Brian Boggs called one afternoon a couple months ago. “There are two 18-wheeler loads of green hard maple baseball bat blanks and scraps at this mill in Pennsylvania I just left,” he said. Alexa spouted directions in the background as he made his way back to the hotel. “I haven’t made Windsor chairs in over 20 years, but I know good chair legs when I see them. First the bat blanks are split from a log, then they go through a big saw that cuts parallel with the riven surface, then they go through a doweling machine to turn them to 3″ diameters.”
If it had been anyone else calling, I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought. But Brian should know what he’s talking about. And the stuff is green (unseasoned). So I ordered a pallet of 207 reject 38″ bat blanks – 2500# worth – that had been graded to be knot free in 22″ chair leg lengths.
It seems like pretty good stuff. Seth and I rejected 60 blanks due to grain run-out issues. The remainder seem to have chair part lengths with straighter grain than most clear lumber would have, but not always quite as straight as the riven blanks we make. I’ve turned a couple chair legs from it, without a hint of tear-out (see photos below).
We are selling green turning blanks on our website:
Leg – $15 (3 x 20″)
Stretcher – $14 (3 x 18″)
Arm Stump – $8 (3 x 13-1/2″)
We can supply blanks up to 38″ long, but they will have increased grain run-out and small defects.
If you can use a pallet of the blanks, the contact info for the mill is listed on the Greenwood Source List. The blanks are $3 each.
I turned a couple chair legs from some of the best looking blanks that we rejected because of grain-runout issues. Because the blanks are so large in diameter, one side of the blank can look straight-grained, but the other can look like it has quite a bit of run-out. This leg was turned from one of those blanks we rejected. As you can see, it turned pretty nicely (this is straight off the skew chisel, unsanded).
I forgot to turn the camera back to auto white balance – forgive the blue cast.
If you look closely at this last photo, there’s a tad bit of run-out at the foot, but not enough to cause significant tear-out issues:
Some of the blanks probably have worse issues than this, but all-in-all it seems like pretty nice stuff.