Currently I’m making an 8 foot 12 plait bullwhip. The overlay is 12 plait in tannery dyed whiskey colored kangaroo. Here’s the overlay after I did the strand prep:
Here’s a pair of bullwhips that I recently made. They started with a cow leather core built on a spring steel rod for the handle foundation:
Then they have a plaited cowhide belly:
And a cowhide bolster put on top of the plaited belly:
Then the 8 plait kangaroo overlay was put on top of that:
Finally the knots were put on the bullwhips and they shipped out to their new owner!
All of the plaiting and knot tying is finished on this 8 foot Indiana Jones Style Bullwhip!
Up next is to shellac it and roll it a bit more.
Yesterday I cut out the strands for an 8 plait bullwhip. Here’s what the process looks like:
It looks like my schedule should allow me to do most of the plaiting today and with a bit of luck probably get the whole bullwhip finished.
The bullwhip that will have the ostrich leg handle has been making some progress. I’ve the the outer bolster attached:
And the overlay cut out:
I am having second thoughts about my choice to sue a thinner spring steel handle over a thicker steel spike. The main reason I’m doubting this is the thicker handle foundation will make a thicker handle and show off more of the grain of the ostrich handle.
I did just wrap the ostrich around the handle and it looks fine, you won’t miss out on any of it. If I do a whip like this again I’ll probably go with a thicker handle to see the difference.
Hopefully today I’ll manage to do the strand prep on the overlay (but not very likely that will happen).
The other day I got an email from someone that has my Bullwhip Making for the Beginner ebook asking me a question about the patterns on a bullwhip. Here’s the email:
“Hi, I know your guide on how to make a whip is about 5 years old, but it’s pretty easy to follow, even for a beginner like me (I’m currently making my first bullwhip) I was just wondering, on the 12 plait overlay, does it make a difference if you do a checkerboard plait for the first 9 inches or so and then switch to a 4 seam plait, or if you just use a 4 seam plait for the whole thing?”
The pattern on the handle doesn’t really matter at all, it’s basically cosmetic. So you could do 4 seam over the whole handle and continue that into the lash, or you could do checkerboard or whatever plaited patterns you’d like on the handle then switch to a four seam pattern when you get to the lash.
The main thing is that the plaiting is tight at the end of the handle and beginning of the lash, the whip will take a lot of stress at that point and by plaiting it tight the transition won’t get sloppy like a loosely plaiting transition.
If you were to do four seam over the whole whip you wouldn’t need to put a transition knot on it to cover the change of plaiting patterns…you don’t need to put that transition knot on if you do change patterns either if you don’t want to. Using or not using that transition knot can really change the look of the bullwhip as well.
Hope that helps,
Recently someone in a forum asked a question about how to get shape into the heel knot of a bullwhip. In the whip that I had just made I happened to have taken some pics that show a bit of how I shape my heel knots. It starts with the completed interior of the whip:
On top of that I wrap lead and tack it in place. Then over that I put a bit of waxed string:
This string will give a bit of a base for the leather cap to sit on:
That layer is secured with a few wraps of artificial sinew. Then I add a wrist loop and a some more wraps with string or artificial sinew and tie the knot:
This particular bullwhip is currently available on ebay at: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220965764135
It’s nice out today so I’m planning on taking it to the park and making a test cracking video, so check the whip’s auction page later this afternoon!
The 16 plait bullwhip is finished and it’s listed on my IN STOCK whips page. Here are a couple of pics of it:
My next project is another 16 plait bullwhip, however there will be a difference between the two. The bullwhip above has a 12 inch 3/8 spike for the handle and the next one will have a 12 inch spring steel rod. The spring steel is much light and thinner so besides being a bit lighter the whip will also have a thinner profile. Also spring steel of the diameter that I’m using has a very slight bit of flex which will enhance how this bullwhip cracks.
Here’s the bullwhip in its current state:
This bullwhip has it’s out belly plaited and at the very least today I’ll be able to get the outer bolster on.
P.S. Remember if you order an IN STOCK whip by 1pm Seattle time on 12/20/11 it will arrive by Christmas!
On many of my kangaroo bullwhips I put a bit of lead in the handle of the whip. This is put under the heel knot to add weight into the palm of your hand when holding the whip. A lot of people think this is to make the handle the same weight as the lash giving you a balanced bullwhip. If you think that or want to know where I am coming from please read my *brilliant* post about Bullwhip Balance before continuing reading.
Okay, so now you know what I think of balance points on a bullwhip and why it doesn’t really matter if the handle weighs exactly what the lash weighs. So that brings me to the next question, “if it doesn’t matter, why bother putting lead in the handle?”
Good question. The main reason that I put weight in the handle of the bullwhip is to give you something secure to hold on to. That’s it. Simply to make the whip not want to jump out of your hand when you crack it.
Alright so now you know why I put lead into the handles of whips you might be curious as to how I determine how much to put in. When I make a bullwhip I always add lead towards the end of the process. If I’m adding lead before the overlay is put on then I can crack the belly and sort of get a feel for how the whip is going to end up to help me determine what it needs. If I am adding lead after the overlay is plaited I can crack the whip without lead to see what it needs then add the lead and crack the whip again and adjust if necessary.
One thing to consider is that I do not have a fixed amount of lead that I add. I have a starting point that I always use, but you need to keep in mind that you can have two 8 foot bullwhips that crack very differently without lead. However for the most part most whips of the same size and style will have the same amount of lead.
Another thing to consider is that lead isn’t added proportionally i.e. a 12 foot bullwhip doesn’t have double the amount of lead as a 6 foot bullwhip. If that were the case and everything scaled up proportionally then the diameter of the 12 foot bullwhip’s lash would be huge! However you can add more lead without adding much bulk. Because the lead is wrapped in a circle as the diameter of the lead on the handle gets larger you are getting more lead around it with only adding 2mm to the diameter of the lead load on the whip.
If you are trying to make a bullwhip the best way to figure out how much lead to put in is basically to experiment!
Right now I’m on a little road trip with my family. We are visiting Ghost Towns in Washington State. It’s a fun little trip for the holiday weekend and with the economy how it is you can get nice hotels for dirt cheap!
We had lunch in a touristy Western Town called Winlock. Just about every shop there was selling the cheap-o mexician swivel handle bullwhips. I’ve never used one of them, and after seeing one my impression hasn’t changed.
If you end up getting one because of budget, availablity or whatever here’s a little tip…find some pecards! All the ones that I saw were dry as a bone, so the Pecards leather dressing will give the whip a bit more of a fighting chance at life.
Also before I left home I managed to finish the overlay and attach the fall on the 10 foot bullwhip that I was working on. I don’t like leaving partially finished braiding for long periods of time. If a whip isn’t finished and it just sits there half braided the strands will untighten slowly over time. Then you will end up with an inconsitant braid.
To fight that whenever I stop braiding (like at the end of the day, or to take a break), before I start again I undo at least a full cycle of the braid to make sure I a more consistant overly. Obviously the best way is to not stop at all while making the overlay, but that’s not always an option.