My current project is a six foot Indy style bullwhip. Yesterday I plaited all the bellies and the overlay, I would have finished the whole thing, but ran out of lead for the handle. Sometime today I’ll run out and get some lead.
When I started this bullwhip I was still waiting on two sides of kip to show up, so I make the core and inner bolster out of the last of the veg tanned goat that I had. The kip showed up in time for me to use it for the outer bolster.
This current batch of kip is different from what I’ve gotten from this supplier before. In the past they’ve sent me full hides, but this time they sent me two sides (a side is half a full hide). So I ended up with half the leather I hoped to get…however this stuff is really nice! I almost seems too nice to waste it on a bolster…I kinda want to try braiding with it…but I won’t.
While the Indy bullwhip was waiting for lead I cut out all the leather for three beginners bullwhips. Now all I need to do is find time to start braiding them.
Yesterday I put the knots on the bullwhip with the goat bolsters:
I think it came out pretty well,the only thing I might change is the heel knot. I’m thinking of cutting out new lace and tying one like the transition knot.
Right now I have three bullwhips in the works. I have two beginners bullwhips cut out and the insides finished and I’m working on a 16 plait bullwhip. The 16 plait bullwhip has the inner belly and boslter finished:
Currently I’m cutting out the outer belly and overlay:
The lace on the upper right side is the outer belly and the strands going across the bottom and moving to the left are going to be the overlay. The reason I’m cutting two layers right now is to get more use out of the skin. The leg on the right of the skin will be the yoke that covers the heel knot of the whip and this isn’t the best leather, so I’m using it for the yoke. However if I waited to cut out the outer belly completely to cut the overlay, I would have cut off and thrown away a lot of that leg…that should let me get a bit more out of this skin.
The bullwhip that I”m working on that has goat instead of kip for it’s bolsters is almost finished. Here’s the final bolster attached:
And here’s the bullwhip with the overlay cut out:
The thing about about goat is that it’s spongy, so I was figuring that when I started plaiting it would really fill in all the space between layers and give me a very dense heavy whip. However I quickly noticed (after plaiting about 18 inches) that this bullwhip was going to end up fairly light. I plaited it tight and for it’s diameter it feels a bit light. It’s dense like I thought…but lighter than I thought.
However I think that over time as this whip soaks up leather dressing it will end up feeling a bit heavier. What is happening is that I think that because kip is a bit denser than the goat when I braid over it compresses and fills the air space between the layers, but it doesn’t compress much. But with the goat it’s still compressing to fill the holes, however it’s still lighter in its compressed form than the kip. Also I only gave the goat a quick coat of grease and I’d bet it can absorb much more…which will give it more weight.
I cracked this whip a bunch in my living room last night and it’s got a different feel than most of my whips…it’s not a bad feel, it’s different. It’s got a lighter crack, but I really enjoyed doing volleys with it!
So all in all I like how it turned out…goat isn’t a substitute for kip because it gave me a different result, it’s its own thing.
Another fun thing I did with this bullwhip was that I did some fancy plaiting on the handle:
If you click on the picture above it will open a larger picture and you can see the pattern better. I haven’t done too much in the way of plaited patterns in one color (most are two tone), but I think this turned out looking alright.
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.
Last night I started work on the bullwhip that will have the stingray handle. Here’s the work that I got done:
If you don’t know what a stingray skin looks like, here’s the one that I got:
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.
Also today I was at my local Tandy Leather to pick up a side of kip and they had some stingray skins on the counter. I picked one up, I’m thinking of using it for the handle of a bullwhip. There will be a little bit of an engineering challenge to attaching and stitching the stingray to the handle, but I think it will end up looking pretty cool!
Here’s a little card trick with a bullwhip that’s been in my notebook forever and I’ve never tried.
Honestly I’d be shocked if I was the first person to try doing this card trick with a whip.
The bullwhip that I’m using is a 4 foot 4 plait bullwhip. I don’t do a lot of shorter whips in 4 plait, however I’ve made several because I use them for tricks where the thong of the whip hits something I’ve found the thicker four plait holds up much better than a thinner strand.
Last night I was hoping to finish the 8 plait bullwhip that I started earlier in the week, but I broke strand and didn’t really feel like fixing it, so I stopped work early last night.
This morning I replaced the broken strand and continued braiding. I’m almost finished with the overlay and honestly I’m not too happy with how this bullwhip is turning out. I might end up selling it as a “second” for dirt cheap, however it’s not a good representation of my work, so I may end up giving it away to a friend.
After today I’m out of town until 2/1, so if you email me or call me don’t expect to hear back until 2/2.
Right now I’m working on getting improving my paring when done to the top left side of the strand. Normally I pare the top right side and I can do the top left…just not as quickly or accurately as the top right. Here’s a little practice session:
When paring the top left side I generally need to do two passes to get the strand nice and straight, where when doing it on the top right I can get it in one pass. Also when doing the top left I’m going at a snails pace, hopefully it’ll get as fast as the other side soon.
Also right now I’m working on an 8 plait kip bullwhip. I’ve got about half of the overlay finished. This one is built on a spring steel handle foundation. I should be able to get it finished this week before I go on vacation.