the Golden Gate Bridge, somehow.
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Great project, thanks for sharing!
I've never heard of hollowing out the end of a bat before, does it improve performance, and is it just hollow or do you fill the cavity with something heavy to achieve more inertia?
carlbass (author)  mikeasaurus3 years ago
The theory is that it makes the end of the bat lighter> Hitting a ball of the end of the bat does no good and by having the bat be lighter out at the end of the barrel, you should be able to swing it faster. It's a job for mythbusters.

canida3 years ago
Nice! This makes me nostalgic for long-ago tours of the Louisville Slugger factory.
How many bats have you made?
carlbass (author)  canida3 years ago
I've made about two dozen bats -- a few with my kids and some for the kids on the teams I coach
valpone993 years ago
What is cooler than that! Nice work.
angelabchua3 years ago
What an awesome project to do with your son! That just makes the bat extra special when he goes knockin balls out of the park!
randofo3 years ago
Nicely done. That is a great-looking bat.