Tag: Whip making


Spiral vs Conventional plaiting

Conventional and Spiral Plaiting

So a question I get asked about a lot, and work that I do a lot of, its known by many names, Spiral Plaiting, Fancy Plaiting, Ring Work and Decorative Plaiting to name but a few, I call it Decorative Plaiting because that’s how it is referred to in all the Australian whip making contests, but I have also been known to call it ring work as this is how the late great Ron Edwards refers to it on occasion in his various books, Anyway these are my thoughts, they are gained from my experience and are not intended at anytime ever to offend any one.

So the most common question I am asked is by budding whip makers is how to do it, and how I do it, there are two methods, the conventional way where the strings are pulled through one at a time left to right, right to left alternatively, under however many over however many, then the other way is by spiralling all of one colour round the job you are plaiting then with the other half you are plaiting in a contrast colour you sew the patterns in….

This naturally leads to another question, which way is best? HaHa! now for one of those answers you dread when you’re new and don’t fully understand the craft, *Both* but don’t worry I won’t leave you hanging, I’ll address both.

The Spiral Method

So as explained above this is achieved by winding half the strings round the job your doing and then feeding the 2nd half of the strings through those first lot to create the patterns. As with both methods there are pro’s and cons, the good things with this method is it is much easier than the alternate string method, you can put it down at any time and come back to it and its also easier to keep things straight, like a lot of things folks have learnt this method from The Rod Edwards books and what he is talking about mostly is stock whip handle plaiting, not so good and not so easy on a shot bag thong that has some give in it, if you plait really high count then once you get over a 24 plait the spiral method is almost essential, the reason being at 24 plait your strings are ofter 2 to 3mm or there abouts at 32 plait or 48 plait or 64 plait then the strings are so thin that no matter how good a quality kangaroo red species hide you think you have you can and probably will break strings, a broken strand in a 12/16/20 plait whip is an easy repair and hard to spot if done correctly, in the higher plait counts near impossible. So on a solid handle like a bullwhip handle, a flogger handle or a stock whip handle, no worries.

On a thong it is in my opinion very different and I have seen lots of evidence its very different for other makers too. I’m not here to name names or put down other whip makers, that’s not what I’m about and the blog itself is about giving quality info for not only budding whip makers but also those that just have an interest. So on a thong that has give it is not quite so easy, usually folks just put in 6 to 12 inches at the start of the thong or just the handle and 6 ish inches after the transition on bullwhips, the reason being it is very time consuming and so to do it all the way down would take forever and need to be charged for. The way this is usually achieved is to tie your strands on down the thong the distance you are going to plait decorative from, you then plait a little herringbone down the thong and tie off then going upwards start your spiral method plaiting, the reason being it is so much easier to pull though 18 inches of string going up than maybe 6/8/10 foot of string depending on how long your whip is going down, that’s just common sense, this is where the problems can arise, often this method can create a patch of plaiting where you transition from that is loose and loose plaiting is very much your enemy it allows grit dirt etc etc to get into the core of your whip and once that has happened its a matter of time, almost like a ticking time bomb…I’ll use Fetlife as an example without naming names, there are many makers on there posting pictures etc and there is a whole plethora of whip users as you’d imagine, one maker in particular seems to be the darling of the crowd, I have only seen 3 bits of this makers work in hand, all bullwhips and all suffer the loose plaiting syndrome which is a crying shame as they are works of art but also nice throwing whips, there are a couple of others who i do know have had work sent back for the same problem so on a thong beware.

The Conventional Method

So again as above this is achieved by drawing strings left to right and right to left under and over, it needs more concentration and i guess for a novice it is harder to keep the patterning straight and you can’t just stop anywhere and come back to it, well I can’t anyway, it is one of those things that the more you do the better you get at it, until such times as you get to the stage where the plait count you’re doing is within your comfort zone then fixing mistakes etc is really not so easy, the big advantage of this method is that as you put the patterns in you are in fact able to keep the plaiting tight with the usual pull tight, plait loose method, no nasty grit and dirt working its way in.

In Conclusion

Well that’s easy up to and including 24 plait I firmly believe that the conventional way of doing it is much much better, and over a 24 plait the only way to do it is the spiral method…that’s how I do it and why I use both methods, I guess that sucks a bit if you’re a newbie you’ll be needing to learn both ways.

So as an aside and it’s my blog so blow my own trumpet time, my prices on my site include the price of decorative plaiting I don’t charge extra for it the prices you see are the prices you’ll pay, thanks for reading I hope someone somewhere got something from reading…Take Care




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…..