Published by Kyle Hodge, Lead Product & Testing Engineer
Axe Pro Series Maple Bats – Things to Know:
With a new batch of Axe Wood back in stock, now is a great time to discuss all things lumber… such as:
- How Axe Pro Series bats are unique
- Wood Bat Basics – How are they made? How is quality ensured?
- Why you should swing one, how they compare to standard BBCOR bats, and wood bat science.
From the tip of Axe Bat’s patented handle to the edge of the cupped barrel, hours of meticulous work have gone into the creation of the finished product – the perfect wood bat designed for the player’s swing.
How Axe Pro Series Bats Are Unique
All Pro Series Axe Bats come equipped with a few key characteristics:
- Same Axe Handle swung in-game by George Springer and many other pros
- Hand-split, hard maple billets – equivalent to the lumber used across Major League Baseball
- Charged Finish – delivering the hardest, most durable barrel available in the game today.
- 30-Day Warranty
The first ever Axe handle bat, and thus the basis of the Axe Bat brand today, was in fact a wood bat – and that is not lost on our team as we continue to deliver the highest quality wood bats available in the game today. Although wood bats may seem simple, we strive to produce every possible advantage for the player, in a category in which advantages are few and far between.
Wood Bat Basics
Although on the field today, a few alternative species of wood can be found, such as Ash or Birch, Hard Maple continues to set the standard for hardness, stiffness, and durability, and continues to be the preference of most big leaguers and high-level ball players in today’s game. For this reason, Axe Bat’s current Pro Series offering is limited to Hard Maple only… but this is for a reason: you’re getting the strongest wood available in the game today, giving you the greatest possibility for hard-hit balls and better results at the plate.
All Pro Series Bats use maple grown in the USA and Canada, and are harvested only in the areas in which the maple is grown harder and denser – resulting in the hardest barrels, and greatest durability. Additionally, all bats are created via hand-split billets (a “billet” refers to the ~2.75” diameter cylinder-shaped wood blank, from which the bat is machined). This ensures peak straightness of grain, and maximum durability for the lifetime of your bat. Modern machinery has allowed for many billets to be “sawn” rather than “split” – this can lead to faster production times and more efficient production working environments – however, sawn billets can also sacrifice grain straightness. Along with the properties of the wood itself, grain straightness is a leading factor in bat durability – specifically in the handle – in which bats that don’t maintain grain straightness will be at risk of breaking, as the direction of the grain does not match the longitudinal axis of the bat. Every Pro Series Axe Bat will come equipped with an ink dot, showing the slope of grain, as required in Major League Baseball.
Traditionally, any standard wooden baseball bat could be machined via a simple lathe – as every portion of the bat is symmetric about the central axis of the bat. Axe Bat’s patented handle has thrown a curveball into this scenario – as the shape of the handle is asymmetric about the central axis – this means it cannot be machined via lathe. At Axe Bat, we’ve once again turned this hardship into an advantage, challenging the common misconceptions regarding how bats must be made. All Pro Series bats are manufactured via a 5-Axis CNC Lathe – this allows our handle to be CNC milled while spinning about its central axis – the remainder of the taper and barrel are then turned via lathe, in one smooth step. This means that every inch of every bat is machined exactly according to the barrel specifications (which could be subject to change based upon billet weight or finished bat weight/length). Nothing is left up to human error. This results in a consistent, mistake-free product.
Following CNC machining, the bats are sanded, cupped, stained, and equipped with our charged finish – ensuring maximum performance. Along with every bat meeting inspection tolerance of production supervisors, a specified allotment, chosen at random, according to Axe Bat’s Quality Control Processes, will be further inspected for balance point and moment of inertia, to ensure we continue to deliver a consistent product that players love.
Swinging a Pro Series Maple Bat
Throughout breakthroughs such as the advent of aluminum bats in the 80’s, or composite bats in the 2000’s, the demand for high-quality wood baseball bats has remained strong. Wood bat tournaments remain popular – along with wood bat requirements in many college and high-school summer leagues.
In addition to league requirements, many players prefer to swing wood throughout training, as it forces higher precision swings, and provides more feedback upon contact. For this reason, for players who plan to switch between a wood bat in training, and a BBCOR bat in-game (or any combination of the two), it’s important to recognize the differences you are likely to see between the two different bat types.
While BBCOR bats are regulated to have “wood-like” performance, they will still feature wider sweet-spots capable of reaching higher exit velocities, more often, and also feature greater durability. However, wood bats can still certainly bring the pop… Axe Bat Pro Series models feature a power balance barrel construction that will deliver mass-on-contact capable of lighting up the HitTrax, as can be seen in the swing weight or Moment of Inertia (“MOI”) chart below:
With a solid core wood barrel, where there is no trampoline effect, (as there is with aluminum or composite bats), the equation is simple: more mass at contact = more exit velocity. This equation will hold true for as long as a player is able to reasonably swing the bat at a “baseline” level of bat speed. While bat speed will decrease with increased swing weight and/or mass, the decrease in bat-speed is compensated for and more via the increase in collision efficiency of the heavier barrel. For this reason, when swinging wood, a heavier bat will likely lead to higher exit velocities and more distance and is a major contributor as to why many professionals choose to swing bats as long as 35” or as heavy as 34oz.
While advances in aluminum and composite bats have produced amazing products across baseball today – look no further than many of Axe Bat’s own technologies – few things compare to the feeling of baseball impacting maple. Wood bats are here to stay.
Still have a question regarding wood bats? Feel free to reach out via chat or email to an Axe Bat customer success representative!