I just finished rounding a batch of falls. I still don’t like making them, but I’m getting much faster at it.
So far I’m liking the new side of whitehide I got from my new supplier. I still need to start cutting up the Indian Tan Latigo side.
The thing about matching my falls to a bullwhip that took a long time for me to learn is that the fall should be an extenstion of the point of the bullwhip…not just something you tied on to the end of it. What I didn’t believe was that someone (the whipmaker) would compare the point of a bullwhip to a stack of falls to find the perfect fit. It just seemed like a lot of work. What I used to do long ago was if the point was light, I’d put a ligher fall on and if it was heavier I’d put a heavier fall on. Now what I do is compare the point of the whip with several falls of the same weight to find an even better match.
One of the things that I don’t like doing is making falls. Not too long ago I saw that on Mike Murphy’s website he mentions that a head knife is good for cutting thick leather (like falls).
Yesterday I picked up an Osborne Head Knife:
Last night I cut out about a dozen falls and I was amazed at how easy it made it! Theres a little bit of a learning curve to using a head knife and they aren’t cheap…but it definately makes a job like cutting out falls super easy!
Today I’m going to get started on making the 9 foot Indy Style bullwhip.
I’m just finishing up using my first side of whitehide, and I just ordered a couple of more sides (one whitehide and one Indian Tan Latigo). A whole side of whitehide which is usually over 20 square feet lasts a while when it’s just used for falls.
Speaking of whitehide I’ve always wondered why people make whitehide stockwhips, but nobody makes a whitehide bullwhip? I asked Joe Strain when I visited him last month is there was a specific reason why nobody makes a whitehide bullwhip and he told me there’s no reason why you can’t. I think I saw a side of whitehide at MacPherson Leather that was fairly thin…maybe I’ll crank out a few whitehide bullwhips…if they still have the side of whitehide.
On thing that took me forever to learn about bullwhip making was how to choose the correct fall for a whip. David Morgan lectured me many times about the importance of the correct fall (and cracker) being attached to a bullwhip before I finally understood it. Basically the fall should be an extension of the weight and width of the point of the whip.
Bullwhip Projects in the Works
Right now I have a few things I’m working on. I’ve got a 4 foot signal whip in two tone kangaroo about halfway finished. I still have the pair of 4 foot bullwhips to shellac (I’m waiting to finish the signal whip and I’ll shellac them at the same time). After I get those whips done I’m makinga 4 foot 4 plait bullwhip for myself, I have the core for this whip cut out, however I still need to cut out the rest of the bullwhip.
One of the bullwhips in this pair of bullwhip’s has the plaiting of the overlay finished. I still need to roll it, tie the knots, and shellac it, so it’s nowhere near finished yet.
I’m still struggling while plaiting after hurting my chest, my plaiting speed is a bit slower than normal, but I’m okay.
Right now this bullwhip has a redhide fall on it, but I might switch it for a whitehide one. I only have one redhide fall, so I won’t be able to have both bullwhips in the pair with the same fall. I haven’t used the redhide falls very much, but I did chat with David Morgan about them. He told me that whitehide ones are generally more durable than the redhide…but then Joe Strain has mentioned to me that he likes the Latigo Falls, so that looks like I’m going to have to do some testing for myself to see what I prefer!
This weekend I’ll probably start the overlay on the 2nd bullwhip of this pair.
I’ve been thinking about making falls lately (I seem to think about falls a lot!). One thing that I’ve noticed when making them is what rounding to them. When I “round” a fall, I take a strip of leather and wrap it around the fall twice and rub it back and forth. That rounds off the corners of the falls making it more round (after the four corners are pared).
Since I’ve been reading a lot about rawhide recently I noticed that round also loosens up the fall. I think it’s in Bruce Grant’s book there is a picture of someone running a piece of rawhide through two boards to “brake down the fibers” to make the rawhide easier to work with. So when the bullwhip’s fall is rounded by running the looped leather back and forth you are braking down the fibers in the fall making it softer.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with how I make my bullwhip falls. A lot of people have commented to me when they’ve seen pictures of me making falls that they were surprised at how much goes into making a fall.
At it’s most basic level a fall is a piece of tapered leather. However after talking to David Morgan and Joe Strain about falls I’ve realized that there is much more to a bullwhip fall.
One of my experiments turned out a nice fall. What I did was cut the fall, then pared off the corners. Then I oiled it and rounded it. After than I have it a coat of braiding soap and rounded it again. It’s made a nice round and smooth fall. Now I’ll have to see how it holds up.
Here’s the 6 foot bullwhip that I’m working on right now. I’m really getting the hang of making a straight seam in the whip after switching from plaiting in a vise to using a hook. I’m glad I made the switch, David Morgan told me that using a vise hides bad technique and I agree with him!
Yesterday I was finishing up some falls that I had started before I went on vacation. They soaked in grease for over a week! These are part of an experimental batch, so we’ll see how much more work they need before they are ready.
If you are in the Seattle area, I’m performing at the University District Street Fair today at 11:00am on the Children’s Stage. I’ll be doing a little bit of whip cracking in the show.
I’m back from my trip to Oregon. On the way there I got stuck in traffic when the freeway was closed due to a big car accident. While I was sitting in traffic I managed to cut out and plait a 6 plait natural tan wrist loop. I had a bit of a hide in my car and one of my blades, so it worked out well.
Tonight I’m going to finish up the last foot of plaiting on a 6 foot KotCS bullwhip (hopefully) and tomorrow I’ll finish cutting out the overlay for an 8 foot Morgan Indy Style bullwhip.
also I’m experimenting with two different ways to shape falls. I just took them out of the “goo” so we’ll see how they turn out.
I’m also making a bullwhip for retired magician (Stan Kramien) that used to have a HUGE touring magic show. He saw my bullwhip act over the weekend. He used to do a bullwhip act, so I’m making him a 4 foot. He can’t stand for too long, so it needs to be something he can use sitting.
The Blue Bullwhip should have been finished yesterday, but I ran out of tacks and can’t attached the wrist loop until I get some. So this morning I’m going to pick some up, but I probably won’t get a chance to work on the whip until tonight or tomorrow night.