Two Dog Leads

Two Dog Leads

Right now my current project is working on two six foot dog leads.  Both of them will be in eight plait kangaroo, one will be red and the other natural tan.  Below is the lace cut out:

kangaroo

Then I stretched it and split it down to the same thickness:

kangaroo dog lead

And finally I resized it and pared it:

kangaroo dog lead

I like the pictures of the process of the strand prep happening, because it really looks like nothing has changed…but a lot has happened!

Also with these dog leads I put a core in the middle:

kangaroo cores

Normally with something like a 4 plait dog lead I wouldn’t do a core, but at 8 plait it needs one to be round shape.  If I didn’t put a core in the leash would have a square cross section.

Here’s the brass  hardware that will go on these:

kangaroo dog leash

Also on the navigation bar to the left I’ve added a section of my online store called Plaited Goods for Sale.  Right now the main part of that is dog leads, I’ve got a bunch in stock, but only a couple listed.  I’ll try to find some time to list more when I get a chance.  I’m also planning on adding some more categories to that for the other things I make like Bosals, Rommel Reins, bracelets, etc.

Once these two dog leads are done I’m going to try to find some time to bang out a few more of my Beginners Bullwhips.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

How to be a better bullwhip performer…

How to be a better bullwhip performer…

Here’s a quick little tip if you are thinking of doing shows with your bullwhip…experiment!  What I mean by that is to try different things or take some risks.

By taking risks, I mean you try  things that take you out of your personal comfort zone…but don’t take that to mean try doing something that puts others in a risky or dangerous situation.  If you’ve only been cracking whips for a week trying to knock a quarter off someones tongue is a stupid idea.

Here’s an example of a small thing that I experimented with that has had a huge impact in the whip portion of my show.  If you don’t know my “day job” is a professional magic and variety performer.  If you look on youtube and watch other whip crackers most of them use carnations for targets that they cut.  While carnations make great targets and when you cut them with the whip the end falls off  easily.  I did some experimenting and found pom poms which I’m sure isn’t their official name, but that’s what they are normally labeled as at the store.  Pom Poms have a larger diameter  across the flower so visually it will play better than a carnation.  Also when you hit them with a whip they explode!  Check out the pic below:

bullwhip

So trying little changes instead of doing what everyone else does will make you a better whip performer!  Just remember to never do anything that puts anyone else in danger!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Snake Whip

Snake Whip

This morning I put the finishing touches on a 3 foot snake whip.   This snake whip is made in two tone kangaroo.  I plaited some patterns at the beginning of the whip (which is basically the same pattern as I used on the riding crop).

snake whip

Here’s the whip pre-shellac:

snake whip

And here it it after a couple of coats of shellac:

snakewhip

Every I put shellac on a whip I’m always amazed at how it changes the color.

I also just listed this snake whip for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Balance Point of a Bullwhip

Balance Point of a Bullwhip

A couple of days ago I was looking at the whips for sale on ebay and I was struck by a picture that one of the makers had posted on their listing.  It looked similar to this:

bullwhip

I’ve seen this type of picture before.  Supposedly it shows the “balance point” of the whip.  This is a very misleading picture.  While the whip is technically balanced in that picture, there are a couple of other things going on with the physics of balance that make showing the true balance point of the whip fairly difficult by simply laying it over your finger.  However  if you could somehow weigh the whip in sections you could probably find the true point where half the weight is on each side…but you can’t find it with your finger like in the picture below.

Imagine this yellow hook is the handle of the whip and my belt is the lash (the belt weights a lot more than the hook):

bullwhip

Where’s the balance point in the picture below?

bullwhip

No one in their right mind would think the 5mm of the hook on my finger weigh the same as the rest of the hook plus my belt.  However its balanced there because of physics.

Look at this picture of the whip balance.  Is my finger at the balance point?

bullwhip

Here’s an expanded view so you can see the whole whip:

bullwhip

Notice that part of the lash of the coiled whip is under my finger.  Every bit that is below my finger and under the handle is helping to add artificial weight to the handle side.

In the picture below I’ve added  my belt to use as a makeshift line to show what’s below the handle side.  Now it’s not much, but it’s still skewing the results.

bullwhip

Assuming the whip is tightly plaited the picture below is probably a better way to check the balance  and in my opinion probably the most accurate way you can do it by laying it over your finger:

bullwhip

Notice that by laying the whip over my finger differently I’ve moved the balance point about 6 inches further up the lash.  So in my opinion when someone is showing you a coiled whip balanced over their finger to show the balance of a whip, they don’t know what they are talking about and/or are simply trying to add hype to a subpar whip.

Another thing to consider

While  the balance point may be near the end of the handle, that’s not where you  hold it.  Now I do realize that your leverage point is the end of the handle,  for a whip  to be truly balanced you’d need the weight that’s actually in your hand to be equal to what’s not in your hand.  The handle makes a difference for putting the loop or hair pin turn in the lash to crack it, but aside from weight the stiff handle doesn’t move the balance point at all.

So  in my opinion most bullwhips are point heavy by virtue of you only holding a couple of inches actually in your hand.

What does this all mean?

In my opinion the exact balance point of a whip doesn’t really matter.  For example a 12 foot whip could crack the same as a 6 foot whip, but will most likely have a different balance point.

As you use the whip the balance point will constantly be changing during a crack. Let’s take the flick or forward throw as out example.  To help you visualize this, I’m going to pretend that at each point we can magicially stop the whip and freeze it in its position and try to balance it with our finger.

Let’s say you start with the whip laid out in front of you, then you drag it behind you, lift it up and throw forward to get the crack.  When you start out with the whip on the ground it’s handle heavy because the ground is holding a good portion of the lashes weight.  as you slide it behind you the ground is still holding the lash’s weight until all the lash is off the ground.  Once the lash is off the ground and the lash is essentially laid out in a straight (or almost straight) line in the air.  Remember due to you only holding a few inches of the handle the whip is still point heavy.

Now you will begin to push the whip forward.  As you push forward the whip quickly becomes butt heavy as soon as your hand is in front of the lash.  Then as more and more the the lash moves forward the whip will once again be point heavy.  Now the whip cracks and your drop your hand to your side and just like at the beginning of the crack the whip becomes butt heavy again when the ground starts to support the weight of the lash.

“So what should I look for instead of balance point?”

That’s a good question.  Everyone likes different qualities in a whip, some people like a heavy lash, some people like a lighter one.  Generally I think of whips balance in two ways. Each are determined by how they feel when you hold the handle.   Does it feel:

1. Point heavy

2. Butt heavy

One isn’t necessarily better than the other.

However the important thing you are looking for in a whip is the actual taper of the lash.  In my opinion this is more important than where the balance point it.  Personally I want the lash to evenly taper from the handle to the point.  That’s going to give me the best transfer of energy down the whip.

If a whip is super thick all the way to the 6 inches shy of the fall hitch it’s going to have a hard crack…but you’ll have to throw it a lot harder to get that crack.

If a whip tapers sharply right off the handle and is thin for the whole length of the lash, it’s going to be a lighter cracking whip, but you’ll still need to put some force into your throw to get a good crack out it.

Both of those tapers aren’t the best transfer of energy down the whip. Now with a bullwhip with an even taper all the way down the whip you will get the most crack for the least amount of effort on your part resulting in a more elegant crack.

A long time ago I was talking to David Morgan about why he puts lead in the handles of his whips.  He said that it’s mostly to help you keep the whip from wanting to jump out of your hand when you crack it.  While that is a balance thing, it’s more of an anchor thing.  I like David’s thinking!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Snake Whip and Completed Riding Crop

Snake Whip and Completed Riding Crop

Yesterday I finally put the wrist loop and knot on the riding crop:

16 plait riding crop
riding crop

I also started work on a snake whip.  All that’s done is the shotbag and a short bolster:

snake whip core

Today I should be able to find the time to get a lot of the work on this snake whip done.  I did give the shot bag a little flick and it had a nice little crack (that surprised me!).

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Indy Whip and a Riding Crop

Indy Whip and a Riding Crop

Last week I started working on a 7 foot Indiana Jones style bullwhip.  This whip came out really well, here’s a picture before the heel knot was put on:

Indiana Jones Bullwhip

Here’s the finished seven foot Indy style bullwhip:

kangaroo bullwhip
bull whip
Bullwhip

I always find it interesting the amount of color change that a coat of shellac gives the whip.  If you look a the top picture and compare it to the next ones, you’ll see the difference.  I gave this whip a few flicks in my living room and it’s got a great crack!

Yesterday I started working on a 16 plait riding crop.  This whip was made with twisted rawhide core (with cane center) and has a two tone kangaroo overlay.

kangaroo riding crop

Honestly I don’t think there is much of market for a super fancy riding crop, but it was a fun project to make.

kangaroo riding crop

This riding crop isn’t finished, I still need to add another knot and a wrist loop at the end of the handgrip area.

riding crop

The  main reason I made this riding crop was to mess around with some plating patterns, and it’s easier to make things like riding crops and stockwhip handles than it is to make a full whip.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Indy Whip and Roo Skins…

Indy Whip and Roo Skins…

Yesterday I finished up the strand prep for a 12 plait Indiana Jones style bullwhip.  When I was stretching them strands before paring I broke one.  This is probably the best time to break a strand because it was a simple matter to recut a strand and add it it.  Once the plaiting has started if a strand breaks I’d need to do some splicing.  Splicing strands doesn’t change how the whip handles, but  it’s  a pain in the butt!

Last night I had a show at the 7 Cedars casino in Sequim, so I didn’t have much time for plaiting.  I have about a foot of the whip done:

Indiana Jones style bullwhip

When I got home late last night there was also a fresh shipment of kangaroo waiting for me.  I had three veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo skins come in.  In the pics below my puppy Talia is inspecting them to make sure they pass her rigid quality standards:

Veg Tanned Drum stuffed kangaroo
Veg Tanned Drum stuffed kangaroo
Veg Tanned Drum stuffed kangaroo
Veg Tanned Drum stuffed kangaroo

The Black is 52 decimeters square, the red is 59 decimeters square and the natural tan is 49 decimeters square.  So that you have a point of reference for the size of the kangaroo skins the dog .75 pup-imeters square.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Indy Style Bullwhip

Indy Style Bullwhip

Yesterday I started work on an Indy style bullwhip.

veg tanned kangaroo

This veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo skin was 57 dm, so it’s big enough for a six or seven foot bullwhip.  I’m trying something of an experiment with the first three layers of this bullwhip.  A couple of weeks ago I made a bullwhip with a Jacka-like transition.  The key to his transition is the combination of what  you bind it with and the use of split cowhide for the insides.

If you’ve never felt split cowhide it has no grain side, so it’s rough on both sides, instead of having a rough and a smooth side.  What I did with this whip is I rolled my core with the grain side in, so the rough side it out.  Then I braided my inner belly with split cowhide and finally put the bolster on with the grain side out.  What that has done is put rough sides touching each other for the first three layers.  That is going to (in theory) give me a slightly more durable transition (and first 1/4 of the lash).

how to make a bullwhip

The worst case scenario is that this whip will handle handle like if I made it how I normally do…and the best is that it will be slightly stiffer.  That’s the goal, slightly stiffer at the transition from the handle to lash.  I don’t want a Jacka transition, just something a hair stiffer than what mine normally are.

Also for what it’s worth it’s much harder on my hands plaiting an inner belly that’s split cowhide.  Because there’s soo much more friction from the rough sides you have to pull a lot harder.

After the first two layers were finished I did the next belly and bolster how I normally do (out of kangaroo and kip).

bullwhip

Last night I also got the overlay cut out, but still need to stretch, split, and pare it.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Finished shark skin handle whip

Finished shark skin handle whip

Yesterday I finished the 24 plait bullwhip with the shark skin handle:

bullwhips
bullwhip

I gave it a couple of flicks on my deck and it’s got a nice crack!

I really like making these whips with “exotic” handles.  I think they look cool and no one is really making whips with different non-plaited handles.  Terry Jacka at one point offered whips with simulated alligator and simulated leopard handles.  While they are different they aren’t actual exotic leather for the handles.   Oh, for what it’s worth the sharks skin that I used for this whip was from sharks that were caught for food…not just their skins.

I’ve got enough of this shark skin left over to make two or three more bullwhip handles.  Also right now I have a line on  getting some other interesting exotic leather…

My next project is  going to be making a 6 or 7 foot Indy style bullwhip.

Louie
P.S. This bullwhip is for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

Bullwhip with Sharkskin Handle

Bullwhip with Sharkskin Handle

The project that I’ve been working on all last week is a 24 plait bullwhip with a sharkskin handle.  This whip would be finished by now, but my schedule has been full of performing and other things…but the whip still isn’t finished.

I’ve always wanted to make a sharkskin whip, but there are a couple of problems with making one.  Due to a sharkskin’s “H” like shape it’s be hard to get enough strands out of one skin, so I’d need multiple skins and that leads to the second problem…cost.  One sharkskin is in the neighborhood of $150, so I’d have at least $300 into the whip in materials alone!

The other  problem is since I’ve never actually touched a full sharkskin I don’t know how much usable skin there would be on it.  For this whip I found someone that would sell me a small piece of scrap based on this piece it was really spongy, so not the best whip making leather.  That’s why I’m not going to peruse making a full whip in sharkskin.

This whip has two plaited bellies, two bolsters and a 24 plait overlay that is jade colored veg tanned kangaroo:

Jade veg tanned kangaroo

Here’s the whip right after I finished the overlay:

bullwhip

One of the engineering challenges with this whip was to make the handle much thinner than the thong.  The piece of sharkskin I had was very thick, and I didn’t want a huge handle and a thin thong, or a thick thong and a thin handle.

how to make a bullwhip

I wanted them to be pretty close to the same diameter and I think I did a pretty good job matching them up.

bullwhip with sharkskin handle

To attach the sharkskin on the handle I used a different stitch than I used for the stingray handle that I put on a whip a while ago, I used a “baseball” type stitch.  The process was pretty simple, first I punched all the holes for the stitching, and then I coated the handle and the underside of the sharkskin with contact cement.  Once the cement was dry I very loosely stitched the sharkskin (off the handle) and then slipped it onto the handle and pulled the stitching tight.  It seems to be holding very tightly, so I’m not worried about it loosening or falling of.  Also the string I put under the knots will help hold it in place.

I do have the transition knot finished, but haven’t tied the heel knot just yet.  I should be able to find time to do that later today.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org