Over the last couple of days I’ve made another bullwhip with a plaited rawhide belly. The main difference between this one and the on that I did the other day was that I soaked this one in water (not dressing) to soften it up.
After I plaited the belly and the the rawhide dry it did harden up (not quite as hard as before soaking it). I think that the reason it didn’t fully harden was that it soaked up some of the lube from the bullwhips core. After it dried I did notice that it seemed to be a tighter fit and it kept the tight fit after I lubed it up. So the rawhide was softer, but since it shrunk when the water evaporated it kept the smaller size.
Originally I was worried about it cracking and breaking, but I don’t think that will be a problem because it will soak up dressing from the other layers of the bullwhip.
I’m trying to be much better about cutting my strands extra wide around the stretchy parts of the hide. I cutting them wider…but not wide enough. So my new plan is to cut the super extra wide and then stretch and pare them and that should solve the problem.
When I first started making bullwhips I braided on a hook on my deck and my seams were very “wonky”. Then I put a vise in my office and my seams straightend out. Recently I rearranged my office and have a hook on the wall and no longer have a vise set up. I’ve notice my seams haven’t been as straight since I switched to the hook.
Then today I figured it out! My Seam is going very straight on the whip that I’m working on. One of the things that I really enjoy about making whips is the trial and error. Figuring out new things and trying different techniques while making bullwhips.
What did I do to straighten my seams? Well I went back to basics an focused on technique and changed one little thing and what a difference that made! I can’t tell you what I did to fix it because if you are paying attention to how you are braiding you aren’t having the problem I did (poor technique). I think the vise allowed me to get a bit sloppy, but the hook whipped me back into shape.
Last night while working on th 8 foot bullwhip I broke a strand! Breaking a strand isnt’ the end of the world, but it’s a pain in the ass. I’ve got a technique that I use to drop the broken one and add in a new one. I think this technique is original to me (but I could be wrong).
What I do is I undo some of the overlay and taper the broken strand to a point…but I give myself room to do some plaiting before it tapers. Then I take the strand that is going to be added and taper the start of that strand to a point. I add the point under the bolster and plait over it. It will wind out from under the bolster shortly before it’s needed.
Then when I’m ready I add the strand to the overlay, but don’t drop the broken strand yet. At that point both strands (the broken and one to be added) are about half the width of the other strands in the overlay. I run them together for one hitch, then drop the broken strand and continue with the added strand.
I don’t know if this is the best way to do it visually, because you can see a “double strand”, but it seems to avoid and lumps that I normally get when dropping and adding strands. Also I think it holds them in place pretty well.
That’s how I’m currently dealing with broken strands. It seems to work pretty well.