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.

 

8 comments

  1. Jerry says:

    Hi Noreast whips
    i am currently in the process of starting out(greenhorn)at whipmaking.bet you heard this a million times already,used them for over 15yrs,and decided to have a go at actually creating one.
    Bought the dvd from Tony essentia,known him a few years too.
    watched it,hmm more involved than 1st thought,couldnt plait to save my life,struggled through,some penny drop moments,some leave it try again next day.
    completed it,hmm looks real bad,BUT handles really nice!
    just keep eyes closed when using!
    MK 2 is in progress now,but learning each step i take,as i have noticed there is actually much to learn,also hell of a lot of thought and work to achive the finished product.
    i recall a demo Tony gave,just seeing the construction of a leather whip,and the processes to just prepare the kangaroo hide for plaiting,is an extremely time consuming process.
    With this in mind i thought if whipmakers were paid by the hour including prep time,instead of the finished product,they would be much more expensive.
    thanks for posting some hints/tips,as im sure most find any information useful.

  2. Steve says:

    Hi Jerry, thanks for the comment & taking the time to read the blog! I’m glad to hear of your whipmaking & hope you stick with it. If more people thought like you, then perhaps many whipmakers wouldn’t feel like they need to explain or justify their prices. Thank you for the kind words & give a shout out to Tony for me!

    ~Steve H.,
    Noreast Whips.

  3. Justin says:

    I am new to whip making as well. I have a question that I can’t seem to find an answer to anywhere on the web. How can I figure out what length Paracord I need to make any size whip? Example of I was making a 8′ whip with a 8 plait belly how would I figure out the length for the first 4 cords to make the belly then how would I figure out the length of the 6 cords for the 12 plait for the final layer? There has to be a method to the madness I just don’t know what that might be.

    Thanks on advance

    Justin

  4. Steve says:

    Hi Justin, thanks for the question & for viewing the site. For any belly or overlay, just doubling the length of the intended plaited length is the safest method. For the overlay on an 8 ft 12 plait whip, each strand(12) would be no more than 16 feet; that’s 12 strands @ 16 feet, or 6 strands @ 32 feet if you’re halving the strands, such as is needed on a cowwhip. For the belly, determine first how long your belly will be, then double that length for each strand. Again, if you’re halving the strands, then your 8 strand belly would consist of 4 strands as you mentioned. So you would be doubling that number again. If you haven’t already, refer to this post on the Noreast Whips Blog about strand length, https://noreastwhips.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/cutting-strand-lengthsless-waste-equals-more-money/. Hope that helps!
    ~Steve H.,
    Noreast Whips.

  5. Jesse says:

    I’ve made and sold a handful of ‘hybrid’ style whips. But I’ve been making them with shot loaded cores like a cow whip. But I’ve been wanting to make some stock whips of late. I had a couple questions.
    1. I know an average length for the stock is about 19-21 inches, but i was going to use a couple old drumsticks of mine. They are about 17″. Do you think that is a bit too short?
    2. I see on here that you shot load your stock whip thong, but I was under the impression that stock whips are much lighter because they get the velocity from the stock length. So, for a 6′ (17″ handle) stock whip, would you suggest some ball chain or bb shot loaded paracord? and how much of it? The ones i’ve been making were about 2-2.5 feet of bb core.

    Thanks
    -Jesse

  6. Steve says:

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for the comment & for reading the articles; hope they’ve helped some. I responded to your questions through email, so keep an eye out for an email from noreastwhips@gmail.com. Let me know if anything is unclear. Thanks!
    ~Steve Huntress,
    Noreast Whips.

  7. Cody says:

    What are Performance Hybrid whips? How do they differ from bullwhips and stock whips? Are there advantages or disadvantages to these type of whips?

  8. Steve says:

    Performance Hybrid whips are built & sold by Lauren Wickline & found here, http://thewhipchick.com/performancehybridnylonwhips.html. They are what many call pipe whips, a modified version of the cow whip that’s been around for decades. In my opinion, pipe whips are a cross between a long handled bullwhip & a stockwhip. They work excellent for two-handed whip routines, are light, fast & accurate.
    Noreast Whips pipe whip version is The Showman & can be found here, http://noreastwhips.com/other-whips/the-showman/. Hope that helps.
    ~Steve H.,
    Noreast Whips.

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