One of the most important things when starting to make a bullwhip is picking out the right hide for the job. Picking a hide to small won’t work and picking a hide too big will leave you with a ton of leftover kangaroo.
Another consideration is what you are making. If you are making a long whip that will use two hides, you will need to find two hides of similar thickness. The thickness of the hide wil make a difference in how the whip looks. A thicker hide can give your whip a more rugged look and a thinner can give you whip a smoother look (how you pare the strands will also change the look of the whip).
Scaring and stretchiness of the hide are also a factor in selecting the kangaroo hide. A hide is virtually useless if it’s overly scarred.
Right now I’m looking at two natural tan kangaroo hides and I’m trying to figure out what to do with them. One hide is 52dm and the other is 53dm. I could make one 10-12 foot bullwhip or make a two 6 foot bullwhips. Making a pair of 6 foot bullwhips appeals to me right now…but before I can use those hides I’ve got an 8 foot budget bullwhip cut out and I think I’m going to plait that before I cut up more roo hide.
I wasn’t going to do much plaiting last night, I hurt my chest sledding with my daughter in the snow (I’m an old man!), but I ended up with a house full of execpted, but welcome visitors. Two of my sisiters and brother from New York were passing through Seattle to visit our dad in Alaska, but their flight got cancelled. So I picked them up and when I got them home they proptly fell asleep (they’d been traveling for 20 hours!).
So to not keep them up I went into my office and did a bit of work on the 4 foot bullwhips. I’m about 3 feet into one of them:
While working on this bullwhip at one point I noticed a gap in the plaiting on the backside of the whip. I was able to diagnose the problem and replait it correctly (I was very proud of myself!). I had read somewhere that when making whips you make sure the top half looks good and the bottom half will fix itself. I don’t agree with that. If you notice a problem on the underside of the bullwhip, you need to correct it, or at least try to figure out why it’s doing whatever it is.
Yesterday I picked up a Veg Tanned Drum Stuffed Kangaroo hide from David Morgan. This kangaroo hide was huge, it’s 92 decimeters!
I used this hide for the two bellies and 1/2 of the overlay for the bullwhip kit that I made for someone. with a bit of luck there will be enough left for a 10 foot bullwhip…there’s at least enough left for an 8 foot.
Speaking of a 10 foot whip, today I’m going to start plaiting the overlay of the 10 foot KotCS style bullwhip. I’m figuring that will take a couple of hours to do.
I haven’t found a good way to keep the lace from tangling while plaiting longer whips. I’ve tried tying the ends in “Tamales” as Bruce Grant calls them in his book, but I find those just make the problem worse. Right now I’m plaiting the overlay and every so often I just pull the strands out one at a time to untangle them. It works, but I bet there’s a better way…but maybe not.
This morning I’m going to make a quick trip up to visit Morgan to pick up a couple of natural tan kangaroo hides. I’m still waiting on a shipment of kangaroo, but that order is whiskey and brandy in color. I’m out of natural tan, so I’ll pick some of that up.
I don’t like waiting on hides to work on orders..but I misjudged my efficiancy by a few days. My cutting time has really gotten a lot faster lately and that has really shortened the time it takes for me to crack out a bullwhip. Right now with my current list of orders my “turnaround” time (for made to order whips ) from when you place an order to when the bullwhip ships about a week and a half.
Last night I finished cutting the the overlay for the red four foot bullwhip, and today I’ll probably cut out the overlay for the red 6 foot bullwhip, and hopefully get two sets of the natural tan bellies cut out.