I’m currently working on an 8 foot 12 plait “Indy” bullwhip. Lately my Indy bullwhips have had a thicker handle that resembles a more Modern David Morgan 450 series bullwhip. After visiting Paul Nolan a couple of months ago and looking at the slimmer handle profiles he puts on his Indy bullwhips I kinda liked that look. The look on Paul’s resemble a more “vintage” Morgan bullwhip.
One of the reasons that mine end up with a thicker handle, and a thicker general profile is that I like using the thick kangaroo skins on the overlays. It gives good chunky look to the strands one the whip. When making the whips I usually even out the bellies on my bench splitter, but not thin them down very much. For this whip I thinned down the bellies quite a bit. I also thinned down the yoke more than the strands, that’s going to give my handle a slightly thinner profile. I also adjusted my core a bit to be thinner on the handle foundation.
Here’s the inner belly finished:
And here’s the outer bell finished:
I also made a little adjustment in how I put the lead on. I normally add the lead on top of the final bolster. For this whip I added the lead, then put the bolster on the whip. That’s goingn to reduce the size of the heel knot a little bit.
I’ve gotten a bit of work on the overlay in and I’m liking the little differences that this is making the the overall look of the whip (so far).
As part of my road trip to San Diego last week I made a detour and headed over to Nevada to visit Paul, Lauren and Nikko at Mid West Whips. We had a great time talking whips and cracking them (cracking pic’s will be in another post).
Paul showed me a very interesting way to make a shotbag, which I’ve already made and used one. Lauren taught me a bit about braiding nylon, which I knew was a lot different from leather, but never really realized how different!
Another highlight was getting to see some of the Cooley Collection in person! The Henderson whips were amazing to look at…and as a bonusI got to crack a Henderson whip!
Right now I’m working on an 8 foot Indy bullwhip. I had a couple of hides show up yesterday morning from Paul Nolan:
The natural tan one is 66dm and that’s the one that I’m using for this Indy Bullwhip. I trimmed the hide:
The core and wear leather are attached to the handle foundation:
Then I cut out the bellies and wrist loop:
You’ll see that I have all three parts being cut at the same time, I do that to use up the “ears” of the hide which are very stretchy in one direction and it’s a part I’d usually trim off. But cutting this way allows me to use the for the yoke of sets.
Here’s all the internal kangaroo parts cut out:
With Easter tomorrow and a full performing schedule today, I don’t think any more work will be done on this bullwhip until Monday.
Last night I started work on a 5 foot bullwhip. I’ve got all of the insides finished:
This bullwhip will have an 8 plait overlay in black kangaroo. I’m out of black kangaroo and ordered a skin from Paul Nolan for this whip, and hopefully it will arrive Saturday and the whip will be ready to ship out on Monday.
Since I’m out of black roo right now, this bullwhip’s plaited belly is from red kangaroo. The color of the inside doesn’t really matter because you can’t see it from the outside!
A few weeks ago I got a Dene Williams Hand Splitter from Paul Nolan. When I got the hand splitter I already had a bench splitter, so I wasn’t sure if the hand splitter would get much action…boy oh boy was I wrong!
I love the Hand Splitter!
One thing I’ve always wanted to do, but it wasn’t really practical with a bench splitter is to thin down some of my strand drops. I’ve tried doing that with my bench splitter and it’s really not practical to move the whip to the bench splitter and thin down the strnads. Now with the Hand Splitter I just split the strand right before I drop it and I don’t have to move the whip and that makes slimming down the strands EASY!
Also it uses utility knife blades, and those are easy to get and cheap!
There are things a bench splitter can do that the Dene Williams Hand Splitter can’t like knocking down the high spots on bolsters (which are too wide for the Hand Splitter). Also since I make my bullwhips in a small space it’s easier to split down long strands with the bench splitter.
Here’s a question about shopping for a bullwhip that was emailed to me:
“Hi Louie , I’ve come across your site with interests in whips.What do you recomend for a starter ? Is a used or inexpencive whip a bad idea ? I have a double whip variety act in mind.”
When you are starting out with bullwhip cracking getting the best bullwhip you can afford is a good idea. Now keep in mind the best doesn’t always mean the most expensive bullwhip. Figure out what you want to do with it…are you to be doing a faster mulitple cracking routine, or are you just wanting to make the thing crack?
There’s nothing wrong with a cheap whip, but usually a cheap bullwhip is made with inferior materials (like cow) or with inferior methods (like less bellies or no bellies!). Those are things to consider when shopping for a cheap bullwhip and before you buy you can ask what’s inside the bullwhip. You don’t need super detailed info, but a quick answer like two bellies and two bolsters is all you need.
I’ve heard that one particular guy that sells bullwhips on ebay uses felt as the core for his whips…personally I’d steer clear of any bullwhip that had felt for a core! A little bit of homework will take you a long way, but also don’t necessarily buy into the seller’s hype.
The guys who really “pimp” thier whips on either thier websites or ebay generally aren’t top notch (there are probably execptions to this)…however if you look at guys like Paul Nolan, Joe Strain, David Morgan, Bernard Del Carpio’s websites they don’t whore out thier work like other people. In fact any of the guys I just mentioned make fanstatic whips and you can’t go wrong getting one from them!
My first whip was a cheap-o bullwhip, but I learned to crack it and that carried me onto the next level. I may have learned faster with a nicer bullwhip, but at first I all I could afford was an $80 whip. Once you move your bullwhips skills into some type of performance you will need to start thinking of investing in a higher quality whip. If you are using your bullwhip in a show, you need to rely on it, and it needs to do what it is supposed to every time. In my show’s I use a bullwhip that was made by Paul Nolan and it’s been in close to 2,000 shows (in addition to practice sessions) over the years! That’s how a show bullwhip is an investment, it’s never failed me!