Despite the advances of modern technology, a large proportion of polo players still prefer the feel of cane as opposed to composite materials for the shaft of mallets. Each cane has been personally selected by George Wood in Asia and meets with his stringent quality control. They’re made to order in New Zealand.
As the saying goes, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. The selection of raw materials is critical to the performance of what we firmly believe to be the best cane polo mallets in the world.
We’re dedicated to sourcing only the best materials available. Our stringent selection process rejects over 97% of the canes that are cut from the jungles.
One of the most important stages of manufacturing a cane mallet is seasoning the canes to reduce the moisture content and temper the shaft so that it reaches its optimum tension while retaining its ‘memory’. This is done over a long period of time using a low temperature oven and regular straightening. After cutting to the required lengths the handles are fitted and an epoxy resin binding is applied to the shaft just above where the head is fitted. This is allowed to set before being ground smooth and the traditional cotton tape binding is applied over the top. Although this takes considerable time and expense, it adds tremendous extra strength to the mallets most vulnerable area, almost eliminating ‘wringers’. Just another example of the extra lengths we go to guarantee performance.
In the past, the majority of mallet makers simply ordered their canes from cane merchants in Asia although most of these suppliers have ceased trading. Some atrocious quality canes have and are, being sold as “selected polo canes”. Of course payment must be made in advance and there are no refunds given. It can be a very costly exercise. Over the past few years the supply of root manau cane has virtually become non existent although there is an alternative species called Batu which makes some good mallets as long as the cane is dense enough. Batu canes tend to have more knots and a faster taper rate but a high proportion of them are quite porous and not very strong. This is where a strict cane selection process is critical. The quality of cane mallets being produced around the world has decreased dramatically over the past few years. Really “good” canes are few and far between.
Wood Mallets formed a joint venture factory in Jakarta in 1990 to process polo canes for export. Since then a large proportion of the factory’s revenue has come from the manufacture of cricket bat handles which have been made from the excess root cane. As we use only 3% of the root canes for polo mallets, it’s crucial that we have a use for the left over canes. Over the years, our Indonesian partners have scoured the whole of Indonesia for the most suitable canes available and they’ve built up a large network of suppliers. Quality control is imperative. The selection process is always done by myself. We supply a growing number of polo mallet makers around the world with good quality canes in a semi processed form.
Every aspect of the mallet may be custom made exactly to the customer’s requirements at no extra charge. The handles are available in a range of sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. Unless specified, the slings are kept at 19 1/2″ long. Black rubber grip material is used for the grips.
The art of a mallet maker is to match the tension and weight of each cane to exactly the right weight head to produce the perfect balance that makes the mallet feel like a natural extension of the arm. Having played polo professionally for over a decade, I’m well aware of this requirement.