Right now I’m working on a six foot 12 plait bullwhip in natural tan kangaroo. I had some natural tan in stock, so I didn’t need to drive up to David Morgan to pick up a kangaroo skin. I’m using a 57dm skin, however I also found a belly that I had cut out a while ago for something else, but for whatever reason didn’t use in black kangaroo. Since this will be in the inside of the whip you won’t see it.
Currently I have both bellies and bolsters finished.
Next up is to put some lead on for the knot foundation on get to work on the overlay.
People always ask how I can cut out the overlay before I’ve got the inner layers finished. It’s pretty simple, I know about what the strand widths should be and cut them a smidge wider than that. I then will resize them once the inner layers are finished.
On the surface it sounds like it’s more work than cutting it later, however it actually saves me time. By doing all of one task at the same time (i.e. strand cutting) it saves time in set up and clean up. Regardless of what point I cut the strands they still need to pared which also accomplishes the resizing.
The more I make whips, the more I’m looking for ways to save time…not cut corners, but to save time by eliminating steps that are duplicate, like sweeping the floor twice or putting away the leather only to take it back out an hour later. While these are small amounts of time, when you add them all up they can add up to a decent chunk of time.
I just finished a foot 12 plait bullwhip and shipped it out. Here’s how it looked before the knots were put on:
And here’s the whip with the knots put on:
Up next is another six foot bullwhip in natural tan kangaroo.
One thing that I used to do and stopped doing when making whips was that I used to cut out all the internal layers at the same time, before I did any plaiting. I don’t know why I stopped doing this, however recently I starting doing it again and it’s a huge time saver! I also find it’s easier to do one task several times than to constantly switch my brain to doing different things.
So for the whip I’m currently working on I cut out the core, bellies and bolsters before I did any plaiting. When I used to do this people would ask me how I knew how wide to cut everything. It’s pretty easy since everything is going to be approximately the same thickness withing fractions of a millimeter. I cut the bolsters a little bit wider, then tweak them when it’s time to put them onto the whip.
Here’s the whip I’m currently working on, this is the inner belly completed.
This whip has a spring steel handle. With the handle I think spring steel is the way to go over just a steel rod. The reason is that normal steel can be bent and spring steel cannot (except under very extreme circumstances).
Today I’ll finish up the interior layers of this whip and then move on to the cutting out the overlay.
I recently had this bullwhip come in:
It’s an 8 plait bullwhip that was made by Bernie at EM Brands whips. It had the end chewed off by a dog. After chatting with the owner we decided to just put the fall where the whip was chewed off and to leave the wrist loop as it is.
I had to unbraid about a foot of the whip to create a little bit of taper to the point of the whip.
I tied a new fall hitch at that point and we’re good to go!
When I first started making the 4 plait Beginner’s Bullwhips a long time ago the owner of my local Tandy LeatherFactory bought one. Here’s the 8 foot whip all these years later:
The whip is holding up well and I gave it a few cracks and it still has a lot of life left in it!
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.