From the Mailbag…

From the Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got recently:

I have a 10′ snake whip I just finished, came out beautiful, my first one. I have tried it and can only get little pops from it intermittently, I was wondering if it might be the length of the fall or cracker or both, could you tell me what the lengths should be for both of these and how many strands should I use in the cracker?

Thanks for the email and when a whip doesn’t crack right, there are basically two things that will cause that:

#1 Operator Error

#2 Equipment Error

I’m going to assume the person knows how to crack a whip properly and isn’t trying to “dish rag” it.  So that brings us to #2 equipment error.   In my opinion there is no one length for a fall or number of strands for the cracker that is correct.  You can get a great crack with a whip that has an extremely short or long fall, and you can get a great crack out of a whip that has a very heavy or light fall.  Heck you can even get a decent crack from a whip that has no fall.

Every whip will like slightly different fall.  When I started I would cut my falls at 3 feet and put them on the whip. I’d take it to the park and start cracking it.  I would then cut the fall shorter and shorter to find the length that I liked.  Pretty simple…just trial and error.  If what is failing is the fall, you’ll quickly find the perfect fall length for the whip.

As for the cracker for simply getting a good crack, this probably isn’t the problem.  As for how many strands, it depends on what you are using.  Right now I have a spool of lighter nylon and it takes twice the number of strands that I use when I use heavier nylon.  The easy way to find what is right for what you are using is to make three crackers.   Make one that’s what you think you should have, then make one that’s heavier and one that’s lighter.   Put the middle one on the whip and crack it a bit.  Then try the other two…which cracked the best?  Use that one.  You can take it a step further if the one that cracked the best was the light or heavy one.  You can then make another cracker a step further in that direction and see if that works even better!

After experimenting with different falls and crackers and the whip’s performance doesn’t improve, then you need to look at the internal construction of your whip.   Is it efficiently moving energy down the lash of the whip?  A couple places to think about are:

Is it braided tightly?  If the braid isn’t tight on all the braided layers, the energy travelling down the whip is hitting speed bumps slowing it down and making it hard to crack.

Is your core dense?  Since the question relates to a snake whip, you are using mass instead of the leverage a handle would give you to put the initial energy into the whip.  If you core is lead, but not well packed, or of a huge diameter, then the energy is once again hitting speed bumps.

Is your core something other than lead?  For example ball chain is something popular for a core with many amateur nylon whip makers.  I don’t understand why you’d use ball chain as it’s hollow and doesn’t contribute weight or density to the core of the whip (but I don’t make many nylon whips), however in my opinion for a leather whip it’s useless for adding weight.

Those are just a few things to consider if the problem is beyond the fall and cracker.

Hope that helps!

Louie

Snake Whip – Fall Replacment

Snake Whip – Fall Replacment

I recently had a snake whip come in for a fall replacement.  The owner said it was around 20 years old.  Here’s what the snake whip looked like when it got to me:

snake whip

The first step to replacing a fall is sliding the new fall over the point of the whip:

snake whip

Then carefully cutting the end of the old fall and pulling it off the whip:

snake whip

The point of the new fall is slipped into the fall hitch:

snake whip

Tighten up the fall hitch, put a cracker on the new fall an you’re back in business!
snake whip

 

This snake whip had a great crack with its new fall!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Finished Snake whip

Finished Snake whip

I’ve finished the 3 foot 24 plait snake whip.

snake whip

 

I really like the Interlocking I’s Plaited Pattern on the hand grip.  However if I were to make a whip like this in the future I’d probably change the plaiting on the lash. I would either:

  1. Only drop the tan strands so the whip gradually became more black ending with a black point.or
  2. Rearrange the lace at the end of the hand grip and do a different pattern at the lash. I would have to put a knot at the transition from the hand grip’s pattern to the lash’s pattern to cover the rearrangement of the lace.

I cracked this whip a few times in my living room and it’s a fun little whip!  It’s currently listed for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Different Types of Whips

Different Types of Whips

There are many different types of whips, from snake whips to floggers to bull whips.  This post is going to talk about the differences of the four of the main types of whips used by  whip crackers.  Notice I said whip crackers, that means I’ve narrowed it down to whips typically used by Sport Whip Crackers.  So I’m not going to get into things used by lifestyle whip community like floggers etc.

The four whips that I’m going to show are Snake Whips, Signal Whips, Stock Whips and Bullwhips.  Also a quick not to mention that quite often Signal Whips are called Single Tail Whips by people in the lifestyle whip community, however technically any whip with one lash is a single tail whip.  So a bullwhip is a Single Tail Whip, however most sport whip crackers don’t refer to them as single tail whip.

A little while ago I made what I’m calling a Whip Sampler Pack which was a snake whip, signal whip, bull whip and a stock whip.  All four whips are 4 feet long and made in 12 plait kangaroo.  Here are all four of them together:

whip-sampler_6_260413

Now lets talk about the qualities of each whip.

Bullwhip:  A bull whip has a rigid handle, plaited lash which is permanently attached to the  handle, fall and cracker. These are typically measured from the end of the butt of the handle to the end of the fall hitch.  So the fall and cracker are not included in its length

.whip-sampler_5_260413

Signal Whip: A signal whip has a flexible handle, plaited lash that is permanently attached to the handle and a plaited cracker.  I’ve found there is a lot of variation in how these are measured.   Some whip makers measure the entire length from the butt of the handle to the end of the cracker.  Others only measure the braided leather portion.  This slight variation in measurement can give you a variation of 6 ish inches in the overall length of the whip.  So if the exact size is very important, talk to  you whip maker to see how they measure it.

Whips

Stock Whip:  A stock whip has a rigid handle, plaited lash that is NOT permanently attached to the handle, fall and cracker.  So you can remove the handle or lash and put a new one one when the old gets worn out. The longer handle gives you a lot more leverage than a shorter handle when whip cracking.  These are typically measures by the length of the lash only.  For example 4 foot signal whip is the 4 foot lash, plus the handle, fall and cracker giving you a whip with an overall length much longer than four feet!

whip-sampler_3_260413

Snake Whip:  A snake whip has a flexible handle, plaited lash that is permanently attached to the handle, fall and a cracker.  These are typically measured from the butt of the handle to the fall hitch.

whip-sampler_4_260413

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of whips?  Mainly length and leverage.  For a example a stock whip is going to have a 20ish inch handle which will give  you a lot more leverage in your crack than the shorter bullwhip handle.  However the bullwhip’s shorter handle will give you more leverage than the non existent rigid handle in a snake or signal whip.  However if portability is a concern then the snake or signal whip with no handle will easily coil up and fit into a handbag.  If space is an issue,  like for lifestyle whip crackers then the shorter whip like a signal whip is a better choice than a something like a stock whip.

What does that all mean to you?

Honestly I don’t know what your goals with whip cracking are, so I don’t know what you want to use it for. If it’s for sport cracking and you have been bitten by the whip bug then at some point you will probably try all of these whips.  Since they are all different they will all give you different whip cracking challenges!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Whip Sampler Pack!

Whip Sampler Pack!

Well this project is almost finished!  I started it a long time ago and between whip orders and my performing schedule this has taken forever to finish.

whips

They still aren’t finished yet, I’m currently shellacing them and once that is done they will be finished.  I don’t know if I’m going to sell them as a set or individually.  However before I make them available for sale I’m using them as an example for an article on the different kinds of whips.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Whip Sampler (progress)

Whip Sampler (progress)

I’ve had a very full performing schedule lately that my personal (for fun) projects haven’t made much progress.  My current personal whip making project that I’m called the Whip Sampler has gotten a little bit of work done.

whip-sampler_1_030313

currently I have the signal whip and the stock whip finished.  I still need to do the bullwhip and the snake whip’s outer layers.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Whip Sampler Progress

Whip Sampler Progress

So far I’ve gotten all of the bellies finished on the four whips in the Whip Sampler.

kangaroo whips

I also have about half of the overlay of the stock whip finished (haven’t started on the handle).

While these are shorter whips I’m doing them at 12 plait and this is turning out to be a big project!

louie
http://bullwhips.org 

Whip Sampler

Whip Sampler

Right now I’ve started a little project that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m making a four whips, each will be four feet long and of a different type.  So there will be a signal whip, snake whip, bull whip and a stock whip.  They all will be made with similar plaiting and look, however I haven’t decided if they will be 8 or 12 plait.

So far I have the cores cut out:

whips

And the cores have been assembled and are currently letting grease soak in:

bullwhip

I’ve also cut out all the bellies and sometime later today I should have a chance to at least do the strand prep…and maybe some plaiting.

Ideally I’d sell these as a set of four whips, but I don’t know if buying four whips at once would be cost prohibitive or not.  We’ll see…

Also this is a quick heads up that I’m leaving town on 2/1/13 for a couple of weeks, so if you are looking for a custom made whip you will need to order in the next day or two if you want it to ship out before I leave.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org 

Interesting Whips on Ebay

Interesting Whips on Ebay

This morning I popped by ebay to see if anyone was selling any interesting whips.  There are a couple right now.

The first is an 8 foot 16 plait Terry Jacka bullwhip:

bullwhip

You can view the auction by clicking  here.  I don’t think I’ve really seen any of Jacka’s bullwhips with patterns on them so this was fun to see.

The other whip on ebay right now that is an 8 foot snake whip by Si Davey.

snake whip

You can view the auction by clicking here.  I don’t think I’ve ever cracked one of Si Davey’s whips, so with an opening bid at $250 this is a very tempting purchase!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org