Here’s a email I got and I figured the answers would be relevant to some others:
“I’ve made a couple whips before and they turned out alright. But I’ve been asked to make an Aussie stock whip for a girl from Australia. Any tips or advice? And what is your take on saddle soap as a conditioner and plaiting agent? Thank you for any advice you might have.”
Let’s start out with a general thought about making stock whips:
A basic stock whip is a lot easier to make than a bullwhip.
While I don’t know the length you are going for, there’s a great pattern for making a stock whip in David Morgan’s book Whips and Whip Making. If you basically follow that and adjust it based on the length of the whip you should do fine.
Next up is using saddle soap. I personally do not use it, the main reason is I can’t stand the smell. Every brand I’ve tried stinks! There are other valid reasons to not use saddle soap as plaiting soap and as conditioner.
First for plaiting, you really can’t beat using soap and lard. You can find the recipe for making this in David Morgan’s book Braiding Fine Leather (I think it’s also in Whips and Whip Making). Soap and lard is much cheaper than buying saddle soap, and it’s usually much easier to buy, as you can get everything you need from the grocery store.
Now as for using saddle soap as a conditioner. Yes, it has some stuff in it that’s good for leather, but it also has stuff in it that’s bad for leather. Products like Pecard’s Leather Dressing and Fiebing’s Aussie Conditioner are generally accepted as better for kangaroo. The nice thing about products like Pecard’s is that it’s ready to go, you don’t need to add water. You can throw a small tub of it in your whip bag and you can add conditioner to that fall you didn’t realize was dried out when you are at the park cracking your whips.
Hope that helps!
My current project is an 8 foot bullwhip. Here’s the core attached to the handle:
This whip is going to be a 4 plait cowhide bullwhip, so nothing fancy, just a working whip.
I use a “doubled” core, I first learned about doing this to my core from David Morgan’s book Whips and Whip Making:
This is a great book, if you don’t have it and want to make whips you need to have it!
I just had a Jacka bullwhip come in for a repair. The bullwhip’s owner said a mouse had chewed through several strands on the lash of the bullwhip. The bullwhip’s owner agreed to lashing over the damaged portion after being presented with several options to fix the strands.
For more info on lashing see David Morgan’s Book Whips and Whip Making.
Here’s the bullwhip after having the lashing applied:
While lashing is something that you can visually see, I did some shopping around to try to find an appropriate waxed cord that was a close color match to the color of the lash of the bullwhip. The waxed cord I found was a couple of shades darker brown than the lash of the whip, however it looks better than using the standard colors of white or black.
This bullwhips is off to its owner tomorrow.
Currently I’m working on an Indiana Jones style bullwhip built with David Morgan’s construction. You can find out more about David’s method in his book Whips and Whip Making.
There are some differences between how they make bullwhips at David Morgan and how I normally make mine. For example the lead load is one of the first thing they do at David Morgan and it’s one of the last things that I do. Neither way is right or wrong, just how we do it.
Here’s the bullwhip with both bellies finished:
And here’s the bullwhip as it is currently:
It still need to have the wrist loop added:
The knots need to be tied and a few finishing touches. So far I’m happy with how this has turned out! Next up I’ll be finishing up a 16 plait riding crop that I started a while ago.