I recently had this stock whip come in for a repair.
It needed a new fall and point plaited onto the whip. Quite often when a whip comes in for a repair they are very dry. One of the first things that I do is give it a coat of grease. However many whips are beyond repair and will basically turn to dust if you try to move the strands. This whip was on the edge, however I was able to get a new fall onto it!
The moral of the story is to make sure your whips don’t get dried out. A light coat of Pecard’s Leather dressing a couple of times a year on a whip that you don’t use will help keep it in good shape.
A question I get asked a lot about making a whip is whether you should use plaiting soap or if you can use leather dressing like Pecards for plaiting. To put is simply you can use either for plaiting, however each will have its own advantages and disadvantages.
When using leather dressing for plaiting it’s best for leather that isn’t drum stuffed. Drum stuffed leather has oils worked into it at the tannery and is already nice and full of all the good stuff that’s in leather dressing. So if you use it for plaiting you will probably end up with a really greasy whip.
Leather dressing is also more expensive than plaiting soap, so there’s a little bit of an extra cost.
Leather dressing is great to put on layers of a whip that may be dry like a bolster that’s cut from cowhide that isn’t drum stuffed.
Plaiting soap is great for using on all types of leather, however if you are braiding leather that isn’t drum stuffed remember that it doesn’t contribute as much oils to the leather as a leather dressing would. It’s primarily a lubricant to make plaiting tightly easier.
Plaiting soap is very cheap a giant pot of it will cost you a few bucks.
What Do I Use?
When making whips I personally use a combination of the two. If the leather hasn’t been drum stuffed I give it a hit of leather dressing and let that soak in. Once the dressing has soaked in I use plaiting soap for the actual braiding.
Hope that helps!
Lately I’ve been experimenting with how I make my bullwhip falls. A lot of people have commented to me when they’ve seen pictures of me making falls that they were surprised at how much goes into making a fall.
At it’s most basic level a fall is a piece of tapered leather. However after talking to David Morgan and Joe Strain about falls I’ve realized that there is much more to a bullwhip fall.
One of my experiments turned out a nice fall. What I did was cut the fall, then pared off the corners. Then I oiled it and rounded it. After than I have it a coat of braiding soap and rounded it again. It’s made a nice round and smooth fall. Now I’ll have to see how it holds up.
Last night I started making what I call an EconomIndy Bullwhip. Basicially it’s an indy bullwhip with kip bellies (instead of kangaroo)…however it still has a 12 plait kangaroo overlay. The internal construction is a bit different from my regular bullwhips to make it work better with the kip leather.
I don’t normally make a lot of these bullwhips because I dislike braiding Kip (it’s much harder to work with than kangaroo skin!).
Above is the leather cut out for an EconomIndy Bullwhip and below is the half finished bullwhip:
Whitehide Bullwhip Falls
My “system” for making my bullwhip falls is getting better…well the cutting out part that is. I’m getting much faster at cutting them out. What I’m doing is laying a yardstick across the hide and “scoring” it from above with one pass. I do with all of falls I’m going to cut out. Then I go back and cut them out almost like I’m cutting strands of kangaroo with the knife below the hide, using the partially cut (scored) like as my guide.
Normally I soak my falls in grease overnight to get them nice and dense. But I’m trying something new. I’m soaking them in Pecards Leather Dressing. Since Pecards is a paste and it really needs to be a liquid to penetrate the falls I melted it. I heated up some water on the stove and put the tub in turn it into a liquid.
Then I put the whitehide bullwhip falls into a plastic bag and poured the liquid into the bag and sealed it. My thinking is that the longer the falls are in the liquid Pecards (not paste) the more the leather dressing will penetrate the whitehide fall.
So I kept the bag of falls and dressing in hot water for a while. Later today I’ll do the next step which will be rounding the falls and trying one out.
Last week I visited David Morgan and while I was there I picked up a couple of his heavy natural tan kangaroo hides for me to make a 12 foot Indy bullwhip for myself. The only problem will be finding time to make it! While I was visiting David I picked up another copy of his book Whips and Whipmaking (I lost my previous copy). I also picked up a large tub of Pecards, I have an idea of something unusual to try with it.
My current wait time is 3 weeks from when you order to when your bullwhip will ship. I had almost gotten all my bullwhip orders fulfilled then I got hit with orders over the weekend. I’m going to do my best to crank out all of the bullwhips that were ordered over the weekend as fast as possible before my busy performing season kicks in (mid-late june).