Yesterday I finished making a 7 1/2 foot bullwhip that’s made with four plaited bellies and no bolsters.
Making a whip with four bellies and no bolsters doesn’t take too much longer than one with two bellies and two bolsters. After making this one I’m not sure it’s worth the extra work. A whip made this way has more weight in the thong, but a similar whip can be made by using heavier bolsters and cutting wider filler strands.
Another thing with four bellies is that personally I feel I have less control over the taper of the bullwhip. It’s much easier to add or remove bulk in the thong when there is a bolster.
For the beginning whipmaker one advantage (but it’s secretly a disadvantage) to making a bullwhip with all plaited bellies is that there is virtually no kink in the whip when you do strand drops. But the problem with that is that you aren’t learning how to correctly drop strands so there is no kink when you do a whip that has bolsters.
Another problem with strand drops is that if you run your hand down the whip you can fell where the strands lay under the plaiting. When you are dropping a strand into fill or onto a bolster it’s a bit harder to feel the strand running under the plaiting. This won’t really change how the whip works and it’s basically a cosmetic issue.
In the future I’d probably only make another whip with four bellies if someone specifically requested me to do it in a custom order.