Bolster Material…

Bolster Material…

On Friday I went into one of my local Tandy Leather Factories to get a side of kip and I was told that it was discontinued!  I do have another local source for kip (and a couple of mail order sources), so I’ll still be able to get it.  However Tandy’s website still shows it for sale, so maybe they’ll have it again.

I needed something for bolsters so I bought a veg tanned goat skin.  I’ve used it for a core and two bolsters of a six foot whip I’m working on.  One thing about goat is that it’s very stretchy, almost spongy at some points.  What I’ve done to counter this is cut it really wide, then stretch it and run it through  my splitter.  This seems to take the stretch out, then grease it and recut it suit the whip.  It’s a bit more work, but better than waiting a week for a side of kip to show up in the mail.

One thing I’m very curious about how dense the lash of this bullwhip will feel when it’s done.  I think the sponginess of the goat will really fill in the space between layers nicely and give me a really hard hitting whip.  So far I’m liking this goat (for bolsters)…the only problem is that the skins aren’t very long, so I’ll be doing a lot of bolster splicing for any bullwhip longer than 6 feet.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

10 thoughts on “Bolster Material…

  1. You’re very brave to work with goat skin Louie!
    I’ve used it twice (for bolsters too) and I was very disapointed.
    Fortunatelly, it was a 5ft matched pair bullwhip and the skin was large enough to cut it in one piece.
    the whips loose much faster their stiffness than those made with kip bolsters. The shape was not affected, but I had to do exactly the same as you did: cut wider, stretch, recut, restretch, and so on……
    I won’t do it again, it’s too much effort and it’s not really worth it….
    just my view point on a little experience with goat skin.
    JP

    1. JP,

      About a year or so ago I tried goat skin for plaiting and I really didn’t like it. The overlay on this whip is done and the goat as a bolster gave me interesting results which weren’t what I expected. I’m going to write a post about it today or tomorrow.

      I agree with you that it’s a lot more work than using kip! Personally I’m going to try to stick to keeping more kip on hand so that I don’t run out.

      It’s funny when you think about it, there’s a reason a lot of people make things the same way, like using kip as a boslter…because it’s a good way to do it! I was just talking to Joe Strain when I visited him last week about bolster material and why he uses kip…now not only do I know his reason but I’m able to actually see it with this whip!

      Louie

  2. I found the same surprise when my Tandy flyer indicated an great sale price for kip, I wanted to stock up. I think a good solution at this point would be to use 2 to 3 oz economy tooling cowhide; and if you get lucky, you won’t need to split it (unless your alternate source for kip is cost-comparable to cowhide). I suspect our alternate suppliers that have some remaining stock will raise their prices on the inventory as we all jump on them. Who would’ve thought that imported kip would present such an issue?

    Forget the stock market, buy leather!!!

    1. Don,

      I’ve used the cowhide in the past and it’s firmer than the kip. I think it works better for the boslters than the core. I can plait a lot tighter over a kip core than a cowhide one.

      I think I was paying about $5 a foot at tandy, and all of my current sources are at about $7-$8 a foot. Tandy does still list the kip on their website, so I’m going fax them my Resale Certificate and hope I can still get some cheap!

      Louie

  3. Louie,
    If you use vegtan tooling cowhide for cores and it is a bit thick (3+ oz) or on the firm-side, you can moisten it thoroughly with your plaiting soap. First, I roll the core and pull it back-and-forth hard across my plaiting hook with good tension in order to soften it. What I aim for is to “break” the stiffness in the top grain so that it can squeeze well under the belly braid. I sometimes do this for kip as well.

    Another material that I’ve used for cores is chrome-tanned split cowhide. This stuff is very cheap by the side or shoulder, is very soft and easy to work with. A big plus is a side that has been evenly split. I keep an eye on the difference in weight and sometimes compensate by adding a bit more width to the split hide core. This helps to keep the finished diameter where I usually want it. If you pull your belly strands tight, it yields a great core. The belly can pretty much strand straight up after plaiting.

    1. Don,

      I’ve done a similar “break in” for cowhide cores. I may have to go back to doing that to keep my costs down…however I did find some kip on sale for $5.50 a foot with free shipping if you order over $75. The sale ends today, if you are interested call: 1-800.686.2700

      I’ve used veg tanned split for cores, but haven’t tried chrome tanned. I’ll have to find a side and try it out.

      Louie

  4. Louie,

    $5.50 per ft on the kip is not bad – I was able to get the Tandy kip for about $3/ft on sale here in NY state about a year ago. I stocked up when this happened. My distributor in Syracuse does not know why they dropped the kip, since this was an economical tooling hide before going to their higher-end hides. They used to get kip imported from China and it was fairly clean & consistent.

    Chrome tanning usually yields a softer leather than veg tanning, which is why this is selected for upholstery and garment leather. Tandy and other online resellers give chrome splits away very cheaply. eBay resellers are also a good bet for experimenting as well. Give it a try and good luck.

    BTW, nice job on the sharkskin whips!

    1. Don,

      I used to stock up when Tandy had it on sale as well. Tandy sold it by the side, the place I’m getting it from sells it by the whole hide. So if I wanted I could use some of the prime middle for braid (I might use it to make something small) but I probably won’t.

      Louie

    1. I splice like David Morgan does, a good way to learn it is in his book Whips and Whipmaking. Here’s got a great picture of it. I’ve tried to take a picture, but it really takes two hands to hold and I don’t have a third for the pic.

      Louie

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