Bullwhips – Handmade by Louie

Blackjack Repair

February 25th, 2015

Recently I did a repair on a antique blackjack that had a broken wrist loop.  Here’s how it looked initially:

leather blackjack

Here’s a slightly closer up of the blackjack itself:

black jack

First thing I had to do was undo the knot:

black jack repair

Under the wrist loop there weren’t really any surprises, initially.   What I did find interesting under the string was that the wrist loop was tacked to the spring foundation of the blackjack.  It was just nailed inbetween the coils of the springs.  I would have figured the texture of the spring and the binding with string would have held it fairly securely.  Then thinking about this probably hanging from a policeman’s wrist or belt while they are running around all day those little tacks probably gave a bit of extra security!

Once the spring was taken off what was left was the bare spring foundation.

black jack

I’ll post some pictures of the finished repair soon.



February 22nd, 2015

One thing about living in the Seattle area and wanting to crack whips is that it always seems like the grass is wet, even in the summer!  I tend to crack whips earlier in the day and while it may be dry out the little bit of dew in the grass after a little while soaks into the falls of whips and makes them handle funny.  One solution is to coat your whip with dressing to slow the penetration of water into the fall and point of the whip, which is what I typically do.

Recently I came across a product called NeverWet which repels water.


I’ve thought about coating a fall in it to see what happens, however I think the amount of work it’d take versus how long it’d keep the fall dry would make it not worth it.  To apply the NeverWet, you’d spray the base coat, wait 30 mins, then the top coat and wait 12 hours.  Which the amount of force the fall takes I bet you’d need to apply it every day or two.  Also it adds a foggy look to things after you apply it.

Maybe one day I’ll coat a fall in NeverWet, if I do I’ll keep you posted.  If you try it let me  know how it turned out!


Mini Bullwhip

February 12th, 2015

Every now and then when I have some time and enough leftover kangaroo I make a mini bullwhip.  Here’s one I made a few months ago:

bull whip

It measures approx 14 inches excluding the fall and cracker and has an 8 plait kangaroo overlay.  I’ve gotten little cracks out of it, but it’s primarily a display piece.

Normally these start at $75, however I just listed this one at $50 on my IN STOCK page.


From the Mail Bag…

February 10th, 2015

I get people who email me with whip making questions all the time.  Here’s a recent one and my answers will be in bold:

… I am looking into tackling my first whip making project…. I was wondering if I could ask a few questions in this email about some of the specifics of making an Indiana Jones style 2 belly 12 plait bullwhip that is 10ft long. I am planning on doing the first belly as a 4 plait and the second as a 6 plait with a bolster running down the outside length of each belly.

Both bellies don’t need to be more than 4 plait. I know some people say that using an increasing number of plaits on each belly makes a better whip.  In my opinion if your internal construction is core – belly – bolster – belly – bolster and you think of a bolster as a 1 plait it totally destroys the increasing number of plaits in a belly theory.  

I’ve talked with some of the people at David Morgan regarding materials and they have directed me to your site as a great resources for my project. After reading through your site, I still have a few questions about what I would need to do to prepare for my project. Firstly, for a 10ft long 12 plait bullwhip, how much would I need to taper each of the strands for the bellies/overlay? I have heard that for the overlay some people go from 6-4mm, but I was wondering if you had any recommendations as to how much to taper each strand for the internal bellies and the overlay itself.

When I make a whip I cut the strands to fit the whip. What that means is that I don’t start with a specific width.  I measure the circumference of the whip, multiply it by 1.5 and then divide that by the number of plaits.
So for example my whip after adding the final bolster measures 60mm around and I’m making a 12 plait w
hip. My math would look like:

60 X 1.5 =90  
90 / 12=7.5

So 7.5mm would be my strand width assuming there’s no stretch in the skin.  So you’ll cut wider on the stretchy parts. 

If this was my first whip I’d probably try to cut at 7.5mm all maybe taper down to 6mm at the point of the whip.  Then resize as I’m plaiting.  

I understand I also need to bevel the edges of the leather to get the best plaiting, so that will also be accounted for when preparing my leather straps. Secondly, how long (approximately) would you recommend each of the bellies to be? I am unsure about how long to make each belly as from what I have been able to find online, each belly does not go all the way down the length of the whip.

The general formula most people use is approx. 1/4 and 1/2 the final length of the  whip.  

And lastly, is there a set time when I should begin to drop strands in the 12 plait overlay?

Start dropping at the end of the final belly.  However you can resize if necessary at any point. 

I have read that one needs to bring the 12 strands down to about 6 strands by the end of the whip. Do you have any recommended times to begin dropping strands from 12 to 10, 10 to 8, and then 8 to 6?

You drop when necessary.   The width of the strand will tell you when to drop.  If you drop too early you’ll get gaps and if you drop to late you’ll get bunched up strands and in a worse case scenario a big air pocket inside the whip. 

I am sorry for all of the questions being placed in one email. I really appreciate the time and consideration for reading this! Thank you so much for your time and help.

Hope that helps!


Out of Town…

January 27th, 2015

This is just a quick heads up to let you know I’m out of town from 1/28/15 to 2/8/15.  While I’m away nothing will get worked on or shipped until I return on 2/9/15.

Thanks !


Latigo Falls

January 26th, 2015

It always feels like I’m constantly out of falls, no matter how many I cut out at any time.   Last night I cut out a batch of falls.  To speed things up a little bit I cut them out with a yoke at the wider end:

latigo bull whip falls


After I cut them out I punch a hole in the yoke and hang them on the hook by the hole.  Next I pare both top sides, then flip the yoke over and pare the other two sides.  Once they are pared I cut the slit in them, give them a hit of grease and round them.

bullwhip falls

This is a pretty quick and easy way to make a bunch of falls that saves a bit of time over individually having to flip each fall.


Fancy Whip Making Tools…

January 5th, 2015

If you read forums on the internet about whip making (or leather craft) people always talk about wanting to make a whip, but are saving up money for some expensive cutter, splitter or whatever.  They think they need expensive tools to make a whip.  The simple fact is you really don’t need anything fancy to make a whip, other than time.  All it takes is a lot of practice to make a whip, sure your first one will suck, but it will whether you use simple or fancy tools.

No counting things that go into the whip (like string or grease), here’s my list of tools that I use:

Box cutter and blades
Scrap Leather 

So for probably less than the $40 you can have all the tools you need to make your first bullwhip.  The scrap  leather is cut offs from your whip, so that’s free and you probably already have a hammer and ruler.

The point is if you are thinking of wanting to try to make a whip, don’t get bogged down by tools, just get a knife and start cutting!



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.


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