Bullwhips – Handmade by Louie

4 Plait Bullwhip

December 1st, 2014

Yesterday I finished work on a 4 plait kangaroo bullwhip and it’s shipping out today to it’s new owner.


I gave it a few cracks yesterday and it’s got a nice crack to it!

The nice thing about having to buy an oversized kangaroo skin to cut this out from is that I probably have enough leftover for a 4 foot bullwhip!




4 Plait Kangaroo Bullwhip

November 30th, 2014

I’m currently working on an interesting little project, it’s a six foot 4 plait bullwhip in kangaroo.  You don’t see a lot of 4 plait kangaroo bullwhips, it’s more common on stock whip lashes.  I think they are less common in bullwhips because the lash is thicker and it can be harder to get the wider strand out of a kangaroo skin.

Personally I have two 4 plait kangaroo bullwhips that I use, one four feet long and I use it for throwing cards because the edge of the cards ding the strands on the whip and the wider strands hold up better.  The other is four and half feet long and I made it to use on a TV show to grab bottles with:



A four plait whip for a beginner will hold up a lot better to abuse like using it on abrasive surfaces than a 12 or 16 plait will.

To start this bullwhip I went up to David Morgan to pick out a kangaroo skin:

bull whip

This skin is 66 dm2 which is much larger than I’d normally need for a 6 foot bullwhip, but due to the wider strands in a 4 plait whip I figured it’d be helpful to have a larger skin to cut around.  Currently I have all the internal layers finished and today I’ll start working on the overlay.

One thing about visiting David Morgan, besides getting to pick out the perfect skin for the job I’m working on is getting to peek at all the cool whips kicking around:



The bullwhip in the upper right corner is probably one of the most beautiful bullwhips that I have ever seen!



Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27th, 2014

For all of the readers of this blog in the USA, have a happy Thanksgiving!

Since my wife doesn’t let me do any of the Thanksgiving cooking, so I’m up in the shop working on a couple of whips:

bull whip

These are going to be two of the Beginner’s Bullwhips that I make.  I plaited both bellies a while ago and I cut out the overlays this morning.   I’m using some free time today to hopefully finish them up…or at least get the overlays finished.


5 Foot Beginner’s Bullwhip…

November 16th, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve made any of my “Beginner’s Bullwhips”.  This one is one of the deluxe models which has a plaited belly.


This particular bull whip is 5 feet long and would make a great first whip to learn the basic whip cracks on.  This whip is for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

I’m planning on making a couple of more of these, probably a 6 foot and an 8 foot in the near future.


What Makes a Whip and Indy Whip?

November 14th, 2014

I’ve posted about this before and I’m always amazed at how many email me to ask why are my Indy Bullwhips so expensive compared some whips being sold places like eBay as “Indiana Jones Whip.   One of the reasons is that my Indiana Jones style whips have all the technical specifications that David Morgan built into the original Indiana Jones bullwhip.  These are:

* 6 plait wrist loop

* 5 X 4 three pass heel knot

* 5 X 4 two pass transition knot

* Checker board handle

* 12 plait overlay ending at a 6 plait point (4 Seam pattern)

* Whitehide fall

* Nylon Cracker

I was learning to use a new video program, so I quick video using it pointing the different specs of and Indy bullwhip:

And I made another video pointing out why a whip that’s frequently sold on eBay as an “Indiana Jones” whips is not an Indiana Jones whip, but simply just a whip:

You can view the auction here and see how the seller uses a lot of hype to try to make you not see that this isn’t an Indiana Jones whip.

So if you’re in the market for an Indiana Jones style bullwhip hopefully you can make an informed decision.


Bullwhip Crackers

November 14th, 2014

I feel like no matter how many I whip crackers I make when I make a batch of them, I’m always out of them.  Today is cracker making day:

nylon cracker

I’m hoping to get at least half a gross of them done so I don’t have to make them for a while…


Finished 8 foot bullwhip

November 12th, 2014

The 8 foot bullwhip that I was working on has been finished and is in the mail on the way to its new owner.

indiana jones style bullwhip


Next up I’m hoping to have some free time to make a few “budget” 4 plait bullwhips, so that I have a few whips IN STOCK for holiday orders.



Whip Making Waste…

November 11th, 2014

I’ve always wondered how much of a kangaroo skin isn’t used in the whip that I bought it for.  For example when you buy a skin you have to trim the edges to give it smooth edges to cut around, so that’s a bunch of waste there.  Then there are sometimes undesirable parts, or sharp turns that you need to make easier to cut around.  Then there’s all the waste from cutting, paring, splitting, and from over-cutting the strand length.

Here are my notes from the kangaroo skin I used for an 8 foot bullwhip:

kangaroo leather

Since this whip isn’t finished yet, these are completely final numbers.  Also keep in mind I’m measuring with my kitchen scale, so it may or may not be 100% accurate.  Also be sure to consider this waste is by weight, not actual area.  For example my initial trim of the skin will be trimming off some of the heavier parts of the skin, so it may have more weight, but not the same area as other places on the skin.

The skin I bought was a heavy kangaroo skin  from David Morgan and was 71 dm2 and weighed 650 grams when I got it.  After the initial trim I cut off 67 grams leaving me with a skin that weighed 583 grams.  Right away the initial trim I have about 10% of the skin that’s not usable.  That was an amazing revelation to me, I figured I’d have 10-15% waste total after everything was cut off.  The initial trim put me at the lower end of my estimate, so my guess is going to be way off!

After cutting out the first belly the skin weighed 490 grams and the belly was 66 grams.  Then the belly after all the strand prep and cutting off the over cut strand after the belly was plaited weight 33 grams, or 5% of the belly’s weight!

The second belly was 119 grams and generated only 14 grams of waste during the strand prep and the skin weighed 364 grams after the belly was cut off.  I think this layer had the least waste because so much of the stretchy part had already been cut off the skin and sharp corners were rounded.

The overlay weighed 291 grams and 274 grams after the strand prep.  I’m going to create some more waste before the whip is finished from the over cut strands, but many of them will be repurposed back into the whip as knots or a wrist loop.

For this particular whip I used:
33 grams for the inner belly
105 grams for the outer belly
274 grams for the overlay (transition knot and wristloop)

412 grams total of kangaroo skin that went into the whip from a skin that started at 650 grams.  So just under 2/3 of the skin went into the whip and I had a center of the skin leftover that was 73 grams, but I’ll still need to cut the heel knot of of it.

What does all of that mean?  I don’t know, but it’s been something I’ve been curious about for a long, long time!


8 Foot Bullwhip Progress…

November 9th, 2014

Yesterday I finished the overlay of the bullwhip and attached the fall.  In the picture below you can see the foundation for the transition knot.  Having a knot here is basically a cosmetic thing, it doesn’t serve much function here, except for covering the change in plaiting pattern, which isn’t a big deal going from checkerboard to a 4 seam pattern.  Any decent whip maker should be able to make that transition look good and not have to cover it with a knot.

12 plait kangaroo overlay

When you have a whip where the pattern and the lash and handle are the same the top knot can be a visual indicator for the user as to where the rigid handle ends.  I put a knot foundation under my transition knot (not everyone does) and that tightly wound string does add some structural support, but I bet it’s a negligible amount.

Next up was to work on the wrist loop.  Usually I make this out of the lace that was leftover from over-cutting the overlay:

wrist loop on bullwhip

The wrist loop for this whip is 6 plait because it’s an Indiana Jones style bullwhip.  It gets attached to the handle.

how to make a bullwhip

Tomorrow I’ll start working on the heel knot and do some shellacing and rolling.  Hopefully this will ship out tomorrow!



Bullwhip Handle Tweaks…

November 7th, 2014

I’m currently working on an 8 foot 12 plait “Indy” bullwhip.  Lately my Indy bullwhips have had a thicker handle that resembles a more Modern David Morgan 450 series bullwhip.  After visiting Paul Nolan a couple of months ago and looking at the slimmer handle profiles he puts on his Indy bullwhips I kinda liked that look.  The look on Paul’s resemble a more “vintage” Morgan bullwhip.

One of the reasons that mine end up with a thicker handle, and a thicker general profile is that I like using the thick kangaroo skins on the overlays.  It gives good chunky look to the strands one the whip.   When making the whips I usually even out the bellies on my bench splitter, but not thin them down very much.  For this whip I thinned down the bellies quite a bit.  I also thinned down the yoke more than the strands, that’s going to give my handle a slightly thinner profile.  I also adjusted my core a bit to be thinner on the handle foundation.

Here’s the inner belly finished:

bull whip

And here’s the outer bell finished:




I also made a little adjustment in how I put the lead on.  I normally add the lead on top of the final bolster.  For this whip I added the lead, then put the bolster on the whip.  That’s goingn to reduce the size of the heel knot a little bit.

Indiana jones style bullwhip

I’ve gotten a bit of work on the overlay in and I’m liking the little differences that this is making the the overall look of the whip (so far).


Copyright 2009 by Louie Foxx LLC http://bullwhips.org.