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sideAll my whips are modeled after traditional American patterns but built with Australian construction methods which originated in England. The construction method employed in a whip is of prime importance because they dictate the durability and handling characteristics of the whip. Australian construction methods consist of constructing a whip with multiple plaited bellies. This is essentially a whip built on top of another whip. My whips are constricted on a latigo core, followed by a plaited layer. This core and first plaited layer are called the belly of the whip. I plait a second layer on top of the first witch is called the second belly, and then finish the whip with a 12 plait overlay which is the final braided layer you see on the whip. My Nylon whip line is constructed with similar methods to find out more follow this link (Nylon Construction).

    This construction method produces the greatest density in the whip and due to the fact that each plaited belly has an increasing plait number this creates a very fluid action in the finished whip. Some whip makers employ bolsters in there whips, a bolster is a single strip of leather that encircles the braided belly and is usually carried the length of the whip. I don’t use bolsters in my whips any longer, I strongly believe, that increased durability and decreased break in time are achieved by using all braided construction. To find out more follow this link (Bolster).

rolsEach whip begins with a side of the highest quality latigo steerhide. The sides of leather used in my whips are hand selected for me per my specifications at the tannery to insure that only the best sides available are shipped to me for my particular projects. Some out there may be wondering why I use latigo steerhide to construct my whips. There are many reasons beginning with Americans traditionally constructed there whips from cowhide, steerhide or buckskin with cowhide or steerhide being the most prevalent for good reason. Steerhide is one of the most durable leathers available this characteristic was very apparent to our predecessors and to remain true to this traditional wisdom I have chosen this medium to work with. The best American whips were constructed from latigo steerhide. You may be wondering what latigo steerhide is the first thing you need to understand is what latigo means. The word latigo is a Spanish word that literally means whiplash the term latigo in reference to tanned leather is referring to a particular tanning process specifically developed to produce a strong limited stretch leather that can be cut in to fine strips and still retain its integrity specifically for the purpose of whip making. It is also important to note that the latigo I use is made from 100% American steers.

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   Don’t get me wrong kangaroo hide is very good leather and many outstanding whips have been made from this medium and the tensile strength of kangaroo is greater than that of an equal thickness of steerhide or cowhide but what kangaroo enthusiasts don’t always tell you is that kangaroo hide will not hold up like latigo under hard use conditions. A good example of this is the falls on 99% of all kangaroo whips are made of latigo or rawhide the reason is because of durability, steerhide can take the punishment in one of the highest stress parts of a whip and continue to perform. The primary reasons are that steerhide has a thicker epidermis in comparison to kangaroo the thicker epidermis provides greater abrasion protection to the leather fibers underneath and steerhide has a very dense fibrous structure in the papillary layer of the dermis, which also increases its abrasion resistance, this combined with the proper lace thickness gives steerhide its superior durability. Consider that kangaroo hide is on average about 1 to 1.3 mm in thickness max that equates to about 2/64". The latigo that I use in the construction of whips is 4/64" in thickness that's about 2 times thicker.

   Now consider this, take a piece of kangaroo hide lace and a piece of latigo steerhide lace the same width and drag them across rocky ground the latigo steerhide will hold up longer because of its unique ability to endure abrasion and because the thickness of the latigo is about double that of kangaroo, the tensile strength of the latigo steerhide is quite comparable to the kangaroo. The point is don’t let someone tell you that a whip properly constructed from high quality latigo steerhide is in any way inferior or less durable than a kangaroo hide whip that simply is not true. To the contrary a latigo steerhide whip will outlast a kangaroo hide whip used in the field under tough conditions, kangaroo hide simply can not take the abuse.

laceEach material has its virtues and detracting factors it’s just that now days the virtues of latigo has gotten lost and there are seldom few whip makers using it. That does not mean that it is inferior it’s just harder to work with from a braiders perspective. It is also hard to find good quality latigo steerhide. But none the less excellent whips can be constructed with latigo steerhide if the proper construction methods are employed. In the photo above you see 250' of lace cut for a 14' bullwhip overlay.

splitThere are other factors to be considered as well like the plait number of the braid higher plait numbers mean a more fluid action but there is a compromise the higher the plait number the thinner the strands must be which again affects durability, a good whip must be constructed with the right balance of plait number verses lace width. In the photo above you can see the process of splitting the lace all my whip lace is prepared by hand this is the second of a six step process to convert the raw leather in to whip lace.

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   I have found that by increasing the plait number in each belly that a whip with very fluid action can be constructed and because there are no bolsters to hamper the whips action break in is dramatically decreased. All my whips are balanced to insure smooth handling.

   Balancing a whip is necessary because the majority of the weight in the whip is located in the thong and when the whip is cracked at the moment of greatest energy transfer to the point of the whip, the whip will tend to pull on your hand like someone was trying to pull the whip out of your hand the amount that this will be noticed depends on the weight of the thong and will vary from whip to whip. The way to counteract this is to place an equal amount of weight in the butt end of the whip to eliminate this distraction. All my latigo whips are naturally falling and due to the construction method employed my whips crack easily.

   I take great pride in my work and my main impetus is to produce a whip that is of the highest possible quality, the best whip that I am capable of producing. I continually strive to improve my methods and techniques to produce the best whips I can for my customers.

 

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