Currently I’m working on a 16 foot bullwhip. I’ve got the insides finished and the overlay cut out.
The biggest pain when making a longer whip is that as you are plaiting the strands, the ends are just tangling. I’ve tried tying them in “tamales” and am not a fan of that method. I don’t think it saves much time, as you have to untangle each strand as you braid it. It really slows down my rhythm. Personally I’d like to braid a bit, then stop and untangle over pull, untangle, pull, untangle…
Today I cut out some lace for a pair of bullwhips:
This pair of whips is not for an order, they are a just for fun pair of whips. I made the internal layers as a pair, so these two sets of overlays could be to single colored whips or a pair of two tone whips. I need to figure out what I want to do soon!
Yesterday my family and I went to the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire to see a friend of mine who was performing there. A couple of the vendors there were selling bullwhips and snake whips:
I also started cutting up lace for the four 9 foot rods that I’m plaiting over. I’ve cut up over 200 dm of kangaroo for them:
Later today I’m going to start the plaiting. The pain in the butt when plaiting over something long and rigid is that you have to untangle the lace after every pull or two. Making the first six feet really labor intensive, but he last few feet got pretty quickly!
When you make a bullwhip you quite often end up with the center of the kangaroo left over. Depending on the skin and what you are making this can be a little, or it can be a lot. This center piece is usually about 2 – 18 inches wide, if it’s bigger than that I can usually make a short signal whip out of it and it’s not a left over for long.
I was cleaning up and noticed I had a bunch of centers (still do), however I cut of several of them to make one bullwhip. I cut up a couple medium black, a bigger natural tan an red kangaroo center to make a 5 foot 12 plait bullwhip.
This bullwhip is made from 7 black strands, 4 natural tan strands and one red kangaroo strand. It ends in an 8 plait point. I’ve noticed lately that I really like an 8 plait point. It’s a bit more work in the tapering to get them tapered correctly. One plus of an 8 plait point on a 12 plait bullwhip is that I don’t have to do the 8 – 6 strand drop…however it’s probably more work resizing the lace for an 8 plait than doing that last set of drops.
Yesterday I shipped out this pair of 8 plait bullwhips:
I think they came out really well and at 8 plait look pretty cool!
Now my current project is to work on two 4 plait snake whips using the extra two shotbags that I had cut out for an order of four snake whips a few weeks ago. The piece of leather I cut the four shotbags from was bit enough to cut six, so I had two surplus ones.
When I was filling the shot bags I learned that on one of them I didn’t tie off the tip tight enough. When I started to fill it the lead shot just dumped all over the floor. It sucked to clean that up!
A couple of days ago I stopped by a leather place in Seattle to pick up a couple of Osborne Fids (I keep setting mine down and losing them). While I was there I noticed they had an Osborne Lace Cutter:
I’d only seen the picture above and was curious to see it in real life. It was interesting, but not something that I could use. It’s one of the lace cutters where you start with a hole in the middle of the skin and it cuts outward. I guess if you had a perfect skin with no scars and you were cutting lace without any taper it might be useful, but it’s not for me.
While I was there the kid working the counter tried to sell me on an Aussie Strander
I told him that I cut by eye with a box cutter and didn’t need one. His reply was my lace would be neater if I used a strand cutter. I told him I cut plenty straight freehand, but he didn’t believe me. We had a little contest with some scrap. I cut and pared a piece of lace about 2 feet long in the time it took him to just cut and my was much straighter than his!
But cutting free hand is a skill and not everyone wants to spend time to learn the skills made in whip making…which is fine, but by taking short cuts you will only get so far. There’s nothing wrong with using a lace cutter and I’m not saying I’m a “master whip maker” or any thing like that, but by having a level of competency with doing things the hard way has made me more aware of the art of whip making, not just the manufacturing process of a whip.
Today I’m in Portland on a little weekend vacation with my Family. We ate at a place called “House Of Louie” in ChinaTown last night (it was alright). I’ll be back at home on sunday and cranking out bullwhips again after the weekend off. (I do have a hide with me that I’m cutting some lace out of in the evenings.
Sometime later next week my bullwhip rates will be going up due to my available time and my bullwhip making skills getting better. So if you are thinking of ordering a bullwhip from me now is a great time to do it.
Last night I cut out the overlay set for an 8 foot bullwhip (morgan style). One thing that I did was I pared my strands very boxy, they are pretty much rectangle. That’s hopefully going to give me more of a “morgan” look on this bullwhip.
Cutting this 12 plait set, I was looking at all the waste and thought about how important good hide management is. When making a whip, if you kept all the scrap you cut off you’d be amazed. Just the little bits that you cut off from paring, the parts you cut off to make corners bigger and the inital trim, and of course the parts from the inital trimming of the hide you have a pretty big pile of unusable scrab.
That’s part of why whips are expensive is all the wasted leather…and it takes years to get good at making them!!
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.