The other day I stumbled upon a book about bullwhip making called The Leather Lace Bullwhip on Amazon.com. Since I’m such a whip nerd I ordered a copy.
Here’s the description of the book:
Geared mainly to the leather hobbyist with some braiding experiance, This book will show you how to make a cowhide bullwhip in my unique way. Also contains tips and tricks of leather braiding and cutting lace.
I like the idea of this book which is making a bullwhip from lace of a uniform width, instead of cutting it at a taper. Also for a bit of full disclosure I’ve read this book two times, but haven’t made the bullwhip in this book. The main reason for not making this bullwhip (yet) is time, however I plan to try it in the future.
In the book Paul cuts his lace with Craftool Lace Maker.
This tool will give you uniform lace and while it it possible to cut at a taper with this tool, the way the author uses lace you are stuck with using uniform widths. One clever thing the author does is converts one of these Lace Maker’s into a very inexpensive splitter to thin down the lace.
The construction is fairly simple, it’s a core, plaited belly and overlay. The belly is 8 plait and the overlay is 12 plait all in 2mm thick cowhide.
There are a few things that I have some issues with in this book.
- Paring: The way the author pares without any protection on his hands in my opinion is a fairly dangerous way to teach it to a beginner.
- Knot Tying: The instructions for tying the knots are in the appendix in the back of the book. And it uses a coded system, but the author doesn’t really explain how the codes work. I could understand the codes, but I think someone just starting out would cause a bit of frustration.
- Incorrect Information: The author says to make a handle like an Indy Bullwhip, you do an U2 O2 U2 pattern. That is 100% wrong. Indy bullwhips have a checkerboard handle.
- More Incorrect Information: The author specifically says the pattern he uses on the handle what Ron Edwards calls a Birds Eye Plait. The Birds Eye Plait that Ron Teaches in his books is different from what Paul teaches in this book.
- Goat Rawhide?: In the shopping list for supplies the author tells you to buy some goat rawhide. However that’s never mentioned again in the book. Leather isn’t cheap, so buying something that’s not used in the project is very wasteful on the beginners wallet.
- Internet References: In the beginning of the book the author says you can learn to use the Lace Maker on YouTube, but doesn’t give any specific site. The author should have provided a direct URL. The author in the appendix offers some other websites, but just the websites name and no direct URL’s so I have to search them. It would have taken all of a minute to type them out, if not for the ease of the reader, but for the sake of completeness.
You might be thinking that I’m nit picking when I mention things like crediting thing wrong. However crediting is something that’s very important. When you specifically cite something you better be right!
Here’s an example of why crediting is important (a very nerdy example). I’m involved in the world of soap bubble artists. In a forum someone mentioned that they believe that crediting creators of different bubble tricks is very important and should be done even in a live performance. Then his example was when he does the bubble carousel he credits it as being invented by Tom Noddy. On the surface crediting is good, but only when it’s correct. In Tom’s book he specifically says he learned it from someone else. Now this person that wants credit to go to the right place is actually falsely giving credit to the wrong person.
I’m not saying Ron Edwards invented the Birds Eye Plait (he didn’t), but when you say it’s what in his book and are wrong you are making historical the waters murky.
One thing I like about the book is that the authors method is fairly simple. It doesn’t use bolsters so it’s less intimidating for a beginner. However if you intended to make more than one whip I would highly suggest learning how to make a bolster and incorporating it into your plan. Also since there is no tapering the cutting out process is pretty easy. But once again if you intend to make more than one whip in your life time you need to learn to cut at a taper. Whether it’s simply using an Aussie Strander and turning the wheel a bit as you cut or learning to do it freehand.
I feel this book is intended more for someone that wants a leather working project and that’s just it. They want to make one whip and then move on to the next thing, not for someone that actually wants to learn to make whips.
One big suggestion for this books author would be to have someone proof read and make the whip in the book that is his intended audience. Someone that had some braiding experience, but never made a whip would have noticed a lot of things that weren’t very clear. Also there are a lot of typos and missing letters in the text (i.e. the word USING being spelt USIN), which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s annoying because I paid for the whole book why not give me the last letter of the word? I know times economically are tough, but adding in a G in the proper place doesn’t cut into profit margins to much.
So the big question is would I recommend this book? Honestly I don’t know how I feel about it. I guess I’d recommend it to someone that wants to make a whip, but not really progress any further than that one whip. However if you want to try plaiting I’d recommend getting Ron Edwards book How To Make Whips and making the stock whip in that book, or a precut stock whip kit. A 4 plait stock whip is a pretty simple project and you’ll get a feel for plaiting and see if you like it or not without getting involved in doing 8 and 12 plait patterns which can be very frustrating for a beginner.