Hand-split billets

Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. is a wholesale supplier of superior wooden baseball bat billets. We deliver the highest quality in both appearance and structural integrity. Our entire process is focused on the production of baseball bat billets. Every step in the process, from timber selection and log procurement, log breakdown, splitting, drying and grading are all done with a singular purpose: produce the highest quality bat blanks available.

Our Wood

Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. has been harvesting, processing and brokering logs for export and domestic use since 1994. Northeast hardwoods are world renowned for their superior quality. Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co., which is located in Central New York’s Leatherstocking Region, is situated in an area that provides the perfect conditions for growing exceptional timber. By coupling log procurement expertise with an abundance of hardwood forests, Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. is well positioned to continue to meet the increasing demand for quality hand-split billets.

Our Grading Standards

Some bat manufacturers rely on sawmills to process their wood. Processing involves harvesting logs, sawing logs to produce billets, and kiln drying billets to an appropriate moisture content level. Sawmills do a good job of processing billets according to “lumber” standards (no knots, checks, splits, etc.). However, typical lumber standards are primarily focused on “appearance grade” and little thought is given to the structural integrity. To ensure the strength, safety and performance of a wood bat, a baseball bat billet must have exceptionally straight grain, which adds another dimension to typical hardwood lumber standards.

At Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co., we utilize a proprietary grading system that ensures consistency and provides a reliable level of quality throughout all our grades. We offer four grades in Hard Maple and Ash and two grades in Birch and Soft Maple.

Our Hand- Splitting Process

Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. hand-splits each log to follow the wood’s natural grain, ensuring straight tangential grain, strengthening the bat and almost entirely removing the chance of a tangential slope of grain failure, in all grades. The importance of straight tangential (face) grain is critical, because the wood’s slope-of-grain has an overwhelming effect on the strength of the final baseball bat. By definition, slope-of-grain is determined by how close to parallel a piece of wood is produced with respect to the longitudinal axis of wood cells in the tree. When a piece of wood is processed so that it is perfectly parallel to the grain direction of the tree, it will have the highest strength. When wood is cut at an angle to the grain direction of the tree, the strength quickly diminishes, and a bat made with this wood is vulnerable to dangerous breaks or multiple piece fractures. Splitting is the only process that produces straight tangential grain with a near perfect success rate.

Our Vacuum-Kiln Drying Process

Traditional kiln drying creates a more browned appearance in the wood billet due to oxidation that naturally occurs throughout the drying process. Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. vacuum-kiln dries all of our products, which prevents oxidation from occurring by removing the air from the drying chamber. This creates the most consistently bright white wood billets available.

Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. was the first company to vacuum dry hand-split billets, combining the best methods to produce the absolute best product.

Standard Billet Specifications

The following standard specifications apply to all Leatherstocking Hand-Split Billet Co. billets:

  • Length: 37” long (36” available upon request), Shorter lengths also offered, when available, at discounted pricing
  • Order quantities: Full pallet (333 pieces), short pallet (250 pieces) - Discounts are offered for full pallet orders and for high volume orders.
  • Weight (37” billet): Ultra-light weight <82 oz., light weight 82-90 oz., mid weight 90-99 oz. and heavy weight > 99 oz. [the preferred weight for MLB bats is 87-93 oz.]
  • Prime Ash, Maple and Birch billets are sorted by weight
  • Typical weight/sort for Ash is 50/50 light weight and mid weight [ultra-lights and heavy weights are sorted out]
  • Typical weight/sort for Maple and Birch is 1/3 light weight and 2/3mid weight [ultra-lights and heavy weights are sorted out]
  • Select Ash and Maple billets are weighed and heavy and ultra-light weight billets are pulled out but a consistent weight ratio is not maintained. All other sub-prime grades are unweighed (mill weights)

Wood Species

Hard Maple
The biggest target in the multiple piece fracture conversation but, if processed correctly, one of the most ideal species for baseball bats. Made famous by Barry Bonds in the 1990's, Hard Maple has become the bat of choice for the majority of Major Leaguers today. The use of bats with poor slope of grain has caused many dangerous breaks but the use of properly processed bats made from split Maple billets can drastically reduce the risk of multiple piece fractures.
Soft Maple
Much lighter and less dense than Hard Maple. Not typically used for full sized bats due to different structural properties, this species is excellent for fungos or for lighter weight youth models.
White Ash
For over a century, Ash has been one of the most popular species for baseball bats. Originally introduced by bat makers due to its ease of workability, Ash has stood the test of time based on its comparatively lighter weight, flex characteristics and availability.
Recently, Birch has become much more popular among players at all levels of the game. Birch has proven to be a good alternative to Hard Maple and Ash with respect to performance. The supply of Yellow Birch logs suitable for baseball billets is more limited then Ash and Maple. The sap wood or live wood looks very similar to Maple and the heart wood has a brown color.