Here’s an email I got recently:
…I’m currently playing Slim, the jerk line skinner in a community theater production of ‘Of Mice and Men’. Stage directions indicated Slim is making a leather bullwhip while all the dialog takes place in act 2. I like historical accuracy and verisimilitude, plus I’ve always wanted to do leatherwork. I would love any feedback you can give me on kits or supplies and instructions for making an historically authentic (1930s) working mans bullwhip.
Even just some whip lore would be great. Thank you,
I just want to give you a heads up that a bullwhip typically isn’t something I’d recommend as an introduction to leather braiding. I’d recommend you get the book Braiding Fine Leather by David Morgan and work on a couple of the projects in that book before tackling a bullwhip to learn the basics of plaiting. Once you’ve made some of the easier projects you’ll have a lot more success with your first bullwhip.
As for making something that is historically accurate, pretty much not a lot has changed in the whip industry from 1930’s the tools etc are pretty much the same, a knife and a hook on the wall. In my opinion it’s gotten less high tech because there aren’t really any big whip making companies that use machines to braid anymore, it’s become a “craft industry” where it’s all hand done.
For the history of whips and some info about whip making, I’d recommend reading David Morgan’s Whips and Whip Making and for the history of whips in the USA you should read Whips of the West by David Morgan.
Hope that helps,