Thursday, 7 June 2012

Making the fighting weight.

For just a small moment we'll put aside the mallet from "Progress on the mallet amongst other things.", as a bat needed making. There was a whisper of anticipation in the air... my new drawknife awaiting its first helping of willow cleft for breakfast, the tools laid out across the bench, a cup of tea on the window sill and a skip in my step. Not in the workshop obviously, that would be showing a total disregard for Health and Safety. Not on my watch!

I'd like to repeat my words and say "Oh dear...". The workbench is on its last leg, literally. Every leg joint is showing signs of wear and only one looks like the repairs will hold for any decent length of time. I keep saying it I know, but I've got to build a new bench sooner or later...

Back to the cricket bat though. It was another request for a bat in the style of the Hunts County Edge, it's a popular shape it would seem. The cleft weighed 3lbs 10.1oz and I was looking to get it down to 2lbs 10oz to give myself a good chance of meeting the ceiling weight of 2.12. So with all that willow to be removed it was time to unleash the new drawknife on the cleft. The difference is significant but it has both positives and negatives at this point. Yes the cut is cleaner and it's faster at removing wood but it's difficult to control. We've gone back to the start almost in terms of technique, it's a new learning curve and a couple of times the cut was getting away from me...

We went just a little bit too deep, I quickly measured the edge to check what was left.
As you can see from the marks, we have a constant battle between Man and Drawknife.

It wasn't long before the hand plane got in on the action to clean things up.

I left the rough sawn timber again, I like to use it as a guide for shaping.

Starting to look almost like a cricket bat.
At this point, I think it's worth noting the difference in shape between the above photo and the one below.

I've mentioned a couple of times that each willow cleft is unique and making copies is always tough because you have to accommodate the qualities of the willow and not compromise the cleft by forcing it into a shape. I could get the ruler out and make as close a copy as is humanly possible but that wouldn't benefit the bat and therefore the customer. The dramatic difference in shape you see in the two pictures above not only represents the need to remove weight but more importantly the change in shape I've had to make to accommodate the willow cleft.

Rough sawn willow still there and some round bottom plane action had begun.
You can see the chatter marks my spokeshave is leaving, needs a sharpen and some tool TLC.

These marks are fantastic, they catch the light at different angles and give the wood character.

Like a veteren boxer, this bat came in exactly at weight once gripped and bound. You know you've made a decent bat when you can't suppress a big cheshire grin after giving it a gentle rap with a mallet. I can only hope the customer is as pleased as me, because I really enjoyed making this one.