The pressing of the willow is one of the most important processes during the making of your Swannack bat. This subjects the blade to a force of 2-3 tons per square inch – enough to compress the blade by at least 3/16in or 4mm. It compacts the fibres which changes the elastic properties of the wood.
Linseed oil and knocking in allows those wood fibres to move again, helping it withstand the sudden shock of a fast moving ball. It’s the most important part preparing your bat for the field.
Oil your Swannack bat using roughly a teaspoon of raw linseed oil. Spread a thin and even layer over the face, edges and toe of the bat. Then lay the bat flat, facing up, overnight.
Add a second thin coat of linseed oil to the face and edges, and to any bare wood on the back of your Swannack bat where there are no labels. And again lay the bat flat, face up, until dry.
When the oil is dry, it’s time to knock in your Swannack bat. You need a knocking mallet to do this.
Start along the front-facing edges and front toe edge of the bat. Using gentle strokes of the mallet, cover the area before moving over the whole face of the bat, avoiding labels. Gradually increase the force of the blows as you go, with less pressure towards the edges and more pressure on the face. Do not knock in the toe or the back of the bat.
Do this for 10 minutes a day for a week.
It’s also an idea to warm up your bat in the nets before taking it out to the middle. Once you start using your Swannack bat its performance will improve as the wood fibres settle down and get more flexible.