Paring Kangaroo Lace

Paring Kangaroo Lace

Quite often people email me asking me about paring kangaroo.  I’m not a complete expert on this, there are tons of poeple that are better at this than me.  I’ve only been making bullwhips for just over 2 years, where there are many other makers that have been doing it a lot longer.

One thing that I’ve learned about paring leather is that it’s a knack and will take time and experimenting to learn.  David Morgan told me that he knows he has a good pare when he cuts off one piece the whole length of the lace.

I took a little video of my paring some kangaroo lace.  It’s almost how I normally do it, the difference is that I had to hold the camera with my neck, so my posture was different than normal.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

7.5 foot bullwhip…

7.5 foot bullwhip…

Thursday I started work on a 7 1/2 foot Indy bullwhip while I was on the road.

Bullwhip belly
Bullwhip belly

Earlier today I finished the 7 1/2 foot 12 plait Indy Style bullwhip.  I used a couple of techinques I picked up from Joe Strain to give the whip a more finished (and Indy) look.

Here’s the handle before shellacing

Bullwhip
Indy Bullwhip Turkshead

And then after Shellacing;

Indiana Jones Style bullwhip (Shellac'd)
Indiana Jones Style bullwhip (Shellac'd)

I think that the butt knot is finally starting to look right (for an Indy bullwhip).

Unshellac'd bullwhip
7 1/2 foot bullwhip
12 plait bullwhip
12 plait bullwhip

I’m very happy with how the knots turned out and hopefully when I apply the techniques I did this time they will give me the same results on the next bullwhip!

Here’s me taking a break from performing and making bullwhips to take a trip with my daughter through a corn maze:

Louie Cornmaze
Louie in a Cornmaze

My next project is to finish a Signal Whip that I started a while ago.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bolsters…

Bolsters…

One of the things that I spend a lot of time thinking about and experimenting with in my  bullwhips are bolsters.  Their lengths and what you use can really alter the weight and taper of the bullwhip.  Then getting them to fit right and have a straight seam while you are braiding can be another challenge.

A while ago I used to precut all my bolsters so they were the same size and width, then I’d tweak them before I attached it to the bullwhip.  Now I precut the inner bolster and core, and custom cut the final bolster for every bullwhip.  I’ve found that for me that’s the best way to get good results.

When I measure the final bolster I take measurements at:

  • The Base of the handle
  • Where the belly’s plaiting starts
  • and every foot of the bolster

Then when it comes to cutting it out, I lay out my hide and with my straight edge I draw a line the length of the bolster.  This line will be the center line of the bolster.  Then I make a mark at each spot on the line that corresponds to where my measurements were taken.

Now I take each measurment and divide it by two and set my digital caliper to the first number and mark that distance on each side of the center line.  I do that with each  measurment, then with my straight edge I “connect the dots”.  If I’ve done my measurements correctly I will have the bolster’s shape drawn on the hide with a line down the center.

All that’s left it to cut it out.

This way produces a bit more waste than simply cutting a triangle, but I’ve found that I get a better for and I end  up doing a lot less tweaking of the final bolster.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

On The Road…

On The Road…

Right now I’m on the road performing, and right now I’m in Spokane, WA and I’m heading out to Rockford, WA in about an hour.  I’m staying at a pretty nice hotel (thank you priceline.com!) and when I left my house yesterday I brought a kangaroo hide and some kip with me.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring a steel spike, so I couldn’t start assembling a bullwhip.

I did manage to cut out the two bellies and an a 12 plait overlay for an 8 foot indy bullwhip.  I also managed to pare the two bellies.

Bullwhip making on the road

Lately my kangaroo hides have been under 60 dm in size, but the one that I cut last night was 65dm!  However all the other natural tan kangaroo skins that I got with that shipment were in the low 50dm’s.  One thing that these smaller sized kangaroo hide are doing is making me really think about the best way to cut the hide to eliminate waste.  Also I’m doing something that Meagan and Alex at David Morgan’s shop showed me to help get longer bullwhips out of smaller kangaroo hides.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Different Bullwhip Construction…

Different Bullwhip Construction…

Right now I’m working on making a bullwhip that has a cane handle instead of a spike or spring steel foundation.  Early on I had made a couple of bullwhips with wood handle foundations (per ron edward’s book).

This morning I was reading the APWA’s website and found Glen Denholm’s method for making a bullwhip (http://www.apwa.org.au/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=4&thread_id=5). One thing that I didn’t like from my early attempts at making wood handled bullwhips was that the handle was light.

Glen’s method has me loading the inside of the cane, which I found interesting.  So I dug up a piece of Tohei Cane that I had kicking around and cut off a 10 inch piece of it.  I drilled it out at both ends and filled one end about 3/4 of the way with lead shot.  Then I put in some glue, the finished filling the hole almost all the way with lead shot and added some more glue.

Bullwhip 7 foot 12 plait

I figured 3 inches of the lead wouldn’t be very noticeable.  I was amazed at how much weight the lead shot added to the cane handle.

The next part was to make a 4 plait “core” to stick into the other end of the Tohei Cane.  I ended up making two little plaited bellies, one about 5 inches and then one 8 inches long.  I left short filler strands on mine (Glen doesnt’ mention that on his instructions).  The reason I left the filler strands was to give the whip a smoother taper than if the belly just dropped off.

Bullwhip 7 foot 12 plait

I put a line on the 4 plait core so that I knew when it was pushed all the way into the handle.bullwhip

I put some glue into the handle and put in the 4 plait core/belly.  Right now I’m waiting for it to dry.  I’ll start writing again in a few hours…or whenever I get a chance to do some more work on it.

Bullwhip 7 foot 12 plait

The glue is dry and the I’ve added another 4 plait layer.  Glen uses 2 strands folded in half to make this layer, I had all four strands connected at the top and tacked them into place.  The tacks hold the set for this layer and they also go into the cane and help anchor the core/belly.2 plaited bellies

One thing I’ve noticed is this whip has a pretty stiff transition, which should help keep it firm over time (I think).  After having made this whip, I realized that I should have tapered the handle down toward the thong of the bullwhip so that there is less of a bump at the handle thong transistion.

Bullwhip 7 foot 12 plaitbullwhip w/ two bolsters

I made the knot foundation out of lead to put a little extra weight into the bullwhip.

Bullwhip 7 foot 12 plait

The 12 plait overlay had a pretty drastic drop coming off the handle, so I’m really kicking myself for not tapering the end of the handle.  I used the knot to hide this drop off a bit, but in the future I will taper the handle.

Cane bullwhip handle

Another thing that I would do if I make another whip like this is to try to straighten the cane handle out more.

7 foot 12plait bullwhip

After trying out this bullwhip I’m glad I tried it and will probably in the future make another one like it.  It cracks well and it’s going to have me experiment more with full lenght bolsters.

Here’s a video of my giving it a few cracks:

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Rawhide Bullwhips…

Rawhide Bullwhips…

So I’ve pretty much come to the decision that I’m not going to use kangaroo rawhide as a plaited layer in my bullwhips.  I haven’t ruled out using rawhide in my whips, but the kangaroo rawhide is very thin compared to other kinds of rawhide.  I’ve used some goat rawhide that I liked, and may still experiment with that. The kangaroo rawhide bellies weren’t bad, it was just a lot of work for very little difference.

also I’m going to try making some twisted rawhide cores for my bullwhips. I’ll be interesting to see what effect the core being rawhide has on the bullwhip.

I do have enought kangaroo rawhide left to make a complete bullwhip out of kagaroo rawhide (bellies, bolsters and overlay).  I may use the leftover rawhide to make some more bellies for whips until I”m out.  But then the idea of a complete whip out of rawhide is a fun idea.

Before I can make complete Rawhide bullwhip I need to finish up a couple of projects I have in the works.  One project is a signal whip / Single Tail and the other is a 7 foot bullwhip that’s built with a different construction style.  I’ll post more about this 7 foot whip later when it’s finished.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Wrist Loops…

Wrist Loops…

Lately I’ve been putting more thought into my wrist loops and because of that they are looking much better.  I think there are a couple of things that are overlooked by beginners when they make wrist loops:

  1. Thickness of the strands:  On a 6 plait wrist loop that’s normally used on an Indy Bullwhip you need the strands to be fairly thin.
  2. Length of the wristloop:  I’ve notice that a lot of beginners wristloops aren’t very big.  That would make it hard for someone with a thick hand to use it.

Until recently I’ve been cutting my wristloops freehand, but since making my strands thinner I switched over to using one of David Morgan’s lace cutters.

kangaroo lace cutter by whipmaker david morgan

You can get them from David Morgan, they work great for cutting the fine strand of a wrist loop.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip Turkshead…

Bullwhip Turkshead…

Yesterday I finished an 8 foot Indy Bullwhip and wasn’t happy with the turkshead on the butt.  The kangaroo lace I cut was too thick and they knot was very cramped.  I really didn’t want to  redo it, but I did and I’m happy that I did.

Turkshead - Thick lace

In the picture above you can see how cramped the turkshead looks.  In the picture below it looks much  better.

Bullwhip thin lace

All this whip needs is a coat of shellac and it’s ready to go.  My whipmaking time is getting faster thanks to Bernardo’s and David Morgan’s tips on my plaiting technique.

Right now I have a signal whip in the works and all I need to do is cut and plait the overlay.  It’s got a slightly different construction than my previous ones.  This one has a kip shotbag, plaited belly, bolster, then the overlay.  We’ll see how it turns out.

Louie

Kip for Bolsters

Kip for Bolsters

I’ve had a lot of people ask me here I get the Kip hides that I use for my bolsters.  I get them from two places, MacPherson’s Leather and Tandy (two locations in my area).  So really I have three places that I can go to look for a kip hide that’s a good size, shape and weight.

Right now Tandy Leather has the kip hides I use for bolsters on my bullwhip on sale for pretty close to half off.  I use the number 9155 kip hides, and I think they are on sale for about $3.99.  It’s a good deal and will save you a lot, I think the average price range for a side of kip is about $80-$110, so getting for $40-$55 is a sweet deal.

I didn’t get much bullwhip work done over the weekend because I was down in Beaverton, Oregon performing over the weekend.  I ended up spending all day Saturday with Stan Kramien talking show biz.  Stan was a magician, ringmaster, horse trainer, ran a circus and also did a bullwhip act!   I always love talking shop with people and Stan’s done it all.

Tomorrow we’re going to the Puyallup Fair and hopefully we’ll catch Karen Quest’s show down there.  She does some whip cracking, but her show is more Lasso (at least it was last year).

Finally I’ve got an 8 foot bullwhip in the works.  It’s an indy style made with some of the nice heavy kangaroo skin that I get from David Morgan. My last visit there about a month ago really helped me out and it made a lot of things that I’ve been working on click and my bullwhips have improved because of it (Thanks again to everyone at David’s shop!).

Louie

http://bullwhips.org