One thing I’ve learned in the past about making big orders of bullwhips is the importance of stretching before you start plaiting. For example yesterday I braided the insides and outsides of two six foot bullwhips, so that over 20 feet of plaiting! My hands and arms are tired, however without doing a bit of stretching before braiding they’d be a lot more sore!
It’s not just the braiding, but the cutting and pretty much anything will wear out your hands, and I can’t lose time as I have a deadline for this order, so I can’t be out of work for a day or two because my hands are sore.
The other thing about making these whips is looking to have productive time that is a different task with my hands. So cutting is using my hands differently than plaiting which is different than rolling whips.
This is a hard balancing act as to save time it’s easier to do things Assembly Line Style. So I try to do all of one task at a time. It saves it set up and clean up time, as well as you get much faster at a particular task when you aren’t constantly changing gears.
Today should be the last day of plaiting overlays for the six bullwhips! Tomorrow my hands will get a plaiting break as I get to work on the knots and making the handles for the stock whips!
Yesterday I got some braiding done and cut out some of the lace for the whips. Here’s a couple of overlays and an inner and out belly:
I’m always amazed at how fast the inner layers of the whip get made, it’s the final layer that takes all the time, especially when I already have the bolsters cut out.
I just got started working on some bullwhips and some stockwhips. I didn’t have enough kangaroo skins for the order, so I headed up to David Morgan to pick up some kangaroo:
I picked up a dozen kangaroo skins for the whips. I got started on the bullwhips by making the cores (and plaiting one belly):
I’ve already got all the bolsters cut out. The next step is to get work on the cutting out the braided parts.
For larger orders like this to save time I try to work “production line” style. Trying to do all of one thing for all the whips at the same time. So I’ll cut out all the cores at the same time. Then I’ll attach them all at the same time. It saves a lot of time and mentally if I’m in a groove, I don’t get out of it by switching mental gears to another task.
Recently this ad for bullwhip someone is trying to sell crossed my path:
Vintage Braided Leather Bullwhip – $25 (Madison)
Vintage Braided Leather Bullwhip
Great Condition, A little wear
This was a Craigslist ad (view it here) and I’m hoping the person has never seen a whip before in their life if they think it’s in “Great Condition” and that the end being blown off is “A little wear”.
However the plus side is that it’s only $25 bucks. If it was in my local area, I’d probably try to get it for $15 – $20 and take it apart to see how it was built. There’s probably no surprises in there, but I’d drop $20 on it as a learning experience.
Here are the two finished bullwhips the were made as a set of bullwhips.
One is 6 foot bullwhip, the other is a 4 foot bullwhip. Both are in 8 plait kangaroo.
I’m working on a six foot bullwhip. This will be an 8 plait kangaroo whip. It’s got a 4 foot 8 plait bullwhip to go with it. Here’s the inner belly:
Here’s it with a bolster on it:
This whip should be finished very soon and will ship out with the 4 foot whip when it’s done.
Here’s a bullwhip that’s 8 feet long with a 12 plait two tone overlay:
I’ve been working on this bullwhip off and on for a little bit. It’s an order for a friend of mine that needed it mid-January, so I worked on it in between other projects.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a two tone whip with a plaited pattern. It was fun to do!
It’s shipping out today, almost a month ahead of schedule!
I was just down in Las Vegas a few weeks ago at a trade show and a bunch of the people went out to Gilley’s at the Treasure Island to see a band. Gilley’s is a country bar and on the wall was this bullwhip:
It’s nothing crazy special, it’s a cheap bullwhip. I find it interesting to see these in person. It amazes me that anyone would buy them for anything other than decoration. The lash has virtually no taper, making it very difficult to get a good crack out of it without “dish ragging” it.
A proper whip should taper from the handle to the point. That’s one of the principles that allows it to build up the speed to break the speed of sound in an efficient manner. Good taper is something you should look for when shopping for a whip!
Here’s a 4 1/2 foot bullwhip that I finished making a long time ago, but haven’t listed for sale until now. I was going to make it as part of a pair of whips, but never got around to making it’s match, so I’m selling it as a single whip.
This bullwhip is normally $325, however I’m offering a Holiday Speical Price on it. Right now you can get $25 discount on it, so it’s only $300 (with worldwide shipping included!). To order it visit the IN STOCK whips page.
Order it for delivery in the USA before 12/20/16 and according to the USPS it will arrive by Christmas!
Here’s an email I recently got:
Your work is really nice. I just discovered Portland Leather Works. I’ve been wanting to learn how to use a whip. For a few years now. I am determined. But.. first I need a beginners whip. I’ve been looking to buy but then I remembered how crafty I am Id like to make one. Money is an issue unfortunately. Do you have any advice I would appreciate it:-)
The thing about making your first whip and that whip being your first whip is that you don’t know what makes a good whip. So you don’t know the how far the weight inside the whip should be carried out into the lash, or how different handle lengths will change how the whip handles. So personally I recommend trying out some whips so you know what the goal is before you try to make one.
Also from the angle of saving money, it’s not economical to make a single whip to save money. Let’s say you are going to make a basic 4 plait bullwhip in cowhide. You’ll need to buy:
- The proper leather in the correct weight $75-$125
- Fall leather $100 or if you are lucky and can find some scrap $5-$10
- Sinew $10-$20
- Misc small tools $10-$25
- Cracker thread $10
So add that up and your first whip will cost about the same as one of my Beginner’s Bullwhips, however your first whip probably won’t crack as well as the one that I make. There’s one reason for that, I’ve made whips before, and have made many of these, so I have my design down.
Oh, I forgot to factor in some sort of instructions. I recommend Ron Edwards book How to Make Whips, that adds a few bucks to the price.
So to sum it up, if you just want one whip, it’s cheaper to buy one that’s been professionally made. If you want to learn to make whips, you’ll spend a lot of money on leather learning before you end up with a super solid whip!