Spring Steel Bullwhip Handles and Stock Whip Lashes

Spring Steel Bullwhip Handles and Stock Whip Lashes

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:

Bullwhip handles

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).

stock whip

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!


Bullwhips in progress

Bullwhips in progress

Yesterday I finished the overlay of a six foot bullwhip that I started work on a few weeks ago.  Right now the first coat of shellac is drying.  I’ll take a picture of it later.

29 foot 2 inch bullwhip on ebay

Honestly I’m a bit surprised that people are bidding on the long bullwhip…not because there is anything wrong with it, but because I didn’t think there’d be much market for it.  This whip was something that I made for myself and it is very fun to crack, but honestly I didn’t think anyone would buy it.

So I guess since I’m pretty much a whip nerd, what I think is cool other people will as well!

Extreme Marksmen on History Channel

I was flipping channels last night and came across Meagan from David Morgan’s shop on Extreme Marksmen talking about how a whip is made.  Here’s the clip of DeLongis on the show:

I couldn’t find a clip on youtube with the part filmed at David Morgan’s shop.


8 foot Indy Style Bullwhip…

8 foot Indy Style Bullwhip…

Earlier this week I had a visit with Joe Strain and as always after those visits my technique improves a little bit by some of the techniques that I pick up from him.

One thing that Joe helped me fix was the width of my strands.  I was cutting pretty wide on my handles and beginning of the thong.  The reason I started cutting wide was that I was trying to reduce gaps in the handle/thong transition area.  I was starting to get a gaps that I had to go back and fix.  Now how I think, if I have a gap in the plaiting, that means my strand was too thin…right?


Joe suggested that I cut thinner and guess what, I had no problem with gaps on the whip that I just made!

Another thing I noticed about Joe Strain is that he’s an artist!   For example when I make a whip I measure a lot of stuff (bolsters etc) he does much of his work by eye and it’s perfect!  The whip that I just finished I cut all my bolsters by eye and I was very  much surprised that I was faster and more accurate than the labor intensive measuring that I’ve been doing.

Right I’m trying something new to reinforce the handle thong transition.  Normally the core of my whip flares out, so it’s the diameter of the handle, the once it gets to the end of the handle foundation it gets about 10mm wider.  With this bullwhip what I did was put a piece of wear leather below that.  That seems to really smooth out that sharp drop off the handle and give a very stiff transition.

I also used a piece of spring steel for the handle of this bullwhip.  Keep in mind that spring steel is different from a regular steel rod that you’d get at a hardware store.  If you take a thin piece of a regular steel rod from your hardware store and try to bend it with your hands you can.  Now if you use just a piece of plain ol’ steel as a whip handle it could bend over time.   Spring steel will always return to it’s original shape unless it either snaps in half or your heat it to over 600 degrees and reshape it.  There’s very little chance that you are going to exert enough force on your bullwhip handle to snap the steel, or get it over 600 degrees, so spring steel is a superior choice for bullwhip handle (over a comparable regular steel rod).

This comparison doesn’t apply to using a spike because the spikes that are most commonly used are soo thick that bending or snapping isn’t an issue.

Here’s the wear leather on the spring steel rod:

How to make a bulwhip

And Core:

Bullwhip core

Next is the inner 4 plait kangaroo belly:

bullwhip plaited kangaroo belly

And then the inner bolster is attached:

How to make a bullwhip

And the outer 4 plait kangaroo belly is finished:


Of course I roll the bullwhip between two boards after each plaited layer to get a nice round bullwhip.   Then I add the final bolster and start braiding the overlay:


The finished overlay with fall attached:

Bullwhip w/ whip fall

After the overlay is finished, I put some lead in the butt and add the wrist loop:

bullwhip w/ 6 plait wrist loop

The heel knot is tied:

bull whips turkshead

Then I build up a foundation for the transition knot:


and tie the transition knot:


At this point all that is left is to roll the knots and shellac the bullwhip.  Here’s the finished bullwhip:

bull whips
Bull whips 8 feet 12 plait kangaroo

I’ve listed this bullwhip for sale on my IN STOCK whips page.