8 plait bullwhip

8 plait bullwhip

Today I got some work in on an 8 plait bullwhip.

Bullwhip Plaited belly
Inner Plaited belly
Outer bolster

I have the overlay cut out and it just needs to have the strand prep done before I can do any plaiting.  Today is Wednesday and I don’t think there is anything good on TV tonight, so I might end up watching an episode of V on my laptop while I work on the overlay of this bullwhip.

Kangaroo Bosal (with rawhide core)

Here are a couple of pictures of the bosal that I made yesterday:


While this Bosal isn’t perfect I think it’s pretty good for a first try.  The next one will be better. I’d like to make a high plait count bosal in rawhide…eventually.

I also cut out some rawhide strips from a side of rawhide (cow):


Each coil is about 30 feet of rawhide and about 3/4 of an inch wide.  Rawhide is soo much work to get ready to work with it’s easier to do a lot of the prep all at once, then use it as necessary.  It takes the same amount of effort to case as strip of rawhide and  a whole side of rawhide…and it’s just a bit more effort to do the cut out 10 strips instead of just one.

I cut out about half of the side of rawhide that I had…I would have done the whole side, but my arm got tired!

I’m going to try to do a bullwhip with a rawhide core for some of these strips and the rest will be bosal cores or cores for other types of of plaited things.


Veg Tanned and Rawhide kangaroo

Veg Tanned and Rawhide kangaroo

Yesterday was package day, and FedEx brought me a couple of kangaroo skins:


The black kangaroo skin has a bit of funny shape to it. If you look at the bottom of the picture you will see the big “scallop” taken out of it.  A lot of the right side of the scallop will probably end up being cut off as I use the kangaroo skin.  So it’s more waste that I’m paying for.

These two kangaroo skins are for an 8 plait bullwhip that will be 6 feet long and two tone.  Then with the leftover roo I’ll probably make a 16 plait bullwhip 6 feet long.

Last night I started work on the 8 plait bullwhip.  I cut out the core:

how to make a bullwhip

And I attached it to the handle foundation.  This bullwhip is being built on a 12 inch spring steel rod.

bullwhip core

Today I should at the very least get both bellies plaited (unless something comes up).

Rawhide Update

I’ve got all my kangaroo rawhide cut into even strips that are ready to be resized whenever I need them:


I also learned a lesson about rawhide while working on my quirt.  At one point my strands had dried out and I had stopped work for the day.  So the next  day I took the whole quirt and cased it for a little while.  When I started work the core had also taken in moisture and swelled.

Well when the plaiting was finished and dried the core shrunk more than the plaiting, so now the plaiting is loose!  Next time I’ll have to rewet the strands with a spray bottle, and carefully case just the strands and not the core.

One thing I did learn is the type of plaiting that I like best with rawhide.  I like the chevron pattern going down the handle.  On the quirt I did several patterns and the chevron’s look the best.  Having made that determination and then looking at a lot of rawhide work I’ve noticed it’s a fairly common pattern with rawhide.


Indy Bullwhip Progress

Indy Bullwhip Progress

Today I did all the strand prep for this bullwhips 12 plait overlay:

Indy bullwhip

And I braided the overlay:


I needed to cut out some falls before I could do the fall hitch.   Right now the falls are soaking up a bit of grease before I tie one on:

Bullwhip ready for fall hitch

I should have the fall hitch tied on tonight and maybe get the knot foundation built.


16 plait bullwhip

16 plait bullwhip

Right now I’m working on a six foot 16 plait Australian style bullwhip.  It’s got a 12 inch spring steel handle, I’m using a thicker spring steel than I used to use, so there is less flex to the handle and more weight.

I’ve got the insides of the bullwhip finished and I’m working on the overlay now.  Here’s the finished handle:

Australian bullwhip


Currently I have about 2 feet of this bullwhip.  It has the zig zag plaiting on the handle, then it goes to a six seam (chevrons) at the transition and regular four seam (whip maker’s plait) for the thong.

Doing different patterns feels like a lot more work than doing 12 plait…but I think it just feels that way.  My hands have the muscle memory for 12 plait work, with this bullwhip I have to keep going back to fix misplaits from my hands wanting to braid it like a 12 plait bullwhip.


6 foot Bullwhip Finished!

6 foot Bullwhip Finished!

Today I finished this 6 foot bullwhip.  Here’s the beginning of the 12 plait overlay:


Currently I’m starting my braid by doing about 2 inches of the overlay without the rest of the whip inside it.  I braid just enough so that I the underside of the braid is built up, then I stick in the handle of the bullwhip and tighten  up the braid.

bull whip - how to make a bullwhip

Below is the finished overlay (not rolled and no heel knot):

bull whips

And here’s the finished bullwhip:

Bull whip

I just boxed up this bullwhip and it’s going out to its new owner tomorrow.


Bullwhip Core…

Bullwhip Core…

Yesterday I was about to cut out a core for a 6 foot bullwhip from a side of kip, when I had an idea.  In my head I want to have the core of my bullwhips as desnse as possible. That’s why I my cores (currently) are more than just a tapered piece of kip, then flare out then taper to a point.  That’s gives me a firm core off the handle foundation which will hopefully make the transition last longer.  

If you’ve never handled kip before it’s a the leather from a teenage cow and it’s very flexible compared to a grown up cow’s hide.  Because kip if fairly flexible you can really get it into a tight dense core.  The problem I”ve run into in the past when using cowhide for the core is that because it’s a bit heavier it’s also less bendy, and hard to get a tight core from.  

Not too long ago I found a really neat cowhide that’s been split down fairly thin, so it’s not much thicker than a side of kip.  I’m using this in the core of the bullwhip, but I’m rolling it differently.  Usually I have the core (and bolsters) grain side of the leather out.  The reason for that is becuase it makes it easier to braid over.  If you have two layers of the whip with the flesh sides touching it like pulling against sandpaper (muhc harder than it needs to be).  However you can roll the core much tighter with the flesh side out.  

Now my problem is how to get a tight belly over the top of the inside out core. The easiest and probably the best solution will be to apply dressing to the core, let it soak in then grease it again right before braiding.  Since I’ll only be braiding a short distance, I’m hoping it won’t kill my hands braiding this way.  

We’ll see how it turns out.



Matched Pair of 6 foot bullwhips….

Matched Pair of 6 foot bullwhips….

Personally I think that using a matched pair of bullwhips doesn’t really give you any advantage over two similar bullwhips.  What I mean by similar are two whips that crack the same (so not one aussie bullwhip and one swivel handle american bullwhip).  

Generally two bullwhips made with the same recipe by the same bullwhip maker will handle the same.  A matched pair has a little more work in it than just two whips made the same time, like being split to the same thickness, bellies braided to exactly the same length, etc.  

Personally I think that having everything exactly the same in a whip doesn’t make much sense because your right and left arms work differently and one millimeter here or there wont’ make much of a difference.  For example my right arm cracks harder than my left, but my left does more precision cracking…and while my right arm learns to do new cracks faster than my left, it’s my left that generally learns to do things better!

So that said, do both of my arms need exactly the same thing…nope!

Now that I’m finished with my anti-matched pair rant, as a whipmaker I like the idea of a matched pair.  It adds another level to the challenge of whip making.   Right now I’m making a matched pair of 6 foot bullwhips.  I’ve got the two bellies cut out and the cores attached to handles.  I still need to do the lace prep for the bellies and hopefully I’ll be able do some braiding today.



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.



Dying Leather…

Dying Leather…

My experiementing with dying leather is finished and I’m ready to start making a Young Indy Bullwhip from kangaroo skin.  I did two experiments with dying the leather.  The first one I made the bullwhip, then I dyed it.  and the second one I dyed it before plaiting it.  

Plaiting THEN Dying

The advantage when I plaited the whip then dyed it was that it was much easier to do.  The disadvantage of doing it this way is that the dye job isn’t as good as it could be.  There are two things working against you:


  1. The bullwhip is greasy from the plaiting soap and the dye’s color won’t turn out quite right.
  2. You can’t dye every little bit of the bullwhip’s strands.  When the  bullwhip flexes there will be little bits that are under another strand that you can’t color.
Here’s the finished 6 foot that was made by dying AFTER  plaiting:
Young Indy Bullwhip
Dying a bullwhip after it’s made is not the best way to go for complete coverage of the dye.


Dying THEN Plaiting

The disadvantage with dying the strands before plaiting is that it’s a lot of work!  The advantage of dying before plaiting is that you will get better coverage of the dye and the color will be brighter because the dye is applied before greasing the strands for plaiting.  

I’ve found that there is less bleeding of the dye onto my hands when dying first because the strands are dry and the grease is penetrating the leather better.

Here’s a half finished bullwhip that was dyed BEFORE plaiting:


Bullwhip making

This is the method that I’m going to use when I dye the kangaroo Young Indy bullwhip.  

Dying Kangaroo Lace

The knots on both of these cowhide bullwhip are/will be kangaroo that’s I’ve dyed black.  Here’s me practicing dying some lace:


I’ll probably add both of these bullwhips to my IN STOCK page shortly.