Yesterday finished working on the bullwhip with the alligator handle. However I did the knots with a second color interweave and I’m not sure that I like it, so I might be redoing them.
The work that was done yesterday was finishing plaiting the point:
This bullwhip is a 12 plait bullwhip and since it has an exotic leather handle I decided to give it a finer point than a usual 6 plait point and went with an 8 plait point. Also I started doing a couple of newish things to this bullwhip and one old thing.
The old thing that I did was something that I used to do a long time ago and for some reason stopped. What I’m going again is a little bit before strand drops I’m starting to taper the strands that will be dropped a little bit. That seems to ease the lace into the drop a little bit better.
The two new things that I’m doing are:
Different Angles of Paring: The lace that makes up this bullwhip starts out at the handle pared at an angle, but as you move toward the point the lace ends up more square. My thinking on this is that when you use a whip if it’s pared at an angle the lace at that thinner spot is more susceptible to abrasion damage which can turn into a torn or broken lace on the thinner point strands. By having them more square they should hold up to that a bit better. However since the first half of the whip doesn’t normally contact the ground abrasive damage isn’t really an issue.
Splitting By Hand: I’ve come up with my own technique for splitting lace by hand (no splitter). I’ll make a little video of this some day, but it’s pretty easy and right now it’s fun to do…we’ll see if I keep it up once the novelty has worn off!
Yesterday I also put the knots on the bullwhip. Here’s the transition knot before the interweave:
and after the interweave:
And here’s the heel knot foundation ready for a knot:
And here’s the finished heel knot:
Part of my “not sure if I like it” I think may come from the unbalanced look of the knots. I need to do them in one solid color, add more red to the heel knot, or less red to the transition knot.
Here’s a full view of the whip:
I still need to roll and shellac it after I come to a decision as to whether or not I like the knots. The more I look a them the more I’m OK with them…but still not positive!
I’m always amazed at the lack of training that many people have when they pick up a bullwhip and try to crack it! Number one priority is protecting your eyes, you need to wear safety goggles/glasses! However a quick search of the term “Bullwhip Fail” on youtube found tons of videos and virtually everyperson’s eyes were not protected!
The next thing that drives me crazy is how many people think that they instinctively know how to crack a bullwhip. In fact they will tell you they know how, but are lying! Cracking a bullwhip is not something you can automatically do…and if you think that because you can snap a towel that skill translates to a bullwhip you are 100% wrong!
I found a couple bullwhip videos that I think illustrate what not to do. Here’s the first one:
In the video above the guy is trying to have some sort of form besides simply dishragging the bullwhip. However he’s missing the follow through after the point where the bullwhip is supposed to crack.
Imagine someone playing baseball and they are batting. If you watch any sort of baseball you’ll know the batter follows through with their swing after the bat has made contact with the ball. Once the ball has contacted the bat and taken the energy from the swing the batter could technically stop the swing, but they all follow through. Why? Because if they forced a stop they could injure themselves…same with cracking a bullwhip, you don’t do a follow through you can injure yourself like the person in the above clip!
There are a couple of things that I find hilarious about this next clip:
First of all for the overhead crack he’s wildly swinging it over his head without purpose. Cracking a bullwhip is like dance, you need to move with intention. Notice about halfway through the video his body language get’s more “angry” and his swing gets crazier and crazier. That’s not good, whip cracking is all about control. He claims to have learned to crack a whip in school…but any competent teacher would tell you not to crack the bullwhip in front of you like he did at the 46 second mark. Finally the title of the video is “Pretty Cool Things I’m Pretty Good At” cracks me up! It should be, “Pretty Cool Things That I’m Incompetent At”!
Heck take the movie the Blues Brothers, even Belushi has proper form when he cracks in the famous Rawhide Scene:
So what I’m trying to say is if you are new to cracking a bullwhip finding a local bullwhip cracking group or whip cracker to learn from is a good idea. If that’s not an option there are tons of videos (DVD’s and online) that will teach you proper form. Bullwhip cracking is a sport has risks built into it and there’s now way to avoid it, but through proper training and safety (like goggles) you are reduce that risk!
Yesterday I was driving home and happened to pass by MacPherson Leather in Seattle. I decided to pop in and see if there was anything that caught my eye. In their scrap bin was a piece of alligator that was big enough for a bullwhip handle:
When I got home I started work on this bullwhip! First I cut out all the cowhide leather layers:
By cutting out all the bolsters and prepping them all at once it really shaves off a lot of time in the making process. I cut them out a bit wider than I need them and split them to the thickness that I want. Then when it comes time to put them on I tweak them to fit the whip.
I had originally planned on taking some more pictures of the making of the internal layers, but was talking to another whip maker on the phone while I was working and forgot to take more pictures.
I’ve got about half of the overlay cut out (it’s 12 plait in kangaroo) and I’m hoping to find time today to finish the entire bullwhip before I leave town tomorrow for a few days.
Yesterday I made an 8 foot 8 plait dog lead from black kangaroo. Here’s the skin that I used, it was pretty large and the leftover is going to be a 4 or 5 foot bullwhip:
The first step was to cut out the eight strands. I did this by cutting out one very long strand that was about 110 feet long. I also cut out one core strand that was about 15 feet long and will be doubled inside the dog lead.
This was cut from the outer part of the skin, so I cut the strands fairly wide and cleaned them up on my lace cutter. I rarely have opportunities to use my lace cutter because it doesn’t cut at a taper like is required for a bullwhip. I can even up and pare faster by hand, but it was a chance to use this tool so I spent a little extra time and used the lace maker.
Below are two piles of kangaroo, the pile on the right is the lace and the pile on the left is the waste.
I also used the lace cutter to pare the lace, which again is faster to do by hand…but sometimes it’s fun to use a tool.
The one thing about dog leads compared to bullwhips is that they are a lot less complicated. With a bullwhip you are constantly paying attention to taper, or dropping strands, but the with dog lead it’s pretty much just plaiting.
Here you can see the eight strands (four on each side) and the two core strands. The core strands are wider than the overlay.
And here’s the dog lead finished without a knot covering where the wrist loop is back plaited. I do most of my dog leads with flat braided wrist loops. Pretty much the only time I do round wrist loops is with 4 plait cowhide leather dog leads. Even my 4 plait kangaroo dog leads have 8 plait wrist loops. I think it looks better.
And here’s the finished dog lead with the two tone knot.
Currently I’m working on a 12 plait bullwhip. This bullwhip is made from goat skin instead of cow or kangaroo. I’m monkeying around with the idea of making a little video that shows how to make a bullwhip from materials that are cheaper than kangaroo.
One thing that I’m always amazed at is how most beginning whip makers want to make one from cow before moving to kangaroo. Their reasoning is that since cow is cheaper it’s good practice. I don’t necessarily believe that’s the best reason. While kangaroo is more expensive, it’s also much easier to use that cowhide which in frustration will save you headaches and time from dealing with broken strands, etc. Also with cowhide usually you have to buy a whole side which isn’t much cheaper than buying a kangaroo skin!
So depending on how the video turns out I may release it. I’ve basically put a camera on a trip pod and just recorded me making this whip. So it’s no Hollywood summer blockbuster, but once I get the bullwhip done and if the video turns out reasonable well I’ll start editing it.
Here’s the bullwhip so far:
This bullwhip has been plaited up to the 12 – 10 strand drop. Once I get a chance I’ll record the strand drop. It’s things like seeing someone do a strand drop that really helped me out. Not that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t know if I was on the right track or not when I was starting out. Strand drops aren’t hard to do…but they take a lot of time “master”.
I also finally finished up a 16 plait riding crop that I’ve been working on for a while:
This still needs a few coats of shellac and some rolling before it’s finished.
And finally the Science Channel has put a clip of the episode of How It’s Made that has Midwest Whips making a bullwhip on it:
Speaking of Midwest Whips they have a 5 foot 8 plait bullwhip of mine for sale on their in stock page: http://www.midwestwhips.com/InStock.html If you are looking for a 5 foot bullwhip this is a great one, or it would make a great first kangaroo bullwhip for someone!
Here’s my main issue with this listing…the seller is selling a bullwhip but has a picture of a snake whip in the listing! Does this mean the person has never made a bullwhip that they have a picture of and can post on the listing? I don’t know…but would I personally gamble $350 of my own money on it…nope!
The other thing is since this person says they are doing it for “Therapy” why are they waiting for you to buy it and not just making it and selling it after it’s finished? Making whips is something that I love to do and am passionate about and I make them without having orders. That’s the way I’ve always done it. If you want something specific that I’m not currently working on then yes you’ll have to prepay it. However this seller doesn’t appear to have anything in the pipeline or much past experience since all the bullwhip listings have the same picture of a snake whip. So this is an attempt to get you to prepay their therapy instead of them paying for their own!
Here’s a good example of making for the love of making bullwhip is that I just made an 8 foot Indy Bullwhip because I enjoy doing it…not because someone paid me to. I am selling it on my IN STOCK whips page (hint hint).
Oh one other thing that gets me with this auction is the “estimated delivery date” which (for me) shows it at November 17 -18. That’s over a 5 weeks away from today…but the listing says it’s a 3 week turn around time…hmmmm…once again personally I’m not going to gamble my $350 on a whip that’s delivery date is about a week and a half past the 30 day protection that paypal has.
I’m curious what you think about this…think I’m right…think I’m wrong…let me know in the comments of this post.
There are some differences between how they make bullwhips at David Morgan and how I normally make mine. For example the lead load is one of the first thing they do at David Morgan and it’s one of the last things that I do. Neither way is right or wrong, just how we do it.
Here’s the bullwhip with both bellies finished:
And here’s the bullwhip as it is currently:
It still need to have the wrist loop added:
The knots need to be tied and a few finishing touches. So far I’m happy with how this has turned out! Next up I’ll be finishing up a 16 plait riding crop that I started a while ago.