For all of the readers of this blog in the USA, have a happy Thanksgiving!
Since my wife doesn’t let me do any of the Thanksgiving cooking, so I’m up in the shop working on a couple of whips:
These are going to be two of the Beginner’s Bullwhips that I make. I plaited both bellies a while ago and I cut out the overlays this morning. I’m using some free time today to hopefully finish them up…or at least get the overlays finished.
On Monday I went on a little field trip up to visit with the folks at David Morgan and to pick up a kangaroo skin for an 8 foot bullwhip. I like going up there because I get to chat whip making and I get to dig through their skins and pick out the perfect skin for the project I’m working on. Here’s a bunch of strand sets for signal whips hanging at David Morgan:
Since I’m making an 8 foot bullwhip I needed a skin that is in the upper 60 to lower 70 decimeter square range. I picked out this 71 dm2 skin:
I also had to stop at my local Tandy Leather Factory to pick up another side of cow for bolsters and maybe a couple of 4 plait whips.
Now it’s time to start cutting up leather and doing some plaiting!
The other day I had some time to kill and ended up buying a side of cow leather, so I’m making some cowhide bullwhips. I’ve got the cores greased up and attached to the handle foundations:
Next up I need to cut out the bellies, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to make them 4, 8, or 12 plait overlays yet.
One thing about making these cheaper cowhide bullwhips is that I need to make them in batches of more than just one to cut down on the time it takes to make them. For example cutting out three bellies at one time is much faster than cutting out three bellies at three different times.
A question I get a lot is, “Why are your whips so expensive when I can get a whip for $50 on ebay?”
That’s a good question and there are two parts to the answer.
1. Quality of Materials
What type of leather used in a whip makes a huge difference in the final product. For example generally “drum stuffed” leather is more expensive than “dry” leather. Drum stuffed in my opinion is also a superior leather to work with. Now I can by dry leather and “hand stuff” it, but that adds time on my end and my time isn’t free. So either way you are paying someone to grease the leather, either me or the tannery.
Then you have the quality of the leather. A side of cow or kangaroo skin that’s all scarred up is going to be a lower grade, and cheaper. What that means is to get good raw materials to make your whip it’s going to cost me more. Sure I could get a scarred up skin and cut around all the scars, but then I’m throwing away more leather and would have to buy more low quality leather. In the end if I have to waste a lot of leather for your whip, I might as well buy the high quality to start with. Price wise it all evens out.
2. Quality of the Maker
The person who is making your whip has a lot to do with pricing. That’s where the bulk of the cost is, labor. A person that makes one whip a year is going to generally charge less for their whips, but also they don’t usually have the same skills as someone that makes one or more whips a week.
Keep in mind just because someone makes or sells a lot of whips doesn’t automatically mean they are good.
Once you break down the hourly, and subtract all the expenses they aren’t making a huge hourly wage. If the person is a professional whip maker (i.e. they have no other job) and you factor out expenses like taxes, business insurance, health insurance AND then add in things like money tied up in inventory like keeping a stock of leather and there’s not a lot of meat left on that bone.
So if you take out one of the two factors above you’ll still have a fairly expensive whip compared to a $50 whip…but take both out and that’s the answer to the Fifty Dollar Question!
I finished this bullwhip last week and got it shipped out Thursday. Here’s the finished whip:
One thing I did on this whip was make it with the upper knot a darker color. Most whip makers when they do this they use leather that is dyed a different color at the tannery. The whip is made from natural tan kangaroo and the upper knot is also made from natural tan kangaroo that I had aged.
I always think it’s neat to see the color of the leather now, and the color of the leather that it will eventually become!
Also I’ve got another whip that I made as a fun project for me on ebay right now. It’s a 6.5 foot two tone bullwhip. It’s a steal at the starting price! You can view the auction at:
I’m back in town and one of the stops on my trip was in Cozumel, Mexico. While there I saw many shops selling simple 4 plait leather bullwhips:
Here’s a quick video of a guy who was pitching whips to tourists.
Did you notice how when he’s cracking the whip no one even stops to look? That sort of amazed me, you’d think it’d at least make people turn their heads.
Today I cut out / assembled all the parts for a Make Your Own Stock Whip Kit.
In each stock whip are 15 components that end up making the assembled stock whip.
This particular kit is shipping out to its new owner first thing in the morning.
I finally finished the bullwhip that was made with English Calf. It’s a 5 foot 8 plait bullwhip. This particular bullwhip has a 10 inch handle and was made with a core, plaited belly, bolster and overlay.
Using only one belly and bolster gave this whip a slimmer profile and I like that look on a shorter whip.
After making and cracking a bullwhip made from English Calf I love the material…but I don’t love the price. It comes in pretty close in price to kangaroo. If the kangaroo supply in the USA ever dries up this is the material that I will switch to!
This bullwhip is available for sale on my IN STOCK WHIPS page!
I’ve gotten a bit more work on the pair of Deluxe Beginner’s Bullwhips. First I noticed that I needed some falls, so I cut out a batch of them:
Once those were cut out and rounded I added them to the two bullwhips:
Then I had to clean up the ends of the bullwhips in preparation for putting on the heel knot’s foundation:
Finally I put on the heel knot foundations:
The next step will be to put roll the whips, put all the knots on them and list them for sale.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email newsletter from Steven Siegel and in it he mentioned having some English Calf. I’ve used English Kip before and while it was good for bovine leather honestly I didn’t think it justified the higher price over regular kip. When I saw he had English Calf I figured I’d try some out…and he had a coupon for it in the email!
I ordered a full hide of it and at the time it was $150, however I just peeked at his website and it’s now $175 for a full hide. The English Calf I was sent was good clean skin (no brands or big scars) and while light feels fairly strong. We’ll see what happens when I start to cut it up and braid with it!
My plan is to make some 8 plait bullwhips out of this English Calf. I might get adventurous and go for a 12 plait, but we’ll see how the leather is with an 8 plait before I make that determination. Here’s what the leather looks like:
If you don’t know the difference between kip and calf, it’s basically age/size. Calf is a young cow and kip is a teenage cow. I think this is usually not actually sorted by age but by the size of the full hide.