How to PROPERLY Construct The Tail of your Whip

Doubtless very shortly (as in, the instant the title is read) there will be some significant controversy over whether or not I’ve “hit the nail on the head” as it were with regard to this topic, but when you’re designing a whip, you have the option to plait just a touch more gently towards the tail end, so that the tail maintains a relative suppleness to the rest of the thong, despite that it has less mass and a smaller weave because, presumably, the strands are narrower—the temptation to pull them murderously tight is strong, tempered only by the fear of breaking one (or more) right as you’re coming down the home stretch and you believed yourself to be nearly out of the weeds FINALLY, and you can not entirely without sardonic amusement wrap the whip like a mummy in plastic film from end to end and ship it off to the client, so you need strong motivating factors that remind you to lighten the f*ck up on a consistent basis.

Let us pause here to draw breath, as that paragraph above was all one sentence, and I’m sure you’re all exhausted.

Be all that as it may, I don’t intend to argue the finer points of whether or not you should do this. Instead, I intend to instruct on HOW to do it, SHOULD you decide to do it.

Step One:

Hie thee to the nearest Joann Fabrics, wearing your favorite blindfold (be careful in traffic, though). This is important, because if you don’t, you’ll buy more crap than you can afford, and you’ll kill off a buncha neurotransmitters because you’re overloading your brain on all the rationalizations you’ll be making to pseudo-justify said purchases. Unless of course you’re a politician, in which case rationalizations come quite naturally to you, so a blindfold will only increase the problem exponentially. Do the best you can in any case.

Naturally, the clerks at Joann’s are going to wonder. Just tell them any lie you like to gain sympathy, and ask them to lead you to the scissors rack, because you need a pair of these:

Fiskars Amplify Scissors

This is a feat of engineering brought to us by those seemingly innocuous fellows at Fiskar’s. Do not allow yourself to be taken in, however. The folks at Fiskar’s are bad ass. I want you to understand this. They make every kind of cutting implement imaginable, they’re not picky about how much money you’ve got—if you’re cheap, they got you covered, if you got money to burn, so much the better—and the one thing ALL their implements have in common, large or small, is that their blades will chase you around your work space with murderous glee if you don’t watch them without blinking. Very similar to Beven’s Infernal Device, but let’s not open THAT can of worms, as I’ve covered that topic with symphonies of expletive prose many times over the last decade.

I figure you have enough moxie to figure out how to get away from the clerk and out of Joann’s Fabrics without being arrested and/or committed, so I’ll leave that bit to you. The reason you want THIS pair of scissors is because of the design. They’re called “Amplify.” The handles are designed so that the amount of force you send down to the blades is greater than if you had some other damned half assed pair of cheap shears.

Much. Greater.

Which makes them fantastic leather cutting scissors. Even brand new, untanned leather such as you might find covering the outside of your body. But let’s not get carried away with the foreshadowing.

Next you need to understand that thing in human nature referred to commonly as “incentive.” We have incentives to do some things, and incentives NOT to do other things. The trick is to line up your incentives so that they work in favor of your objectives, right? So. Once you have your evil shears at home, and you’ve ruined your next best pair of scissors opening the package, take them out and position them like this:

Fiskars Amplify Scissors with Finger

Yes, of course this is a bit exaggerated to make the point. All you really need is the very tip of your finger, especially the most sensitive part that you use most often as you’re plaiting. You can experiment around with several of your other spare fingers to see which position will work best, just make sure the windows are closed so the neighbors don’t think you’re engaged in yet another kink bacchanal and start rolling their eyes knowingly and smirking at you every time they see you outside in the driveway.

Next, snip that finger with those devil shears like you think you’re immortal. Here’s how to tell you’ve got it right. First, your workspace will instantly look like this:

Blood Ouch

Run to the nearest reflective surface, and make sure your face looks something like this:

Sad Girl

If you have access to a quick MRI, go get one. You’re on the right track if you get your results back and your brain is doing this:

Nuclear_fireball

Bonus points if your whole body feels like two decades of menopause have coalesced in a single instant, and you turn into something like this, only without the nice honkers:

Fire-Lady

By the way, I recommend this brand and type of wound covering:

Bandaid Brand Tough Strips

Granted these days I notice they’ve done the usual “maybe they won’t notice” brand improvement and reduced the size of the gauze pad without troubling to mention it. But just in case those don’t suffice, you might want to make sure you have a coupla these handy:

Military Grade Tourniquet

Okay, now go plait the tail of your whip. I guarantee you will find that your bloody agony DOES INDEED incentivize you to plait like your hands have gone boneless, and you’ll end up with a tail that is beautifully loosey goosey! And if you’re not miserable enough to really nail the technique, try tying a few Dyneema crackers first. Make sure you remove all the protective hockey tape you’ve been wearing so that the ballistics quality thread doesn’t saw through bone and sinew first, because otherwise what’s the point?

Got that? Excellent! Happy plaiting!

(SOLD!) Kawanga Stick Delrin Cane with Kangaroo Leather Handle!

Delrin Cane Kawanga Stick Fire Kangaroo Leather Handle

Copy and paste version:

desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

(SOLD!) A charming and wicked Kawanga Stick! This is a 24 inch cane made of 3/8 inch diameter Delrin, so it’s virtually indestructible, and, at THAT diameter, serious business. I’ve created an 8 inch handle on it, in 12 plait kangaroo leather in “Fire!” colors, black with red, orange and yellow alternating chevrons, to give the impression of flames. Or maybe red hot chili peppers. In addition to the longevity of this cane, it is ALSO possible to sanitize the cane without damaging it (but not the handle! Don’t do that!).

Here’s a detail pic of the handle:

Delrin Cane Kawanga Stick Kangaroo Leather Handle Detail

Enjoy!

DM

Thank you for your order!

Success! Your order has been placed! Thank you!

Canceled!

Your order has been canceled. See you next time!

Available now! Kangaroo Leather Cracker Box!


Saddle Tan Kangaroo Leather Cracker Box

Copy and paste version:

desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Introducing an essential whip accessory: The Cracker Box! This is a wee kangaroo leather case in saddle tan, formed over a tiny mints tin (included, but not the mints), that you can use to store your extra crackers! Hand cut and stitched, I made it from leather I trimmed off hides when making whips. This is quite sturdy as well as charming, and it’ll keep your crackers handy and neat in your whip bag, purse, pocket, glove box, belly button, etc. Also good for storing your spare change, extra buttons, baby teeth, dead bug collection–the list is endless! Dimensions: 3″ by 2.125″. This saddle tan kangaroo leather Cracker Box is $25 plus shipping. Crackers are not included; if you want crackers, they’re $2 bucks each or five (5) for $10!

If you’d like to nab this for your very own (or if you’re interested in one like it), just send me an email and we’ll get you sorted toot sweet!

Copy and paste version:

desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Below is another pic of this Cracker Box from the back side:

Saddle Tan Kangaroo Leather Cracker Box by Mojave Outliers Whipmakers

(SOLD!) Kangaroo Leather BB mini FIRE Bullwhip!

Kangaroo Leather Bullwhip BB FIRE

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

This is a 3ft 12 plait Budget Boudoir mini FIRE bullwhip! Plaited in black kangaroo leather with red, orange and yellow chevrons, this has a 5.25″ steel core handle, a shot loaded core, with a 22″ tapered black latigo fall and B50 Dacron bowstring 6×2 cracker, finished with a red 4 bite 2 pass heel knot and black contrasting bolter. Quick and lively, with no wobble, this is huge fun straight out of the box. A scaled down version of my regular build, this one is a little easier on the budget!

More pics!

Detail shot of the heel knot and handle area...Knotus immaculatus!  ;)

Detail shot of the heel knot and handle area…Knotus immaculatus! ;)

Bonus shot of the plaiting and fall knots!  Smooooth!

Bonus shot of the plaiting and fall knots! Smooooth!

Cheers!

DM

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

High Plait vs Low(er) Plait Count for Bullwhips et al

4ft 12 plait Hyb Sig EM

This is a 4ft Hybrid Signal Whip at 12 plait. Lovely, eh?

Hello, everybody!

This post is for folks to weigh in on how the number of strands in a whip overlay impact the function of the whip, as well as what you might look for in terms of aesthetics when considering a high plait count vs a lower plait count. I get this question a LOT, of course, and I’ll come back later to throw my two cents in. 😉

Have at it!

12 ft 32/16 plait split spiral bullwhip JB

THIS is a 12 ft 32/16 plait split spiral bullwhip, by way of contrast.

You see? Each of the above pictured whips have quite different plait counts, yet both are lovely, and BOTH throw just fine. You’ll definitely be able to tell the difference because of length, naturally, but each whip will perform well along all parameters without being significantly improved or handicapped by their plait counts.

Right then, here’s my two cents, which I put here since I can, being the author of this post! The thing to bear in mind is that this is my take, and not my FULL take (that would take too much time, and really you need to BECOME a whip maker to get the full monty, as it were), and too, I am always looking for ways to improve what I do, or new techniques to add to my arsenal of making, so folks can add to what I say here down below.

When a client asks me about high vs low plait count, typically they are coming from a perspective that expects one to always be superior to the other. This is not the case. Not ever. Both have advantages and trade offs, and what you choose will depend on what you want both in terms of functionality and aesthetics, as well as circumstances in which the whip will be used (including how often/how long per use, etc.).

I just want to make this clear: A high plait count does not mean a better whip. A low plait count does not mean a subpar whip.

A good whip is one that pleases you. That’s it!

Now, the nice thing about a high plait count is you have more flexibility in terms of what kind of decorative design you can create. That’s about it as far as clear advantage goes, so I often tell my clients that really, it just depends on what pleases your fancy. My lower plait count whips are just as lovely as my higher plait count whips, just from different aesthetic perspectives.

If you want a high plait count on your overlay, then that means I construct your belly with that in mind. Since the leather is sliced and diced finer with a high plait count, you want to make sure you have enough support so that you don’t get a negative impact from this (and it’s just a minor consideration in terms of what it takes to account for it, because of course the overlay is just the last bit of the whip construction, isn’t it?). Constructing a whip is tricky because as a whip maker you need to think in terms of the whip’s lifetime which is spent in motion, and not just how it will throw when it’s new. Yes, typically a whip with a high plait count will–all things being equal, which they never are–be a bit more supple out of the box compared to a lower plait count whip. However, over time, as the two whips you’re theoretically comparing work in, the difference will diminish, and may become insignificant (assuming the difference was large enough to start with). In addition, a higher plait count whip is at greater risk of getting too limp over time, but that risk is slight in particular if, as mentioned, the belly is built with this in mind. Also, “too limp” may simply mean that it takes a touch more work to throw the whip. It doesn’t mean that suddenly one day your whip collapses on the nearest fainting couch and refuses to budge, right?

Conversely, if you want a lower plait count, I bear that in mind as I’m constructing your WHOLE whip, as well.

Feel free to add your thoughts and comments below!

Cheers!

DM

Budget Boudoir Mini Bullwhips

Budget Boudoir Kangaroo Leather Mini Bullwhips

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

Price: $220, plus shipping.

And of course, Budget Boudoir mini bullwhips! Like their BB sisters the mini pocket snake whips, these mini bullwhips are 3ft long at 12 plait, but naturally they have a steel core for the handle, at 5.25″ long. I ONLY make these on spec as I have time away from my custom order queue, but feel free to send me an email to let me know you’re interested! Otherwise, I’ll post any available BB mini bullwhip inventory in the upper right side bar (as well as on various social media sites).

Done for a friend, this one has a little bit special pattern:  mirrored pink hearts! Built slim line, which creates a better plate out, since it accounts for the 5.25" handle taking up part of the thong.

Done for a friend, this one has a little bit special pattern: mirrored pink hearts! Built slim line, which creates a better plate out, since it accounts for the 5.25″ handle taking up part of the thong.

These whips are shot loaded, and I usually kit them out with a 24″ tapered latigo fall, which you can trim shorter if you like. OR, should you put in a request for the next round of BB mini bullwhips, and would like a shorter fall, send me an email and mention it.

...a little closer in to the handle of the pink hearts BB mini bullwhip pictured above...

…a little closer in to the handle of the pink hearts BB mini bullwhip pictured above…

These mini bullwhips are HUGE FUN out of the box! You will not be disappointed! They’re excellent as starter whips, as an adjunct to your (hopefully) growing toy bag full of all manner of whip sizes and styles, and they’re also good for smaller venues for throwing (just bear in mind that they DO have up to a 24″ fall). Best of all, they won’t beat the crap out of your wallet quite as much–Budget Boudoir mini bullwhips are $210 smackers!

BB Mini Bullwhip Black & Red

BB mini bullwhip in red and black kangaroo leather, this time in single strand offset pattern, with diamond plaiting on the handle, creating the single strand of red leather spiraling around the handle…

Needless to say, I craft my lovely BB whips with the same care and pride that I put into ALL my builds. Below are more examples of BB mini bullwhips I’ve built in the past. If you’d like one, send me an email and I’ll jot you down on the request list for the next round. OR, keep an eye on the upper right corner of my web page: When I have spec whips available, I’ll post them there at the top.

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip...nice, eh?  ;)

Detail of the plaiting on the thong of the BB mini bullwhip…nice, eh? ;)

And just to give you an idea what's possible, a whimsical confection in red and white kangaroo leather:  The Candy Cane whip!  This one has an upcharge to it, mind you, because the white leather is falconry grade kangaroo hide.

And just to give you an idea what’s possible, a whimsical confection in red and white kangaroo leather: The Candy Cane whip! This one has an upcharge to it, mind you, because the white leather is falconry grade kangaroo hide.

Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip heel knot detail!

Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip heel knot detail!

...aaaaand a detail of the fall knots and plaiting on the Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip!

…aaaaand a detail of the fall knots and plaiting on the Candy Cane BB mini bullwhip!

(SOLD!) Kawanga Stick Delrin Cane!

Mojave Outliers Whip Makers Delrin Cane Kawanga Stick Kangaroo Leather

Copy and paste version: desert.minx@mojaveoutliers.com

EXPECTO PATRONUM!!

Hahahahah!

Presenting the Kawanga Stick! This is a 24″ Delrin cane at 3/8″ diameter, on which I’ve meticulously constructed an 8″ handle foundation, bolstered and bound. Using my whip maker’s skill and savvy, I’ve cut lace from whole hides, sized and beveled–the whole nine yards!–and plaited this at 12 plait in black and red kangaroo leather, with red pineapple heel knots. The plait pattern is my Mike Murphy tribute: diamonds with solid bands interrupted by a single row of double diamonds, and from start to finish it takes me about 4 hours to build one. The nice thing (among many nice things) is that this cane will last FOREVER, so it’s an excellent investment! So long as you don’t use it to pry up man hole covers or something like that, ahem! Too, at 3/8″ diameter, this is heavy on the “thud” factor, so bear that in mind.

Here’s a detail shot of the handle of this Kawanga stick:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kawanga Stick Delrin Cane Kangaroo Leather Handle Detail

Send me an email if you’ve an interest, or if you’re thinking you’d like one in different colored leather!

And remember: “Swish, and flick!” 😉

Enjoy!

DM

Cat o’nine tails–Birth of a Felinus Feline

         So, I am in the process of making a bespoke cat o’nine tails, and I thought I’d share what I’m doing, since I’m doing a few things differently than I have in the past, and too, I’m using this build to do a little practice on a more involved bit of spiral plaiting than I’ve done to date. Two people I need to mention and must humbly thank right off the bat are my friend and colleague zjuuleke over in the Netherlands, for her stellar talent and endless kindness in sharing her knowledge and support, and too, Peter Thorndike, for being willing to allow me to “borrow” bits of some of his designs that I thought I might incorporate with some of my own ideas.

         In the past, I’ve made the tails separately from the handle of a cat, and attached them inside the core of the handle. That works, but it’s really super hard to get the tail end of your handle smoooooth, and I’m a stickler for such things. So, with this cat, I decided to take a stab at plaiting the tails continuous with the lace used to plait the handle. THAT meant I needed to redesign how I built the core, first of all.

         This is the prototype I came up with.

Mojave Outliers Whip Makers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails 01

         Since I decided I needed at least one plaited belly, that meant I needed to create room for it, so, I built a shot bag and bolster as if I was going to build an (American) style whip, and then bound that end to end to help stiffen it. zjuuleke’s advice after I did that was to go ahead and make strands that come off the bolster, so you can use that for a center tail–I’ll try that next time! In the meantime, after I created the core, I created strands that at one end were tapered to precisely fit the handle (and this is at 12 plait with no drops), and at the other, were cut, sized and beveled for plaiting the tails. Then I plaited it out, using this belly to practice for the oncoming overlay. And what I mean by “practice” is when you’re going to spiral plait something, you need to plan for a little extra lace so that you have enough length to finish the plaiting, as you’re using Perma Lok needles. Hence the extra lace at the heel end of the handle. Worked beautifully, as you can see: seams straight, the lace fits neatly the entire length of the handle, including at the narrow end where it is common to find bunching because the strands are too wide for the diameter at the tail, and the profile is very smooth. I hated to cover it up!

         But I did. I bound the handle again from end to end, to stiffen it still more. Alas, I don’t have a pic of that part, I was busy and I forgot!

         Then, the overlay lace. It’s a LOT OF LEATHER! This will be 24 plait.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Overlay Lace 02

         Which is part of the reason Cats can be so expensive. Anyway, I cut enough lace for both the handle and the rest of the tails, at about 1 mm wider than I needed. Then I tapered the handle ends to fit the handle, based on what I’d learned by doing the belly. Since it IS 24 plait, the tapering was very slight, but since I’m doing a 20″ spiral plait from end to end, again, I needed a precise fit, because otherwise the spiral pattern will be messy (it might be messy anyway, but we’ll see). Then I trimmed and beveled the tail ends to match the belly lace.

         Now, I realize not everyone does this, but I find it works very well for spiral plaiting, which is that I go ahead and plait out the piece using regular herringbone, making sure I get it as tight and straight as I possibly can. Here’s the result:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Pre Spiral 03

         That is some tediously exacting work, each strand placed carefully and then checked one by one to make sure they’re positioned properly, with as little variation as possible. Even so, this is a lot more precise than wrapping half the strands around the handle and then interweaving the other half, especially on a tapered handle with tapered strands–takes out most of the guess work that wrapping entails, and any stretch left in the lace is dealt with BEFORE any spiral plaiting is done.

         It matters exceedingly how you make the lace to start with, but I’m not going to get into that here.

         Next, starting the spiral plait:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Spiral Start 04

         As you can see, I’ve pulled all the black strands out, and restarted them using the spiral method with Perma Lok needles. Looks like a scary mess, eh? Well, it IS!! lol! But that’s mainly because since I’m plaiting the handle backwards from the tail to the heel, you can see all the so far not plaited lace that will eventually become the tails. So it kinda looks worse than it is. In any case, I like to start spirals with diamond plait, because that helps securely set the strands, and you can get an idea of the right angle of lace. I also decided to go ahead and secure the base strands so they don’t move around as much as I’m spiraling, even though they’re in position to start with. That’s what those bands of waxed nylon are for.

         This is another pic of the start, after I’ve plaited a little more of the pattern. There really isn’t a trick to doing this. Instead, you just have to commit to being patient, and to being as perfectionist as you can stand without beheading your entire family and burning down the town in a maelstrom of frustration and hatred of physics.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Spiral 1 043

         You’ll note that I secured the top end of the plaiting over the diamond spiral I just did, to keep the strands tight from that end.

         This is a little further down, past the first binding at the start of the box weave.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Start of Box Weave

         The idea is to do short sections at a time, and then “true” the strands with the plaiting above it, granted you kinda START by truing it. What I often do is take the 3 or 4 strands ahead of the one I’m going to work and lay them out against the thong and hold them in place, and then use them as a guide as I work the first strand of the next section of pattern. Then I use that strand to guide the next, etc., always being careful not to plait too far down the thong at any one time. Then when I get all 12 strands plaited, I go back and adjust as needed.

         Here’s another view, about 1/4 turn to the left.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Box Weave Quarter Turn

         Again, I’ll roll this good and proper once I’ve finished the plaiting, so a lot of the differences in strand height will be blended down. …hopefully…lol!

         Okay, below is the completed spiral plait on the handle, including having rolled it. This is the outdoor shot:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Finished Spiral Outside

         There are a few things I might do differently next time, like maybe doing a bit wider bevel on the strands so they lie (even) flatter, but I think I did pretty well even so, especially considering I was plaiting directly on top of the final binding.

         Here’s an indoor shot:

09-Cat-Inside-Handle

         Not quite one of my haunting pics, but I can see I’ll be able to do it later once I’ve completed the tails and knots. Again, I suck at taking photos of long skinny things. Anyway, at the moment my brain is yelling “Yer not the boss of me!” so if you have questions, feel free to ask, rather than me trying to anticipate…and Ima eat some pizza and maybe take a short nap! lol!

         Okay, coming down the home stretch:

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Tail Knot

         The tail knot, which is a nice clean black pineapple knot, gathering the nine 4 plait round braids of the tails neatly. And, a little something extra on the tails themselves…

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine tails Sinnet Crowns

         I decided to play a little, and also experiment. Remember that kinda boxy knot you’ve seen on the Zenith whips? These are the same thing, and after much research and having the dumb blind luck to happen upon a copy of The Ashley Book of Knots for a pittance at $25 smackers at the local second hand book store, I can finally offer the ACTUAL NAME OF THE KNOT! These are called Sinnet Knots of 4 Strands with Alternating Left and Right Crowns. You got that? Think you can find it in Bruce Grant’s Monster Book of Monsters? You might shorten it to 4 strand sinnet crown knot. BUT! The left and right bit matter, because that’s how you get the boxy look. Anyway, I BY GOD TRACKED THAT BUGGER DOWN!!

         These are of course very tiny, but I like how they worked out, so I did them all like that.

         AND DONE! Below is the completed Cat.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Done!

         Worked out pretty well, if I say so myself! Which I just did… 😉

         Here’s a detail of the heel knot, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with my original plan to do a box knot instead of caving and going with a regular pineapple. The cool thing about this is it ties in with the box weave pattern on the handle (see photo above this one).

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Heel Knot

         And a bonus shot, this is a detail of the box weave section of the plaiting on the handle.

Mojave Outliers Whipmakers Kangaroo Leather Cat o'nine Tails Box Weave

         Fabulous. Now on to the next miracle!

         Cheers!

         DM