How I Make my Bullwhips…

How I Make my Bullwhips…


Here’s the process that I currently go through when making my bullwhips. 
First I cut out the bellies and overlay from a veg tanned kangaroo hide:

Kangaroo for bullwhip

Then I stretch and pare the strands:


Kangaroo skin for making a bullwhip

Next I split the kangaroo strands so that they are the same thickness:


how to make a bull whip

 The picture below is of all the kangaroo strands that are ready to braid (except for plaiting soap).

Kangaroo belly and overlay sets

At this point I’ve done a lot of work and probably put in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of work and the the strands pretty much look like when the did when I first cut them out.  In reality the strands in the first picture aren’t very straight. Then in the second picture they are straight, but the thickness is wavy.  And the third picture’s strands are straight and of an even thickness. 

Now for the core, it’s attached to a handle:


bullwhip core

Then I attach the belly to the handle:


bull whip core with belly

Finally it’s time to start some braiding!  So I plait the inner belly:


bull whip plaited belly

After I plait that inner belly it gets rolled between two boards to smooth it out and make it round:


bullwhip plaited inner belly

The bullwhip that has been rollled doesn’t look much different in pictures, but the texture of the bullwhip has changed (for the better!).  

Now I add a bolster:


bullwhip boslter

After the bolster I add the set for the second plaited belly:


bullwhip and double plaited bellies

Below is a good picture of the two bellies and the bolster between them:


double plaited bellies on a bull whip

I finish plaited the 2nd belly:


bullwhip double plaited bellies


Then I roll it between two boards to smooth out this layer.  It’s very important to roll every plaited layer or you will end up with a funny shaped whip.


rolling a bull whip

After rolling the whip I add the final bolster:


bullwhip bolster

When that bolster is attached I make the butt knot foundation:


bullwhip making

Then I add the overlay and plait it.  I consider attaching the fall part of plaiting the  overlay.


12 plait bullwhip

Next I make the transition knot foundation a tie the transition knot:


bull whip transition knot

Then I finish the butt knot and attach the 6 plait wrist loop:


indiana jones style bullwhip

Now I tie the butt knot:


6 foot 12 plait bullwhip

Next I roll and shellac the bullwhip, and here’s the finished whip:


kangaroo bullwhip


bullwhips for sale


12 plait kangaroo bullwhip 6 feet in lenght

I didn’t go into depth into measurements or how I make the bolsters, fillers, etc because I’ve covered that here.  

I hope you enjoyed seeing how a bullwhip is made.


Three Whips Shellac’d!

Three Whips Shellac’d!

My bruised rib is feeling a bit better, but rolling the pair of four foot whips was very painful.  I didn’t want them to sit almost finished while I started a new project.    I also shellac’d a signal whip that I had forgotten to shellac a while ago.  

Here’s the signal whip:

Signal whip 42inch

This signal whip has a shot loaded belly and has a nice weight to it.  It measures approx. 42 inches from the butt to the end of the braiding and has a 16 plait “whiskey” colored kangaroo overlay.

4 Foot Matched Pair of Bullwhips

This pair of 4 foot 12 plait bullwhips are made from Saddle Tan and Whiskey colored kangaroo. They are made with 9 strands of one color and 3 of the other color.  

I also split down every strand so they are the same thickness.   Here are pictures of the two whips individually.

4 foot whip  #1
(Whiskey with Saddle Tan)

bullwhip 4 foot two tone


bullwhip handle picture


Bullwhip thong pictures

4 foot whip # 2
(Saddle Tan with Whiskey)




bull whip 4 foot two tone kangaroo


bull whip thong close up picture


bull whip handle

Both Bullwhips

matched pair of 4 foot bull whips
bull whips pair

I’ve given all of these bullwhips a few throws in my living room and the crack well.  I can’t take them outside because there’s stilll about 4 inches of snow and it’s raining!  

P.S. All three of these bullwhips are available for sale on my IN STOCK whip page.


Plaiting Finished…

Plaiting Finished…

I just finished plaiting the 12 plait two tone overlay of the 2nd bullwhip of this pair.  They both have redhide falls.   




It may be a while before they get rolled, I have a bruised rib and since I feel like I’m getting stabbed whenever I sneeze I’m guessing  it’ll hurt like hell to roll them.


pair of bullwhips


but then I may get tired of looking at them in an unfinished state and force myself to roll them.

Finally someone honest!

Earlier today I took a peek on ebay and I’ve finally found a bullwhip maker that’s just starting out and honest with their bullwhip’s description!


beginners bullwhip

This seller is very clear that it’s one of thier early bullwhips and the whip’s faults.  Click here to view the auction

I applaud this seller!


4 foot bullwhip plaiting…

4 foot bullwhip plaiting…

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.


4 Foot Bullwhip Pair Progress…

4 Foot Bullwhip Pair Progress…

I wasn’t going to do much plaiting last night, I hurt my chest sledding with my daughter in the snow (I’m an old man!), but I ended up with a house full of execpted, but welcome visitors.  Two of my sisiters and brother from New York were passing through Seattle to visit our dad in Alaska, but their flight got cancelled.  So I picked them up and when I got them home they proptly fell asleep (they’d been traveling  for 20 hours!).

So to not keep them up I went into my office and did a bit of work on the 4 foot bullwhips.  I’m about 3 feet into one of them:


12 plait bull whip

While working on this bullwhip at one point I noticed a gap in the plaiting on the backside of the whip.  I was able to diagnose the problem and replait it correctly (I was very proud of myself!).  I had read somewhere that when making whips you make sure the top half looks good and the bottom half will fix itself.  I don’t  agree with that.  If you notice a problem on the underside of the bullwhip, you need to correct it, or at least try to figure out why it’s doing whatever it is.


Let it Snow!!

Let it Snow!!

It’s been snowing here in the Seattle area for the last few days and it really hit yesterday.  I’ve got about 8ish inches of snow and my shows today have all rescheduled for next week, so I’m having a “snow day”!  


bullwhip maker playing in the snow

When I wasn’t outside playing with my daughter found time to sharpen my Osborne 86 Leather Splitter and split the overlays for the pair of 4 foot whips to an even thickness.


Osborne 86 leather splitter

Ever since I started splitting my overlay’s I’ve fallen in love with my splitter.  When I first got a splitter I used to just split the bellies.  Then I started doing the bellies and evening out the the bolsters.  Now I use the splitter to even out all the layers of my bullwhips.  I’m amazed at how much variation there can be within a  couple of inches on a strip of leather (kangaroo or cow).




Matched pair of bullwhips

I also put the bolsters on the pair of bullwhips and now I need to do the knot foundations before I can start plaiting the overlays.  


Pair of 4 foot Bullwhips

Pair of 4 foot Bullwhips

My current bullwhip project is working on a pair of 4 foot bullwhips.  I’m making these in 12 plait kangaroo with a two tone overlay.  They will be Whiskey and Saddle Tan colored kangaroo hide.


Bullwhip - how to make a bull whip


 I haven’t decided on the pattern that I’m going to use for the overlay yet.  I’m thinking I may do one bullwhip with 9 strands in Saddle Tan and 3 strands in Whiskey and the other bullwhip in the opposite colors.

I’ve also been thinking of doing the whips with 6 strands of each color and doing some fancy plaiting patterns on the handles.  Every thing is cut out for these whips, and I’ll be working on the overlay’s pretty soon, so I have some decisions to make.  

After the pair of 4 foot bullwhips are finished I have another signal whip that I’m going to be starting.  I have one another design for the shotbag that I want to try out.   I liked how the last one turned out (for weight and diamter), but I think I can improve on it a little bit.  


signal whip – 16 plait

signal whip – 16 plait

Last night I finished a 16 plait signal whip that I had started work on at the beginning of December.  This one turned out pretty well, this is my 5th or 6th signal whip, so I’m not a pro at making them yet.  


single tail signal whip

My braided cracker is looking a lot better than my previous ones.  I still need to give this signal whip a good rolling and some shellac.  

Currently I’m working on learning a new skill for my shows, I’m learning to juggle hats.  It’s a lot different from juggling balls or clubs.  



Hat Juggling

When I am learning the basics of a new skill for my shows I practially live with the props.  I practice with every spare second I have.  In my opinion having a lot of shorter sessions (5-10 minutes) over the course of the day is more benificial than having one longer session (45 mins to an hour).  With shorter sessions your muscles and brain doesn’t get worn out and you won’t get sloppy.  Practicing once you are worn out is useless.


Signal Whip Trick…

Signal Whip Trick…

I’m working on a new bullwhip trick for my show.  I’ve heard of people being able to turn lights on and off with a bullwhip and I’m assuming they are flipping a light switch up and down.  I’m working on a trick with my signal whip (made by Joe Strain) to turn a lamp off.

I had to build the lamp so that it would collapse into the case that I carry my show in.  The lamp is basicially made of PVC pipe with cord running through it.  It has a couple of right angles so the lamp can come out of the top of my case, but the bulb is about 10 inches to above and to the right of the case.