The pair of stock whips that I’ve been working on have been having some slow progress. Right now I have one of the lashes finished:
If you look at the keeper you can tell I used a natural tan kangaroo inside. In the future I’ll be sure to use a belly that matches the outside. On this pair I may simply dye the part that’s showing black and then it won’t show.
I also have starting plaiting one of the handles:
Before I started plaiting the handle I put the lash on it and took it outside to crack it. As a test I tried making a kangaroo fall.
This kangaroo fall was cut around the tail of the kangaroo skin where it’s typically the thickest. I’m not 100% positive that I’m on board with the roo fall. On the other stock whip of this pair I’ll put a whitehide fall and see which that I like better.
So if you’ve been following my little blog you’ve noticed that recently I’ve been expanding from bullwhips to also include stock whips. I’ve always made more than just bullwhips it’s just that I’ve been focusing a bit on really learning more about stock whips lately. One thing that makes a stock whip a stock whip is the stock of course. In Australia it seems that most whip makers use Toheti Cane for the stock and that is also true for most whip makers in the USA. The makers in the USA import it from Australia.
I’d thought about using Rattan Cane for stock whip handles in the past, but never really did much investigation. Recently Jeff Roseborough turned me onto a website that sells 24 inch Rattan Cane lengths for $2.10 – $3.15 each (depending on quantity). These are a tad long for stock whip handle with most stock whip handles being in the 20 – 21 inch range, but could be any length.
I picked up a few of these to try them out. In fact I used Rattan Cane for this stock whip:
The main difference I notice between Rattan Cane and Toheti Cane is that Rattan seem to have just a bit more flex to it than Toheti Cane. Also after looking at both I suspect that both types of cane might be the same thing grown in different places so have different names or are very closely related in the vine family.
Here’s a visual side by side comparison of the Toheti and Rattan Canes:
Another thing I notice is that the Rattan Cane was much easier to shape the keeper end than the Toheti Cane was. I think that’s because the Toheti Cane is a bit more dense which is also probably why it’s has less flex to it.
The skin on the Toheti Cane also a bit harder. However having a firmer skin doesn’t really matter much, I think the Toheti Cane’s skin might repel moisture a bit better, but that’s just a guess.
Another factor is price. Rattan Cane much more easily available in the USA than Toheti Cane is. Rattan Cane at retail is $3.15 and Toheti at retail $4.95 or about $1.80 more. But then you have to figure in shipping with one coming from the USA and one from Australia. The shipping on the Toheti Cane is about double the Rattan Cane.
What all that means to the end product of the stock whip…not much. Because both types of cane are natural products and no two will be exactly the same you’ll probably find some Rattan Cane with the same or less flex than Toheti Cane. For me I think I’m going to use the Rattan Cane for yard whips (cowhide leather stock whips) and the Toheti Cane for nicer kangaroo stock whips. Going with a Toheti Cane handle for the price of a kangaroo stock whip is a drop in the bucket where on a cheaper whip it makes a bit more difference in the margin.
Maybe I’ll offer a choice on cheaper yard whips where someone could upgrade to a Toheti Cane handle from the Rattan Cane for an extra few bucks.
Recently someone asked me about what I use for spring steel in the handles of some of my whips. Now first of all the main reason I use spring steel instead of a spike in some bullwhips is that it gives me a thinner diameter handle. Also since the spring steel rods are custom made it allows me to have them be any diameter I want. When using a spike you have very limited choices, I think 3/8 inch is pretty much the only size you can easily find 8 – 12 inch spikes in.
The reason I use spring steel and not a plain ol’ steel rod you get at the hardware store is spring steel won’t bend permanently. For example if you were to go to your local hardware store and take a thinner diameter steel rod and bend it, you’d never get it straight again. Where spring steel will always go back to it’s original shape…unless you heat it to something like 600 degrees and bend it while it’s that hot.
Spring steel rods are more expensive than regular steel rods, but I like the advantage of it always retaining its shape. For example if you made a bullwhip with a regular steel handle and someone stepped on the handle it could bend and you’ve have a broken bullwhip. Now with spring steel you could jump on the handle and afterwards it’s still be straight (as long as you didn’t put so much weight that it would snap the steel, however you’d have the same problem with a regular steel rod).
Here are two examples of the spring steel rods that I’ve used:
The top one is 8 inches long and just over 4mm thick and the bottom one is 12 inches long by just shy of 6mm thick. Also I refer to these as “rods” because to me that’s what they are…but if I recall right within the spring steel industry these are technically wire.
Generally I don’t use spring steel in bullwhips with 8 inch handles, however I have a few spring steel rods in that length for projects where I want a slimmer handle.
Right now I’m working on a pair of stock whips. These have 5.5 foot lashes and so far only the lashes are finished (still need to roll them).
Today I’m planning on making the half plait handles and hopefully the weather will hold out and I’ll get to take them to the park!
Yesterday before heading out to visit family for Christmas Dinner I managed to sneak in a few minutes to make the handle for the stock whip. Here’s the finished stock whip on my handle:
The handle is 20 inches and the lash is 5 feet. I didn’t add lead or anything to this stock whip because with a 5 foot lash I didn’t think it was necessary. The lash of a 5 foot stock whip is lighter than the lash of a 5 foot bullwhip even though the stock whip lash is longer (because of how I measure them).
Here’s what I am using to as my base line for making cowhide leather stock whips are two other stock whips that I have:
These stock whip are:
Left: The one I made
Center: Peter Jack (The Whip Man) – Stock Whip kit
Right: SKT Whips
By comparing the whip that I made to the one that Peter Jack cut out and I plaited and the one by SKT whips that was made entirely by SKT whips it give me a good idea as to how my stock whip compares. I know I am using a very different method for making my stock whip than Peter Jack and SKT Whips, but method doesn’t concern me as much as the final results, how it cracks.
I was also digging through my whips and it turns out I have and have made a lot more stock whips than I thought previously. By “a lot more” it’s something like 5 or 6 stock whips instead of 2 or 3 stock whips.
If you’ve thought about trying to make a bullwhip, these are a good cheaper alternative to kangaroo. I’ve made a few whips from this stuff in the past:
You have to use a bit more care when braiding with it because calf isn’t quite as strong as kangaroo. Also these skins aren’t drum stuffed, so you’ll have to grease them by hand before you can do any braiding with it.
Yesterday I started a bit of work on two bullwhips. They both are 7 foot 12 plait kangaroo bulllwhips. I’m making them as a matched pair even though they are going to two different people. The main reason I’m making them as a matched pair is more for fun and to make it a bit more challenge on my end.
For a long time I’ve wanted to make a bullwhip with a sharkskin handle. The main problem is that it’s very expensive and I’m unaware of anyone locally that sells it. So I can’t see it before I buy it. I didn’t want to spend $150 or $200 on a skin that was totally unusable.
Well I finally found someone that was willing to sell me a small piece of sharkskin. While it was much more expensive by the foot than a whole skin, a 9 x 12 inch piece will satisfy my curiosity and if it’s usable it will make 1 – 2 handles. Here’s the piece that’s on it’s way to me:
I think it’d be cool if the skin is braidable and I could make a sharkskin whip! However from what I’ve read it’s got some texture to it, so the plaits rubbing against each other over time probably wouldn’t be good for the whip.
Finally here are pictures of six stockwhip handles that I got last week from David Morgan.
I had gotten a few of them a few years ago, and tried to get them between then and now, but they were sold out. While they were going through some old boxed they found some and I took them…They were his last six!
Now I’m off to go sit in traffic on my way to my morning show today.
Here’s the work that is completed on the bullwhip with the stingray handle in the last couple of days. I finished the outer belly:
The outer belly was attached:
One of the biggest challenges wasn’t the 20 plait lash, but figuring out a way to attach the stingray to the handle. For the handle the lash’s overlay has a long yoke that covers the whole handle, so the 20 plait lash is well secured under the sting ray. Then I cut the sting ray to size, put a bit of a “sealer” on the flesh side to give me a nice solid back to glue to the handle. Then I used contact cement to hold it place along with some stitching at the seam. It seems to be pretty solid right now. I also had to use my dremel to grind down some of the sting ray’s bumps at the seam so that there wouldn’t be any sharp edges.
Here’s the stingray cut to size:
And here’s the back of the sting ray after I coated it with gum tragacanth:
This bullwhip is my first whip that has a 20 plait lash (I’ve done some 24 plait handles before) and I was amazed at how easy…or how not super difficult it it. In the past the plaiting that I’ve done above 16 had fancy patterns, while this whip just has 4 seam work, which is pretty easy. And the strand drops aren’t too hard because the strands are soo thin there isn’t too much bulk you are dropping, however I am dropping 10 strands (or 5 drop points) in the last three feet of the bullwhip.
For some reason I tied the transition knot before the lash has been finished.
I should be able to find time to finish the lash of this bullwhip today…but I need to make some falls before I can complete the lash. So at some point today I’ll start cutting out falls.