Bat Shaving Alloy or Aluminum Bats, is it possible?
Seems like a pretty simple question until we dig a little deeper. The quick answer is yes and after that comes the “but”. Very few bat shavers will shave Alloy bats (this is to include aluminum when alloy is mentioned). This is not to say they cannot perform this service because they most certainly can. The end product is what I will be discussing throughout this article.
When a ball hits a bat the walls of the bat flex to propel the ball, the wall then returns to the original shape. Composite bats are proven to withstand more flex than alloy bats and therefore more strength on the surface area where the impact of the ball strikes. The flex of a composite bat has the potential to be far greater than that of an alloy bat because the composite is far stronger. Composite fibers flex and return to shape with little adverse effects to the integrity of the bat. On the other hand, alloy bats are not as strong and the same amount of flex will dent the bat because the alloy material will not allow the bat to flex back into shape. Bat manufactures have created alloy bats that will withstand the impact of repeated ball striking by making the walls a specific thickness. Alloy bats will dent after a period of time as the material becomes more malleable after repeated ball striking. Composite bats have been proven to last longer with the same amount of impacts and the same wall thickness. This was great for people who purchased bats because they stretched their dollar with increased life of a bat. A caveat to the longer life was greater distance. The resin in between the composite fibers would break up and increase the flex of the bat, which increased distance. Baseball and softball associations realized this increase in distance and started to require bat manufactures to take action to decrease batted ball speed at the peak of a bats performance.
Although it is illegal in all associations to do, people can still get their bats shaved to increase performance for homerun derbies or exhibitions. Getting back to the “but” I spoke of earlier. An alloy or aluminum bat just is not as strong as a composite bat; therefore, when an alloy bat is shaved the flex of the alloy material cannot match flex of a composite bat. The alloy bat is unable to perform even close to that of a composite bat, yielding minimal distances gained from bat shaving. Another problem is durability of the alloy after the walls have been decreased from bat shaving. The thinner walls means the bats will flex more but the dent/crack point tolerance will increase. The couple of bat shavers who perform bat shaving on alloy bats (this article was written in 2012; there are now more novice bat shavers who will shave an alloy bat) will shave out minimal amounts of material from the walls of the bat to try to increase durability. And here lies the catch 22 with alloy bats. If you shave out a small amount from the barrel there is not a noticeable difference in distance but if you shave enough to gain 5-20 feet of distance the integrity of the alloy is gone and the bat will undoubtedly dent quickly. What does this mean exactly? A shaved alloy or aluminum bat will dent or crack in a very short period of time and if the bat has been shaved and it does not dent or crack there will be almost no increase in distance. These facts are why almost all bat shavers will not shave alloy bats. If they shave the bat to gain performance they will have an upset customer with a broken bat. Also, if the bat shaver only shaves out enough material so that there is increased durability the customer is upset because there was not a noticeable gain in distance. *There has been success with removing the inner ring out of alloy bats which have them. Distance gains are noticeable but not as much as that of bat shaving a composite bat.