From the Mailbag…

From the Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got about whip making:

I am also a whip maker, though so far I have only made paracord whips. I am interested in getting started on leather whips but lack some of the tools. I am in the process of getting what I need, though, I don’t know the names of what I am supposed to be buying and I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction.
I am seeking the jig that is used to thin, cut and angle the lace.
I was wondering if you can lead me to a website, that would have the proper tools to get started on this craft.

If you are getting into leather whips I highly recommend getting David Morgan’s book Braiding Fine Leather.

It does a really good job of taking you through all the steps of how to prepare cut and prepare lace for braiding along with a few simple projects to work on.  I also recommend reading David’s book Whips and Whip Making which gives a nice overview into what goes into a bullwhip including a how to make the famous Indiana Jones Bullwhip.

I recommend learning to cut and pare lace by hand with a knife instead of using a jig.  Hand cutting is much faster to do and you will get better results because you can taper the lace much more easily.  With paracord your lace doesn’t taper simply because it can’t, however being able to taper is one of the HUGE advantages to using leather.

I do own a lace cutter / beveler and occasionally use it, however that’s only for very specific project and usually after I’m done using it, I think to myself it would have been faster by hand.  The guy that made mine I don’t think makes them anymore (his website is gone).   If you have your mind set on getting a lace cutter / beveler there’s always something like: http://www.gfeller.us/lacemaster.html  However for the price, personally I would (and did) put the time in and learned to do it free hand.

One of the huge disadvantages of only using a machine to cut and pare your leather is that you can’t easily resize it once you start braiding.  For example lets say I’m making a whip and the strands are a bit too wide for where they are on the whip, but I don’t want to drop them yet. The simple solution is to simply grab a knife and resize them while the whip is on the hook.  If you are using a machine logistically it gets complicated.

If you want something to cut there’s the Australian Stranders, however you won’t automatically be cutting great lace with them.

These do still have a bit of a learning curve and personally I think that time is better spent learning to do it by hand.  The safety bar on these makes it hard to switch between pieces of lace as well.  If you are making a whip you need to cut one piece for a little bit…disassemble the strander, reassemble it around the next piece and cut for a bit.  You’ll be repeating this process over and over and over again.  It’s really not a very good way to cut lace from a time stand point.

To sum it all up, if you are starting out as a leather braider I would recommend getting a box cutter and a box of blades.  I’d then call the David Morgan Company or Midwest Whips to see if they had a lower grade kangaroo skins that I could buy hack up while I’m learning to cut lace.  I know kangaroo costs more than cow, however kangaroo is easier to work with than cow.  Cutting cow leather and braiding it is EXTREMELY difficult compared to kangaroo, especially if you are doing anything over 12 plait.

Hope that helps!

Louie