Been working too hard…

Been working too hard…

When I was in Beaverton Oregon performing, during the day I made a 5.5 foot bullwhip with a 12 inch handle.  Until now I’ve mostly been using 8 inch handles on my bullwhips. But this longer handle aussie style bullwhip is much easier to do multiple cracks with. 

Australian bullwhip

I was definately amazed at how easy things like volleys were. 

Aussie bullwhip

I’m going to make a couple of adjustments to the next long handled bullwhips whip and make myself a pair of these longer handled whips for two handed work.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bolster Length

Bolster Length

I just finished another “indy” bullwhip that has a different contsruction than Morgans.  The main difference is the bolster lengths.  I made this one with the bolsters longer than Morgans by about 6 inches on the shorter one and 10 inches on the longer one.

The longer bolster makes a prettier coiled whip.  The longer bolster really smooths out the bullwhip when it is coiled (while new).  It also moves more weight out toward the tip of the bullwhip.  Right now it looks nice outside and if it stays nice out, I’ll take the whip out and compare it to one of my “morgan” clones. 

As far as whipmaking goes I’m still trying to figure out my own style.  So experimenting with different weight distributions is important to figure out what I like.  One thing I’ve learned is that there is no “right” bullwhip, only what I like or don’t like. 

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Current Projects…

Current Projects…

Right now I have two whip projects in the works (with a 3rd bullwhip in the planning phase).  I have a signal whip that just needs a turks head and it’s done.  Also there’s a 6 foot bullwhip that’s about halfway done with the overlay.  The project in the planning phase is a 6 foot bullwhip, but it’ll be make with a consturction similar to my 4 foots and not what I normally do for my 6 foot bullwhips. 

Here’s a little video of me performing over the weekend in Beaverton, Oregon.  The only show I recorded was my weakest of the weekend, so it’s not the best show:

Louie

www.bullwhips.org/bullwhip_store

Faux Morgan

Faux Morgan

Last week I finished my morgan copy and it turned out alright.  I didn’t grease the strands as heavily as I normally do and didn’t pull them as tight, so the whip is a little (not much) looser than my whips normally are. That said it cracks very well!

 indiana jones bullwhip

I’m going to do another attempt at making one soon.

I finished making a 5 1/2 foot bullwhip with a 12 inch spring steel handle.  I’ll post pictures of it soon.  It turned out better than I expected, but have a couple of improvements to make when I do another one. More on that later.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip Making Questions

Bullwhip Making Questions

Yesterday I got an email with a bunch of questions from someone that wants to try to make a bullwhip.  I’m going to answer them here because I get emails with very similar questions quite often.

Also here’s my little disclaimer, I’m still in the beginner phase of learning to make whips.  I’ve been making them about a year and a few months and I’m trying to find “my style” with whipmaking.  So what I say below is based on my personal preferances and experience.  It could be right…or it could be wrong and I just don’t know it yet. 

Anyway here’s the Q & A:

Q: I noticed that you’ve been using the spring steel for your handle foundation. In what ways is it better/different than your previous handles?

A: Spring steel if flexible unlike a steel spike. So it will bend slightly while cracking.  I think that also gives the bullwhip a slightly thinner profile than when using a spike.  Spring still is lighter than the spike, so you don’t get the weight that a spike has. 


Q: One thing that I’m curious about is how the handle is weighted for a given length whip? You already have several layers of braiding/bolsters over the steel so how is the weight added?

A: I’ve done this several ways.  you can add the lead directly to the spike and have the leather start just past the lead.  Or you can add the lead on top of the a layer or two of leather (currently this is my preferred method).  Finally you can can the leather on top of all the layers of leather.  Obviously you can get a bit more lead and weight with the first method, but securing the lead to the spike gets tricky.


Q: After the overlay is plaited, how is the knob started and built up/shaped?

A: The knot foundation is under the yoke of the overlay.  If you aren’t using lead, then it’s a strip of leather.  If you are using leather than the foundation is the lead and the yoke(s) over it.


Q: What weight hide do you use for your whips?

A: I use whatever kangaroo I can get!  This is more of a personal preference (in my opinion).  For Indy Style bullwhips I think part of the look comes from using the heavy hides from David Morgan.  But for a non-indy bullwhip I normally use a medium kangaroo hide.


Q: Do you use just kangaroo for all layers of the whip?

A:  I use kangaroo for the braided layers and Kip/Calf for the bolsters and core.


Q:  What leather do you use for the falls?

A:  I use whitehide, but pretty much any leather of the proper thickness works.


Q:  How do you cut/taper your strands? Strand cutter?

A:  I freehand cut my strands with a knife.  It’s a pain in the butt to learn, but worth taking the time and wasting  a hide or two to learn.  You’ll waste a hide or two learning to use  a strand cutter as well, so learning free hand in my opinon is  a better option.  It’s faster and you get better results because it’s easier to adjust on the fly as you are cutting when you get to a stretchy part, scar, etc.


Q: Just how ‘perfect’ must the strand width be as your cutting? Is there some room for error (i.e. varying differences in wide/narrow cutting) or does it need to be spot on?

A:  In a perfect world all my strands would be spot on, but they aren’t.  Since a bullwhip is a handcrafted item, so none of your strands are going to be perfectly straight and exactly the same width (unless you are someone like Joe Strain).

Q: Do you stretch the hide before cutting strands to alleviate/lessen the stretch of strands when braiding? If so, what technique do you use?

A:  I cut the set for the belly or overlay, then I stretch the strands before I pare them.  As for technique I put the yoke in a vise and grab each strand at the base and pull as I move my hand towards the tip of the strand.


Q: Finally, how many hides should initially be purchased for working on the first few whips?

A: Depends on your budget and desire.  Your first whip will take you a while to make and remember that you will mangle at least a  hide learning to freehand cut (or learning to use a strand cutter).  The mangled strand can still be used to make a whip, they will just be pretty wavy.  I get about 4-6 hides at a time when ordering from Australia because that seems to offset the shipping a bit. Ordering just one hide from Australia isn’t really cost effective.  When I get hides from Morgan I get them one at a time because he’s local in my area, so it pick them up and it saves on shipping and it’s a great excuse to chat with him.

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I hope that answers some questions about getting started making a bullwhip.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

6 foot 12 plait Indy Bullwhip

6 foot 12 plait Indy Bullwhip

I finished an Indiana Jones Style bullwhip.   The main difference between this bullwhip and most “indy” bullwhips is that this one has a spring steel handle foundation instead of the usual spike. 

indiana jones indy style bullwhip

I like the spring steel for the handle foundation.  One thing I like about it is how it adds a bit of “response” to the whip.  In David Morgan’s book “Whips and Whipmaking” in the chapter on handles he talks about the benefits of a flexible handle.  The disadvantages to  using spring steel is it’s about 5 times more expensive than a spike and it’s not as heavy.  I addressed the weight by adding lead to the butt of the whip to even it out a bit. 

kangaroo bullwhip indiana jones style

I’ve also changed the way I make the filler strands for the last half of the whip.  I use less strands, but they are thicker, instead of more strands that are thinner.  This makes the point of the whip less dense than my whips previously had, so the break in time is a bit less.  I learned that from my break down of my Morgan whip and with conversations with him.

bullwhips for sale indiana jones style

http://bullwhips.org

Portland, OR whipcrakers…

Portland, OR whipcrakers…

This weekend (friday 2/8 and saturday 2/9) I will be performing in Beaverton, OR at Jester Comedy Club.  If you are a whipcracker in the Beaverton/Portland area and want to get together and crack some whips during the day, let me know.  I do some whip cracking in the show as well. 

Yesterday I started work on a signal whip that will be 4 feet long.  I’m still working to figure out the whole shotbag deal.  My last one turned out well, but I’m still experimenting to find the best size for the shot bag. 

Louie

http://bullwhips.org/bullwhip_store

Morgan “Clone”…

Morgan “Clone”…

I’m about halfway through my copy of a Morgan Bullwhip.  When I took apart my Morgan whip, I wondered why he did things certain ways, but now making one I’m noticing there is a reason for things that I thought were done to save a bit of time. 

The one thing that Morgan doesn’t do that I do is pare the bolsters.  From taking apart his whip I could see that it doesn’t really matter.  In my head smothing out the transition from the edge of the bolster to makes sense, but seeing a whip after it’s been rolled (and used) it smooths itself out.

 I was just remembering how when I started making whips that one thing that really confused me was bolsters.  I was really scared of them.  I thought that they had to fit perfectly seam to seam around the entire part of the belly that it covered.  After making a lot of whips I know that isn’t the case.  The other thing that boggled me was lengths of the bolsters.  But what really helped me understand them was a conversation with David Morgan.  He was cracking a whip that I made that didn’t have the longer of the two bolsters.  He said that it was, “a little light at the end” then I told him it only had the shorter bolster.  His reply was something like, “your bolster brings the weight a little bit farther out to the end”. 

Before I thought that bolster just contributed to the taper of the whip, but now I also consider what it does for the weight of the bullwhip.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

6 foot “indy” finished!!

6 foot “indy” finished!!

The shellac on the six foot bullwhip has just dried and it looks pretty good.  This bullwhip has an 8 inch spring steel handle.  I’ve thrown it a few times on my deck and this bullwhip has an excellent crack!

indiana jones bullwhip

When I tied the turks head the shape of the butt of the whip was “tear drop” which I don’t really like, but  a lot of my whips end up with that shape.  I gave it a good roll and got a more round shape to the butt of the whip.

indiana jones bullwhip

I can tell my earlier whips when I see pictures of them because of the “tear drop” shaped turks head. 

12 plait kangaroo hide bullwhip indy style

The wrist loop on this whip is only 5 plait instead of the usual 6 plait that I put on most of my whips.  I was using scrap kangaroo for the wrist loop instead of cutting it out of the hide.  I have a ton a scrap and I figure that if I can make the wrist loop out of scrap it will save a bit of leather.  The reason that this is 5 instead of 6 was that I had 5 scrap laces readily available in the correct color, but not 6.  I guess I could have cut out the 6th strand, but was lazy.

indiana jones bullwhip

I’m still amazed at how much better a coat of shellac makes a bullwhip look!

Oh, here’s a picture of the whip in progress:

bullwhip making and plaiting

In the picture you can see that I use a vice to hold my bullwhip while I’m plaiting it.  I wrap the thong with a thick washcloth, then put it in the vice.  The washcloth keeps the thong from getting squished or scratched by the vice.  That’s the way I do it currently.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org