Yesterday I got the plaiting of the Rawhide Quirt I’m working on finished. I still need to do the knots and the lash. Working on it (and it’s not the prettiest thing in the world!) has taught me a lot about working with rawhide.
One of the biggest differences between rawhide and leather that I’ve noticed is the time is takes to cut and prep the strands. With leather I just cut my strands, stretch them, split them and pare them.
However with rawhide I have to case the hide, then cut it out into strips. Then depending on how dry they’ve gotten while I was cutting the strips, I might need to add moisture again before I stretch them out to dry. Once they are dry and stretched, I throw the strips under a wet towel for a bit and once they are not too wet, but not too dry I even out the strands. I do that by cutting one side a bit wide with my Morgan strand cutter, then the other side at my desired width. After all of that it’s time to split and pare the strands.
While rawhide is a lot of work I find it very interesting to learn to use.
I’m still working on making a pair of two tone kangaroo bullwhips. Right now the bullwhips have the outer bolsters attached:
And I have the overlay’s cut out and pared:
While I was paring them I was thinking about splitting them. Since I’m doing a two tone with one color going one direction and the other going to opposite direction, I don’t need to split them to the same thickness. I do need to split each hide to an even thickness…and as long as I’m splitting them, I might as well do it to the same thickness.
When one color goes one way and the other goes the other, basically you have a layer covering the whole whip from one hide going one way, and the other hide going the other. Now if I had a mix of colors going one direction, then splitting to the same thickness would be more functional.
I hope that makes sense, it’s hard to describe without any pictures.
I’m probably not going to have time to split them today, but should have plenty of time to work on them this coming week.
P.S. Today’s Whip Deal of the Day (for 12/18/09 only) is 18% off all IN STOCK cowhide whips.
Right now I’m working on a two 12 plait kangaroo signal whips. They are both black and 4 feet long. I guess you could call them a pair because I’m making them the same way, at the same time from the same hide…except one is for an order and one will be listed for sale on my IN STOCK Whips page when it’s finished.
I’m making two signal whips instead of just one because it’s not too much extra work to do a second one at the same time. Also I can get two 4 foot signal whips out of one kangaroo hide. If I made one signal whip out of the 61dm kangaroo skin, the rest wouldn’t be enough for much more than another signal whip, so might as well make it.
Yesterday morning I filled the shot bags, plaited both bellies and attached the bolsters:
Then I cut out the two 12 plait kangaroo overlays:
I also did all the strand prep for one of the whips and have about a foot of it braided. I should be able to finish this whip today.
Thoughts on Preparing the Strands for Braiding
Yesterday while I was doing the strand prep on one of these 12 plait sets, I thought about everything that goes into getting the strands ready to braid.
To make a whips all you really need to do is cut out the strands and start braiding. That will make a pretty rough looking whip, but you can do it. All the other stuff will improve the tightness of the braid, and look of the whip.
Right now my process is:
- Grease (optional): Some kangaroo hides are dryer than others, and strands cut from a dry hide will stretch better if you grease it and let the grease soak in before you do anything else. If the hide is nice and greasy this step is unnecessary.
- Stretch: The initial stretch takes most of the stretch out of the lace. Also it will hopefully let you know of any weak spots before you start braiding.
- Straighten: Since I cut by hand and cut stretchy parts a bit wider than they need to be, I straighten out my strands by running them through my David Morgan Lace Cutter.
- Pare: Having two of the corners beveled will help me get a bit of a tighter braid and give the whip a smoother look.
- Stretch: After straightening an paring, parts of the strands may not have been fully stretched because of the parts that were cut off. For me this second stretch is more of a strand strength test, but will also take more of the stretch out of the lace.
- Split: This evens out the strand’s thickness and gives me a more uniform strand to work with. Throughout the kangaroo skin, the thickness can vary a bit, maybe .1mm, but that 1.mm when braided will add .4 mm of extra thickenss to the whip at that point and could result in a small lump.
My strand prep has gotten a lot more involved than it was three years ago when I just stretched and pared. In the end I think it helps