The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

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.

The Leather Lace Bullwhip

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.

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.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Goat Bullwhip and Matched Pair of Roo Bullwhips

Goat Bullwhip and Matched Pair of Roo Bullwhips

I finally finished work on the 12 plait bullwhip made from goat leather that I started work on a long time ago!  Here’s it before the heel knot was put on:

bullwhip

and after the knot and wrist loop was put on:

bullwhips

This bullwhip is available on my IN STOCK whips page.

I’ve also started working on a matched pair of 6 foot bullwhips:

bullwhip

Not much has been done on this pair, basically I’ve got cores cut out:

bull whip

Later this week I’ll have more of a chance to get more work in on these.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Final Calf Bullwhip

Final Calf Bullwhip

Yesterday I cut out the overlay of the last of the calf skins that I had picked up a little while ago.

bullwhip

The insides of this bullwhip are finished and all they need is to be  plaited over:

bullwhip

I’m trying to decide if I should start work on plaiting the overlay of this bullwhip now or not.  I’m going to be out of town from 3/10 – 3/20 and I don’t want a half finished bullwhip sitting for 10 days if I don’t have time to work on it.  I’ve got a pretty full week until I leave.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make any more of these bullwhips from calf or if I’ll be able to find decent skins to do it with.  So this may be my last calf bullwhip (at least for now).

Oh, don’t forget I’ve got a six foot Young Indy style bullwhip for sale on ebay right now: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220747828820 the auction ends on tomorrow (3/8/11) right now it’s a steal at the current bid of $280.  This is a great chance to get a sweet deal on one of my bullwhips!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Six Foot Indy Bullwhip

Six Foot Indy Bullwhip

My current project is a six foot Indy style bullwhip.   Yesterday I plaited all the bellies and the overlay, I would have finished the whole thing, but ran out of lead for the handle.  Sometime today I’ll run out and get some lead.

When I started this bullwhip I was still waiting on two sides of kip to show up, so I make the core and inner bolster out of the last of the veg tanned goat that I had.   The kip showed up in time for me to use it for the outer bolster.

bullwhip

This current batch of kip is different from what I’ve gotten from this supplier before.  In the past they’ve sent me full hides, but this time they sent me two sides (a side is half a full hide). So I ended up with half the leather I hoped to get…however this stuff is really nice!  I almost seems too nice to waste it on a bolster…I kinda want to try braiding with it…but I won’t.

While the Indy bullwhip was waiting for lead I cut out all the leather for three beginners bullwhips.  Now all I need to do is find time to start braiding them.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Finished Bullwhip with goat bolsters…

Finished Bullwhip with goat bolsters…

Yesterday I put the knots on the bullwhip with the goat bolsters:

bullwhip

I think it came out pretty well,the only thing I might change is the heel knot.  I’m thinking of cutting out new lace and tying one like the transition knot.

Right now I have three bullwhips in the works.  I have two beginners bullwhips cut out and the insides finished and I’m working on a 16 plait bullwhip.  The 16 plait bullwhip has the inner belly and boslter finished:

how to make a bullwhip

Currently I’m cutting out the outer belly and overlay:

kangaroo

The lace on the upper right side is the outer belly and the strands going across the bottom and moving to the left are going to be the overlay.  The reason I’m cutting two layers right now is to get more use out of the skin.  The leg on the right of the skin will be the yoke that covers the heel knot of the whip and this isn’t the best leather, so I’m using it for the yoke.  However if I waited to cut out the outer belly completely to cut the overlay, I would have cut off and thrown away a lot of that leg…that should let me get  a bit more out of this skin.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Goat Bolster Surprises…

Goat Bolster Surprises…

The bullwhip that I”m working on that has goat instead of kip for it’s bolsters is almost finished.  Here’s the final bolster attached:

bullwhip

And here’s the bullwhip with the overlay cut out:

bullwhip

The thing about about goat is that it’s spongy, so I was figuring that when I started plaiting it would really fill in all the space between layers and give me a very dense heavy whip.   However I quickly noticed (after plaiting about 18 inches) that this bullwhip was going to end up fairly light.  I plaited it tight and for it’s diameter it feels a bit light.  It’s dense like I thought…but lighter than I thought.

kangaroo bullwhip

However I think  that over time as this whip soaks up leather dressing it will end up feeling a bit heavier.  What is happening is that I think that because kip is a bit denser than the goat when I braid over it  compresses and fills the air space between the layers, but it doesn’t compress much.  But with the goat it’s still compressing to fill the holes, however it’s still lighter in its compressed form than the kip.  Also I only gave the goat a quick coat of grease and I’d bet it can absorb much more…which will give it more weight.

I cracked this whip a bunch in my living room last  night and it’s got a different feel than most of my whips…it’s not a bad feel, it’s different.  It’s got a lighter crack, but I really enjoyed doing volleys with it!

So all in all I like how it turned out…goat isn’t a substitute for kip because it gave me a different result, it’s its own thing.

Another fun thing I did with this bullwhip was that I did some fancy plaiting on the handle:

16 plait kangaroo bullwhip

If you click on the picture above it will open a larger picture and you can see the pattern better.  I haven’t done too much in the way of plaited patterns in one color (most are two tone), but I think this turned out looking alright.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Bolster Material…

Bolster Material…

On Friday I went into one of my local Tandy Leather Factories to get a side of kip and I was told that it was discontinued!  I do have another local source for kip (and a couple of mail order sources), so I’ll still be able to get it.  However Tandy’s website still shows it for sale, so maybe they’ll have it again.

I needed something for bolsters so I bought a veg tanned goat skin.  I’ve used it for a core and two bolsters of a six foot whip I’m working on.  One thing about goat is that it’s very stretchy, almost spongy at some points.  What I’ve done to counter this is cut it really wide, then stretch it and run it through  my splitter.  This seems to take the stretch out, then grease it and recut it suit the whip.  It’s a bit more work, but better than waiting a week for a side of kip to show up in the mail.

One thing I’m very curious about how dense the lash of this bullwhip will feel when it’s done.  I think the sponginess of the goat will really fill in the space between layers nicely and give me a really hard hitting whip.  So far I’m liking this goat (for bolsters)…the only problem is that the skins aren’t very long, so I’ll be doing a lot of bolster splicing for any bullwhip longer than 6 feet.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Plaiting Goat Hide

Plaiting Goat Hide

My first attempt at an 8 plait Goat Hide overlay wasn’t successful, but I learned a lot!  For starters the whip ended up a bit too thin, so I added an additional bolster to thicken it up a tad.

Another (major) problem that I came across was how stretchy the goat is.  I have to cut the strands very wide to compensate for the stretch.  Also I broke several strands while trying to braid it.

One problem with my braiding that can be overcome is that I’m plaiting it like it’s kangaroo.  I need to pull a bit gentler…but the trade off is that the whip isn’t as tight.  I was thinking about that solution to breaking the strands last night and I can braid it fairly tight, but not as tight as a roo whip.  However when you consider that this is a cheaper bullwhip for someone starting out that wants to learn a few cracks, I think it’s alright.

Finished Goat Bullwhip!

Here’s the finished goat hide bullwhip:

bullwhip for beginners
bull whip
bullwhip picture

This 7 foot bullwhip was made with the Indiana Jones look to it.   I’ve got it listed for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

I’m not sure how many more of these I’m going to make, I have enough goat hide for one or two more.  The problem with making an 8 plait is that it just takes too long to make and I’m trying to keep the price below $200.  I’m offering this first one for $165, the normal price will be $197.  I might try to make one in 4 plait and see how long that takes me to make.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org