Tag: Kangaroo Hide




So, here we go again, bolsters, or as it has become known, electrical tape in whips, nylon whips in particular……so a dictionary definition…

bolster in British

(ˈbəʊlstə  )

1. (often foll by up)

to support or reinforcestrengthen

So that’s me fell out of bed straight away, I did when I used to make nylon whips use electrical tape and I stand by it, a nylon whip with electrical tape in is in my opinion a better whip, but hey! what do I know? I only have 30 plus years plaiting experience and 20 plus years whip making experience….

I say I have fell out of bed because I have never seen tape as a bolster, click the video link below and i explain where i use the tape how I apply the tape and why i do it, I’m not trying to hide anything and I never have been. All a bit moot I know as I no longer make nylon whips, but numpties are numpties and need correcting so……


What makes me laugh and I do mean laugh about the whole electrical tape issue is that it was started by a man who is not a whip maker, what does he know then, well just in case you’re unsure I’ll tell you, absolutely nothing. The 2nd thing is whenever it comes up in a forum or group there is always some dimwit comes on right at the end and says any whip with tape in is crap, this usually after 3 or 4 or 5 people have posted that they have a whip with tape in 10 years old and it’s still good or 7 or 5 years old, its easy to win an argument, check you are correct, ie you have a real whip with tape in hand that’s a decade old still a very good whip and just post it really is hard to beat facts, impossible actually, the forum thread usually gets shut by a moderator at this point as they can see it’s going to turn into a flaming war from there on…..

Well if you’re that guy posting and there are many of you, you’re an idiot, you have zero argument and that’s why your getting nasty because you’re losing said argument…..there there there get yourself a tablet and an elastoplast and go sulk somewhere else….

So the next issue regarding bolsters, and funnily enough started by the same man, who I will state again is not a whip maker, I see a pattern emerging here, do you!

You shouldn’t use kip or cow hide or any other leather as bolsters in kangaroo hide whips….The argument is if you sell a whip as a kangaroo hide whip it should be made of kangaroo, this is a much more balanced argument and one I find hard to argue about technically and technically is the word that I emphasise there.

In whip making the bolster is just that, a layer used to bolster or thicken the whip, saves the time and so the cost of further plaited bellies, some makers will tell you that they use a kip bolster so they can cut the bolster in one and in doing so it enhances the flow of the whip, this is absolute poppycock, is it quicker to put it on in one? if you can of course it is, however splicing one in involves just a little more skill set and a little more time and being put on in two, sometimes three parts affects the whip not at all…the other reason of course is the thickness of cow hide versus kangaroo hide and so it is often the Indy style, American makers that use kip or cow hide, an Australian style whip is generally a more slender refined beast than it’s American counterpart.

I can see no wrong in using kip or cow as bolsters and cores, the Indy pattern bullwhip is documented all over the internet and usually on makers sites too so there is nothing fraudulent about it, nobody is trying to hide it, just one guy trying to make an issue of it, I used the word technically above because technically he is right if your whip has more than one type of leather in it then technically it is a mixed leather whip, but hey where do you stop, most bullwhips have a binding between layers, artificial sinew is the most common, they also have a handle, usually spring steel neither of those are kangaroo hide, you get my point? so it is in my opinion pretty moot, unless you have made arrangements with your maker that only kangaroo is used then find out he lied to you then bolster material is really just a technicality, that is just my opinion of course and anyone reading should form their own

So for me, hey it’s my blog and so there is little reason keeping it if I can’t blow my own trumpet, I don’t use anything but kangaroo in my whips, if its a shot bag style whip then the shot bag is kangaroo as are all the bellies and bolsters, I buy my hide from two main places Packers and Simon Martin, feel free to phone either and they will both tell you that I only buy first grade kangaroo and that’s what goes into my whips from the middle out. I don’t like mixed leather in a whip but I don’t think there is anything that affects the whip’s performance or in any way makes it inferior…thats it, thanks for reading…..

Importing Kangaroo Hide


So, Importing Kangaroo leather for many years has been the most simple of things to do, order from the tannery of your choice, pay via bank transfer or some form of internet banking and just wait a few days for one of two things to happen, 1/ Royal Mail send you a letter with an invoice for Import duty, VAT and their charge for customs clearance, you can then either pay on line and wait for your parcel to be delivered or you can take the bill to the local Parcel Force office, pay and collect, 2/ You get a knock on the door from UPS who have a machine, they charge the same duties but you can pay there and then and get your leather there and then, both simple!

Occasionally customs opens a parcel and this then can create serious delays, once they open it and check the contents for some strange reason it goes to be securely re packaged and customs labels affixed etc, etc, how do i know this, a customs man told me, so if they are busy your parcel can hang about often weeks before it is sent on, I am old enough and ugly enough to have compensated for this over the years, i tend to buy hides by the hundred at a time to get maximum discount and some years back having been fortunate enough to be so busy as to afford it, i started treating 50 as empty, so when my stock drops to 50 i re order…

Warning to All Whip Makers

Things have now changed, my most recent package has not taken the normal 5 to 7 days, order to door step, time it has taken a month, new legislation came into force on the 1st of May 2017, so whilst i ordered before this my parcel got included in it, instead of hearing from Parcel Force i got a letter from customs, 3 forms to fill in, i won’t bore you with all the details but some of the questions they were asking were for foreign whip makers exporting to the UK very bad news, they asked me to fill in the 3 forms and return them with a copy of my invoice from when i paid for the leather so they could check it against the price declared on the customs form and my method of payment, now i don’t care, really i don’t but it is common practice for whip makers outside of Europe to value the parcel lower than the real value so the receiver can avoid duty etc,  they have to really or their wares would be way too expensive for all bar the collector. That though is not why I’m ranting, my parcel once i had filled in the forms sent and provided the paperwork required then took 23 days to get to the stage where the letter arrived from Parcel Force asking for duty, import and their clearance charges, had i not had a good stock i’d of been unable to work for quite some time….

In Conclusion

To UK whip makers make sure you order well in advance, and to foreign makers, fore warned is fore armed, the couple of makers i am friendly with i have already told, the rest of you can read here and it’s up to you if you want to believe me and act accordingly or risk it for a biscuit, i’ve done my bit by blogging so i’ll sleep easy….


Thanks for reading, take care


Dyneema, Integrated Falls and my thoughts


Dyneema, I bought a roll of this about 5 maybe 6 years back and experimented with it for making crackers, you can make a cracker out of it and yes it bangs but not any better or worse than anything already out there and used to make crackers, as always with these blogs of mine they are my opinions, my best advice is always to experiment for yourselves and make your own minds up, first paragraph and already I digress, grrrrr, stay on topic. so back to crackers, Dyneema I pretty much dismissed and put it out of my mind, for crackers those that are interested I think bonded nylon thread is best for a good all round cracker and if you are looking to give the folks near by you a rest from the ear ache you’ve given them then a bit of nylon string, a £1.00 a roll at B&Q, Homebase, Jewsons, Wickes and the like, this gives a nice low pop so you know you have the crack right technically without blowing ear drums. Once more just my opinion.


More recently Dyneema has raised its head again and come to my attention, A recent thing the integrated fall, I say recent its not new by any stretch of the imagination, The Ozzies have been plaiting in a wallaby fall to the end of a Kangaroo hide stock whip for decades, it doesn’t look the best I don’t think but is about durability as opposed to aesthetics, the modern take on it is to wax multiple lengths of Dyneema and plait it in, I have to say it’s a much smoother transition than a change of leather and does very much get rid of the lump in the whip which is caused when hitching on a fall in the traditional way, whips as we all know are about taper, taper, taper so that in itself is a very good thing. However I had unlike me without some experimenting pretty much dismissed it, the reason being I have a friend Matt who has a pair of 4 foot Kangaroo Hide bullwhips with Dyneema falls, he has a love, hate relationship with them, catch him at the right moment I think you could get them off him for a tenner, on a good day indoors he loves them, the one thing he is consistent about is that the price he paid for them was massively over the top and he wouldn’t pay it again, anyway, I digress again I have had a go on them, didn’t like them at all and over the last several years have had numerous conversations about them with him, hence my dismissal, bloody hell that was long winded.So last year I met a guy called Chris from Alpha Whips he makes synthetic whips as opposed to leather, Dyneema on synthetic made much more sense to me and after a trip to the local fiends with him and his bag of goodies I was convinced that Dyneema and nylon or Dacron were quite possibly a partnership that ought to be married. I was so impressed I ordered a whip off him with a Dyneema fall and it hangs on the wall of my workshop, it’s used often I really like it and the way it handles, what a dilemma I have in recent weeks had to revisit the whole subject, grrrrrr!



Anyway, my experimentation thus far, I have totally dismissed Dyneema, I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, the idea of having to wax it when there are so many strings and threads out there ready waxed just didn’t make sense to me at all, I make whips commercially so time is always a factor for me, I have settled on a waxed poly and it is working out very well, I start at 12 plait and work it down to 4 plait to form a loop at the end, I have done 2 synthetic whips in Dacron, I loved the transition, or lack of transition and the performance too, unfortunately they are both in all black so the pictures I have give very little detail, bit daft of me that but hey over all the experiment worked so I am happy….I have also done one in Kip and i must admit i am quite shocked at how well it works, I can’t bring myself to do a kangaroo one, I don’t know if I ever will, unless a bespoke order comes in for one, time will tell, so the point of the blog is to say if you want an integrated fall on your whip, you have but to say when ordering, at some point I will adjust my site to say so but I’m currently working on my synthetic range so no point right now as very soon it is all to change, thats a blog for another day…


Thanks for reading



Happy New Year

Super quick blog just to say a Happy New Year to everyone, in 2017 I’ll be back on my A game, thanks to all for a great 2016!

Drum Stuffed vs Dry Leather


Well these are often asked questions, What is the difference? Which is better? Just to throw the spanner in the works, I use both, I’ll now answer the second question first, it really is a matter of personal preference and by the time you have finished reading hopefully you’ll have enough info to make your own mind up.

Drum stuffed Leather

This is from Packers a tannery in Australia and is what is in essence is a process the leather is put through once its finished being dyed etc…a hide is covered in tallow, or sheep fat and another placed on top and another and another, a bit like stacking slices of buttered bread I guess is as good a way to describe it as any. The hides are then placed in a barrel or drum that rotates over a fire pit, the heat melts the fat turning it to liquid which is sucked into the hide, after a long period of time the hides are taken from the barrel or drum and put through set of revolving poles, imagine a mangle they used to use many years back to squeeze the water from your clothing, like that but many sets as opposed to just the one. What this does is force the liquid fat into the fibre of the hide and as the mangles are set it also makes the hide an even thickness. Once the heat is removed the liquid again solidifies making a very greasy hide, that in essence is drum stuffed.

Dry Leather

This needs much less explanation, this is a hide that has either been left natural or dyed and once dried is ready to be sold, some dependent on where they are destined have a finish added but us whip makers shellac so buy unfinished and finish them ourselves.

So quite a big difference on the face of it, but in the whip making process near no difference at all. I’ll run you through it so you can make your own minds up.


As you can see from the picture above there are parts of a Kangaroo hide that are better than others that’s not to say that the other parts are not good leather just that they are not the best for plaiting a fine overlay with, the stuff round the outside usually is great for making shot bags, end caps under knots, bolsters and that sort of thing, very little of a kangaroo hide goes to waste.
Here comes the first of many differences, on a dry hide this is very easy to feel and see, on a drum stuffed one the leather appears even and all good. A novice might be tempted to thing the leather was good for a fine overlay, often whip makers refer to this as false leather Just saying…

So with a dry skin, I get them out the night before I’m going to use them and give them a generous coat of leather dressing and let that soak in over night. Grease added, Just saying….

The next day I come in to start making the whip, trim the hide, make a shot bag, bolster it, then cut some strings for a belly plait, strings are cut over size, greased with leather dressing, (more grease added, just saying) then stretched, resized and as I’m plaiting them I add leather dressing which I use in place of plaiting soap, grease added, just saying…..

The final bolster, heavily greased is added, grease added, just saying….

Cut the strings for the overlay, over sized, leather dressing applied, then stretched, resized, bevelled and tapered and split for a nice even lace both width and depth, then greased again with leather dressing and ready to plait…more grease added, just saying…..

With a drum stuffed hide the leather is pretty greasy already so whilst you might use a bit of grease to plait with you certainly have no need to apply the amount of grease that you do to a dry hide, you’ll find an almost even split of those for drum stuffed and those against with a lot like myself who use both…

My Opinion

And it is just that, my opinion……

I pretty much drum stuff my dry leather myself by the time I’m finished, I have done this as an experiment put two whips side by side and asked a man with many many years of whip experience to pick which is which, they can’t and neither can I on an finished whip. So it is personal preference thing.

A couple of foot notes, dry skins are available in many more colours than drum stuffed hides, drum stuffing adds much weight to a hide so if your in the UK that will make them much more expensive as the postage goes up because of the weight so then in turn does the import duty and the V.A.T, on a parcel of say 50 hides the difference is considerable.

Again thanks for reading