A couple of weeks ago I was in Las Vegas and while I was there I found a few hours in my schedule to take the drive over to Pahrump to visit with Paul and Lauren at Mid West Whips. I only had a couple of hours to hang out and most of that we chatted at dinner. However I did get to visit their new place, here’s the nylon room where Lauren makes the Performance Hybrid and Snignal Whips:
And here’s where Paul makes the leather whips:
And here’s their “Wall of Whips”:
They had some really cool whips in their collection. I had a great (but short) time hanging out with Paul and Lauren!
The other day the kangaroo skin that I ordered from Weaver Leather showed up!
They said the skins average 6 square feet and this one is 6.4 square feet. The skin didn’t really have much in the way or scars, but it was a dry skin. For whip making drum stuffed skins are much better and normally cost about the same as non-drum stuffed skins. Drum stuffing is when the skins have grease worked into them while at the tannery in a big drum. It gets a nice even coat of grease and the grease penetrates to the inside of the skin.
When you get a dry skin you have to HandStuff it with grease. Basically to do this you rub grease onto the kangaroo skin and let it soak in. Once it has soaked in you buff off any excess. Repeat if (or as) necessary. Hand stuffing a skin is a pain in the butt and doesn’t get results that are as good as drum stuffing. Using the rub on, buff off method in my opinion won’t get the grease to penetrate as deeply or as evenly as a drum stuffed skin.
Part of the reason you don’t get as good penetration of grease into the skin is that the grease is semi solid, so it won’t get every little pore all the way down. When this skin from Weaver came in and it was dry, I just happened to be working on project (non whip releated) that used a heat gun. I was going to put a coat of grease on it and saw the heat gun out of the corner of my eye and hand a little brainstorm to melt the grease with the heat gun.
Here’s a little video of me doing it:
I don’t know if anyone has done this before, but it was an AH HA moment for me when it worked! Now you might be worried that the heat might dry out the skin…but you are using the heat to melt grease into the skin, so I don’t think that’s a concern. I had my heat gun at about 3/4 power and kept it moving so there wouldn’t be any danger of scorching the skin. I was amazed at the results, the skin had a nice feel to it, almost like a drum stuffed skin! I haven’t cut into it yet and cone I start to use it that will be the real test. But for now whenever I get a dry skin this is how I’m going to grease it!
If you remember a few weeks ago I posted about Britany Spears putting out an “call” for a bullwhip trainer for her new video (http://bullwhips.org/?p=6403). Well the video just came out, so from the call to the video being released today, it was about a 3 week turnaround. There are only two short scenes with her and a bullwhip (a few more with a riding crop) and based on how she is holding it they didn’t get a good trainer, or she didn’t listen to the trainer. In either scenario I imagine they thought a bullwhip would be easier to use. Unfortunately it’s not a pick it up and start knocking cigarettes out of someone’s mouth sort of skill…it takes practice!
So now until Monday 9/9/13 I’m having a Stock Whip Kit Sale and you’ll save 20% off a Stock Whip Kit. The “fine print” is that all stock whip kit orders placed during this sale may not ship out immediately, they will all ship by 9/10/13 at the latest!
When I first started making bullwhips the bolsters stressed me out the most. I have to figure out how to correctly fit them around the whip, how splice them, how long to make them, etc. Now they are probably one of the easiest parts of the whip for me to make. Before we get into showing you how to splice a bolster I want to give my opinion on why a bolster is necessary in a bullwhip.
A boslter (in case you don’t know) in a bull whip is a piece of leather that is fit over the inner layer of the whip so that it wraps around it and cover the inner layer. Typically a bolster is longer than the plaited layer below it…but not always.
The bolster has several function:
Fills up air pockets inside the whip
Another thing that a bolster does which a lot of whip makers don’t think about is that it gives you a smooth surface to plait over. That allows you to be able to get the bull whip plaited a bit tighter with a little less effort on your part. Plaiting over a smooth surface is much easier than plaiting over a surface with texture!
When putting a bolster on a longer whip quite often you’ll have to splice two smaller pieces together to get the length you want. I do this using a diagonal splice which looks like this before it’s put on the whip:
The 4 plait bull whip that I made for myself a few weeks ago for a specific trick has taken quite a beating! In this particular trick the heel knot is getting hit on the ground a lot and with quite a bit of force. This is a very unusual type of stress for the butt of the whip and most whips will never take the abuse that I’ve given this whip in the last few weeks in their lifetime.
As a result of my practicing this trick the leather cap that goes over the butt of the handle had worn out and the end of the spike was poking through. This was a strictly cosmetic damage and didn’t change the function of the whip at all. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it before I started my repair. The fix was simple I added another leather cap over the one that was wearing out and put a new knot over it.
I didn’t remove the old leather cap before I added the new one, so the heel knot is slightly larger than before.
Probably the most important tool for whip making is having a sharp blade. When I make my bull whips I use a box cutter as my knife.
The nice thing about these is that the blades (usually) are very sharp right out of the box, cheap and easy to change. So when it gets dull I simply change the blade. I don’t have to deal with constantly sharpening them. I went to my local hardware store and they don’t sell my normal brand anymore, so I’ll be trying out a new brand of blade soon.
Why is the a big deal?
Simple, some brands of razor blades are sharper out of the box, and some need to be sharpened. I know this doesn’t sound right, but in my experience some brands aren’t as sharp as others. Unfortunately if I get a brand that isn’t as sharp as I’d like I get rid of the box. I don’t want to deal with blades that aren’t sharp. And at around $5ish per box of 100, it’s not a huge loss.
We’ll see how sharp these are once I’m completely out of my last batch.