8 Foot 16 Plait Bullwhip…

8 Foot 16 Plait Bullwhip…

Over the weekend I finished up a 6 foot 4 plait Deluxe Beginner’s Bullwhip:


I have another one of these that’s halfway finished on my hook and hopefully I’ll find time to get the second one finished soon!   I’ve got this bullwhip listed on my IN STOCK whips page.

My current project is working on an 8 foot 16 plait bullwhip.  This bullwhip will be done in natural tan kangaroo and when the order came in I was out of it, but I was also performing about 10 minutes away from David Morgan’s shop, so I stopped by to pick up a skin, here’s what I got:

Veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo

This skin is 57dm which is plenty large enough to do the overlay with.  While I was visiting David Morgan’s shop I have a nice little chat with Meagan and Alex!  Yesterday I got started on this whip and basically have the insides finished, here’s the core:

bullwhip core

This bullwhip is being built on a 10 inch spring steel rod.  Over the core is the inner plaited belly:

Inner Plaited Belly

And over the inner belly is the inner bolster:

Inner Bolster

And on top of that is the outer plaited belly:

Outer Plaited belly

You may notice that the outer plaited belly is braided over the entire handle unlike the inner belly.  That’s to add some bulk to the handle.  On top of the outer belly is the outer bolster:

Outer bolster

The way this bullwhip is constructed the first about 8.5 inches is thinner than the last 1.5 inches. That happens because the inner plaited belly has a yoke which is only one layer for the first 8.5 inches and once it starts being plaited it is two layers.  Then on top of that is the shorter bolster which only covers about 1.5 inches of the handle adding another layer to that part of the handle.  That means the last inch and a half of the whip is 2 layers thicker than the first inch and a half.

Having the thicker lash than handle is style thing, I could have just as easily made the inner belly so that it was plaited over the entire handle.  However I don’t want the lash drastically thicker than the handle either. So there’s something I do that I’m not aware of anyone else doing (however now that I write that I bet 30 guys will email me letting me know this is a standard technique going back hundreds of years).

What I do is when I split the leather for the core, inner belly and outer bolster I leave the first 8.5 inches of it at full thickness thinning down the leather from the 8.5 inch mark on.  That gives the layers at the beginning of the handle a bit more  bulk. Honestly it’s hardly much more, but  over three layers it adds up a bit.

I’m hoping to find time in my day to cut out the overlay for this bullwhip sometime in the second half of the day.


10 thoughts on “8 Foot 16 Plait Bullwhip…

  1. Hey Louie!
    I’ve pretty much followed your style of whip making except for one difference. I start both plaited bellies at the butt of the whip. It makes my handle and the start of the thong the same diameter. I try to make it about 25mm/1 inch around. I remember you posted once about using a hole punch at the beginning of the strands/end of the yoke to help the strands lay flat when you plait them. I’ve never tried this. When I start plaiting strands they “bunch up” at first. Where they start to go straight/lay flat is where I attach them to the handle. The bunched up part is cut off. This help make a smooth handle and transition from handle to thong.

    I also tend to make strands a little bit wider. On my current whip I added lead in the heel. The strands were wide enough that they covered the extra bump on the end of the handle.


    1. Jeff,

      from an visual point of view I like the look of a bit of taper in the handle. However at some point I figure that will change!


  2. I don’t know if anyone else uses that technique, but I think it’s fair to say we all have our own little personal way of building whips. In the end they are little more than minor differences, but it’s also what makes us unique. The way you plaited the second belly is how I do it all the time, though I only sometimes skive the second bolster over the swell at the end of the handle, and this I do it I want a straighter looking handle with little or no swell near the end. But I don’t split the entire bolster as you do. Anyway, always a pleasure to see how people build things.


    1. Franco,

      Do you plait the outer (second) belly over a 3/8 spike foundation? I’ve tried that in the past and ended up with a handle that was a little to thick for my liking. However the 2mm it would add to the overall diameter is purely a visual thing.


  3. Funny you should mention splitting down some of the layers like that, I’ve been doing that for most of my whips when it seems appropriate for the overall whip! lol :)

  4. It’s mostly visual but it can add a little more weight to the handle also. I like the look of a straight handle personally. I just finished a 12 foot bullwhip and there is a little bit of a swell at the transition. I took a standard 36″ core/handle and added another 6ft tapered core. I thinned the leather at the transition but the swell is still there. Overall the whip turned out nice but it really is a heavy whip!

    1. Jeff,

      In the past I’ve also thinned down the bolster leather at the “swell” near the transition. It works, but doesn’t help get the look I’m going for.

      I meant to respond to you about how many skins to make a longer whip, I was very busy when the message came in then it sort of fell off my radar. When I make 10-12 foot whips I generally use 3 skins in the low to mid 50 dm range to make the two whips. The drawback of that you end up making two long whips, the plus side is when all is done you end up with an extra whip.

  5. No Problem. For the 12ft bullwhip I used a 54dm for the bellies and a 59dm for the overlay. Wristloop and knots came from leftover leather (Never throw out old lace and centers!) I was down to the very center on both hides. If I make any more this length I would use larger hides.


  6. Yes I do use a 3/8 spike and I normally plait over the entire handle on the second belly, but it all depends on the thickness of the leather used too. I generally try to keep the swell to a minimum and I’ve never been very good at keeping it down when starting the second belly near the tip of the handle, so by plaiting from the base it reduces the swell, which I can further minimize with how I bind the handle and transition zone.

    But it’s been a while since I’ve been able to make a whip, so I may just try your way next time I make one… I do tend to be stubborn but I also try to step outside my comfort zone once in a while hehehe.


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