While the Warstic Wood Bat company claimed that "There are very few secrets to making a great wood baseball bat," the Kentucky-based Hillerich & Bradsby Company probably begs to differ. H&BC, manufacturers of the famous Louisville Slugger bat, have reportedly developed a new wood finishing technique that affects the surface of the bat. As Kansas City Sports reports,
The new bats—made of ash or maple—are designed to be harder than previous models. Bobby Hillerich, director of Wood Bat Manufacturing for Louisville Slugger, said new selection processes for the wood, as well as drying and processing methods, have created a bat hard enough to reach a grade of 9h, the highest rating possible by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Buyers search for the hardest wood available—known as veneer wood—which is vacuum dried to pull moisture out of the wood and push the material closer together, Bobby Hillerich said. Once that is done, the wood is cut into billets used to create the bats. The billets are shaped and compressed before being finished with a water-based coating, logo, and any coloring and player signature.
...Louisville Slugger has refined bat-making to a science, [Major League Baseball VP of Licensing Howard] Smith said. "In terms of the slope of the grain, which determines how hard the wood will be, Louisville has been able to harvest the best wood with the most perfect as you can get slope of grain," Smith said.
Aside from their priority harvesting practices, what are the details of this new finish, and is it applicable to furniture or product designs? Is it more in the drying or in the application of some new type of finish? Unsurprisingly the company won't go into much detail; all they'll say about the finishing is "Our filler fills all grains and cavities before three layers of topcoat seal are applied to give the MLB Prime the hardest finish of any wood bat on the market."
Sigh. At least there's a recently-released video showing the bats being made: