I get people who email me with whip making questions all the time. Here’s a recent one and my answers will be in bold:
… I am looking into tackling my first whip making project…. I was wondering if I could ask a few questions in this email about some of the specifics of making an Indiana Jones style 2 belly 12 plait bullwhip that is 10ft long. I am planning on doing the first belly as a 4 plait and the second as a 6 plait with a bolster running down the outside length of each belly.
Both bellies don’t need to be more than 4 plait. I know some people say that using an increasing number of plaits on each belly makes a better whip. In my opinion if your internal construction is core – belly – bolster – belly – bolster and you think of a bolster as a 1 plait it totally destroys the increasing number of plaits in a belly theory.
I’ve talked with some of the people at David Morgan regarding materials and they have directed me to your site as a great resources for my project. After reading through your site, I still have a few questions about what I would need to do to prepare for my project. Firstly, for a 10ft long 12 plait bullwhip, how much would I need to taper each of the strands for the bellies/overlay? I have heard that for the overlay some people go from 6-4mm, but I was wondering if you had any recommendations as to how much to taper each strand for the internal bellies and the overlay itself.
When I make a whip I cut the strands to fit the whip. What that means is that I don’t start with a specific width. I measure the circumference of the whip, multiply it by 1.5 and then divide that by the number of plaits.
So for example my whip after adding the final bolster measures 60mm around and I’m making a 12 plait whip. My math would look like:
60 X 1.5 =90
90 / 12=7.5
So 7.5mm would be my strand width assuming there’s no stretch in the skin. So you’ll cut wider on the stretchy parts.
If this was my first whip I’d probably try to cut at 7.5mm all maybe taper down to 6mm at the point of the whip. Then resize as I’m plaiting.
I understand I also need to bevel the edges of the leather to get the best plaiting, so that will also be accounted for when preparing my leather straps. Secondly, how long (approximately) would you recommend each of the bellies to be? I am unsure about how long to make each belly as from what I have been able to find online, each belly does not go all the way down the length of the whip.
The general formula most people use is approx. 1/4 and 1/2 the final length of the whip.
And lastly, is there a set time when I should begin to drop strands in the 12 plait overlay?
Start dropping at the end of the final belly. However you can resize if necessary at any point.
I have read that one needs to bring the 12 strands down to about 6 strands by the end of the whip. Do you have any recommended times to begin dropping strands from 12 to 10, 10 to 8, and then 8 to 6?
You drop when necessary. The width of the strand will tell you when to drop. If you drop too early you’ll get gaps and if you drop to late you’ll get bunched up strands and in a worse case scenario a big air pocket inside the whip.
I am sorry for all of the questions being placed in one email. I really appreciate the time and consideration for reading this! Thank you so much for your time and help.
Hope that helps!