Here’s a email I got and I figured the answers would be relevant to some others:
“I’ve made a couple whips before and they turned out alright. But I’ve been asked to make an Aussie stock whip for a girl from Australia. Any tips or advice? And what is your take on saddle soap as a conditioner and plaiting agent? Thank you for any advice you might have.”
Let’s start out with a general thought about making stock whips:
A basic stock whip is a lot easier to make than a bullwhip.
While I don’t know the length you are going for, there’s a great pattern for making a stock whip in David Morgan’s book Whips and Whip Making. If you basically follow that and adjust it based on the length of the whip you should do fine.
Next up is using saddle soap. I personally do not use it, the main reason is I can’t stand the smell. Every brand I’ve tried stinks! There are other valid reasons to not use saddle soap as plaiting soap and as conditioner.
First for plaiting, you really can’t beat using soap and lard. You can find the recipe for making this in David Morgan’s book Braiding Fine Leather (I think it’s also in Whips and Whip Making). Soap and lard is much cheaper than buying saddle soap, and it’s usually much easier to buy, as you can get everything you need from the grocery store.
Now as for using saddle soap as a conditioner. Yes, it has some stuff in it that’s good for leather, but it also has stuff in it that’s bad for leather. Products like Pecard’s Leather Dressing and Fiebing’s Aussie Conditioner are generally accepted as better for kangaroo. The nice thing about products like Pecard’s is that it’s ready to go, you don’t need to add water. You can throw a small tub of it in your whip bag and you can add conditioner to that fall you didn’t realize was dried out when you are at the park cracking your whips.
Hope that helps!