Matched Pair of Bullwhips…

Matched Pair of Bullwhips…

Today I continued work on the Matched Pair of Bullwhips that I started yesterday:

You’ll notice in the pictures above I “punch” the yokes of my bellies.  I do that by taking a leather punch and putting a hole at the start of the strand.  The reason I do that is when they are braided and rolled, you will get a little bump there and this reduces that bump. If you don’t punch it you will need to trim off the bump…however sometimes you still need to when you punch the yoke.

I’m excited to get to the overlays of these bullwhips because I’ll get a chance to try out something that Paul and Lauren at MidWest Whips mentioned to me and by coincidence Adam Winrich and I talked about to help strengthen the transitions of these whips.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

16 plait bullwhip progress

16 plait bullwhip progress

I’m still working on the 16 plait bullwhip.  Yesterday I got the final bolster finished, the overlay cut out, strand prep finished and about 2 inches of the handle plaited.

bullwhip

For the handle I’ve gone with the chevron pattern (U2 O2), which is a pattern that’s very common with rawhide braiding.

Bullwhip

See Me Work the Bullwhip

On June 1st, 2010 I’ll be performing at Egan’s Ballard Jam House.  The first Tuesday of the month they have a magic show called That’s Impossible. I’m the headline act on 6/1 and besides some great magic my show will feature my Whip Act.  Egan’s is a cool little music club (seats 43 people)  in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.  I’ll be doing two shows a 7 and 9 pm, and admission is $10.

For more details visit: http://www.ballardjamhouse.com/

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

Stingray Bullwhip

Stingray Bullwhip

Last night I started work on the bullwhip that will have the stingray handle.  Here’s the work that I got done:

how to make a bullwhip
Core and outer plaited belly
Bullwhip
Inner bolster attached
Bullwhips
Outer belly attached

If you don’t know what a stingray skin looks like, here’s the one that I got:

sting ray skin

A stingray skin is very small about 13 inches long by 6 inches wide.  The grain side is covered with tiny bumps that as slick.  Sort of like little plastic bubbles.  My plan for using it on the handle will be to measure it and cut it to size, but leave it a bit wider around the circumference of the handle.  Then fold the edges over and glue them in place.  Next I’ll have to sand off the bumps of on the part that was folded over.  Finally I’ll glue  and stitch the handle in place.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

8 foot Indy progress…

8 foot Indy progress…

I wasn’t going to do any work on this bullwhip today…but I managed to sneak in a bit of plaiting.

I also started a bit of work on another bosal.  It’s got a rawhide core and a 20 plait overlay.  Cutting out the 20 2mm kangaroo strands was a pain to do, but I’ve about about a foot of the bosal plaited and it looks good (so far!).

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

100% Kangaroo is 100% Bull!!!

100% Kangaroo is 100% Bull!!!

Tonight I was looking at the bullwhips for sale on ebay and right now there is on bullwhip that says it’s 100% kangaroo…here’s some of the ad copy:

Bullwhip, 8′ 12 Plait 100% Kangaroo Hide Black
Braided by *********
Handcrafted in the USA

For your consideration is a medium to heavy weight bullwhip. This whip is well balanced and has a 12 plait overlay ending in a six plait fall knot point. The whip is built on an 8in steal handle section and a thin nylon core…

Am I going nuts or does this 100% kangaroo bullwhip have a nylon core!!!!!!! If it’s got a nylon core, it’s not 100% kangaroo.

That made me think of the other places that I’ve read people’s ad copy where they say there bullwhips are 100% kangaroo.  Pretty much the people that say that their whips are 100% kangaroo are people selling on ebay…people that in my opinion are trying to overhype their whips.

In my opinion if anyone claims their whip is 100% kangaroo they are 100% full of sh*t!!

If you think about it there are a couple of things that make a bullwhip a bullwhip.  Mainly it has a rigid handle.  I really can’t think of a way to make a bullwhip with a rigid handle by using only kangaroo.  So the very nature of selling a bullwhip makes it impossible to be 100% kangaroo.

I know what you are thinking, “Louie you are nit-picking with these sellers, of course the handle isn’t kangaroo.”  Well that is true, but where does it stop?  In my opinion if you say 100% it’s got to be 100%, you can’t let any thing slide. Would you buy a bottle of water that’s 100% pure water…except for tapeworm in the bottle (no one counts the parasites)?

If the whip is 100% kangaroo and somehow they magically got the kangaroo handle foundation rigid, then they’d need some sort of binding in there to hold the core to the handle.

Wait, I know! you could wrap the core around the handle then use the plaiting over it to hold it in place.  Well you could do that, but if you weren’t very careful your handle would have a lot of wobble to it…and a lot of wobble in the handle is not a good characteristic in a bullwhip.  So the 100% roo claim while in this fictional case may be true, it’s a smokescreen to cover a poorly designed whip.

Then you’d come to another problem, how would you get the heel knot foundation of the bullwhip to stay on?   Most whip makers use tacks and some sort of string to hold it in place.

Lets say you can magically get the butt to stay on, your next problem will be the fall.  I’ve heard of a kangaroo fall being used on a whip (but only from a less than reputable seller on ebay) .  I’ve never personally seen a kangaroo fall, or a kangaroo skin that I think would be thick enough to make a decent fall.  However I’ll give whoever claims that they have a 100% roo whip the benefit of the doubt on this one and assume they can find some thick kangaroo.

Moving down the bullwhip you’ve got the cracker at the end…hmmmmm, that one has me stumped.  I guess you could cut a thin piece of kangaroo and cut the ends till it frayed…but honestly I don’t think that’s be an effective way to make a cracker.

So to sum it all it, even if you could make a bullwhip that was 100% kangaroo, it probably wouldn’t be as good at one that used the best techniques but had other material in it.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

P.S. I know there are a lot of whip makers that use the words 100% and kangaroo on their websites, but they usually have something that qualifies it, like 100% Australian kangaroo hide or 100% kangaroo bellies.

Shaping the Point

Shaping the Point

Yesterday I had someone email me with a problem they were having with making whips.  They said:

“Your blog has turned into a great resource for beginning (and not so beginning) whipmakers. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting these past few months and one thing that I’m still having issues with is maintaining a round cross section when braiding over the looses belly strands. I’ve tried several different ideas to keep the strands from laying on top of each other forming a rectangular shape with the effect of sometimes working, sometimes not. This ends up adding a lot of time doing multiple plaiting over the same area until it “passes” inspection. Can you share your experiences and what works for you to maintaing a round rather rectangular shape?”

If I remember right David Morgan in his book Whips and Whipmaking cautions that having filler strands that are flat/rectangular can stack up on each other giving your bullwhip a square cross section instead of a round one.

There are a few  things that I do or I’ve done in the past to reduce this:

  • Cut the filler in half or thirds: Basically I cut the filler strand down the length of it, splitting it into two or three strands that are all connected at one end.  If you cut them with the knife held like you are paring you will get a shape that’s like a parallelogram, and they won’t necessarily stack up in a square.
  • Plait tighter or not as tight: The amount of pull you use can change how the filler strands stack up.
  • Full length bolster: If the bolster in your bullwhip runs the full length of the whip it will wrap around the filler strands giving your whip a more round cross section.
  • Lube up the filler strands: Greased strands will change shape better than dry strands.
  • Roll promptly: Roll your whip immediately after finishing it.  The filler strands will still be a bit moist from the plaiting soap and any dressing and will hold a shape better.

Hope that helps!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

5 Foot Bullwhips…

5 Foot Bullwhips…

Here are the insides of the two five foot bullwhips that I’m currently working one.

bullwhips

One has a eight inch handle and the other has a 10 inch handle. Both handles are spring steel. I think I’ve written a post before as to why I think spring steel is superior to regular steel, but basically it’s because spring steel won’t bend.

I’m waiting on a kangaroo hide from Paul Nolan to show up in the mail to make one of these into an 8 plait bullwhip in black.  The other one will probably be a two tone bullwhip in either black and red or red and natural tan.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

6 foot Indy Bullwhip

6 foot Indy Bullwhip

Today I started working on a 6 foot 12 plait Indy style bullwhip:

Tomorrow I should have time to do the strand prep on the overlay.

Louie
http://bullwhips.org

5 foot bullwhip

5 foot bullwhip

Yesterday I started work on a five foot 8 plait bullwhip.  This bullwhip is being made using leftover lace that I cut out a few weeks ago for a chandelier project.

This bullwhip has a leather core:

Bullwhip core

Plaited Belly:

plaited kangaroo bullwhip belly

And two bolsters:

Bolster #1
Bolster #1
Bolster #2
Bolster #2

Sometimes when you are binding on a bolster, it will want to twist while you are wraping it.  While that doesn’t really matter on the handle, I try to keep bolster twist to a minimum for the thong.  I’d prefer the seam going straight instead of spiraling down the inside of the bullwhip.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to keep that from happening.  About a foot from where you are binding I tape around the bolster with masking tape.  Keep wraping the bolster, then right before you get to the tape, take it off (you don’t want that in the whip) and put another loop of masking tape about a foot from where you are and repeat.

bullwhip handle

For me that really seems to hold everything in place while I”m working tying on the bolster.  I got the idea from this method from a whip of another whip maker’s bullwhip that I took apart.  It looked like that was what they did, except they left the tape on the bolster (and inside the bullwhip).  While I don’t think leaving the tape inside the bullwhip will really change how it cracks, personally I don’t think tape belong inside a high quality bullwhip, and it only takes a second to remove it.

Right now I’ve got about a 16 inches of the 8 plait overlay finished:

Bullwhips

It’s been a while since I’ve done shorter bullwhips and I’d forgotten how fast they are to make (compared to an 8 foot)!

Louie
http://bullwhips.org