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Choosing The Right Whip For You

A common question from beginning whip-crackers is, “What type and size whip would you suggest?” Even people with some whip-cracking experience will ask this from time to time. The answer is not the same for everyone, as it depends on a number of factors. What a person plans to do with a whip, how old a person is, their stature, hand size, how much room is available to them; these are some of the things that help determine what the right whip is for that person. So, what’s the right whip for you?

First, let’s narrow the choices to what type of whip is right for you with some questions.

>What’s your skill level?

Are you a complete newbie? Do you have some whip experience? Are you very proficient & want to improve your skills, such as learn two-handed whip-cracking? For most beginners, I usually suggest choosing a bullwhip as a first whip, but a snakewhip can be a good choice for some. A short snake is portable & can be concealed in a pocket. This is good for going to the park or in a backyard. For those who are well versed in cracking bullwhips & would like to bring their skill to a higher level, then a pair of stockwhips will help in learning two-handed routines. This is where the next question comes in.

>What is your objective?

What do you want to do with a whip? Are you someone who just wants to have some fun & mess around with whip-cracking now & then, or do you want to become a proficient whip-cracker? Do you want to learn all the basic cracks, as well as put together some multiple cracking routines? Are you a horse trainer, cattle rancher or have another profession where a whip can serve you? These questions will help you narrow the choices on what type of whip is right for your situation.

If you’d like to have a whip to carry in your pocket while out walking your dog, then take out & do some flicks now & then, then a small pocket style snakewhip is a good choice. The Baby Snake will work great for this.

If you want to learn all the basic cracks, as well as put together some combinations, then a bullwhip will fit your needs. A bullwhip has a stiff handle portion, unlike a snakewhip, & gives the user more leverage & control. Combination cracks are much easier to perform with a bullwhip than a snakewhip. For this, a Catalyst Bullwhip is highly recommended.

If you already have some whip-cracking experience & want a higher quality bullwhip, then a Standard Bullwhip is a great choice, as well as a wood-handled Lumberjack Bullwhip. These bullwhips are a step up from the Catalyst, being more durable & of better construction. The next level up from there is the Standard X Bullwhip, which features a 20 plait polyester overlay. These whips roll out smoother & are the easiest handling & cracking bullwhips from Noreast Whips. If you’re looking primarily for a whip for target cutting, The Cutter is the way to go.

Once you’ve decided on what type of whip to choose, the next decision to make is what size, or length to choose for your whip-cracking endeavors.

>What’s your physical stature?

If you’re a young person under 15 yrs old, or of small stature, then a whip over 6 ft will probably not be a wise choice. The longer a whip is, the heavier it weighs & the slower will be its movement. A long whip also requires strict form & technique, as well as a larger space to swing it around. Many people have an idea of swinging a very long whip as seen in the movies. But a long whip can be very tiring to use, and ultimately will limit your practice time with it. A long whip is something I consider to be over 8 ft long.

An important thing to keep in mind is that a whip’s overall length is longer than the stated length. The stated length for a bullwhip or snakewhip is of its braided portion only. The fall & cracker will add anywhere from 2-4 feet, depending on the size whip. The measurement of a bullwhip or snakewhip is from the butt (base of handle) to the end of the braided portion. The fall & cracker aren’t included in a whip’s stated length. A stockwhip’s length is a measurement of the thong only, & does not include the fall, cracker & handle length. A 4 ft stockwhip means the whip has a 4 ft thong. The handle can be anywhere from 15-24 inches.

So, for most beginning whip-crackers, a 6 ft bullwhip is an excellent choice. This is why the Catalyst bullwhip was built, primarily for beginning whip enthusiasts. However, many whip instructors & other experienced whip-crackers are finding that the Catalyst is a good choice for practicing & performing.

If your hand size is small, then a large diameter handle will be too awkward & tiring to use. A 12 Plait Nylon Bullwhip is better suited for small children, most women & those with smaller hands. They measure a bit over 5/8 of an inch. The Catalyst whips are slightly larger in diameter than the 12 plait models, & the Standard Bullwhips & Snakewhips are even larger, measuring roughly .860 of an inch.

Another point to consider about long whips is that the longer the whip, the more limited are its uses. A whip that’s over 10 ft long will be much slower moving than a 6 ft whip. Fast multiple cracking routines aren’t normally accomplished with long whips. Whips that are over 12 ft are usually used for one or two cracks. They’re not suited for volleys, combinations & quick routines.

Below is a quick reference list on the type & size of whip I suggest for most people.

 

Beginner Level

Children under 12 yrs old & most women……..4-6 ft 12 Plait Bullwhip, Lumberjack Jr. or Catalyst.

All others……………………………………………Catalyst Bullwhip or 6-7 ft Standard Bullwhip.

Intermediate Level

>Standard or Standard X Bullwhip

>Lumberjack Bullwhip

>Stockwhip

Advanced Or Performance Level

>Standard X Bullwhip

>Lumberjack Bullwhip

>Stockwhip

>The Showman

Maintaining Your Nylon Whip

When it comes to nylon whips, maintenance isn’t as much an issue as it is with leather whips. There’s no conditioner needed on a nylon whip, & there’s no need to worry about getting your whip wet. Nylon whips were designed to be used in wet & humid conditions. Though you should be concerned with not abusing your whip, some wear & tear is normal. One of the most important things in maintaining your nylon whip is to make sure the cracker & fall is in good working order, & to loosen any knots in these that will form from time to time during practice sessions. Always keep some spare crackers on hand just in case. The Keep It Crackin’ Maintenance Kit is a good kit to keep in your whip bag. It contains 2 spare falls, 5 nylon crackers & a lacing fid.

Following is a list of some tips in maintaining your nylon whip.

I. Using your whip.

A. Do…

1. Use your whip on grass; polished/coated surfaces, such as gymnasium/hardwood floors.

2. Wear eye protection.

3. Respect the whip.

4. Watch for knots that can form in the fall or cracker & loosen them as soon as they’re noticed.

5. Supervise young children who are learning whipcracking.

B. Don’t…

1. Hit people or animals with any part of your whip.

2. Use your whip on rough surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, gravel or sand.

3. Swing or hang from your whip, unless of course, personal survival demands it.

NOTE:  Noreast Whips will not repair or replace a whip due to misuse.

4. Crack your whip without an attached cracker. This can damage & shorten the fall.

II. Caring for & cleaning your whip.

A. Do…

1. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt or mud after cracking session. If whip is used in wet conditions, run a dry towel over the whip’s length, which will help absorb some of the moisture from the whip. Hang to dry.

2. Use a mild dish detergent & warm water for cleaning hard to remove spots. It’s fine to hold the whip under running water or even submerge it for a short time while you clean it.

3. Use a soft bristled brush for cleaning dirt or debris that’s worked its way between the plaited strands. A toothbrush works well.

4. Store loosely coiled in a bag or dry place.

B. Don’t…

1. Soak whip in water for extended periods. Water will eventually reach the core.

2. Leave exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. UV rays ultimately will damage the nylon fibers, though it would take many years of this to ruin a whip.

Disclaimer: You knew this was coming. Whips are not toys, they are tools & should be handled with the same care as you would a sharp knife or power tool. Whips can tear flesh, break bones & take out an eye. When a whip cracks, the tip is moving faster than the speed of sound; over 1400 ft per second.

Noreast Whips is not liable for any damage caused to people, property or animals, by the misuse of (accidental or intentional) any whip built & sold by Noreast Whips.

Noreast Whips™~All Rights Reserved

Best Whips For Two Handed Whip-Cracking

Best Whips For Two Handed Whip-Cracking

The sport of whip-cracking is continually growing, which is a good thing for whipmakers all over, both those who build synthetic whips & others who construct leather whips. For many of us who’ve enjoyed whip-cracking for any length of time, the thought or desire to learn two handed whip-cracking routines is a cool thought. If you watch any of Adam Winrich’s Youtube videos where he uses two whips, then the thought has probably crossed your mind. But what whips are the best for two handed routines, & can a person really get good results from a fairly low priced pair of whips?

Before getting into the different types of whips used in two handed whip-cracking, I think it’s good to note that when you’re first learning to crack a whip, learn to crack with both your dominant hand & non dominant. You should feel just as comfortable cracking with one hand as you do the next. Learning to do this from the start will yield greater & much faster results when you venture into the world of two handed cracking. Now let’s talk about the whips used in two handed routines.

The most commonly known whips used in two handed cracking are stockwhips. This type of whip has been made famous by Australians, & is the type of whip used in Australian whip-cracking tournaments. In my opinion, these are the best whips for this type of whip-cracking. They’re light in weight, have a fast action & because of the keeper transition from handle to thong, create sharper angles & quicker transitions in various planes around the body. The longer handle, called the stock, gives the user more leverage than a shorter handled bullwhip, requires less arm movement & strength and, ultimately, is an easier whip to crack. If you have any intention of becoming a competition whip-cracker, then I suggest learning two handed whip-cracking with a pair of stockwhips.

Performer type whips, a.k.a. pipe whips, have become incredibly popular over the past several years. These whips feature a handle made from pvc pipe, in which the whip thong is inserted at one end & tied off in the same manner as is used on cowwhips. Adam Winrich showcases the use of these whips in his renaissance fair performances, as seen in some of his videos. These whips are very light weight, have longer handles like stockwhips & crack very easily. They are an excellent choice to go with when deciding what whips to learn double handed cracking. Because the handle & thong can be separated, the whip thong can be changed out when needed, or in the case where the handle is broken & no longer usable.

A pair of bullwhips with long handles is another popular choice for people learning two handed cracking, especially here in the US, where the bullwhip has been more popular throughout history than the stockwhip. A pair of bullwhips with 12 inch handles will normally be less expensive than a pair of stockwhips of comparable length, & will give good results to the user. Bullwhips aren’t as fast as stockwhips, which can be beneficial to someone first learning to crack two whips at a time. A pair of 12 plait nylon bullwhips with 12 inch handles is another good choice for learning two handed cracking. This option, when using nylon, is less expensive than a pair of stockwhips or a pair of pipe whips.

The last option I’ll mention here, which isn’t a bad choice in the least, is a pair of Catalyst Bullwhips from Noreast Whips. The Catalyst Bullwhip, though considered to be an entry level whip, has proven to be a good performer in two handed whip-cracking routines. For under $200, a whip-cracker can get a pair of Catalyst Bulls & start learning to crack two whips at a time. In considering a pair of whips from Noreast Whips to use in two handed cracking, this option is the least expensive & the one I would suggest you use if you’re unsure of what to get, or if you’re not confident that two handed work is something you’ll stick with over time. Watch this video of a recent 2012 customer of Noreast Whips, in which he performs with a pair of Catalyst Bullwhips.

Most people looking to get into two handed whip-cracking will never reach the skill level of a World Champion whip-cracker like Ben Hughes, or even that of Adam Winrich, but that’s ok. Learning to use two whips at a time isn’t impossible to learn, & something I feel that most people can learn. We’re all different & learn things at different speeds. With some time, you can learn to put together some two handed whip-cracking routines that will entertain your friends & family, & possibly inspire more future whip-crackers.

Weighting A Nylon Whip

The weight within a whip is crucial in how that whip performs. When many people think of weight within a whip, they believe it is comprised within the whip’s core. This is true to a degree, but not the complete idea in weighting a whip. What I’m referring to here isn’t the static weight of a whip, or what a whip weighs in pounds, ounces or grams. I’m referring to the individual components of weight within a whip, or separate parts of a whip that help give a whip its weight. The core of a whip does provide some of the weight in a well-built nylon whip, but not all of it. I’ve broken down the basic weighting of a whip into four sections: the core, the butt, the thong (main portion) of a whip & the point or end of a whip.

  1. The core> The core of a nylon whip is what is commonly believed to give a nylon whip its weight. This is partly true. The core of many nylon whips is a strand of paracord packed with steel shot or bbs. Many nylon whipmakers use this, some use electrical cord, ball chain, also known as beaded chain, strips of lead, rubber, steel or aluminum cable and even nylon rope. I’ve used all of these with good success. Different models of whips I build require different core materials. The core should not only help provide weight in the whip, but should also be flexible. One suggestion I make to others when building their own nylon whips is to use one type of core material for the particular whip that they’re building. Whichever material is being used, use that material only on that whip & don’t mix materials. Using more than one core material within a whip can cause potential problems in the whip’s construction. As with many physical products, less moving parts means less potential breakdowns. A whip is much the same, as it is simple in its construction, but very dynamic in its action. In a bullwhip, the handle is also considered as part of the core. The type of material used for the handle will make a significant difference as to how much weight the core contains. Handle materials which I use are steel tubing, solid steel rod, aluminum & even composite materials. So, the core provides the main weight in a nylon whip.
  2. The butt (heel) of the whip> Many nylon whipmakers use lead strips added to the butt, or heel portion, of a whip for added weight to the handle & help balance out the whip’s overall weight. The amount of lead added will determine the amount of weight added. The point of construction where the lead is added may also make a difference. Some people like to add a large portion of lead to the base of the handle before any plaiting or bolstering is done to the whip. Some choose to add the lead to the whip once the plaited overlay is complete. Some don’t use any lead in the construction at all. It’s a matter of preference.
  3. The thong (main portion) of the whip> The plaited thong itself makes up a good portion of the weight within a nylon whip, especially in how the whip tapers. Because the paracord strands in a nylon whip are a consistent width, the taper is achieved mostly by dropping strands into the core while plaiting. The taper of a whip is also subjective to the whipmaker. Some taper the whip a little slower, while some taper it faster. A slower taper means that the main thong retains its thickest diameter for a further distance, while a faster taper is just the opposite. A slower taper in a nylon whip will retain more weight throughout its length, whereas a faster taper means the whip will retain less weight in the thong.
  4. The point of a whip> The point of a whip is the end of a whip, where the plaiting stops. On a bullwhip, snakewhip or stockwhip, the point culminates in the fall hitch, or the place where the fall is tied onto the whip. Some nylon whipmakers end their whips in an 8-strand point, some in a 6-strand point, while most finish their whips in a 4-strand point. The number of strands the whip ends in determines the thickness of the point itself and, ultimately, the weight of the point. This is another overlooked area in whip construction when referring to weighting a whip. Most nylon whips are finished with a single strand of paracord for the fall. The point of the whip should be as close as possible to the measurement of the single strand. Throughout the ongoing taper of the whip, energy is traveling along, building & pushing its way to the end of the whip. This energy travels through the fall & is released at the end of the cracker. This energy travels in much the same manner as water when it passes through an ever tightening channel. When water is forced from a channel of one diameter into a channel of a smaller diameter, an amazing action takes place. Because water cannot be compressed in order to pass through the smaller channel, it must increase its speed, therefore, increasing its own force. This is similar to the energy created within a whip. As energy travels the length of a whip, the shrinking diameter of the thong pushes the energy along, increasing its force. When it reaches the end of the thong, or the point of the whip, it needs to pass through the fall in a consistent manner. This is why the fall & point of the whip should not vary greatly in diameter. If they do, it will affect the whip’s handling and cause an undesirable action. A whip should flow smoothly & freely without jerking & bouncing.

Although a whip is simple in its design & construction, a properly weighted whip will feel alive in one’s hands. Its dynamic is founded on its simplicity. There’s much more that can be written on this subject, as this article has only briefly discussed its importance. Yet hopefully it has given you a small understanding of what goes into the weighting of a nylon whip.

Tips For Tighter Plaiting

The basic methods of plaiting or braiding can be learned pretty quickly, even by someone who’s never been exposed to the process. Becoming a good plaiter or braider will take some time, and many of the subtle intricacies & techniques used by the best plaiters of today are gained through years of practice. The experience of the plaiter/braider is usually indicated by the tightness of the braid, as well as the straightness & overall consistency in appearance. Following are some simple tips on developing tighter plaiting in whipmaking, with emphasis on working with nylon whips.  

  1. Proper Core Diameter> Before any plaiting is even started, the diameter of the core or that which is being plaited over, will determine the number of strands that will cover it. With leather this isn’t an issue, as the strands in a leather whip are cut to whatever size they need to be cut. The paracord used in nylon whipmaking is a predetermined width. Many nylon whips have an eight plait first belly. If an eight plait belly is to be fashioned, then the diameter of the core must accept eight strands comfortably. The whipmaker must know how large the core’s diameter can be to accept those eight strands. If the diameter exceeds this size, gaps will form during the plaiting of the belly. This means more strands would need to be added to prevent gaps from forming.
  2. Pull With Consistent Force> It’s important to pull with consistent & even force with both hands while plaiting to achieve a straight & tight braid. If one hand pulls more than the other, the seams in the plaiting will migrate & twist, creating an undesirable appearance. In addition to twisting seams, gaps will form because of this inconsistent technique. The portion of the whip that’s facing the whipmaker, or the top side, should mirror the under side. With twisting seams, portions of the plaiting will appear tighter than others, resulting in discrepancies.
  3. Focus On 3 Inches At A Time> It’s easy to let the mind wander while plaiting. For experienced whipmakers, much of the time spent plaiting is mixed with thoughts of other things. This is fine when one’s technique has been honed over a long time, but when just starting out, a plaiter must stay focused & work at being consistent with his/her technique. Concentrate on a small section at a time, such as three inches. If the plaiting is uneven or doesn’t appear tight enough, go back & redo that section.
  4. Pull Core Now & Then> As one is plaiting, it helps from time to time to pull the core strands straight out as they’re being plaited over. This helps stretch the core a bit now & then, contributing to tighter plaiting.
  5. Envision How The Whip Should Look> Picturing in your mind how the whip will look when it’s finished helps keep one’s focus while plaiting. Envision the taper & shape, the evenness & tightness of the finished plaited project.

More is learned from the actual practice of plaiting than can be from word of mouth or reading from a book. It’s a tactile acquisition, a physical learning. The process & techniques can be described by one to another, but the learning is in the actual doing. Through mistakes technique is polished & through constant practice consistency is achieved. Strive to make a better product with each attempt.

 

Learning To Make Whips

Making something with your own hands can be both fulfilling & enjoyable. People of all ages are constantly searching for new hobbies or activities to do in their spare time. With school, work & family obligations, sometimes what’s needed is to clear the mind of worries & stresses, step aside from those everyday responsibilities. Building something with your hands can be a great stress-reliever, as well as a way to keep your mind alert & life interesting. Learning how to make a nylon bullwhip or snakewhip can be an excellent way to accomplish this.

As the popularity of nylon whips continues to grow, more & more “whipmakers” are popping up all around the world. Many have produced their own tutorials on whipmaking. A few of these tutorials are excellent, some are good, and most are lacking in quality. For someone who’s never built their own whip, whether leather or nylon, it’s difficult to know just where to start. It makes sense to follow a tutorial by a well-established whipmaker. So, which one do you choose? Here are a few points to consider if you’re thinking about making your own bullwhip or snakewhip.

  1. Seek instruction from an experienced whipmaker. It stands to reason that someone who’s been building whips consistently for five years will generally be more knowledgeable than one who’s been building whips for one year. This isn’t always the case, as there are exceptions to this statement. The individual talents that each of us possess varies. One person’s ability in whipmaking will advance more quickly than another, as is the case with many things in life. Yet one who’s been around longer, who’s built more whips, read more on the subject, as well as spoken with more seasoned whipmakers, will no doubt be in a better position to tell you what’s what.
  2. Read reviews of a whipmaker’s work. Before purchasing, or even following a free tutorial from a whipmaker, read reviews of the whips they’ve built, both past & present. Talk with others who’ve dealt with that particular whipmaker. Forums are a great way to connect with other whip enthusiasts. Evaluate the customer service of any whipmaker whose instructions you plan to follow. If you purchase a tutorial from someone, find out first whether or not that person can be contacted if you happen to have any trouble following the instructions.
  3. Always be polite when approaching whipmakers. I receive questions almost daily from people all over the world dealing with whipmaking. With many of them, I’ve built a trust & friendly relationship. There are others who approach me with a less than cordial manner, almost demanding, or expecting, that I’ll give them whatever knowledge they need. These people don’t generally receive a response from me.
  4. Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t expect that you’ll be a natural at whipmaking, or believe that your first whip will be the best you can build. Whipmaking is a constant learning process, one that takes years to refine. A famous whipmaker has been known to say that it can take someone 600 whips they’ve made before they’re ready to start selling them. This may be an exaggeration, but you must realize that it can take years to learn the subtle intricacies in making whips.

There’s so much more to discuss on this subject, and this article by no means covers all that can be said. Although the exact sources of where to go for whipmaking instruction aren’t given here, hopefully, this has given you some helpful suggestions in determining where to look for information on learning to make your own whip.

Whips In Movies

The other day while talking with some friends the subject of whips came up. Someone asked me, “Does it seem like more people contact you about buying a whip soon after they’ve seen a whip in a recent movie release?” The answer is always “yes.” Without a doubt, whips featured in movies create or rekindle an interest in whips among movie-goers. People who are avid whip-crackers decide it’s time for a new whip, while some who’ve never cracked a whip or had little interest in it, now feel like they’d like to give a shot at learning to handle a whip. So, movies featuring whips means an increase in whip sales among whipmakers.

Unfortunately, though movies have helped much in stirring an interest in whip-cracking from time to time, they do account for some impractical uses of whips. One of them…swinging or climbing with a whip. Flashback: Indiana Jones swinging across the seemingly bottomless pit with his bullwhip wrapped around the wooden beam overhead. Can this be done? Sure it can. Should it be done? Only if you absolutely needed to escape from a booby-trapped temple that’s falling apart and caving in around you. A whip can be used to swing from, though every whipmaker who takes pride in the whips he builds for a living will tell you, as do I, that a whip isn’t made for the purpose of swinging over chasms or rivers or from building to building. It is made to crack. If it’s used for any climbing or swinging, there’s a good chance of damaging the whip. Here’s just three ways in which a whip can suffer damage when used for swinging or repeated climbing:

  1. Separation of handle & core.
  2. Breaking of strands, either internal or external.
  3. Stretching of strands, weakening their strength & causing gaps in the plaiting.

A good bullwhip is built in layers. I won’t go into depth on whip construction, rather give a simple breakdown on a whip’s components. A bullwhip starts with a handle & an attached core. Over this is usually a plaited (braided) layer of strands, whether leather or nylon, to a pre-determined length. Next, there’s usually some form of bolster covering this plaited portion. Another layer is plaited over this with a specified number of strands to another pre-determined length & longer than the first layer of plaiting. From here, another bolster or plaited layer can be added, depending on the desired thickness of the whip when it’s finished.

The internal components of a whip are integral to how a whip handles & cracks. One particular area of concern, when it relates to bullwhips, is what is known as the transition zone, or transition area. It’s that particular juncture where the solid handle & the core of the whip meet. Some whipmakers make this area very stiff with the binding of each layer of construction, usually with artificial sinew or waxed thread. Some whipmakers simply rely on the tightness of the plaiting to keep this area strong. This area receives much stress when a whip is cracked. It also would receive even more stress if a whip were to be held by the handle when using the whip to swing or climb. This area’s strength can be greatly compromised if the whip is used for swinging or climbing, even separation of handle from core.

More damage that could befall the whip is a strand or two breaking on the whip from excessive force. This can happen either on the inside of a whip; which would most likely never be known unless in fact the whip broke through completely at that point; or it could happen on the outer layer of the whip, showing more readily. This now makes for an ugly looking whip.

The least amount of damage that I can think of happening to a whip that’s used for swinging or climbing would be stretching. I don’t believe that a whip that’s used for swinging or climbing will definitely be ruined and unable to use for its intended purpose of cracking. Yet I do feel that the strength of the plaiting will be weakened to an unknown degree when used for those activities and the whip’s life-span will be shortened. Once the whip is stretched to a good deal, it has changed dynamically, both in function & esthetically. Will it still crack? Most likely, yes. Yet there may be gaps showing between the individual strands of plaiting. Again, this causes the whip’s appearance to look rather ugly.

In the movies, when a character swings from a whip, it’s usually not a finely crafted whip that he’s swinging from. Rather, it’s a cable that’s been covered with braiding to appear as a whip. Usually the handle end has some type of coupling or fastener that clips onto a harness or belt the actor is wearing. Even if there is no attachment, still the whip being used is not likely a whip at all. Safety is a top priority when stunts are performed and a cable is stronger than a whip.

Many, many times customers ask me how much weight will one of my whips hold. Right away, I know where they’re going with this. They want to know how much a whip can support in safely swinging or climbing. I always say that a whip is designed to crack and not to be used for anything else. Of course, if you’re facing a survival situation, and a whip is the only thing to use to climb up a high wall or fence, or swing over a pit, anything is fair game when it comes to saving a life. Otherwise, get a rope.

Nylon vs. Leather

Over the past few decades and, in more recent years, nylon has become a viable material in which to construct well-functioning bullwhips & snakewhips. This isn’t to say that nylon is a good alternative to using leather in building whips, but as a complement to leather. When the weather is wet, a nylon whip is much more suited for this condition over a leather whip.

Some people like to debate on the subject of nylon vs. leather when it comes to whips. There’s nothing quite like a well-crafted kangaroo hide or cowhide whip fashioned by the hands of a talented & skilled whipmaker. Yet when the weather turns wet & humid, those pretty leather whips are less suited for these conditions, and usually stay indoors & unused.

Personally, I don’t see the debate. Rather, I see a combination, a pleasant teaming of nylon & leather. Someone who’s just starting to crack whips is more inclined to pay a bit less money than a good leather whip starts at, in order to determine whether or not they are going to enjoy this newly popular past time. Once they’ve decided to pursue it, then perhaps buying a more expensive leather whip will become a consideration.

There are several benefits of using a nylon whip. Here’s some points to consider:

1. Nylon whips are generally lower cost than leather whips.
2. Nylon is more durable than leather and can take more abuse.
3. Nylon is moisture resistant.
4. It requires no maintenance.
5. It doesn’t mold or mildew and it won’t rot.
6. It’s impervious to wet & humid climates.

Those are just some benefits of using nylon whips. They don’t compare to leather in terms of feel or smell, but can perform everything an expensive leather whip can. Bottom line, there’s nothing you cannot do with a nylon whip that you can with a leather whip. So, leather whips are great, and if you can afford a high end whip built by a top notch whipmaker, then that’s what you should buy. But when the weather conditions are less than ideal, and you’re afraid of damaging or dirtying that nice leather, consider using a nylon whip. They’re not an alternative to leather whips, but rather a complement to them. You can use both types of whips.

Nylon Whips Aren’t Cheap

Many times I’ve received emails from customers telling me how friends of theirs or others have told them that nylon whips should be lower in price, and that too many nylon whips are becoming more expensive. Nylon whips have long since been associated with lower costs & economical. Because of this, I now feel compelled to come to the rescue of all nylon whipmakers. Yet quality-built nylon whips are not cheap in labor, and therefore, shouldn’t be priced as such. Let me share with you just a few points on why I believe that nylon whip prices are rising, and why in fact, I feel that these price increases are justified.

  1. Demand> You’ve all heard it before; with the growth in demand comes the inevitable increase in prices. Nylon whips have been an option for quite some time, close to 4 decades actually. This last decade has seen, in my opinion, a boom in nylon whip sales. I feel that this next decade will be even greater. Nylon is more popular than ever in constructing bullwhips, snakewhips, signalwhips & stockwhips. Their function & durability have reached a level that surpasses many so-called quality leather whips on the market today. With increasing demands, well, you know as with anything, prices will follow suite.
  2. Quality>The cost of a material to build a good, functional whip doesn’t determine how much time or skill is needed in building that whip. Just because nylon paracord is less costly than cowhide or kangaroo hide, this doesn’t mean that a whipmaker is any less attentive or patient in constructing a quality whip. Quality is time-earned, meaning it takes time, patience & practice to achieve the level that produces a repeatable & consistent product.
  3. Time>Why should a whipmaker’s time not be considered as important because he chooses to build a whip with a less expensive material? To me this makes no sense. I’ve built both nylon & leather whips for sale, and have now for 5 years. In all honesty, the time needed to build a good leather whip & a good nylon whip is almost the same. There’s a little more time involved with leather whips, but only because there’s some added steps, which in fact, some whipmakers don’t even practice. But with experience, this time difference becomes even smaller. My time making a nylon whip shouldn’t be worth any less than when I’m building a leather whip. Yes, the materials vary in price greatly, but my time is the same.
  4. Comparison>Over the last several years I’ve seen a plethora of whips filling the market. Some of these are good quality, others are not. If I feel that a certain seller of whips, who’s importing whips from over the border, is selling a product at a price which I feel doesn’t match the quality of the product being sold, then my whips become more valuable. This isn’t only my view, but according to the countless reviews I read on an almost daily basis from people buying inferior whips, I see many dissatisfied customers. Manufacturers are constantly measuring the quality of their goods against another manufacturer’s. This has always been the case, and I suspect always will be.
  5. Staying Power>This is something I truly believe. Nylon whips aren’t going away. Their demand is increasing because the popularity in nylon whips is growing. There aren’t many materials that are as limitless in applications as paracord. Its use is so relevant for today’s industries. Find a more timely material, one that’s as durable & functional as paracord and better suited for today’s conditions, and that’s what the next generation of whipmakers will be using. For now at least, nylon is here to stay.

These are just a few thoughts on the relevance & worth of nylon whips in today’s market. No doubt, more can be said on this subject. Hopefully this article will help give a little better understanding in why nylon whips shouldn’t be priced so low as to degrade the patience & quality of work that goes into building them.

Qualities Of A Good Nylon Whip

As the popularity in nylon whips increases, more people are trying their hand at making them. Some are taking their time & learning to do things correctly, learning from more experienced whipmakers. Many others have a small amount of knowledge and, though I heartily support their desire in learning this craft, still many are putting the cart before the horse in terms of whipmaking. What I mean is, before they’ve settled on a sound construction method, they have a website up & running or are selling whips on ebay or other auction sites, touting their whips as comparable in quality as others who’ve been building whips for several years. Claims as this are usually not true. The purpose of this article isn’t to bash any other whipmaker, please understand, nor is it to criticize anyone else who’s undertaken the study & practice in the craft of whipmaking. This is simply a basic guide in knowing what to look for when shopping for a quality nylon whip.

Because of the rising number of people who are making & selling nylon bullwhips, snakewhips, signalwhips & cowwhips, a little research & knowledge of the product is needed. There are more options for people today when they want to buy a functional nylon whip. As with anything, the consumer should gird themselves with some knowledge of what a good nylon whip exudes. Here’s a guideline of 5 things to be considered when in the market for buying a good nylon whip.

  1. Plaiting> There are a couple different schools of thought when it comes to plaiting whips. One is plaiting loosely, the other is plaiting tightly. Loose plaiting is designed to give the whip a more broken-in feeling from the start, what some refer to as a whip which cracks “out-of-the-box.” I don’t subscribe to this philosophy of whipmaking. Loosely plaited nylon whips will generally not have as long of a lifespan as one that’s plaited tightly, this being my personal opinion. I also feel a looser plaited whip will stretch more with use than a tightly plaited whip will. This is an important factor in relation to a whip’s price. A higher priced whip should be of higher quality & last longer.
  2. Transition Area> Because nylon doesn’t have the same density & characteristics as leather, the transition zone on a nylon bullwhip requires more binding or rigidity incorporated into this area. The transition should be somewhat stiff for a few inches after the end of the handle. The reason being, this area on a bullwhip receives a good amount of stress when the whip is thrown. Some reinforcement, accomplished through binding & bolstering, is needed to help spread this stress beyond the end of the handle, minimizing a limp or broken appearance. This is the purpose of binding the transition area. If you’re looking at a snakewhip, then there are no worries about this, as they don’t generally have a handle & require no binding or reinforcement in the transition area. Snakewhips don’t have transition areas. Some whipmakers bind the transition to the point where this area becomes bulbous & causes a taper over the length of the handle when plaited over. On leather whips this is quite acceptable, as the leather strands can be cut on a taper & cover the handle without gaps in the plaiting. With nylon whips, this isn’t as clean-looking, can cause gaps in the plaiting and an ugly-looking whip.
  3. Solid Knot Foundation> This is a common problem among newer whipmakers. Failure to make the foundation for the heel knot secure & immovable will result in a “wobbly knot.” If the knot turns in the hand while handling the whip, then either the foundation isn’t attached securely or the knot itself is slipping on the foundation. Since this portion of the whip is crucial to how a whip is held, it’s important that it be secure & immovable.
  4. Solid Fall Hitch> This is another area of special importance on a nylon whip, and any whip, for that matter. This doesn’t relate to cowwhips, as traditional cowwhips are finished with a twisted portion & a single strand which is tied off in a secure fashion. The fall hitch method is used on quality leather whips, and has influenced many nylon whipmakers to finish their whips in the same fashion. The way the hitch is tied is important, no doubt, as with each half hitch that’s tied should be pulled tight. Yet the last few inches of plaiting before the fall hitch is equally crucial in maintaining the constant transfer of energy in the whip through to the cracker. The taper of a whip is a main factor in the transfer of energy throughout the length of a whip. The plaiting is an additional factor in moving that energy. If the last few inches before the fall hitch isn’t plaited very tightly, these strands can & will loosen with use. The force created from the initial action of a whip travels down its length, through the fall & ending at the tip of the cracker. Much stress is placed in the area just before the fall hitch. If the strands loosen to the point of being able to twist in one’s hand easily, feeling soft & squishy, this is a problem & should be corrected. This can happen to any whip over the course of its lifetime, and doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a poorly built whip. The end, or point of the whip, simply needs to be replaited & the fall reattached. However, if this area is not tight from the beginning, it will loosen up prematurely over time.
  5. Whip Should Crack Easily Without Muscle Power> There is of course a degree of muscle required to wield a whip. When we refer to “muscling a whip,” it means that excessive force is being used, overshadowing the technique that’s needed. A whip that’s built well, whether nylon, leather, rubber or whatever it’s made from, should take minimal effort on the part of the user in getting it to crack. A whip that’s too light in weight will require more force to impart a crack, and this is a problem that was created from the beginning in the whip’s construction. Building weight into a whip is an altogether separate subject in itself. Basically, if a whip cracks with relative ease, providing the user is practicing good technique, then it’s considered as a properly weighted whip.

There are several other points that can be made in choosing a good nylon whip. There are both cosmetic & functional points of importance. Whether the plaiting twists or is consistent, has gaps or mis-plaits is more cosmetic than anything. These show a whipmaker’s experience, yet don’t necessarily have an affect on the whip’s function. If a whip has lumps or bumps, inconsistencies in thickness or spongy areas, these have more to do with the inner construction of the whip, and should be dealt with earlier in the construction process. These things may in fact contribute to the whip’s performance and, in my opinion, are results of a lower quality whip.