The bat is now expertly shaped using traditional drawknives, spokeshaves and wooden blockplanes, the greatest care being taken to obtain the correct shape and balance. Drawknives are used because the batmaker can remove a large amount of wood from the blade and start to form a rough shape. A wide, flat drawknife is used to carve the back and toe of the bat whilst a thin blade with a steep bevel is reversed to blend the shoulders into the handle of the bat.
The wooden blockplane is then used to achieve a more refined profile; this is a much lighter tool and the batmaker benefits from this after a long day at the workbench.
The final smoothing process is done with an adjustable smoothing plane; one uses a very coarse set curved blade in this plane to achieve maximum weight distribution throughout the back of the bat.
The shoulders and lower part of the handle are smoothed and tidied up with a wooden spokeshave. Many batmakers use metal spokeshaves but with the wooden body one can produce a better shape. The handle is then rounded off to the customers requirements with a surform rasp, taking care to get rid off all ridges that could prove uncomfortable to hold for the batsman.
The blade is sanded on a pneumatic sanding drum inflated to varied pressures for sanding different bat profiles. This is a complex process and can prove to be the hardest part of the batmaking process to learn due to the finer balance of the handmade bat. The finishing section is crucial for Laver & Wood cricket bats, as this is where we do most of our quality control.
We hand sand the whole bat with finer grades of sandpaper and then polish the bat with a horse’s shinbone to give a smooth finish. We also burnish the bat blade with a burnishing mop and chalk/wax compound for a more appealing finish.
The bat is then ready to have the handle bound with twine to provide more strength, PVA adhesive is used to bind the twine to the handle, the binding is done on a simple pedal operated machine to ensure the uniformity of the twine. Once this has all dried the rubber grip is rolled on using a gripping cone. The Laver & Wood label is applied and bats are all oiled with Raw Linseed oil at this stage to start the knocking in process.