Lead Loading a Bullwhip Handle

Lead Loading a Bullwhip Handle

This morning I got an email from someone asking about when to load the butt of a bullwhip.  There are two ways that I’ve done it:

  • Add the lead directly to the handle foundation (so it’s the first thing you do before adding any leather)
  • Add the lead after you’ve finished the overlay (so it’s the last thing you do before the knots)

Of these two times to load the butt of a bullwhip, I started out adding it directly to the handle foundation.  The advantage of doing it this way is that it makes it easy to build a nice looking knot over it.

Currently I’m adding it after I finish braiding the thong.  The advantage of this is that you can feel the whip and add the amount of lead it needs, instead of guessing like when you add it directly to the handle.  The disadvantage of doing it this way is that it takes a bit more work to build up the knot foundation, unless you are doing a more “can” shaped knot.

I don’t know if I’d say one way is right and one is wrong, just about every bullwhip maker does things their way and they have their reasons for doing it that way.  Personally I like the idea of being able to see and feel how heavy the whip is before I add the lead.  Honestly I’ve rarely changed the amount of lead that I was planning on adding based on the finished bullwhip.

Lead loaded bullwhip

I get the sheet lead that I use from a local hardware store called McLendon Hardware.  It’s a locally owned hardware store, the big chain hardware stores like Home Depot don’t sell lead.   You can also get sheet lead on Amazon.com.  I’ve always bought my lead locally from McLendon’s because it saves me shipping and while I’m there I can pick up 8 inch spikes.