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Inside a cricket bat manufacturing workshop

Cricket bats are manufactured mainly from English willow, a kind of cultivated timber which grows in large plantations in wetland areas throughout Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Each tree is individually planted by hand and during its natural life-span, the willow will be tended by the grower to ensure that the tree will be suitable for bat making. For each willow that is felled, two new trees are planted. In this way the industry, countryside and the actual species are protected.

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The willow cleft is then sawn, the ends waxed and then air or kiln dried to reduce the moisture content. The cleft then undergoes various machining processes to be cut into the basic blade shape. Once the blade has been correctly graded and machined, the next stage is pressing. The willow fibers have to be compressed in order to strengthen the timber sufficiently to withstand the impact of a cricket ball. The blade is pressed up to 2,000lb per square inch.

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After pressing the handle, constructed from cane and rubber strips, is fitted through the precise splicing of the handle into the blade. The blade is now shaped with a draw knife. During the shaping process, the bat is constantly tested for balance and form by the bat maker.

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Next comes sanding. The bat will be both coarse and fine sanded through various drum and belt sanding machines.

Once the bat has been shaped and sanded, the handle and blade are blended together to obtain a seamless bat. Finally, the bat is waxed and polished, a rubber grip fitted to the handle and labeled. The bat is now ready to ship.

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