Yesterday I finished up a Beginner’s Bullwhip that had been sitting with no knots on it for a while. It’s 6.5 feet long with a plaited belly.
It’s got a great crack and I’ve got it for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.
A while ago a person who had ordered a snake whip about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago from me sent me an email saying the whip was leaking a tar like substance. Here’s one of the pictures that he sent:
He said the that he’d clean it up, but it’d just reappear again in the next day or two. I’d never heard of anything like this before and set out to do a bit of research (calling my whip maker friends).
Pretty much everyone’s first reaction was that it was weather related. However that was just everyone’s first guess. No one had ever seen or heard of this except Paul Nolan! One of the vintage Cecil Henderson whips that Paul has also does this, but he doesn’t know why.
At this point I became very curious…personally I like to know why things do things (not just how). So I offered the snake whip’s owner a trade, I’d make them a new snake whip if I could take apart the old one to see what was happening.
Before I show you the inside of the snake whip, here’s a very good tip for any whip maker, You can learn a lot by taking apart one of your own whips! That’s right, I knew what was inside this snake whip, but I learned a lot about how my construction techniques hold up by taking apart a well used whip that was about 2 years old.
Here’s the whip dissection photos:
What was happening inside the snake whip was the tar was being formed at the core and because I plait very tightly it ran out of room in the core and had to go somewhere and that somewhere was outwards. So it found the seam in shotbag and exited there.
Next up was finding its way through the plaiting, which wasn’t a big deal because the plating is all seams. So it didn’t really stop there, it just sent straight out until it hit the bolster. Now here’s where something that I already did helped, I put my bolster’s seam 180 degrees from the seam in the core. So the direction it leaked from once it got through the belly hit the side of the bolster opposite the seam.
Unfortunately once it hit the bolster it started pooling there until there was enough of it to go all the way around the bolster and get to the seam where it finally made its exit through the plaiting where it finally emerged as the tar like substance.
Simply having my bolster seam 180 degrees from the seam of the core was almost enough to stop the leaking and in fact stopped it in several other spots on the whip. However after taking apart this snake whip I still don’t know exactly what was causing the tar to be created in the first place. I don’t know if it’s part of the natural breakdown of the lead, or environmental factors…but my money is on a combination of the two.
Hope you found this as interesting as I did!
Currently I’m working on an Indy bullwhip made the way that David Morgan makes them. There are a several differences in construction in how David Morgan makes his whips and how I normally make mine. The main ones are:
Currently I’ve got the inner belly plaited:
Today at the very least I should be able to get the inner bolster finished.
Here’s a quick look at what’s inside a bullwhip:
The blue layers are bolster and the brown are plaited kangaroo layers.
I made that particular piece of bullwhip a long time ago, my current ones would look a bit different.
Yesterday I put on the bolster and braided the overlay on another 4 plait Deluxe Beginners Bullwhip:
It still needs to be rolled and have the knots tied. I should have time to do that later today!
Yesterday I got a bit of work in on the 8 foot bullwhip:
Later today I should be able to find time to plait the outer belly and depending on time today I might be able to get the outer bolster cut out and attached.
This week I’m performing on the road, so aside from working on the belly today I probably won’t get any plaiting done until Friday. However I should still be able to cut out the overlay in my down time between shows.
Here are the three bullwhips that I’m working on right now:
Tomorrow I should be able to find time to cut out the overlays and maybe do a bit of plaiting.
Yesterday I started work on an Indy style bullwhip.
This veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo skin was 57 dm, so it’s big enough for a six or seven foot bullwhip. I’m trying something of an experiment with the first three layers of this bullwhip. A couple of weeks ago I made a bullwhip with a Jacka-like transition. The key to his transition is the combination of what you bind it with and the use of split cowhide for the insides.
If you’ve never felt split cowhide it has no grain side, so it’s rough on both sides, instead of having a rough and a smooth side. What I did with this whip is I rolled my core with the grain side in, so the rough side it out. Then I braided my inner belly with split cowhide and finally put the bolster on with the grain side out. What that has done is put rough sides touching each other for the first three layers. That is going to (in theory) give me a slightly more durable transition (and first 1/4 of the lash).
The worst case scenario is that this whip will handle handle like if I made it how I normally do…and the best is that it will be slightly stiffer. That’s the goal, slightly stiffer at the transition from the handle to lash. I don’t want a Jacka transition, just something a hair stiffer than what mine normally are.
Also for what it’s worth it’s much harder on my hands plaiting an inner belly that’s split cowhide. Because there’s soo much more friction from the rough sides you have to pull a lot harder.
After the first two layers were finished I did the next belly and bolster how I normally do (out of kangaroo and kip).
Last night I also got the overlay cut out, but still need to stretch, split, and pare it.
Yesterday I finished making the final two bullwhips of the four that I had cut out. These are four plait cowhide bullwhips that have a plaited belly.
Currently I have four of these beginners bullwhips in stock. It’s pretty rare that I have a chance to make that many at one time…so it’s kinda exciting. Here’s a family portrait:
They all have 10 inch handles, except for the one the left which has an 8 inch handle.
In a post a few days ago I said my next project was going to be an Indy style bullwhip, but I’m thinking I might make a long handle bullwhip next. This is a project that’s I’ve wanted to make for a while, it will be a six foot aussie style bullwhip with a handle that’s sharkskin!
Yesterday I started working some four plait cowhide bullwhips. These will be my Deluxe Beginners Bullwhips, so they have a plaited belly. Last night I got three of the four bellies finished and this morning I finished the last belly…and completed two of the bullwhips.
I gave both of them a few cracks in my living room and they crack well.
Later today or tomorrow I’ll try to finish the other two whips…then after that I think I’m going to make an Indy style bullwhip.
P.S. I’ve got these two bullwhips listed on my IN STOCK whips page.