Do you know anyone else who’d do this?

The natural variation in Willow is both a blessing and a curse. Within one tree we can have clefts that represent both the Beauty and the Beast and no matter what we’re at its mercy. I’ve gone from the most unpleasant piece of willow to work that I’ve ever come across to this one.

A few other ideas and projects have taken me down other avenues that are allied to White Willow Cricket, but haven’t necessarily meant I’ve been at the workbench making cricket bats. It was nice to find myself back in action with an inviting looking cleft of willow.

Just inviting me in with the drawknife.
I had a target weight in mind but decided to not let the scales guide me too heavily and see what happened, in reality I was fairly confident there was plenty of willow to work.

 As usual the toe gets the treatment first.
Out comes the Hand Plane and generous curls of Willow are peeled away from the cleft.
Tidying up the rough edges left a perfect window for a cup of Tea and a weigh in.

Admittedly there’s a small amount of shaping missed out here in the photos. This is because the above picture shows cloudy weather and the one below shows sunny weather. I took my camera inside when I went for a cup of Tea and was unable to go back for it due a torrential downpour. Rather than risk getting my camera wet I thought it was easier to just say “I removed some more wood”.
The spine profile is very similar, otherwise only small adjustments here and there. 

Being happy with the shape and balance, this is where the sanding started.

You may be able to notice I had another Tea break.

Occasionally I’ll forget how much I’ve been using a tool and bluntness can just creep up on you from nowhere. In one picture you can see what a sharp spokeshave is capable of, slicing through end grain like it’s going out of fashion.

Sharp again!

After initial sanding the finish was good but not great. It’s the small scratches that plague me, they hide in the shadows hoping they’ll remain undetected or worse still ignored. As I pointed out in The idea of Utility and the Disposable Nature of a Cricket Bat, the utilitarian quality of cricket bat “shouldn’t alter the desire to craft something that exceeds the expectations we would have for a utility item.” So on with more sanding.

Feels as good as it looks.

The finishing touches leave us with this…

Head over to White Willow Cricket to see more pictures of this bat in the gallery and the White Willow blog post.

A point I made way back in this post about service was and still is important to White Willow Cricket and Wielding White Willow. Whilst I often see businesses market themselves almost exclusively via Self Gratification and Back Door Compliments (which incidentally is a woeful way of approaching it), I can’t help but give myself a pat on the back here. Saying you offer great service or support is easy, but following through with that claim requires more than words. I won’t tell the story on the blog behind this bat but good service and being proud of my work are important to me. I want the customer to enjoy using my cricket bats as much as I’ve enjoyed making them.