Bullwhips …

Bullwhips …

Here’s a couple of pictures of the 8 foot bullwhip that I shipped out yesterday (before shellacing it).

Bullwhips 8 foot 12 plait

The butt knot on this bullwhip is more Morgan-esque than what I was making about 3 months ago.  It seems that my new method for doing the butt is working.  My next thing to do work on is giving the handle a slimmer profile.  This bullwhip has a very slight taper up to from the handle to the thong.

Bullwhips 8 foot 12 plait

I’ve also started an 8 foot KotCS bullwhip.  I’ve plaited the first belly and attached the first bolster.

Bullwhips 8 foot 12 plait

I’ve also already cut out the 2nd belly for this bullwhip, but I probably won’t get to do any work on it until Tuesday-ish because I’m going to be out of town performing today and Monday.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip bolsters…

Bullwhip bolsters…

One of the most mysterious things about making bullwhips are the bolsters. There’s not much written about them in any of the handful of bullwhip making books.

Here’s what I know about what they do:

  • Increase the diameter of the bullwhip.
  • Add weight to the bullwhip.
  • Smooth out the bullwhip’s profile.
  • Move weight further out into the thong (this is different from just adding weight to the bullwhip)
  • Help define the “natural curve” of the bullwhip.
  • Help give a bullwhip the proper taper.

What is a bolster? For me a bolster is a piece of cow or kip leather that goes between the plaited layers of a bullwhip. Some people use kangaroo, goat, etc for the bolster, I don’t see why it couldn’t be pretty much any leather that’s the desired thickness. Early on I used pigskin for a bolster is a few bullwhips.

The bolster wraps around the thong and usually the handle and it plaited over. Below are two bolsters and a core cut out:

bullwhips bolster

I make my bullwhips with two plaited bellies and two bolsters. The bolsters are staggered in length so that one is shorter and one is longer. By having one shorter and one longer it will give you a better taper on the bullwhip than having two bolsters of the same length. If they are the same length your bullwhip’s taper will drop sharply a that point and it won’t have a nice smooth taper (usually).

I suppose you could make a bullwhip with the longer bolster first and the shorter one later, it would in theory give you the same taper. However if you did it that way your bullwhip would probably not be as smooth looking. A bolster on a bullwhip softens the transition from plaited belly to filler strands and makes that part of the finished bullwhip less noticable on the finished bullwhip.

The thickness of the bolster will add that much multiplied by two to the diameter of the bullwhip. So if you are trying to calculate the diameter of your finished whip before you start it’s very helpful to know that. For example if your bolster is .8mm thick then it will add 1.6mm to the diameter of the finished bullwhip.

By simply being there the bolster adds weight to the bullwhip. The bolster can run the entire length of the handle or just the last inch or two. That will give you a sleeker or thicker look on the handle.

The length of the bolster will help move weight further out into the thong. For example a 6 foot bullwhip with a bolster that’s 5 feet long will have more weight closer to the point than the same bullwhip with a 4 foot bolster. There’s no right or wrong length for the bolster of a bullwhip, it’s what you like. And it’s possible to have a bullwhip with a shorter bolster have more weight toward the tip than one with a longer bolster…the bolster is a tool for moving weight around inside the bullwhip.

For me the fun part about making bullwhips is playing around with the insides and making different parts different lengths or thicknesses and seeing how that changes the final product.

I hope you find this post interesting and/or helpful if you are trying to make a whip. If you have any different thoughts on bolsters, if you found this helpful or any comments on this post, click here to email me, I’d love to hear from you.

Now I’ve got to go and tie a couple to knots to finish a bullwhip!

Louie

8 foot Indy Bullwhip…

8 foot Indy Bullwhip…

I’ve got an 8 foot Morgan Style Indy Bullwhip that I’m working on right now.  I’ve got about 5 feet of the overlay plaited.  I’ve notice my braiding time seems to be getting faster, I’m going to need to time  myself again to see if that’s true.  Currently I’m averaging about an hour per foot of the completed whip.  So an 8 foot whip takes me about 8 hours start to finish to make.

Bullwhips and bullwhip making

After this bullwhip is finished I need to cut more falls and get them soaking in dressing, then I’ll start another 8 foot KotCS bullwhip.

Also after my experimentation with different thicknesses of bolsters I’ve settled on a combination that I like for my 8 foot and longer whips.   I do the core and first bolster from a thinner Kip, the the 2nd bolster from a slightly thicker calf hide.  It gives me a bit more weight out at the end of the bullwhip.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Louie

Bullwhips in the Works…

Bullwhips in the Works…

Last night I finished tying the knots on an 8 foot KotCS bullwhip and all I need to do is shellac it and it’s ready to ship out to Iowa!

8 foot KotCS bullwhip

Last night I also started an 8 foot Morgan Style Indy bullwhip. I cut out the core and both bellies and plaited the first belly:

8 foot bullwhip making

Today I’ll get the 2nd bolster finished and the 2nd belly plaited and hopefully the overlay cut out. I’m trying to crank through my outstanding orders as fast as I can so that I get them all taken care of before my performing schedule picks up!

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Another 8 foot Bullwhips almost finished…

Another 8 foot Bullwhips almost finished…

Yesterday I got a bit more plaiting in on an 8 foot KotCS bullwhip.  I didn’t think I’d get any of the overlay worked on during the weekend, but I got it all done and I also gave this bullwhip it’s first roll (I’ll roll it again after the knots are put on).

Indiana Jones Kingdom of the Crystal Skull style bullwhip

This bullwhip was given a few test flicks yesterday on my deck and it’s got a nice crack to it.  Next step is for the knots and then a roll and finally shellac.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get it out in the mail today…but I have a ton of other work that needs to be done (for my performing business) so I may not get to the knots today.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

3 Foot Pocket Snake Whip

3 Foot Pocket Snake Whip

Yesterday I had some leftover kangaroo hide and banged out a 3 foot 8 plait pocket snake whip.  This snake whip turned out pretty well and cracks nicely.  It has a shotbag, bolster, and the overlay.

36 inch snake whip

It ended up being a bit skinny, but I was trying out a new (to me) technique for making the shot bag.  I’m pleased with the results, but in the future I’ll probably add a plaited belly to it.

Also yesterday I got some work done on the 8 foot 12 plait KotCS style bullwhip.

8 foot 12 plait bullwhip

Right now it has about 2 feet of the overlay finished.  The seam on by bullwhips have gotten nice and straight lately.  there are a couple of things that I have done to help straighten them out.  First of all I’ve slightly changed the way I cut my bolsters.  And the second little trick is that I draw a line straight down the middle of the bolster.  Now when I plait I have the line to follow and it really helps keep me on track!

It looks like I’m going to have a bit of time between when the 8 foot bullwhip is finished and before my next shipment of kangaroo comes in, so I may have a bit of time to work on the pair of stockwhips that I’d like to make for myself.

Louie

Bullwhip Making Process Pictures…

Bullwhip Making Process Pictures…

Yesterday I got a bit of work done on another 8 foot KotCS style bullwhip.  I cut out the kangaroo bellies and the core and first boslter.  Below is a picture of the first plaited belly.

Bullwhip plaited kagnaroo belly

Then I cut the bolster and attached that. I used to use a thin kip for my bolsters, but after a conversation with David Morgan I’m switching to using a slightly thicker calf hide.  That change is only for my whips 8 feet or longer.  My 6 foot bullwhip will still use the thinner kip hide.

Bullwhip plaited kagnaroo belly

The belly strands are attached to the handle the lead has been added to the butt in the picture below.

Bullwhip plaited kagnaroo belly

And below is the bullwhip in its current state with the two bellies plaited.  The next steps are for me to cut out the final bolster, and the overlay.

Bullwhip plaited kagnaroo belly

I’ll probably get the final layers cut out, but no plaiting will be done on until Tuesday, because of the Memorial Day weekend.

Louie

8 foot Bullwhip Almost Finished…

8 foot Bullwhip Almost Finished…

Today I got some work in on an 8 foot KotCS style bullwhip. I finished up the overlay, plaited and attached the wrist loop, tied the knots and rolled everything. So all that is left is for me to shellac it and it’s finished!

12 plait bullwhip

Above is the bullwhip before rolling it and bellow is after it’s first roll (right now I roll my whips twice).

12 plait bullwhip for whip cracking

Below is the bullwhip with the wristloop attached.

8 foot bullwhip

I haven’t taken any pictures of the whip with the knots on it yet.  I’ll try to remember to take the pictures before and after the shellacing.

My next project is another 8 foot KotCS bullwhip.  I should be starting to cut up the hide for that either later tonight or tomorrow.  Here are my last two hides before my next shipment arrives…hopefully Wed or Thurs of next week.

Kangaroo for bullwhip making

Kangaroo for bullwhip making

I’ve done a few forward throws with the 8 foot bullwhip on my deck and that bullwhip’s got one heck of a crack!

Louie