Yesterday I was cleaning up and found two kip bellies and a core that I had cut out a while ago. So yesterday I plaited them and I’m making a 9 foot bullwhip. I also cut out the 12 plait overlay and sometime today I’ll probably do all the strand prep for it.
It’s been a while since I’ve made a 12 plait kip (or any cowhide) bullwhip. There’s been a couple of whipmakers lately that have been saying that kangaroo is overpriced and kip is just as good. Personally I disagree with that, and I think kangaroo is a superior material for making a whip. Maybe making this bullwhip will change my impression of kip…but probably not.
Now I’m not saying that a bullwhip made from kip is a bad whip, it’s just not as good as a kangaroo whip. If feel like I need to add a disclaimer to the above statement. A kangaroo whip made by a horrible whipmaker will not be as good as a kip whip made by a great whipmaker. Give me the choice of two whips made by to equal whipmakers, one is kip and the other is roo…I’ll pick the roo everytime!
The main advantage with kip is that it’s cheaper than kangaroo…but is it? A side of kip about 17 square feet is about $60-$80 depending on quality. A roo hide is about 7 square feet and about $60-$80. So you buy in cost is the same, but you get about twice as much leather from a side of kip.
Next you figure that when you trim a roohide you don’t trim off very much of the hide, just the ragged edges. On a side of kip you end up cutting off most of the belly of the side of leather, the neck and any branding that might be on the hide. You you are losing a couple of square feet of the side just in trimming!
Now you figure that a kangaroo hide is generally drum stuffed (meaning it has oils and dressing worked into the hide at the tannery) while a side of kip isn’t, so you need to grease it yourself. While greasing a side of kip isn’t very hard or expensive, it does take a bit of time and adds an extra step to the preparation of the whip. So you are losing money in time that it takes to grease the side of kip.
Kip is also thicker than kangaroo, so you’ll need to split down the strands of your whip if you want to use the stanard two bellies and two bolsters construction for your whip (or you’ll end up with a whip as thick as Hulk Hogan’s biceps). You can skip the splitting if you are doing a whip that’s a lower plait count. Also remember that splitting down also adds another step (and time) to the whipmaking process.
Everyone says that cowhide handles abrasion better than kangaroo, so you can use the whip on concrete. Some cowhide handles abrasion better (like latigo) but kip doesn’t. Kip will last a bit longer on concrete than kangaroo because it’s thicker, not because of any special property of the leather. I use a 4 foot kangaroo bullwhip on concrete all the time when performing at festivals and fairs and I’ve had it for 5 or 6 years. I use this whip on concrete because I have to, I don’t like to use it on concrete, but it’s either that or cut out 10 minutes from my show. As a general rule you shouldn’t crack any whip over concrete or abrasive surfaces…no matter what it’s made out of!! I can’t think of any reputable whipmaker that would encourage you to use their whip on concrete.
Finally some people say that kip is as strong as kangaroo…I strongly disagree with that! There’s a reson that Chris Barr chose to use kangaroo for his 72 plait award winning stock whip!
There’s also a reason you don’t see 24 pait whips made in kip. You can’t get strong, fine strands out of kip.
So at this point you might be asking me why I’m making a 12 plait kip bullwhip? I’m hoping that making it will change my mind or opinion of using kip.