Cracked bats are not as uncommon as you might think. Maybe your bat has just a small crack or maybe you have so much power that your handle got separated from the barrel.
Read More: how to fix a cracked composite bat
Even though nowadays it is much more common to use metal bats, wood bats will forever be in our hearts. So what should you do, if it cracks or, even worse, breaks? Can you continue playing with it? Can you repair it? How do you repair it? What is the reason wood cracks?
These are all questions I answered in this article. Keep reading. 🙂
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Should I play with a cracked baseball bat?
The short answer is a definite NO.
Baseball bats have to endure a lot of stress during the impact of the baseball. I am talking about massive amounts of pressure that is divided equallya ll over the bat.
If there is a small crack or maybe even a bigger one, the bat cannot take the usual amount of stress anymore, as the wood is cracked.
To make this easier to comprehend, imagine chopping firewood. As long as the tree trunk you are trying to cut is whole, you can throw it everywhere without any serious damage happening to it or it breaking apart. As soon as you have a crack in the trunk, it suddenly is much easier to chop. This is because you destroyed the structure of the wood, which massively decreases its ability to endure stress.
So if your baseball bat is cracked, playing with it will only make it worse. If this bat means the world to you, better hang it on your wall than continue to play with it. It will be destroyed if you continue to play with it. However, you can still view it if it is on your wall.
What might happen if you play with a cracked baseball bat?
But let’s imagine you do not listen to me (which is a massive mistake of course. 😛 ) and you continue to play with the cracked baseball bat. What’s so bad about this? What are the implications?
You have already been warned about the first consequence in the previous paragraph. Your baseball bat will crack even more and will be destroyed after a short while.
Apart from your piece of equipment being destroyed, playing with a cracked baseball bat also poses a risk for your and your opponent’s health. Hitting the ball with a cracked bat might lead to splinters of wood flying around. Having such a splinter stuck somewhere in your body is not only painful, but can also lead to nasty infections and serious injuries.
Moreover a small crack can turn into a big one and at some point the bat might break into two parts. Problem is that you can’t control how the pieces fly. Just imagine swinging your bat and then knocking your opponent unconscious, because your bat broke apart. Although it sounds absurd, this could very well be possible.
Why do baseball bats crack?
I could be all sciency and talk about fancy terms, but it wouldn’t be helpful for anyone.
Instead I recommend you to watch this video. It explains in simple terms how wood is structured and why it also breaks after some time. It is informative and entertaining. Take the time to watch it and you will be able to impress your buddies, next time somebody asks why wood bats break.
How often do baseball bats crack and how long can I use my bat?
That is an easy question without an easy answer, as it depends on a multitude of different factors.
How often do you use your bat? Is it your personal bat or is your whole team using it? What kind of material is your bat made out of? Not just meaning wood or metal, but also what kind of wood or metal, as this makes a huge difference.
What kind of weather are you experiencing in your region? What level of play do you have?
As you can see there are lots of factors influencing the lifespan of a baseball bat.
Now to give you some sort of guidance, let’s consider the average Joe playing baseball. He does not life in a crazy humid area, nor in a super dry one. He has his own bat and plays regularly, but not every day.
If he uses a wood and hits with the grain, the bat is likely to last him quite some time, but even a slight mishit might result in a crack. There is simply no rule of thumb. A wooden bat is good as long as it is not cracked.
If he uses a metal bat, it also depends on the kind of material. Does he use a composite bat or a simple aluminium bat?
Composite bats last for a really long time and even need up to 150 hits in order to break in. After that the performance of this kind of bat even increases, as the fibers are properly set. But once a composite bat cracks, it is worthless and not usable anymore.
Aluminium bats on the other hand are still usable, even if they are damaged a bit. They are known to show dents after some time, which is not a massive problem. Dents do impact the performance of the bat negatively, but the bat is still usable. You do not have to replace it immediately.
There are lots of different opinions about how long alloy bats last. The only known thing is, that these bats lose their pop over time. So if you feel like your bat has lost its power, it is probably time to replace it, even if there is no major damage visible. Otherwise feel free to play with it as long as you wish or to be precise, as long as it does not lose its power.
How to fix a cracked baseball bat
Has something like this ever happened to you? It might have, as wood bats are know to crack quite often.
But don’t worry, you do not immediately have to buy a new bat, if the crack is just small.
Here is what you do:
First step: Sand down the wood roughly
This is a really important step, as it will make the surface smoother and give the wood glue a surface area to stick to. Moreover sanding down the area removes any splinters that might get stuck in your fingers during the repair procedure.
Second step: Fill up the whole with wood glue
It is important that you use special wood glue and not something else, as you want the wood to be able to withstand more hits afterwards. Normal glue does not stick well enough to the wood and the bat will break apart again in no time.
Make sure to fill the crack completely, as this is the only way that will guarantee that the glue gets into every major and minor crack inside the bat. It might look like one big crack, but there are many minor cracks inside the wood, that you are not able to see properly. This is where the glue needs to get into, as otherwise the internal pressure of the wood will not be strong enough to withstand the impact of a baseball.
Third step: Insert the missing piece
After you have filled the crack with the wood glue, make sure to insert the missing wood piece into the crack again. Use your fingers to press it into the crack as well as you can. This will lead to some wood glue being pressed out of the crack. This is not a problem at all. Just make sure to wipe the bat clean after you have inserted the missing wood piece with a piece of cloth.
Fourth step: Apply the clamps
This is a really crucial part. You want to apply clamps at the crack to apply constant pressure to the bat. This will lead to the wood being more durable after the glue has hardened.
Just make sure not to apply too much pressure, as this will damage the wood and will start bending it. A little pro tip: Don’t use the clamps directly on the bat. Better put some old piece of wood on the bat and then use the clamps on the wood pieces. That will more evenly distribute the pressure and will prevent any clamp marks and damage to the bat.
In case you do not have the missing piece from the crack, just follow the above steps and apply enough pressure to the bat via the clamps, so that both sides of the crack touch.
Let the clamps work their magic for at least 24 hours, as this will make sure that all the glue has hardened and that it properly bonded with the wood.
That is basically the whole procedure needed to repair cracks in a wood baseball bat.
If you want to go pro with repairing your baseball bat, then continue with the following steps in order to make your beloved bat even more sturdy.
Fifth step: Drill holes and insert screws
Doing this will surely give the bat a lot more strength. Just be aware, that you can also completely destroy your bat if you are not careful during this step. This is why I only recommend it if you have successfully inserted the missing pieces into the crack. Otherwise just stay with steps one to four.
Make sure to apply the screws on the inserted piece. You want to drill and insert the screw perpendicular to the inserted piece in order to screw it in tight.
This procedure is quite risky, as it might shatter the wood. This is a risky procedure, and you should only do it if it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise buy a new bat or stay with the above mentioned steps.
Sixth step: Sand down the area
This last step is important to avoid splinters flying everywhere. Even though you might not see it, drilling holes and inserting screws probably lead to some minor splinters. Just take five minutes to sand down the area where you drilled the holes. Use a fine grid and do not apply too much pressure, as you do not want to damage the wood.
You can of course also repair a fully broken wood bat. However, you must not play with the wood afterward. But it can surely still be used as a great form of wall decoration in your living room!
To see how to repair a major break, check this video.
Pro tip to avoid cracks
Wanna know what would be great? If bats didn’t crack. Sadly I cannot tell you a magical trick to stop cracks all together. What I can do is give you a trick to increase the durability of you wood bat massively.
Ever heard, that you have to hit with the grains? That just means that you should use the part of the bat to hit the ball where the grains are straight and the strongest.
How Do you know the exact location? Look at the label!
Baseball bat manufacturers help you in a big way by printing their label at the weakest spots on the bat. So as long as you do not hit with the label, but instead make sure that the label points to the ground or to the sky, everything is fine (not like the dude in the pic… he is doing it wrong!!). This way you make sure to hit with the grain. This will increase the durability of your bat by a lot.
Get home safe,
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