More Kangaroo!

More Kangaroo!

I just went up to David Morgan to pick up some veg tanned, drum stuffed kangaroo!

kangaroo for whips
Personally when I get kangaroo, I prefer the drum stuffed kangaroo.  What drum stuffed means is that they have grease/oils worked into the skins in a large drum.  You get even penetration of the grease into the skin and it gets worked in deeper than when you buy a dry skin and have to work it in by hand.

These are for some whips I’ll be making ASAP!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

A Dozen Whips!

A Dozen Whips!

I don’t think I ever posted the pictures of the dozen whips I made a little while ago.  I made all twelve of them in less than 10 days and at the end of that my hands were hurting!

Here they are right before they went into the box:

stock whips and bullwhips

Here are the six 4 foot stock whips:

stockwhips

And here are the six bullwhips each at six feet long:

bullwhips

Doing that many whips in a short amount of time is a challenge, however I always learn something that’s a time save for future projects!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

In Stock Whips

In Stock Whips

Today I’m shipping out a couple of bullwhips:

bull whip for sale

One is a 6 foot 4 plait Beginner’s Bullwhip and the other is a 5 foot 12 plait kangaroo bullwhip.

These both were IN STOCK, so they was no wait time for them to ship out to their new owner!  What’s IN STOCK is changes frequently, so be sure to check out the IN STOCK Whips Page.   I’ve got a few whips that just need a knot or two that I’ll be adding soon!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

From the Mailbag…

From the Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got about whip making:

I am also a whip maker, though so far I have only made paracord whips. I am interested in getting started on leather whips but lack some of the tools. I am in the process of getting what I need, though, I don’t know the names of what I am supposed to be buying and I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction.
I am seeking the jig that is used to thin, cut and angle the lace.
I was wondering if you can lead me to a website, that would have the proper tools to get started on this craft.

If you are getting into leather whips I highly recommend getting David Morgan’s book Braiding Fine Leather.

It does a really good job of taking you through all the steps of how to prepare cut and prepare lace for braiding along with a few simple projects to work on.  I also recommend reading David’s book Whips and Whip Making which gives a nice overview into what goes into a bullwhip including a how to make the famous Indiana Jones Bullwhip.

I recommend learning to cut and pare lace by hand with a knife instead of using a jig.  Hand cutting is much faster to do and you will get better results because you can taper the lace much more easily.  With paracord your lace doesn’t taper simply because it can’t, however being able to taper is one of the HUGE advantages to using leather.

I do own a lace cutter / beveler and occasionally use it, however that’s only for very specific project and usually after I’m done using it, I think to myself it would have been faster by hand.  The guy that made mine I don’t think makes them anymore (his website is gone).   If you have your mind set on getting a lace cutter / beveler there’s always something like: http://www.gfeller.us/lacemaster.html  However for the price, personally I would (and did) put the time in and learned to do it free hand.

One of the huge disadvantages of only using a machine to cut and pare your leather is that you can’t easily resize it once you start braiding.  For example lets say I’m making a whip and the strands are a bit too wide for where they are on the whip, but I don’t want to drop them yet. The simple solution is to simply grab a knife and resize them while the whip is on the hook.  If you are using a machine logistically it gets complicated.

If you want something to cut there’s the Australian Stranders, however you won’t automatically be cutting great lace with them.

These do still have a bit of a learning curve and personally I think that time is better spent learning to do it by hand.  The safety bar on these makes it hard to switch between pieces of lace as well.  If you are making a whip you need to cut one piece for a little bit…disassemble the strander, reassemble it around the next piece and cut for a bit.  You’ll be repeating this process over and over and over again.  It’s really not a very good way to cut lace from a time stand point.

To sum it all up, if you are starting out as a leather braider I would recommend getting a box cutter and a box of blades.  I’d then call the David Morgan Company or Midwest Whips to see if they had a lower grade kangaroo skins that I could buy hack up while I’m learning to cut lace.  I know kangaroo costs more than cow, however kangaroo is easier to work with than cow.  Cutting cow leather and braiding it is EXTREMELY difficult compared to kangaroo, especially if you are doing anything over 12 plait.

Hope that helps!

Louie

 

 

 

 

LA Whip Competition

LA Whip Competition

As luck would have it I happened to be passing by Los Angeles during the LA Whip Competition last week!

bullwhip

I showed up late, but I was there and it was nice to meet everyone.  The count I heard was there were about a hundred people there!

bullwhip_1_090116

Of course there were whips everywhere

bullwhip_2_090116

And I ran into a whip I made about 5 years ago!

bullwhip

I have more pictures and video to post, so check back soon!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Bullwhip Making in a Hotel…

Bullwhip Making in a Hotel…

I’m currently working on big order of whips and I’m also on the road performing, which makes working on the whips a bit more difficult and slower than if I was doing them at home.

Before I left I swung by David Morgan to pick up six kangaroo skins for the whips that I’m working on while I’m away.  Here are the skins I picked up:

veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo

 

Before I left for California for 10 days I was going to be at a hotel in WA for one night.  So I had 5 of the skins shipped to my hotel in California and kept one with me.

bullwhip_02

 

Here’s the skin I kept and it was my test skin to figure out how to make a whip in a hotel.

veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo

 

I’ll post more soon about some of the techniques I came up with to make a whip in a hotel without having to put a hole in their wall for a hook.

When I got to my hotel in California I had the five skins waiting for me!

veg tanned drum stuffed kangaroo

 

Now it’s time to get to work!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

From The Mailbag…

From The Mailbag…

Here’s an email I got recently:

…I’m currently playing Slim, the jerk line skinner in a community theater production of ‘Of Mice and Men’. Stage directions indicated Slim is making a leather bullwhip while all the dialog takes place in act 2. I like historical accuracy and verisimilitude, plus I’ve always wanted to do leatherwork. I would love any feedback you can give me on kits or supplies and instructions for making an historically authentic (1930s) working mans bullwhip.

Even just some whip lore would be great. Thank you,

I just want to give you a heads up that a bullwhip typically isn’t something I’d recommend as an introduction to leather braiding.  I’d recommend you get the book Braiding Fine Leather by David Morgan and work on a couple of the projects in that book before tackling a bullwhip to learn the basics of plaiting.  Once you’ve made some of the easier projects you’ll have a lot more success with your first bullwhip.

As for making something that is historically accurate, pretty much not a lot has changed in the whip industry from 1930’s the tools etc are pretty much the same, a knife and a hook on the wall. In my opinion it’s gotten less high tech because there aren’t really any big whip making companies that use machines to braid anymore, it’s become a “craft industry” where it’s all hand done.

For the history of whips and some info about whip making, I’d recommend reading David Morgan’s Whips and Whip Making and for the history of whips in the USA  you should read Whips of the West by David Morgan.

Hope that helps,

Louie

8 Foot Bullwhip – in progress

8 Foot Bullwhip – in progress

The whip that I’m making out of the kangaroo skin I bought at David Morgan last week is going to be an 8 foot 12 plait bullwhip. Here’s the inner belly and inner bolster finished and attached to the handle:

bullwhip-making_2_010415

All the plaited bellies I use are 4 plait bellies and the one below is the outer belly:

bullwhip-making_1_010415

Below is the lead that will weight the handle and add some “in the hand” weight to the whip.  I put this on after the final belly:

bullwhip

Getting the internal layers is the faster part of making the whip.  The time consuming part is cutting out the overlay, doing the strand prep and plaiting it!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Fancy Whip Making Tools…

Fancy Whip Making Tools…

If you read forums on the internet about whip making (or leather craft) people always talk about wanting to make a whip, but are saving up money for some expensive cutter, splitter or whatever.  They think they need expensive tools to make a whip.  The simple fact is you really don’t need anything fancy to make a whip, other than time.  All it takes is a lot of practice to make a whip, sure your first one will suck, but it will whether you use simple or fancy tools.

No counting things that go into the whip (like string or grease), here’s my list of tools that I use:

Box cutter and blades
Hammer
Fid
Hook
Ruler
Scrap Leather 

So for probably less than the $40 you can have all the tools you need to make your first bullwhip.  The scrap  leather is cut offs from your whip, so that’s free and you probably already have a hammer and ruler.

The point is if you are thinking of wanting to try to make a whip, don’t get bogged down by tools, just get a knife and start cutting!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

 

Whip Making Waste…

Whip Making Waste…

I’ve always wondered how much of a kangaroo skin isn’t used in the whip that I bought it for.  For example when you buy a skin you have to trim the edges to give it smooth edges to cut around, so that’s a bunch of waste there.  Then there are sometimes undesirable parts, or sharp turns that you need to make easier to cut around.  Then there’s all the waste from cutting, paring, splitting, and from over-cutting the strand length.

Here are my notes from the kangaroo skin I used for an 8 foot bullwhip:

kangaroo leather

Since this whip isn’t finished yet, these are completely final numbers.  Also keep in mind I’m measuring with my kitchen scale, so it may or may not be 100% accurate.  Also be sure to consider this waste is by weight, not actual area.  For example my initial trim of the skin will be trimming off some of the heavier parts of the skin, so it may have more weight, but not the same area as other places on the skin.

The skin I bought was a heavy kangaroo skin  from David Morgan and was 71 dm2 and weighed 650 grams when I got it.  After the initial trim I cut off 67 grams leaving me with a skin that weighed 583 grams.  Right away the initial trim I have about 10% of the skin that’s not usable.  That was an amazing revelation to me, I figured I’d have 10-15% waste total after everything was cut off.  The initial trim put me at the lower end of my estimate, so my guess is going to be way off!

After cutting out the first belly the skin weighed 490 grams and the belly was 66 grams.  Then the belly after all the strand prep and cutting off the over cut strand after the belly was plaited weight 33 grams, or 5% of the belly’s weight!

The second belly was 119 grams and generated only 14 grams of waste during the strand prep and the skin weighed 364 grams after the belly was cut off.  I think this layer had the least waste because so much of the stretchy part had already been cut off the skin and sharp corners were rounded.

The overlay weighed 291 grams and 274 grams after the strand prep.  I’m going to create some more waste before the whip is finished from the over cut strands, but many of them will be repurposed back into the whip as knots or a wrist loop.

For this particular whip I used:
33 grams for the inner belly
105 grams for the outer belly
274 grams for the overlay (transition knot and wristloop)

412 grams total of kangaroo skin that went into the whip from a skin that started at 650 grams.  So just under 2/3 of the skin went into the whip and I had a center of the skin leftover that was 73 grams, but I’ll still need to cut the heel knot of of it.

What does all of that mean?  I don’t know, but it’s been something I’ve been curious about for a long, long time!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org