Today I did some work on a Deluxe Budget Bullwhip and after I cut out the strands for the belly and overlay I gave them a coat of grease. That got me thinking about why I think it’s important to grease a lot of leather. Most veg tanned cowhide that you see in leather shop (like a Tandy) is pretty dry.
When you are using a dry hide you really need to put some grease into it and let it soak in…not just plaiting soap before braiding. If you braid a really dry hide you can tear the fibers by plaiting too tightly. However if you grease them would might normally tear on a dry hide hopefully the fibers will stretch or bend a bit and not break. Also by putting more oils into the the whip you are making a the beginning you will increase the life of the whip…and make the users not have to put multiple coats of grease on their new whip before they use it.
Another advantage of grease is that when it softens the fibers on an internal layer, you are able to get the whip a little more dense by plaiting over the top of it.
Also by adding grease early on you are adding a bit a weight of the leather in the bullwhip, and that little bit over all the strands adds up.
So all those reasons are why I always grease up a dry hide or skin.