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Author Topic: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)  (Read 2721 times)

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JG

Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« on: January 22, 2023, 09:54:53 PM »

So, like most on the forum I thought Id share a short snippet of the journey Ive had in the realm of bat making and what Ive learnt and made so far.

For starters, it definitely hasnt been the easiest skill to pick up. Beginning with naff but cheap Ebay tools and wood from a trip to the Keeley workshop it took about 4 videos and between 2-3 hours of pretending to know what exact profile and measurements I wanted for my very first to begin. Obviously it was partially shaped from the factory so had some limitations to specs etc. but after 3 days of gently working away with tools and hand sanding it was done. Seemed pretty good to look at too



As time went on and a few people became interested in a bat or two I started upgrading equipment and began making connections with other people in the field, all of which have ever so kindly shared a wealth of knowledge along the way which had definitely helped! Especially a certain bat maker who told me I didnt need to go through 10+ sanding grades to get a high gloss finish to a bat. Muddling through has been a lot of fun as its got me (and the brand) to where it is today but doesnt mean that the learning journey is over by any means. Heres a couple of shapes to break up the lengthy text








Moving from a few botched scaffold boards into the parents garage then a standalone workshop brought about the challenges of business, which for a simple educator was a bit strange to deal with. Marketing the products, social media and being active and available added a new bit of fun into the mix and just generally trying to keep up becomes harder and harder. After the bats and all that came with the process of designing the stickers and profiles made just thinking about softs troublesome and nauseating! The badger inside called for all the bells and whistles but the purist wanted something simple, followed by who will make them and then the cost of it all- became a real bundle of joy to sit and work on NOT! Mounding orders, outgoings and ordering in willow became one of the many daily tasks, let alone keeping retailers happy(ish) with their margins. If Im honest, all of that probably dropped the quality of what I had been producing in order to just keep a tabs on it all and it just didnt feel right for me.

Everything, like the bats, is supposed to be in balance and Im sure that some of the bat makers on here may agree. When busy periods come about- life and work are most certainly not in any kind of balance. 7-6 day job then to the workshop until 2am the following morning was totally unsustainable. It called for a change, downsizing and returning to the roots of it all the hobby, the fun and engagement with customers rather than having a number on an invoice.

So where Im at now, after a season off to get back in and enjoying the game, is a product of all the fun aspects brought in by trying to make a go of bat making, starting a business with absolutely zero idea (resulting in some hefty fines :(), being a marketing team, design agency and customer services. Yet, Ive been so very fortunate to have learnt the ropes of bat making from many industry leaders which has brought my processes down from days to mere hours and although Ive had some serious ups and downs along the road, I wouldnt change it for the world! Theres very little to lose, just learn from and move on.

Mini Montage time































































Ill try and update my photos on the thread here for you all as best as I can. Didnt want to overload it too early.
Thanks for having a look and reading it (if it wasnt too boring)
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The Cricket Boutique

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2023, 07:03:03 AM »

Great post @JG

Good to see you willing to step back and be honest about losing focus on product quality and be able to re-focus on the enjoyable element of things.

Often the progression to feeling the need to add softs, bags etc to a range is where things start to escalate in terms of costs, lead times and hassle!

Some great shapes being made though and look forward to seeing more to come.
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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2023, 09:53:22 AM »

Fantastic post, thoroughly enjoyed reading through that. Some really nice bats that you have made, stickers are lovely as well!!
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MichaelM

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2023, 10:22:19 AM »

Excellent Post!
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marsbug

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2023, 02:17:05 PM »

Brilliant post, thanks so much for sharing, especially the stuff that hasn't gone so well or has been difficult. As someone who loves shaping bats, but doesn't want to go anywhere near running a business, I found it fsacinating. If you ever get the chance to share anything else then I'd be really interested.

And love the "Hands Off!" note on one of them. :)
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JG

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2023, 12:14:52 AM »

Latest stick was dropped off to a lad over in Bedfordshire. As much as the hour long journey would seem like a farce for many, Ive always found that being able to have a chat in person far outweighs the commute. Specs on it are as follows:

Weight: 2lb 13oz
Edges: 42mm
Spine: 66mm
Width: 108.4mm
Thick oval handle with double grip and counterbalanced knob.
I showed off my ridiculous blade for the year and its come with a lot of interest from customers, seems like the regulations on bat specs isnt so much of an issue for many!

The lad tapped it up with both the mallet and league ball and gave me a little run down of what he thought the day after which was flattering to say the most!









With every pro though there are cons, running sales aka reasonable bat prices has peaked interest significantly and its become quite difficult to manage messages and comms while working throughout the day. But fortunately everyone is understanding of my situation
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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2023, 08:59:40 AM »

Beautiful piece of willow and a great shape.
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jonny77

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2023, 10:49:55 AM »

Good to see you back mate and lovely stuff on the one above, nice stick that!

I see you're on the press tooin the pic abv. Did you source one in the UK? Be good to have a chat about our findings on pressing at somepoint.

All the best mate and hope it keeps going well!
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SOULMAN1012

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2023, 09:37:50 PM »

Great to see you back on the workbench mate and lovely shapes there mate, branding is spot on as well.
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velvetsky01

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2023, 06:20:22 AM »

Great read
Great looking shapes
Wonderful branding very classy
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JG

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2023, 01:42:07 PM »

Good to see you back mate and lovely stuff on the one above, nice stick that!

I see you're on the press tooin the pic abv. Did you source one in the UK? Be good to have a chat about our findings on pressing at somepoint.

All the best mate and hope it keeps going well!


Thanks for the support JS! Really appreciate it.

The pic of the pressing were probably at both my highest and lowest points where the trip down to one of the most open and supportive blokes in bat making, who Im sure you most certainly know, fortunately gave me lots of his time to show me how to do it and let me run maybe 10/12 of the clefts I got from him through his press. I wish I could share more about what I found from my experience but it was shortly after that I took a step back. Still wild to think I was at a point of being able to do that though

Thoughts on reflection though:

In short (ish), its a simple yet complex process because you can give and take so much from each blade depending on what you do with it. A kick towards the toe to aid the pick up or rebound, slightly lighter presses on pieces with a bit of heartwood that are prone to the cracking under pressure but also working out how much it needs to have in order to perform at what a bat maker deems to be its best. It was explained to me that yes you press the willow for performance, because everyone wants it to go straight away but then its also a case of wanting the bat to last for X amount of time from what I gather, as time goes on- the face of a blade slowly returns to more soft and natural form as the previously compacted fibres (long draws running through the bat) decompress. So, those bats that inevitably have the hard press may technically go better for a longer duration but it will take a while to reach that peak in performance, in theory? I mean I may be totally off with that but its sort of what I could gather. Annoyingly, at the end of the day- each bit of willow was different meaning that slinging one through a couple of passes without bowing it may have been good for one but the next had to be pressed, pulled out, tapped up, pressed again if necessary etc. etc.

To think that Id fly down there and back in a day just to keep up with orders was a bit balmy! Who knows though, maybe those days will return somewhere down the line! Good 16 hour day for sure though.

WARNING: minor rant below

For all those who wonder why bat prices are on the rise for guys that do this as a job. The time, money and most of all effort that it takes to get from willow tree to wicket isnt as easily broken down or simple as it seems. Yes, that is only coming from someone who only tried his hand at the bare parts of the middle stage of processing before taking it back and seeing it through to completion. But be aware before you slate it all. Not saying though that all bats should be mind bogglingly expensive, just the craft of it all takes time.
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JG

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2023, 09:58:35 PM »

Because I work in education, most of the spare time is spent using the workshop at the school in the evenings to have a little play around with some shapes. Its been a pleasure making up this one that was won in a charity raffle, a win for the cricketer and for the local hospice  :D

I shall just leave these here









Please note: in its current state of rough sanding, the bat weighs 2lb 9.6oz so will probably end up having a dead weigh closer to the 3lb mark after the stickers, binding, grip and other additions (grips & toe guard) the owner wants on it. Hoping the pick-up is going to remain as delightful as it is currently!
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JG

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2023, 07:38:22 PM »

So finally in the process of releasing the range for this (and future) years. Slowly worked away at a couple of shapes that Im happy with that can also be consistently made.

Before I get started, I want to apologise about following stupid words and such in Latin. If Im honest I just thought it would frill up things a bit but also try to match the approach Ive taken with the bats

First is the Imperium. (Supposedly based on the Latin word for control) its all about having a large (mid middle) sweet spot with the characteristics that help with manoeuvring the ball ie a tapered oval handle and a relatively nice pick up/feel. The one in the pictures is up for grabs at the not-so princely sum of 170 (inc U.K. postage) as a little promo to get the bats out into the wild for validation.

Basically its an average edge sized, higher-spined bat that runs all the way to the toe. With a little bit of concaving to allow for lighter weights to be achieved. Oval handle and nothing exotic other than its name.

Anyhoo, enjoy the pics of my first Imperium:







Comments and thoughts are always welcome  :D
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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2023, 08:29:15 PM »

Looks smart, well done. Got to address the elephant in the room though - have Woodstock been in touch?
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JG

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Re: Bat Making: A trial by fire (Morton Edition)
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2023, 09:06:16 PM »

I totally understand your point on that and Id be lying if Id said I hadnt pooled concepts from a few different places while trying to keep as much of the old branding looks. The  main problem with said branding was that there was such a focus on the very unnecessarily elaborate logo Id put together on Canva (its still on the laser engraved bats) which made it quite a hard sell when the bats were with retailers down under. After dropping the Carson side of things, I was introduced to a graphic designer who you all may know as cricket stickers uk on Instagram.

I was an irritating customer as I asked him to make a simplified version of my logo with the M inside the shield (instead of the stupid flourishes before), a stag (for Herts) a drawknife and a bat because it was a what I used and what I made idea. He also tried to focus everything on clear brand image (name being front and centre) by doing something that kept the old but also brought in the new. After my constant faffing around, I settled on what I thought was something nice, clean and clear.

In other words, 100% get what youre saying and see where the similarities are but I can assure you it was put together with the old brand in mind, trying to bring it forward while holding a simple vintage look that I find is hard to come by nowadays.
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