Right now I’m making a 12 plait signal whip and the overlay is almost finished. I was just looking at it and admiring my strand drops in this particular whip. That got me thinking about dropping strands in a bullwhip.
If you haven’t made a whip, or don’t know what a strand drop is, basically it’s when you take plaits out of the whip (or more accurately drop them into the middle of the whip) to reduce the overlays diameter.
For example an Indiana Jones style bullwhip (like David Morgan’s) starts as a 12 plait (12 strands) at the handle and ends with only 6 strands at the fall hitch. The 6 strands that disappeared between the beginning and the end were dropped into the middle of the whip.
Having good technique for dropping strands will give you a whip that when coiled doesn’t have kinks in it and will help give the whip a nice taper.
For me the hardest part about strand drops was to avoid:
- Having a bump at the strand drop
- Having a dramatic decrease in diameter at the strand drop
- Kinks in the whip when coiled
A long time ago I used to cut out filler strands equal to the strand about to be dropped in to reduce the bump in the whip. This took away the bump, but gave me a sharp decrease in the whips taper (David Morgan scolded me for that one time, but helped me fix it!). What I currently do is cut out approx 1/2 of what I’m dropping into the bullwhip.
Also I’m dropping one strand from the front and one from the back of the plaiting at the same point. What that does is gives me to opposing small kinks in the whip that almost cancel each other out. If you drop to strands at the same point on the same side of the whip, you put two slightly weak spots together and it gives you one larger weak spot and a more visible kink in the whip.
There is more to it that that, and a lot of it is plaiting technique or knowing when to drop a strand. I know there are other ways to do this, this is how I figured it out to give my whips a smoother taper and coil.