I recently got an email from someone that ordered my Bullwhip Making For The Beginner ebook. He mentioned that he was going to start making a whip out of kip instead of kangaroo because it’s a cheaper material. This is a thought that a lot of beginning whip makers have.
Personally I’m 100% against using kip/calf (for beginners) when it comes to making most whips. The only exception is 4 plait work because on a 4 plait whip you still have wide lace even at the point greatly reducing breakage while braiding. Also at 4 plait you aren’t dropping any strands, only tapering them.
Here are some things to consider, in my opinion:
- Cow leather is typically thicker than kangaroo so learning strand drops can get tricky when you are trying to drop strands.
- Cow leather is harder to pare/bevel than kangaroo is.
- Cow leather is harder to hand cut than kangaroo is.
- Kangaroo stretches better and holds its stretch better than other leathers like goat.
- Kangaroo is easy to find that’s “drum stuffed” where I’ve personally never found veg tanned drum stuffed cow.
- Kangaroo is stronger than cow leather.
- Cow leather dulls my blades much faster than kangaroo, so you’ll spend more time changing blades or sharpening them.
- A side of cow has a lot of waste that you’ll have to cut off and throw away, where if you properly use kangaroo you have a lot less waste.
- Kangaroo is typically thinner than cow so you won’t have to split the leather if you want to do two bellies and two bolsters in your whip and not have the handle super thick!
- A side of cow starts around 15 square feet (kip) but the average side is 20+ square feet. That means you’re stuck making a lot of whips with that side, where kangaroo is usually 5-7 square feet or exactly enough for one whip.
Personally I think everyone who is thinking of using cow to make a 8 plait or higher plait whip out of cow leather should look a the picture in Braiding Fine Leather by David Morgan where he shows all the good and bad parts on a side of cow. You’ll see how much stuff you have to cut out to get to the good part! Sure you could use the less desirable parts for bellies, but for a beginner to look at a side of leather and know how many bellies to cut out the bad part and about how long or how many whips the good part will yield is unrealistic.
However with a kangaroo skin they almost seem to be made to make bullwhips out of. Cutting out two bellies almost exactly uses up the stretch parts leaving you with the prime skin for the overlays!
In the interest in full disclosure I’m going to mention that I made a lot of 12 plait bullwhips out of cow when I first started. Look at the early posts in this blog and you’ll see them. Knowing what I know now I wish I hadn’t made as many whips in cow leather when I first started out.
Keep in mind there is no right or wrong material to start making whips out of. This is just my opinion based on my experience.
Now for a little tip if you are going to make a whip out of cow instead of kangaroo. When I make whips from cow leather I generally don’t make them with two bellies and two bolsters. The thickness of the leather give you a hefty handle that I don’t like, I’d go with one plaited belly and one bolster.
Hope that helps!
Stock Whip Kit Sale Ends Soon!
I’m finishing cutting out the last of the current orders for the Make Your Own Stock Whip Kits plus two extra kits for me to have a couple on hand. I’ll have them all finished sometime this afternoon, and once I’m finished I’m going to end the $10 off sale, so if you’ve thought about trying your hand at braiding a whip now’s the chance to get a great deal on a Make Your Own Stock Whip Kit.
To order visit: http://bullwhips.org/bullwhip_store/viewitem.php?productid=193