Bullwhip Core…

Bullwhip Core…

Yesterday I was about to cut out a core for a 6 foot bullwhip from a side of kip, when I had an idea.  In my head I want to have the core of my bullwhips as desnse as possible. That’s why I my cores (currently) are more than just a tapered piece of kip, then flare out then taper to a point.  That’s gives me a firm core off the handle foundation which will hopefully make the transition last longer.  

If you’ve never handled kip before it’s a the leather from a teenage cow and it’s very flexible compared to a grown up cow’s hide.  Because kip if fairly flexible you can really get it into a tight dense core.  The problem I”ve run into in the past when using cowhide for the core is that because it’s a bit heavier it’s also less bendy, and hard to get a tight core from.  

Not too long ago I found a really neat cowhide that’s been split down fairly thin, so it’s not much thicker than a side of kip.  I’m using this in the core of the bullwhip, but I’m rolling it differently.  Usually I have the core (and bolsters) grain side of the leather out.  The reason for that is becuase it makes it easier to braid over.  If you have two layers of the whip with the flesh sides touching it like pulling against sandpaper (muhc harder than it needs to be).  However you can roll the core much tighter with the flesh side out.  

Now my problem is how to get a tight belly over the top of the inside out core. The easiest and probably the best solution will be to apply dressing to the core, let it soak in then grease it again right before braiding.  Since I’ll only be braiding a short distance, I’m hoping it won’t kill my hands braiding this way.  

We’ll see how it turns out.



Matched Pair of 6 foot bullwhips….

Matched Pair of 6 foot bullwhips….

Personally I think that using a matched pair of bullwhips doesn’t really give you any advantage over two similar bullwhips.  What I mean by similar are two whips that crack the same (so not one aussie bullwhip and one swivel handle american bullwhip).  

Generally two bullwhips made with the same recipe by the same bullwhip maker will handle the same.  A matched pair has a little more work in it than just two whips made the same time, like being split to the same thickness, bellies braided to exactly the same length, etc.  

Personally I think that having everything exactly the same in a whip doesn’t make much sense because your right and left arms work differently and one millimeter here or there wont’ make much of a difference.  For example my right arm cracks harder than my left, but my left does more precision cracking…and while my right arm learns to do new cracks faster than my left, it’s my left that generally learns to do things better!

So that said, do both of my arms need exactly the same thing…nope!

Now that I’m finished with my anti-matched pair rant, as a whipmaker I like the idea of a matched pair.  It adds another level to the challenge of whip making.   Right now I’m making a matched pair of 6 foot bullwhips.  I’ve got the two bellies cut out and the cores attached to handles.  I still need to do the lace prep for the bellies and hopefully I’ll be able do some braiding today.



How I Make my Bullwhips…

How I Make my Bullwhips…


Here’s the process that I currently go through when making my bullwhips. 
First I cut out the bellies and overlay from a veg tanned kangaroo hide:

Kangaroo for bullwhip

Then I stretch and pare the strands:


Kangaroo skin for making a bullwhip

Next I split the kangaroo strands so that they are the same thickness:


how to make a bull whip

 The picture below is of all the kangaroo strands that are ready to braid (except for plaiting soap).

Kangaroo belly and overlay sets

At this point I’ve done a lot of work and probably put in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of work and the the strands pretty much look like when the did when I first cut them out.  In reality the strands in the first picture aren’t very straight. Then in the second picture they are straight, but the thickness is wavy.  And the third picture’s strands are straight and of an even thickness. 

Now for the core, it’s attached to a handle:


bullwhip core

Then I attach the belly to the handle:


bull whip core with belly

Finally it’s time to start some braiding!  So I plait the inner belly:


bull whip plaited belly

After I plait that inner belly it gets rolled between two boards to smooth it out and make it round:


bullwhip plaited inner belly

The bullwhip that has been rollled doesn’t look much different in pictures, but the texture of the bullwhip has changed (for the better!).  

Now I add a bolster:


bullwhip boslter

After the bolster I add the set for the second plaited belly:


bullwhip and double plaited bellies

Below is a good picture of the two bellies and the bolster between them:


double plaited bellies on a bull whip

I finish plaited the 2nd belly:


bullwhip double plaited bellies


Then I roll it between two boards to smooth out this layer.  It’s very important to roll every plaited layer or you will end up with a funny shaped whip.


rolling a bull whip

After rolling the whip I add the final bolster:


bullwhip bolster

When that bolster is attached I make the butt knot foundation:


bullwhip making

Then I add the overlay and plait it.  I consider attaching the fall part of plaiting the  overlay.


12 plait bullwhip

Next I make the transition knot foundation a tie the transition knot:


bull whip transition knot

Then I finish the butt knot and attach the 6 plait wrist loop:


indiana jones style bullwhip

Now I tie the butt knot:


6 foot 12 plait bullwhip

Next I roll and shellac the bullwhip, and here’s the finished whip:


kangaroo bullwhip


bullwhips for sale


12 plait kangaroo bullwhip 6 feet in lenght

I didn’t go into depth into measurements or how I make the bolsters, fillers, etc because I’ve covered that here.  

I hope you enjoyed seeing how a bullwhip is made.



Dying Leather…

Dying Leather…

My experiementing with dying leather is finished and I’m ready to start making a Young Indy Bullwhip from kangaroo skin.  I did two experiments with dying the leather.  The first one I made the bullwhip, then I dyed it.  and the second one I dyed it before plaiting it.  

Plaiting THEN Dying

The advantage when I plaited the whip then dyed it was that it was much easier to do.  The disadvantage of doing it this way is that the dye job isn’t as good as it could be.  There are two things working against you:


  1. The bullwhip is greasy from the plaiting soap and the dye’s color won’t turn out quite right.
  2. You can’t dye every little bit of the bullwhip’s strands.  When the  bullwhip flexes there will be little bits that are under another strand that you can’t color.
Here’s the finished 6 foot that was made by dying AFTER  plaiting:
Young Indy Bullwhip
Dying a bullwhip after it’s made is not the best way to go for complete coverage of the dye.


Dying THEN Plaiting

The disadvantage with dying the strands before plaiting is that it’s a lot of work!  The advantage of dying before plaiting is that you will get better coverage of the dye and the color will be brighter because the dye is applied before greasing the strands for plaiting.  

I’ve found that there is less bleeding of the dye onto my hands when dying first because the strands are dry and the grease is penetrating the leather better.

Here’s a half finished bullwhip that was dyed BEFORE plaiting:


Bullwhip making

This is the method that I’m going to use when I dye the kangaroo Young Indy bullwhip.  

Dying Kangaroo Lace

The knots on both of these cowhide bullwhip are/will be kangaroo that’s I’ve dyed black.  Here’s me practicing dying some lace:


I’ll probably add both of these bullwhips to my IN STOCK page shortly.



6 foot Indy Bullwhip

6 foot Indy Bullwhip

Yesterday I finished shellacing a 6 foot 12 plait Indy bullwhip. It’s got a lead loaded handle and a nice crack to it!

Recently I’ve backed off the amount of lead that I put into my 6 foot bullwhips and I think it gives me a better looking handle.

P.S. I’ve got a lot of whips in my “IN STOCK” page. Click here to see what’s in stock!

2 Bullwhips Shipped…

2 Bullwhips Shipped…

Today I shipped out two bullwhips; an 8 foot KotCS and a 6 foot EconomIndy bullwhip (with 10 inch handle). 6 foot EconomIndy Bullwhip and 8 foot KotCS Bullwhip

EconomIndy turned out well and I always like the leverage that the extra couple of inches gives when cracking it.

6 foot 12 plait bullwhip

A couple of 8 foot bullwhips ago I changed the amount of lead that goes into the butt.  I added two inches of lead and that little bit of extra weight I think adds to the crack of the whip when it’s thrown.

8 foot KotCS bullwhip

I tried out some of the new whitehide falls that I made yesterday and today with the melted Pecard’s method.  They were nice and lubed!



Morgan Looking Turkshead!!!

Morgan Looking Turkshead!!!

Here’s a picture of a 6 foot “EconomINDY” bullwhip that I just finished.  What makes this whip different from my normal Indy bullwhips is the EconomINDY’s plaited bellies are KIP and only one bolster (instead of two).  The EconomINDY still has a 12 plait kangaroo overlay.

This makes it a bit more of an affordable entry level kangaroo bullwhip for someone that’s thinking of getting started with bullwhip cracking than one of my normal kangaroo bullwhips.

Indiana Jones style bullwhip for sale

There’s a slight taper in the handle, tapering up towards the thong.

6 foot kangaroo 12 plait bullwhip

The bullwhip came out really well, and I’m especially proud of how the turkshead came out looking.  I think I finally have a reliable method of getting the “Morgan” look the the turkshead…not too “teardrop” shaped and not too round.

Bullwhip Turkshead

You can see the taper on the handle a bit better on the picture below.

Indiana Jones Style bullwhip handle

I’ve listed this bullwhip on the IN STOCK whips page.

My next project to finish up is an 8 foot KotCS bullwhip, then I’ve got another EconomINDY bullwhip with a 10 inch handle.


Bullwhip making pictures…

Bullwhip making pictures…

Here’s the 6 foot bullwhip that I’m working on right now.  I’m really getting the hang of making a straight seam in the whip after switching from plaiting in a vise to using a hook.  I’m glad I made the switch, David Morgan told me that using a vise hides bad technique and I agree with him!

6 foot 12 plait indiana jones style bulwhip

Yesterday I was finishing up some falls that I had started before I went on vacation.   They soaked in grease for over a week!  These are part of an experimental batch, so we’ll see how much more work they need before they are ready.

whitehide falls for bullwhips

If you are in the Seattle area, I’m performing at the University District Street Fair today at 11:00am on the Children’s Stage.  I’ll be doing a little bit of whip cracking in the show.