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   I would like to expound on my opinion of bolster utilization in the construction of whips. In case the reader is unfamiliar with what a bolster is and their use in whip construction, I will explain their application as I see it. A bolster is a single strip of leather that is cut to encircle the braided belly and is typically carried the length of the braided section and past that point depending on the whip maker’s methods.

   The purpose of a bolster is threefold; it is the easiest way for the whip maker to increase the density in a whip. Density is important in a whip because it builds weight in a whip and when using very thin leather like kangaroo this density is needed to build a whip with enough weight to handle well and still be naturally falling. A bolster can also be used to create taper in a whip by modifying the bolsters shape or adding to it but taper can be created and controlled without a bolster as well. The use of bolsters is also important as a cost saving method, there is a lot of time involved in cutting a set for a braided belly and then preparing the lace to be braided.

   All of this effort takes time and as we all know time is money. It also takes more leather to cut a set for a braided belly layer than is required to simply cut a single strip of leather to encircle the belly of the whip. The downside of using bolsters is that due to the way a whip flexes, a single piece of leather generates much more internal friction when flexed in a loop than a braid would. This single piece of leather will substantially impede the movement of a whip for some time until the whip has been used for possibly a month or longer to allow for the bolster to stretch accordingly or break. This is why well made whips that employ bolsters take so long to break in and are very hard to crack for the break in period.

   The answer to this problem is all braided construction which solves the flexibility inhibiting nature of bolster construction. A braid is constructed of several small strips of leather interwoven to support each other because the individual strips of leather are overlapped, laying besides and over each other. When the whip is thrown the whip is flexed to form a loop the braid allows for the lace to move slightly besides and over each other. The ease of this movement reduces the internal friction of the whip and if there is less internal friction to overcome, less energy is required to cause the whip to crack.

   A single piece of leather encircling the braided belly hampers this movement within the braid because the bolster exerts more pressure on the interwoven lace (as the bolster is compressed between two plaited layers it imposes greater friction on both plated layers being a single piece of leather rather than interwoven strips). And that pressure generates more friction as the strands move which in turn requires more energy to cause the thong to flex. Therefore requiring more energy to be imposed on the whip to form a loop and crack.

   Some would argue that a bolster creates somewhat greater density in the thong by means of plait compression between the plaited layers and filling any voids that exist in this interstitial space. I would have to say that in whip dissections I have conducted on all braided construction whips I have built there are no voids or non compressed spaces in the whip if the proper plating tension is used throughout the whips construction. Therefore in my opinion I prefer all braided construction as it produces the same density and a greater fluidity of action in the thong.

   For this reason, I build my whips with all braided construction, no bolsters are used. My whips are constructed with increasing plait numbers for each braided belly. This construction method further reduces internal friction in the whip and increases flexibility in the whip. This means that my whips require very little break in time and will crack easily. All braided construction, in my opinion produced a whip of the highest possible quality, flexibility and durability. Although this construction method is more time consuming the effort is well worth the reward in quality and performance.

 

 

 

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