The project that I’ve been working on all last week is a 24 plait bullwhip with a sharkskin handle. This whip would be finished by now, but my schedule has been full of performing and other things…but the whip still isn’t finished.
I’ve always wanted to make a sharkskin whip, but there are a couple of problems with making one. Due to a sharkskin’s “H” like shape it’s be hard to get enough strands out of one skin, so I’d need multiple skins and that leads to the second problem…cost. One sharkskin is in the neighborhood of $150, so I’d have at least $300 into the whip in materials alone!
The other problem is since I’ve never actually touched a full sharkskin I don’t know how much usable skin there would be on it. For this whip I found someone that would sell me a small piece of scrap based on this piece it was really spongy, so not the best whip making leather. That’s why I’m not going to peruse making a full whip in sharkskin.
This whip has two plaited bellies, two bolsters and a 24 plait overlay that is jade colored veg tanned kangaroo:
Here’s the whip right after I finished the overlay:
One of the engineering challenges with this whip was to make the handle much thinner than the thong. The piece of sharkskin I had was very thick, and I didn’t want a huge handle and a thin thong, or a thick thong and a thin handle.
I wanted them to be pretty close to the same diameter and I think I did a pretty good job matching them up.
To attach the sharkskin on the handle I used a different stitch than I used for the stingray handle that I put on a whip a while ago, I used a “baseball” type stitch. The process was pretty simple, first I punched all the holes for the stitching, and then I coated the handle and the underside of the sharkskin with contact cement. Once the cement was dry I very loosely stitched the sharkskin (off the handle) and then slipped it onto the handle and pulled the stitching tight. It seems to be holding very tightly, so I’m not worried about it loosening or falling of. Also the string I put under the knots will help hold it in place.
I do have the transition knot finished, but haven’t tied the heel knot just yet. I should be able to find time to do that later today.