Bullwhips!

Bullwhips!

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:

kangaroo for making whips

I picked up a dozen kangaroo skins for the whips.  I got started on the bullwhips by making the cores (and plaiting one belly):

bull whip core

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.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Kangaroo Skins at David Morgan!

Kangaroo Skins at David Morgan!

Last week I swung by David Morgan to pick up some kangaroo skins.

kangaroo

I always love visiting them!  I picked up two black kangaroo skins for a 16 foot whip I’m making and a saddle tan kangaroo skin.

Saddle Tan Kangaroo

bull whip

bull whip

bullwhip

I was also surprised to see that they now stock the veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo in “whiskey” color now!  So they have more than just black and natural tan…that’s great news!  If you need kangaroo for making whips, I always recommend getting it from David Morgan, you’ll always get a great skin!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

From the Mailbag…

From the Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got about whip making:

I am also a whip maker, though so far I have only made paracord whips. I am interested in getting started on leather whips but lack some of the tools. I am in the process of getting what I need, though, I don’t know the names of what I am supposed to be buying and I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction.
I am seeking the jig that is used to thin, cut and angle the lace.
I was wondering if you can lead me to a website, that would have the proper tools to get started on this craft.

If you are getting into leather whips I highly recommend getting David Morgan’s book Braiding Fine Leather.

It does a really good job of taking you through all the steps of how to prepare cut and prepare lace for braiding along with a few simple projects to work on.  I also recommend reading David’s book Whips and Whip Making which gives a nice overview into what goes into a bullwhip including a how to make the famous Indiana Jones Bullwhip.

I recommend learning to cut and pare lace by hand with a knife instead of using a jig.  Hand cutting is much faster to do and you will get better results because you can taper the lace much more easily.  With paracord your lace doesn’t taper simply because it can’t, however being able to taper is one of the HUGE advantages to using leather.

I do own a lace cutter / beveler and occasionally use it, however that’s only for very specific project and usually after I’m done using it, I think to myself it would have been faster by hand.  The guy that made mine I don’t think makes them anymore (his website is gone).   If you have your mind set on getting a lace cutter / beveler there’s always something like: http://www.gfeller.us/lacemaster.html  However for the price, personally I would (and did) put the time in and learned to do it free hand.

One of the huge disadvantages of only using a machine to cut and pare your leather is that you can’t easily resize it once you start braiding.  For example lets say I’m making a whip and the strands are a bit too wide for where they are on the whip, but I don’t want to drop them yet. The simple solution is to simply grab a knife and resize them while the whip is on the hook.  If you are using a machine logistically it gets complicated.

If you want something to cut there’s the Australian Stranders, however you won’t automatically be cutting great lace with them.

These do still have a bit of a learning curve and personally I think that time is better spent learning to do it by hand.  The safety bar on these makes it hard to switch between pieces of lace as well.  If you are making a whip you need to cut one piece for a little bit…disassemble the strander, reassemble it around the next piece and cut for a bit.  You’ll be repeating this process over and over and over again.  It’s really not a very good way to cut lace from a time stand point.

To sum it all up, if you are starting out as a leather braider I would recommend getting a box cutter and a box of blades.  I’d then call the David Morgan Company or Midwest Whips to see if they had a lower grade kangaroo skins that I could buy hack up while I’m learning to cut lace.  I know kangaroo costs more than cow, however kangaroo is easier to work with than cow.  Cutting cow leather and braiding it is EXTREMELY difficult compared to kangaroo, especially if you are doing anything over 12 plait.

Hope that helps!

Louie

 

 

 

 

4 Foot Bullwhip

4 Foot Bullwhip

I’m currently working on a four foot 12 plait bullwhip in black kangaroo. I went up to David Morgan and picked out this skin for it:

bullwhip

This skin is a lot bigger than what I need, it’s 64dm, which would almost make an 8 foot whip.  The amount of skin needed to make a 4 foot whip really isn’t that much and if I bought a smaller low 50’s dm skin, the leftover wouldn’t be enough to do anything meaningful with.

While I was up there the Meagan and Will showed me a bullwhip that came in for a repair. It was a black bullwhip made in the 1990’s at David Morgan.  At 20 years old this whip was in great shape, no broken strands and the braiding was still very tight.  It had been used, so it wasn’t something that someone used as a “wall hanger”.  When you buy a well built whip (and you take care of it) you are buying something that will last for decades!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip in the Works…

Bullwhip in the Works…

Currently I’m working on a 10 foot 12 plait bullwhip built in the style of the Indiana Jones Bullwhip.  For this whip at 10 feet it’s hard to find one skin that is big enough to make the whole whip out of, so I’m staring with two skins.  I made a quick trip up to David Morgan to pick through their skins and pick out two that will work for this project.

bullwhip

Both of these skins are in the low 50 decimeter size.  One will be the two bellies and the other will be some lace and the 12 plait overlay.

Here’s the finished inner belly:

bull whip

And here’s the completed interior of the bullwhip:

bullwhip

Finally for today I cut out the 12 plait overlay and lace for the wrist loop.

whip

Tomorrow the real work starts, and that’s doing the strand prep and beginning to plait the overlay.  The interior is much easier to do that the final layer.

Oh, while at David Morgan I always have to drool over the shop whip:

bull whip

If I recall correctly, this is an 8 foot bullwhip and it’s amazing!

Louie

From The Mailbag…

From The Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got recently:

…I’m currently playing Slim, the jerk line skinner in a community theater production of ‘Of Mice and Men’. Stage directions indicated Slim is making a leather bullwhip while all the dialog takes place in act 2. I like historical accuracy and verisimilitude, plus I’ve always wanted to do leatherwork. I would love any feedback you can give me on kits or supplies and instructions for making an historically authentic (1930s) working mans bullwhip.

Even just some whip lore would be great. Thank you,

I just want to give you a heads up that a bullwhip typically isn’t something I’d recommend as an introduction to leather braiding.  I’d recommend you get the book Braiding Fine Leather by David Morgan and work on a couple of the projects in that book before tackling a bullwhip to learn the basics of plaiting.  Once you’ve made some of the easier projects you’ll have a lot more success with your first bullwhip.

As for making something that is historically accurate, pretty much not a lot has changed in the whip industry from 1930’s the tools etc are pretty much the same, a knife and a hook on the wall. In my opinion it’s gotten less high tech because there aren’t really any big whip making companies that use machines to braid anymore, it’s become a “craft industry” where it’s all hand done.

For the history of whips and some info about whip making, I’d recommend reading David Morgan’s Whips and Whip Making and for the history of whips in the USA  you should read Whips of the West by David Morgan.

Hope that helps,

Louie

RIP David Morgan

RIP David Morgan

On July 8th the world of whips and whip making suffered a HUGE loss with the passing of David Morgan.  The next four paragraphs are from the David Morgan company’s facebook page:

David Morgan of Woodinville, WA died July 8, 2015. Born May 21, 1925 in Vancouver, Canada, David is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy, their four children (Olwen (Robert Ruggeri); Barbara (Chip Zukoski); Meredith (Ed Orton) and Will), six grandchildren and one great grandchild.

David was a metallurgist by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He and Dorothy founded Austral Enterprises in 1962, which continues to this day as David Morgan, LLC.

David was kind, helpful, gregarious, generous, and an excellent problem-solver. He will be missed. The family wishes to express gratitude to Lawrence and Michelle’s Adult Family Home for the loving care they provided.

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers or contributions please do something kind or helpful in David’s name.  David W Morgan, co-founder of David Morgan LLC, died on July 8, 2015 at 90 years of age.

I was very fortunate to discover that David Morgan’s shop wasn’t too far away from where I lived when I first got into whip making.  I’ll never forget showing him a whip that I was proud of and him pointing out all the mistakes that I made.  That “tough love” really helped make me a better whip maker.

I learned to plait from the Ron Edwards books, however I learned to plait correctly by having David show me all the places where I had extra movement or was just plain doing it wrong.

Pretty much all the skills that I use to make a whip David helped me with and was always very generous with his time and I will miss him!

Louie

More Kangaroo!

More Kangaroo!

I’ve been very busy lately, and yesterday ran up to David Morgan bullwhips to pick up another kangaroo skin.

bullwhip leather

 

One of the very cool things living so close to David Morgan is that I don’t need to keep a huge stock of kangaroo.  I can go up and pick through their stock and find the exact skin I need!  It’s pretty awesome!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org