Shaping the Point

Shaping the Point

Yesterday I had someone email me with a problem they were having with making whips.  They said:

“Your blog has turned into a great resource for beginning (and not so beginning) whipmakers. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting these past few months and one thing that I’m still having issues with is maintaining a round cross section when braiding over the looses belly strands. I’ve tried several different ideas to keep the strands from laying on top of each other forming a rectangular shape with the effect of sometimes working, sometimes not. This ends up adding a lot of time doing multiple plaiting over the same area until it “passes” inspection. Can you share your experiences and what works for you to maintaing a round rather rectangular shape?”

If I remember right David Morgan in his book Whips and Whipmaking cautions that having filler strands that are flat/rectangular can stack up on each other giving your bullwhip a square cross section instead of a round one.

There are a few  things that I do or I’ve done in the past to reduce this:

  • Cut the filler in half or thirds: Basically I cut the filler strand down the length of it, splitting it into two or three strands that are all connected at one end.  If you cut them with the knife held like you are paring you will get a shape that’s like a parallelogram, and they won’t necessarily stack up in a square.
  • Plait tighter or not as tight: The amount of pull you use can change how the filler strands stack up.
  • Full length bolster: If the bolster in your bullwhip runs the full length of the whip it will wrap around the filler strands giving your whip a more round cross section.
  • Lube up the filler strands: Greased strands will change shape better than dry strands.
  • Roll promptly: Roll your whip immediately after finishing it.  The filler strands will still be a bit moist from the plaiting soap and any dressing and will hold a shape better.

Hope that helps!