One thing I’ve noticed is that I really appreciate lower plait count whips. By lower count I mean four and eight plait bull whips. To me there is something elegant about a well made whip that is only four or eight plait. It’s a working class whip…it’s a rugged whip…it’s a whip that is what it is.
With that said I just made a 4 1/2 foot 4 plait bullwhip for myself to use in shows. I wanted something a bit longer than the 4 foot bullwhip that I currently use and the extra six inches makes a big difference!
The cool thing about lower plait count is that they are pretty fast to make (but they have a unique set of challenges. For this whip I started with a 10 inch spike for the handle and a leather core.
Then I put on a 4 plait belly. This belly is made of cow leather and not kangaroo. The main reason I used cow and not kangaroo for the belly is that I had enough leftover of a kangaroo skin for the overlay, but not enough for the belly. Using cow leather for a belly inside of the whip doesn’t really change how the whip will perform. Inside the whip the cow leather won’t take much in the way of stress because it’s held together by the layers above and below it. Also since it’s a 4 plait belly it has wider strands than a 16 plait overlay, so I can still pull hard while plaiting and not have to worry about breaking strands.
Over the belly I put a bolster then a 4 plait black kangaroo overlay and a latigo fall.
For this bull whip I wanted a little more weight in the handle so I added a tiny bit of lead and capped it off.
Then I put on the knot on the transition in black kangaroo.
To add a touch of flair to the whip I did an interweave in red kangaroo on the transition knot.
Then I put a matching knot and interweave for the heel knot.
And here’s the finished whip.
I think one of the reasons you don’t see many 4 plait kangaroo whips is that it’s hard to cut out the overlay from a kangaroo skin. You need to cut the strands very wide at the beginning which means you need a fairly large skin to get strands wide enough. However if you were to cut the overlay out of the outside of the skin you have to deal with the stretchy parts of the skin which takes a bit more skill to make.
For me this whip is going to be used for shows or tricks where the whip will face some abrasion. For example the trick where I toss playing cards into the air and strike them with a bull whip, this will ding the heck out of the strands of a 12 or 16 plait whip. Another place I will use this whip is for some fairs / festivals I’ll be performing at this summer where I’ll be performing on concrete.