Recently I got an email from someone who wanted to know the names of the different parts of a bullwhip. There is some variation in the terms that people use. The variation is usually a geographic thing, but it can also be a generation thing.
We’ll start at the end you hold and work our way to the end that makes the noise.
The knob on the end is called a heel knot.
Moving up the whip, you then have the handle. Despite it being called the handle, most whip crackers hold the whip in their hand by the heel knot. Holding the whip by the heel knot allows you to use the full length of the handle as leverage to put more energy into the whip with less effort on your part.
Here’s the handle:
Visually at the end of the handle is the transition knot. This know is mostly decorative. There are specific instances where this knot has a function, but is most whips it’s purely for aesthetics. A whip doesn’t need this knot to function, in fact I’ve made many by whips by request that don’t have that knot.
This knot typically sets at about the spot where the rigid handle ends. It’s main purpose it to hide the transition from the plaiting pattern of the handle to that of the lash.
Past the transition knot is the Lash or Thong of the whip. The lash is the flexible part of the whip that’s braided.
Extending past the lash is the fall. The fall is attached to the lash by a knot called a “fall hitch”. The way a bullwhip is designed the fall which takes a lot of stress is easily replaced.
Finally we to the end of the whip that makes the noise and that’s the crackers. Like the fall the cracker is designed to be replaced, and replaced very easily. The cracker takes the most abuse out of all the parts of the whip, it’s also cheap to replace.
These whip’s overlays are made out of leftover centers of kangaroo that I had kicking around. That leather just happens to be the best leather on the kangaroo skin, but sometimes you end up with bits that are only good for a lace or two. Once you have a bunch of these, you can make whips out of them!
I specialize in making kangaroo leather bullwhips. However I have made several Paracord bullwhips in the past. I was contacted by a friend of mine who wanted a whip, but is vegan and they wanted a paracord whip. I had a roll of paracord that was just about enough for a bullwhip, so I agreed to make one to get the roll of nylon out of my closet.
Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures of it in progress, here’s the whip without the heel knot:
And here’s the finished whip (before the final roll):
If you are looking for a paracord bullwhip, feel free to contact me and we can chat about making you one!