Well, recently this blog moved servers and the last eight years of this blog has been lost! I’m working to try fix it, but also aware that it may be gone forever.

If you’re just finding this website, I’m still actively making whips, even if it looks like the posting stopped in 2012.

I’m working to get functionality back, like online ordering. Until it’s back up, you can contact me at ‪(206) 651-5742‬

Making a Shot Bag

Making a Shot Bag

The other day I was making a shot bag for a whip.  If you don’t know what a shot bag is, essentially it’s a bag that holds lead shot (hence the name shot bag) inside the whip.  My shot bags are made out of a  tapered strip of leather that is rolled into a tube.

This tube is then filled with fine lead shot.

lead shot for whip making

Mmm…margarita and lead!

Here’s a quick video of me filling up a shot bag:

The main reason that I use a shot bag is to add weight to a whip.  This is mostly used (by me) on whips that have no handles like signal whips or snake whips.


Strand Drops in a Bullwhip

Strand Drops in a Bullwhip

One thing that I think is important to the construction of a bullwhip is dropping strands while it’s being plaited.  Now this is something that in my opinion you have to do on some level on a bullwhip 12 plait and above (there are some exceptions to this).

If you don’t know what a strand drop is, it’s making the whip have a one point have less strands than the part before.  For example I’m making a 12 plait bullwhip, at some point you will put strands into the core making it starting at that point  10 plait.  Look at the bullwhip below:


It starts as a 12 plait and ends with 6 plait point.   One of the reasons for a lower strand count towards the point is that it by having less strands you have thicker strands.   Lets say each strand at a 6 plait point is 5mm thick, then the strands of that same point would be 2.5mm thick at 12 plait.  To give you a bit of perspective 2.5mm a hair thicker than the edge of a U.S. Half Dollar.

With a thinner strand you run the risk of cutting a strand whenever you are out cracking if the whip it comes near anything remotely abrasive, like a rock.  Obviously with a thicker strand you don’t have the same problem.

Also at  the point of the whip you generally want to plait very tightly because that’s where a lot of stress is put on the lash of the whip.  With a thicker strand you can pull harder before the strand would break than with a thinner strand.

The general rule of thumb that I follow when making bullwhips (for any 12 plait and above) is that the point will have half the plait count as the beginning of the whip.  So a 12 plait whip will have a 6 plait point and a 24 plait bullwhip will have a 12 plait point.

Wait a minute…didn’t I just say that a 12 plait point had strands to thin?

Yes I did, but typically something like a 24 plait bullwhip isn’t something you’d use for everyday cracking.  That’s into collector whip territory where it’s a functional piece of art, versus something you’d take out to move cattle or for a beginner to be cracking into the dirt.

Also strand dropping shows the skills of the whip maker.  Strand drops aren’t easy to do, especially when compared to not dropping strands.  I suspect the reason most people would make a 12 plait bullwhip that’s has no strand drops is simply lack of skill of the maker or lack of pride in the finished product.


Ostrich Handle Bullwhip?

Ostrich Handle Bullwhip?

Recently in the mail I got a flyer from Tandy Leather Factory in the mail with their February sale items.  One thing that caught my eye was that they had Ostrich Leg Skins on sale.

Ostrich leg leather

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ve probably noticed that I love making whips with handles from unique leathers.  In the past I’ve made bullwhips with handles made from:

Shark Skin


Alligator Skin

bull whip for sale

and Sting Ray Skin

Kangaroo bullwhip

That got me thinking that making one from ostrich leg skin would be a fun project.  The description on Tandy’s website says the average size is about 5 x 22 inches.  That would give me enough leather for at least two handles, but more more likes in the ballpark of 4 handles!

Unfortunately I’ve got a few more things I want to do before I get around to making an ostrich handle bullwhip.


Bullwhips on my Vacation!

Bullwhips on my Vacation!

For the last 11 days I’ve been on vacation and sure enough I managed to run into a bunch of bullwhips along the way.  Whips are fairly common to see when you are visiting unfamiliar places, you just need to know where to look.  The first place I looked for whips were in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and found a really tiny three foot bullwhip:


The next batch of whips I found in a street market in Cabo San Lucas.

Mexican Bullwhips

Then I found some a whip, quirt and bosal in a museum in Cabo San Lucas.

Plaited rawhide

And then a couple of days later I was at Disneyland and got to see the whips they sell outside the Indiana Jones ride.

Indiana Jones Bullwhips

One thing that amazed me was that they sell these bullwhips to kids and there is no disclaimer of any kind with them.

Here’s a the Indiana Jones Role Play Set that comes with a bullwhip:

Indiana Jones Bullwhips

One thing I remember from my last visit to Disneyland (probably 4 or 5 years ago) was that at least one of the Indiana Jones’s on the ride used to hold one of the cheapo pitch whips they sell outside the ride.  Now all of the bullwhips they Indiana Jones has on the ride look much more screen accurate.  Unfortunately because of low lighting and the ride being bumpy I couldn’t get any pictures of the whip that Indiana Jones has on it.

Also during my vacation I made a new friend named Sideshow Bert.  Bert does juggling and stunts and one of the things that he features in his show is a bullwhip!  Here’s Sideshow Bert’s demo reel and at the 2:04 mark you can see parts of his bullwhip routine.

His bit with the “Visor Cam” is very funny and very original.  I think it’s a brilliant idea to show the audience another view of the newspaper trick!

Now that I’m back home and back to work all the orders of in stock whip will ship out today!


Bullwhip Study Group

Bullwhip Study Group

Last Sunday I stopped by the Bullwhip Study Group that’s held at the Seattle Wushu Center for about 15 minutes on my way to a show.  While I was there they were trying to use  a whip to flick a piece of paper in the air, the hit it again as it fell.  Here’s Gary and Restita working on it:

I managed to do this, but of course since I was recording with my camera I didn’t record myself doing it (I know I should have had someone else hold the camera).

After I left they were working on grabbing a water bottle:

The Bullwhip Study Group is every 3rd Sunday at the Seattle Wushu Center. They are a great group and if you are in the Seattle area they are worth a visit! For more info visit: http://seattlewushucenter.com


Make Your Own Stock Whip Kit

Make Your Own Stock Whip Kit

Recently I put together a Stock Whip Kit that comes with precut leather so that a beginner can make their own stock whip.  I really haven’t promoted it yet, and have already sold a bunch of them!   This provides you with all the materials you need to make your own stock whip along with a DVD that teaches you how to plait it and put it all together!

stock whip kit

Here’s the “trailer” for the Stock Whip Kit:

Included in this Stock Whip Kit are:

  1. DVD
  2. Belly (with core attached)
  3. Overlay
  4. Grease
  5. Cane Stock
  6. Keeper
  7. Keeper Lashing String
  8. Loop (for finishing keeper lashing)
  9. Lace for handgrip
  10. Artificial Sinew (for tying off handle plaiting)
  11. Knot Foundation
  12. Tacks
  13. Lace for turkshead
  14. Cracker
  15. Fall

I’ve got these in stock and for sale at $70 plus shipping.  However I’m out of town from 1/28/12 to 2/8/12, so if you order during that time you’ll have to wait until 2/9/12 for me to ship it.  Because you’ll have to wait for me to get home before I can ship I’m going to knock 15% off of the Stock Whip Kits while I’m away!  That means you can get your own Stock Whip Kit for only $59.50 plus shipping.  This is a killer deal and only lasts until I get back home on 2/8/12 after that they go back up to $70.

For more information or to order your Stock Whip Kit visit: http://bullwhips.org/bullwhip_store/viewitem.php?productid=193


The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The Leather Lace Bullwhip Book Review

The other day I stumbled upon a book about bullwhip making called The Leather Lace Bullwhip on Amazon.com.  Since I’m such a whip nerd I ordered a copy.

The Leather Lace Bullwhip

Here’s the description of the book:

Geared mainly to the leather hobbyist with some braiding experiance, This book will show you how to make a cowhide bullwhip in my unique way. Also contains tips and tricks of leather braiding and cutting lace.

I like the idea of this book which is making a bullwhip from lace of a uniform width, instead of cutting it at a taper.  Also for a bit of full disclosure I’ve read this book two times, but haven’t made the bullwhip in this book.  The main reason for not making this bullwhip (yet) is time, however I plan to try it in the future.

In the book Paul cuts his lace with Craftool Lace Maker.

lace maker

This tool will give you uniform lace and while it it possible to cut at a taper with this tool, the way the author uses lace you are stuck with using uniform widths.  One clever thing the author does is converts one of these Lace Maker’s into a very inexpensive splitter to thin down the lace.

The construction is fairly simple, it’s a core, plaited belly and overlay.   The belly is 8 plait and the overlay is 12 plait all in 2mm thick cowhide.

There are a few things that I have some issues with in this book.

  • Paring: The way the author pares without any protection on his hands in my opinion is a fairly dangerous way to teach it to a beginner.
  • Knot Tying: The instructions for tying the knots are in the appendix in the back of the book.  And it uses a coded system, but the author doesn’t really explain how the codes work.  I could understand the codes, but I think someone just starting out would cause a bit of frustration.
  • Incorrect Information: The author says to make a handle like an Indy Bullwhip, you do an U2 O2 U2 pattern. That is 100% wrong.  Indy bullwhips have a checkerboard handle.
  • More Incorrect Information: The author specifically says the pattern he uses on the handle what Ron Edwards calls a Birds Eye Plait.  The Birds Eye Plait that Ron Teaches in his books is different from what Paul teaches in this book.
  • Goat Rawhide?: In the shopping list for supplies the author tells you to buy some goat rawhide.  However that’s never mentioned again in the book.  Leather isn’t cheap, so buying something that’s not used in the project is very wasteful on the beginners wallet.
  • Internet References: In the beginning of the book the author says you can learn to use the Lace Maker on YouTube, but doesn’t give any specific site.  The author should have provided a direct URL.  The author in the appendix offers some other websites, but just the websites name and no direct URL’s so I have to search them. It would have taken all of a minute to type them out, if not for the ease of the reader, but for the sake of completeness.

You might be thinking that I’m nit picking when I mention things like crediting thing wrong.  However crediting is something that’s very important.  When you specifically cite something  you better be right!

Here’s an example of why crediting is important (a very nerdy example).  I’m involved in the world of soap bubble artists.  In a forum someone mentioned that they believe that crediting creators of different bubble tricks is very important and should be done even in a live performance.  Then his example was when he does the bubble carousel he credits it as being invented by Tom Noddy.  On the surface crediting is good, but only when it’s correct.  In Tom’s book he specifically says he learned it from someone else.  Now this person that wants credit to go to the right place is actually falsely giving credit to the wrong person.

I’m not saying Ron Edwards invented the Birds Eye Plait (he didn’t), but when you say it’s what in his book and are wrong you are making historical the waters murky.

One thing I like about the book is that the authors method is fairly simple.  It doesn’t use bolsters so it’s less intimidating for a beginner.  However if you intended to make more than one whip I would highly suggest learning how to make a bolster and incorporating it into your plan.  Also since there is no tapering the cutting out process is pretty easy.  But once again if you intend to make more than one whip in your life time you need to learn to cut at a taper.  Whether it’s simply using an Aussie Strander and turning the wheel a bit as you cut or learning to do it freehand.

I feel this book is intended more for someone that wants a leather working project and that’s just it.  They want to make one whip and then move on to the next thing, not for someone that actually wants to learn to make whips.

One big suggestion for this books author would be to have someone proof read and make the whip in the book that is his intended audience.  Someone that had some braiding experience, but never made a whip would have noticed a lot of things that weren’t very clear.  Also there are a lot of typos and missing letters in the text (i.e. the word USING being spelt USIN), which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s annoying because I paid for the whole book why not give me the last letter of the word?  I know times economically are tough, but adding in a G in the proper place doesn’t cut into profit margins to much.

So the big question is would I recommend this book?  Honestly I don’t know how I feel about it.  I guess I’d recommend it to someone that wants to make a whip, but not really progress any further than that one whip.  However if you want to try plaiting I’d recommend getting Ron Edwards book How To Make Whips and making the stock whip in that book, or a precut stock whip kit.  A 4 plait stock whip is a pretty simple project and you’ll get a feel for plaiting and see if you like it or not without getting involved in doing 8 and 12 plait patterns which can be very frustrating for a beginner.