Bullwhip Belly and Bolster

Bullwhip Belly and Bolster

One thing that I used to do and stopped doing when making whips was that I used to cut out all the internal layers at the same time, before I did any plaiting.  I don’t know why I stopped doing this, however recently I starting doing it again and it’s a huge time saver!  I also find it’s easier to do one task several times than to constantly switch my brain to doing different things.

So for the whip I’m currently working on I cut out the core, bellies and bolsters before I did any plaiting.  When I used to do this people would ask me how I knew how wide to cut everything.  It’s pretty easy since everything is going to be approximately the same thickness withing fractions of a millimeter.  I cut the bolsters a little bit wider, then tweak them when it’s time to put them onto the whip.

Here’s the whip I’m currently working on, this is the inner belly completed.

bullwhip

This whip has a spring steel handle.  With the handle I think spring steel is the way to go over just a steel rod. The reason is that normal steel can be bent and spring steel cannot (except under very extreme circumstances).

Today I’ll finish up the interior layers of this whip and then move on to the cutting out the overlay.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Cutting Leather…

Cutting Leather…

Yesterday I got some braiding done and cut out some of the lace for the whips.  Here’s a couple of overlays and an inner and out belly:

bullwhip

I’m always amazed at how fast the inner layers of the whip get made, it’s the final layer that takes all the time, especially when I already have the bolsters cut out.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip Bolsters…

Bullwhip Bolsters…

Yesterday despite having a hurt wrist, I managed to get the internal layers of the 4 foot whip I’m working on finished.  bull whip

This bullwhip internally has a core, plaited belly, then two bolsters.  Up next for today is putting on a knot foundation and cutting out the overlay.  Cutting the overlay shouldn’t be too hard on my wrist.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

6 Foot Bullwhip Progress…

6 Foot Bullwhip Progress…

Yesterday I got some work in on the 6 foot bullwhip that I’m working on.  I got the outer bolster finished.  I also did something with the bolster that I don’t always do…but whenever I do it I wonder why I stopped.  When I was running the bolster through the splitter as I got closer to the end I thinned it down a bit more.  So the bolster didn’t just taper by width, but also by thickness.

Here’s the whip in it’s current state:
how to make a whip bull whip handle

Currently I’ve got it braided to the end of the plaited belly.  Unfortunately I don’t think I’m going to have any time to work on this whip the next couple of days, so it won’t be finished for a few days.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

10 foot bullwhip progress…

10 foot bullwhip progress…

I’m working on a 10 foot 12 plait bullwhip.  Right now I have the outer plaited belly finished:

whip-belly

 

Today I’m going to cut out and attach the bolster.  Hopefully I’ll have time to get the 12 plait overlay set cut out and all the strand prep finished by the end of the day as well.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Plaited Belly in a Bullwhip

Plaited Belly in a Bullwhip

Yesterday I did the strand prep and  plaiting the outer belly for the 8 foot 12 plait bullwhip that I’m working on. And this morning I finished plaiting the outer belly:

bullwhip

 

It got me thinking about the importance of a plaited belly in a bullwhip.  A plaited belly creates density inside a bullwhip and that density transfers energy.

The two belly two bolster construction method that the top bullwhip makers use is amazingly good at creating density within the bullwhip.  The core is compressed by the inner belly.  Then a bolster goes on to of that and the outer belly is plaited over the inner bolster.  What that bolster does is no only add shape and a bit of weight to the bullwhip but it also fills up air space.

For example if I were to make a bullwhip using only plaited bellies you’d have small pockets inside the whip where there is no leather from one of the plaited bellies.  There is no way to avoid this, that’s just how plaiting works, it doesn’t create a smooth surface.  Sure you could really minimize air pockets by using a very high plait for the belly and splitting the strands down really thin.  However I don’t imagine that would be a lot of work and wouldn’t give you an improvement over a low plait belly and a bolster…or that anyone would be willing to pay a premium for that!

So bolsters solve the problem of air pockets in between belly layers…why not just make a whip out of all bolsters (ie the only plaited layer is the overlay)?

You can do this and since a bolster is flat you don’t  have to worry about air pockets.  However you now have a density problem.  How do you get the inner layers packed in tight?  Maybe you could plait the overlay really tight and it will compress the bolsters and core?

Here’s a little video I made to demonstrate why I don’t think that would be very effective:

Basically in a whip that internally is all bolsters, the force of the plaiting is dispersed across all the layers giving you a whip that isn’t as dense as a whip that has the two belly, two bolster construction which I use.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Deluxe Beginner’s Bullwhip

Deluxe Beginner’s Bullwhip

Today I finished up a four plait Deluxe Beginner’s Bullwhip. These bullwhips have a leather core and a  plaited belly.  I found a great deal on some sides of leather that were perfect for this kind of whip, so I bought about 50+ square feet of it and will be making a lot of these in the near future.

bullwhip

The bullwhip that I made today was six feet long, however I plan to make a bunch of them at 5 feet long for a juggling convention I’m performing and teaching a workshop at this summer.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org 

Bullwhip Experiment…

Bullwhip Experiment…

Right now I’m in the middle of a  little experiment.  I’m making two bullwhips, these are cowhide leather bullwhips made with 8 plait overlays.  Where they are different is the internal construction.  One bullwhip has a flared core and a plaited belly.  The other has a straight core, plaited belly and a bolster.

When I use the flared core the idea is reduce the drop off at the end of the handle foundation when using a spike for the handle.  That’s the same thing that’s accomplished by using a bolster that starts at the end handle (ie not covering the whole handle).  However by using a bolster you get the advantage of it filling up air pockets in between plaited layers.

Normally when I make kangaroo bullwhips I do both a flared core and a bolster that doesn’t cover the entire handle.  However these whips that I’m experimenting with are cowhide whips and are intended to be made to sell for less.  So the less time I can devote to them the cheaper I can sell them.

I’m hoping that I like how the one with just the flared core performs because it’s less work on my end.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

16 Plait Bullwhip and another whip

16 Plait Bullwhip and another whip

The 16 plait bullwhip is finished and it’s listed on my IN STOCK whips page.  Here are a couple of pics of it:

bullwhip

bull whip

My next project is another 16 plait bullwhip, however there will be a difference between the two.  The bullwhip above has a 12 inch 3/8 spike for the handle and the next one will have a 12 inch spring steel rod.  The spring steel is much light and thinner so besides being a bit lighter the whip will also have a thinner profile.  Also spring steel of the diameter that I’m using has a very slight bit of flex which will enhance how this bullwhip cracks.

Here’s the bullwhip in its current state:

bullwhip

This bullwhip has it’s out belly plaited and at the very least today I’ll be able to get the outer bolster on.

Louie
P.S. Remember if you order an IN STOCK whip by  1pm Seattle time on 12/20/11 it will arrive by Christmas!

Another Bullwhip

Another Bullwhip

Currently I’m working on a two tone bullwhip.  This bullwhip is going to be 16 plait in black and saddle tan with some patterns plaited on the 12 inch handle.   Yesterday I got all the internal plaiting done:

bullwhip

and both bellies attached:

For those of you keeping score at home you may notice that I’m doing something a bit differently that I normally do.  Look at the above picture…did you spot it?

The last few whips I’ve started adding the lead on before the overlay.   I used to do this a long time ago, but then switched to adding it after the overlay a year or two ago, but now I’m back to adding it before.  There’s no major reason why I’m doing this, it’s basically procedural…however I do have a reason why I switched back to doing it this way, it’s just not a major thing.

If I get a chance today I’ll cut out the overlay.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org