The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The other day I stumbled upon a book about bullwhip making called The Leather Lace Bullwhip on Amazon.com.  Since I’m such a whip nerd I ordered a copy.

The Leather Lace Bullwhip

Here’s the description of the book:

Geared mainly to the leather hobbyist with some braiding experiance, This book will show you how to make a cowhide bullwhip in my unique way. Also contains tips and tricks of leather braiding and cutting lace.

I like the idea of this book which is making a bullwhip from lace of a uniform width, instead of cutting it at a taper.  Also for a bit of full disclosure I’ve read this book two times, but haven’t made the bullwhip in this book.  The main reason for not making this bullwhip (yet) is time, however I plan to try it in the future.

In the book Paul cuts his lace with Craftool Lace Maker.

lace maker

This tool will give you uniform lace and while it it possible to cut at a taper with this tool, the way the author uses lace you are stuck with using uniform widths.  One clever thing the author does is converts one of these Lace Maker’s into a very inexpensive splitter to thin down the lace.

The construction is fairly simple, it’s a core, plaited belly and overlay.   The belly is 8 plait and the overlay is 12 plait all in 2mm thick cowhide.

There are a few things that I have some issues with in this book.

  • Paring: The way the author pares without any protection on his hands in my opinion is a fairly dangerous way to teach it to a beginner.
  • Knot Tying: The instructions for tying the knots are in the appendix in the back of the book.  And it uses a coded system, but the author doesn’t really explain how the codes work.  I could understand the codes, but I think someone just starting out would cause a bit of frustration.
  • Incorrect Information: The author says to make a handle like an Indy Bullwhip, you do an U2 O2 U2 pattern. That is 100% wrong.  Indy bullwhips have a checkerboard handle.
  • More Incorrect Information: The author specifically says the pattern he uses on the handle what Ron Edwards calls a Birds Eye Plait.  The Birds Eye Plait that Ron Teaches in his books is different from what Paul teaches in this book.
  • Goat Rawhide?: In the shopping list for supplies the author tells you to buy some goat rawhide.  However that’s never mentioned again in the book.  Leather isn’t cheap, so buying something that’s not used in the project is very wasteful on the beginners wallet.
  • Internet References: In the beginning of the book the author says you can learn to use the Lace Maker on YouTube, but doesn’t give any specific site.  The author should have provided a direct URL.  The author in the appendix offers some other websites, but just the websites name and no direct URL’s so I have to search them. It would have taken all of a minute to type them out, if not for the ease of the reader, but for the sake of completeness.

You might be thinking that I’m nit picking when I mention things like crediting thing wrong.  However crediting is something that’s very important.  When you specifically cite something  you better be right!

Here’s an example of why crediting is important (a very nerdy example).  I’m involved in the world of soap bubble artists.  In a forum someone mentioned that they believe that crediting creators of different bubble tricks is very important and should be done even in a live performance.  Then his example was when he does the bubble carousel he credits it as being invented by Tom Noddy.  On the surface crediting is good, but only when it’s correct.  In Tom’s book he specifically says he learned it from someone else.  Now this person that wants credit to go to the right place is actually falsely giving credit to the wrong person.

I’m not saying Ron Edwards invented the Birds Eye Plait (he didn’t), but when you say it’s what in his book and are wrong you are making historical the waters murky.

One thing I like about the book is that the authors method is fairly simple.  It doesn’t use bolsters so it’s less intimidating for a beginner.  However if you intended to make more than one whip I would highly suggest learning how to make a bolster and incorporating it into your plan.  Also since there is no tapering the cutting out process is pretty easy.  But once again if you intend to make more than one whip in your life time you need to learn to cut at a taper.  Whether it’s simply using an Aussie Strander and turning the wheel a bit as you cut or learning to do it freehand.

I feel this book is intended more for someone that wants a leather working project and that’s just it.  They want to make one whip and then move on to the next thing, not for someone that actually wants to learn to make whips.

One big suggestion for this books author would be to have someone proof read and make the whip in the book that is his intended audience.  Someone that had some braiding experience, but never made a whip would have noticed a lot of things that weren’t very clear.  Also there are a lot of typos and missing letters in the text (i.e. the word USING being spelt USIN), which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s annoying because I paid for the whole book why not give me the last letter of the word?  I know times economically are tough, but adding in a G in the proper place doesn’t cut into profit margins to much.

So the big question is would I recommend this book?  Honestly I don’t know how I feel about it.  I guess I’d recommend it to someone that wants to make a whip, but not really progress any further than that one whip.  However if you want to try plaiting I’d recommend getting Ron Edwards book How To Make Whips and making the stock whip in that book, or a precut stock whip kit.  A 4 plait stock whip is a pretty simple project and you’ll get a feel for plaiting and see if you like it or not without getting involved in doing 8 and 12 plait patterns which can be very frustrating for a beginner.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

16 Plait Bullwhip and Leather Honey…

16 Plait Bullwhip and Leather Honey…

Currently I have three feet of the overlay of the 16 plait bullwhip I’m working on finished.  When you are plaiting  a bullwhip you are actually braiding in two places.  One is on the bullwhip and the other is at the other end of the strand.  That’s why making longer bullwhips is a pain in the butt, you are always  untangling.  Here’s a picture of the loose ends of the strands braided from braiding the bullwhip:
kangaroo lace

I also ordered a bottle of Leather Honey yesterday.

I learned about this leather conditioner on twitter and am curious how it will handle on kangaroo.  The makers of the product have never  used it on roo, so we’ll see how it does!  If you are on twitter follow me @bullwhips

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Matched Pair of Bullwhips

Matched Pair of Bullwhips

My current project is a matched pair of bullwhips.  These bullwhips are 12 plait kangaroo bullwhips that will be 6 feet long.  One has been plaited to the 12 to 10  strand drop and the other has been plaited about halfway to the first strand drop.

bullwhip matched pair

I’m pretty happy with the look of the handles on these bullwhips:

bullwhip handle

It’s got a nice circumference measuring in at approx 65mm in the main part of the handle.  I’m hoping to find time to finish these bullwhips later this week.

Louie
P.S. I just got mentioned in an article in London, England’s The Guardian newspaper!  I’m at the end of the article.

Finished Signal Whip and New Project…

Finished Signal Whip and New Project…

Last night I finally put the knot on the 12 plait signal whip that’s been hanging on my hook for what feels like forever.  Here it is:

12 plait signal whip

This signal whip is for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

Yesterday I also started work on a 10 foot 16 plait bullwhip. This whip will be done in black kangaroo with red highlights on the knots.  Here are the kangaroo skins I’m using:

veg tanned kangaroo for bullwhip making

Last night I also cut out the bellies, but still need to do all the strand prep:

16 plait bullwhip

My slightly ambitious goal today is to get all the bellies plaited, bolster attached and the overlay cut out.  Today I have a few things competing for my time so I can’t just work on this whip straight through otherwise that’d be no problem.  Also I’m hoping to meet up with a whip group in the Seattle area this evening.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Bullwhip Progress…

Bullwhip Progress…

Yesterday I got some plaiting in on the 8 foot 16 plait bullwhip.  I finished the handle:

Bullwhip handle

I also have the bullwhip plaited about 2 1/2 feet into the lash:

bull whip

Tomorrow I should have the lash finished.

Also right now Tandy Leather Factory has calf skins on sale (http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/search/searchresults/9154-02.aspx).

calf skin

If you’ve thought about trying to make a bullwhip, these are a good cheaper alternative to kangaroo.  I’ve made a few whips from this stuff in the past:

You have to use a bit more care when braiding with it because calf isn’t quite as strong as kangaroo.   Also these skins aren’t drum stuffed, so you’ll have to grease them by hand before you can do any braiding with it.

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Bullwhip and a Mummy

Bullwhip and a Mummy

Lately I haven’t been doing much plaiting I’ve been busy performing and finishing filling up my summer calendar.  Right now custom plaiting jobs have been slow, so it’s a good thing I’ve been busy now with other stuff!

A couple of  nights ago I found time to get a few more feet of plaiting on my current bullwhip project:

bullwhip

And this week is my daughter’s spring break, so we’ve been doing some fun things during the day when we get a chance.  Today we went to the Washington State History Museum that had a mummy exhibit.  Here’s one of the displays:

plaited mummy

What makes this picture interested (besides mummies being cool) is that the guy in the upper left corner isn’t just wrapped like a cartoon scooby-doo mummy, but he’s plaited.  Here’s a close up:

plaited mummy

The arms and legs have a herringbone  plait.  Interesting…

Louie

http://bullwhips.org

Plaiting started…

Plaiting started…

I decided to start plaiting the last calf bullwhip that I’m making (for now).  It’s about 3 feet into it:

calf bullwhip

I’m out of plaiting soap and didn’t want to cook up a batch before I left town so I’ve been using rawhide cream as lube for  plaiting:

rawhide cream

It works pretty well for the lubricating part of plaiting…however it doesn’t feel like it’s adding much “grease” to the strands (which isn’t surprising because rawhide dressing usually doesn’t have fat in it).  The part I’ve plaited is still very dry sounding, so I’m going to have to give it a hit of dressing when the whip is done.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Final Calf Bullwhip

Final Calf Bullwhip

Yesterday I cut out the overlay of the last of the calf skins that I had picked up a little while ago.

bullwhip

The insides of this bullwhip are finished and all they need is to be  plaited over:

bullwhip

I’m trying to decide if I should start work on plaiting the overlay of this bullwhip now or not.  I’m going to be out of town from 3/10 – 3/20 and I don’t want a half finished bullwhip sitting for 10 days if I don’t have time to work on it.  I’ve got a pretty full week until I leave.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make any more of these bullwhips from calf or if I’ll be able to find decent skins to do it with.  So this may be my last calf bullwhip (at least for now).

Oh, don’t forget I’ve got a six foot Young Indy style bullwhip for sale on ebay right now: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220747828820 the auction ends on tomorrow (3/8/11) right now it’s a steal at the current bid of $280.  This is a great chance to get a sweet deal on one of my bullwhips!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Easy Whip Making…

Easy Whip Making…

Yesterday I got an email from someone in Greece asking me to, “…write some articles about easy whip making“.  While I’d love to write posts about easy whip making, I’m not going to.  The reason I’m not going to is simple, there is no such thing as easy whip making!

Whip making uses a  lot of skills you need to develop, from learning to cut and pare to learning to plait.  It all takes time and once you learn things it’s easy…but there’s no easy way to learn besides the hard way with practice and turning out crappy whips.  Every whip maker during the learning process makes whips that look and / or function poorly.  There is no short cut.

I really wish I could say the easy way to make a whip is to simply ______, but I’d be lying.  Even using things like strand cutters which help you cut out even strands have a learning curve.  Some are easier than others, but they all will take some cutting to turn out decent looking strands.

Here’s my advice, get:

  • David Morgan’s book on plaiting
  • Whips and Whipmaking by David Morgan (make sure you get a 2nd edition because it tells you how to make an indy whip in there)
  • Optional: Once you learn some basic plaiting and knots my Bullwhip Making for the Beginner ebook can be helpful (after you’ve learned some basics).

Read and both of David’s books (there are links to the menu bar on the left of this screen) and make all the projects in the plaiting book.   While you are working on the projects in the plaiting book continually re-read the chapter on the 450 bullwhip in Whips and Whipmaking.  Draw out a plan for how all the layers of your  bullwhip will sit.  After each reading of the section on the 450 bullwhip review the plan you drew to see if anything has changed in your mind after rereading.

Finally try to make a bullwhip.

Even when you develop some level of skill whipmaking still isn’t easy.  Here’s an example of an easier project that’s giving me trouble:

I’m working on an 8 plait bullwhip and for some reason I totally messed up and cut the strands way to skinny.  I’ve been making for a while and it was a really dumb mistake that I made and really shouldn’t have happened, but it did.  So I need to cut 4 more strand and make the other 8 skinnier so that I can make the whole whip 12 plait.

Good luck with your first bullwhip!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org