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.
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:
and Sting Ray Skin
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.
Yesterday finished working on the bullwhip with the alligator handle. However I did the knots with a second color interweave and I’m not sure that I like it, so I might be redoing them.
The work that was done yesterday was finishing plaiting the point:
This bullwhip is a 12 plait bullwhip and since it has an exotic leather handle I decided to give it a finer point than a usual 6 plait point and went with an 8 plait point. Also I started doing a couple of newish things to this bullwhip and one old thing.
The old thing that I did was something that I used to do a long time ago and for some reason stopped. What I’m going again is a little bit before strand drops I’m starting to taper the strands that will be dropped a little bit. That seems to ease the lace into the drop a little bit better.
The two new things that I’m doing are:
Different Angles of Paring: The lace that makes up this bullwhip starts out at the handle pared at an angle, but as you move toward the point the lace ends up more square. My thinking on this is that when you use a whip if it’s pared at an angle the lace at that thinner spot is more susceptible to abrasion damage which can turn into a torn or broken lace on the thinner point strands. By having them more square they should hold up to that a bit better. However since the first half of the whip doesn’t normally contact the ground abrasive damage isn’t really an issue.
Splitting By Hand: I’ve come up with my own technique for splitting lace by hand (no splitter). I’ll make a little video of this some day, but it’s pretty easy and right now it’s fun to do…we’ll see if I keep it up once the novelty has worn off!
Yesterday I also put the knots on the bullwhip. Here’s the transition knot before the interweave:
and after the interweave:
And here’s the heel knot foundation ready for a knot:
And here’s the finished heel knot:
Part of my “not sure if I like it” I think may come from the unbalanced look of the knots. I need to do them in one solid color, add more red to the heel knot, or less red to the transition knot.
Here’s a full view of the whip:
I still need to roll and shellac it after I come to a decision as to whether or not I like the knots. The more I look a them the more I’m OK with them…but still not positive!
Yesterday I was driving home and happened to pass by MacPherson Leather in Seattle. I decided to pop in and see if there was anything that caught my eye. In their scrap bin was a piece of alligator that was big enough for a bullwhip handle:
When I got home I started work on this bullwhip! First I cut out all the cowhide leather layers:
By cutting out all the bolsters and prepping them all at once it really shaves off a lot of time in the making process. I cut them out a bit wider than I need them and split them to the thickness that I want. Then when it comes time to put them on I tweak them to fit the whip.
I had originally planned on taking some more pictures of the making of the internal layers, but was talking to another whip maker on the phone while I was working and forgot to take more pictures.
I’ve got about half of the overlay cut out (it’s 12 plait in kangaroo) and I’m hoping to find time today to finish the entire bullwhip before I leave town tomorrow for a few days.