Splicing a Bolster

Splicing a Bolster

When I first started making bullwhips the bolsters stressed me out the most.  I have to figure out how to correctly fit them around the whip, how splice them,  how long to make them, etc.  Now they are probably one of the easiest parts of the whip for me to make.  Before we get into showing you how to splice a bolster I want to give my opinion on why a bolster is necessary in a bullwhip.

A boslter (in case you don’t know) in a bull whip  is a piece of leather that is fit over the inner layer of the whip so that it wraps around it and cover the inner layer.  Typically a bolster is longer than the plaited layer below it…but not always.

The bolster has several function:

  • Adds weight
  • Adds taper
  • Fills up air pockets inside the whip
  • Holds dressing

Another thing that a bolster does which a lot of whip makers don’t think about is that it gives you a smooth surface to plait over.  That allows you to be able to get the bull whip plaited a bit tighter with a little less effort on  your part.  Plaiting over a smooth surface is much easier than plaiting over a surface with texture!

When putting a bolster on a longer whip quite often you’ll have to splice two smaller pieces together to get the length you want.  I do this using a diagonal splice which looks like this before it’s put on the whip:
bull whip bolster splice

I learned about doing a diagonal splice from David Morgan’s book Whips and Whip Making. If you want to make whips I highly recommend this book!

Here’s me doing a bolster splice:

Hope that helps!