Whips 101

How to Select Your First Whip (or Your 100th)

Have you always been curious about whips? Have you tried to learn to throw a whip previously? My whip design makes it easier to learn to throw a whip and get that satisfying crack or reach out and touch that dandelion on the ground. What I look for is a whip that becomes part of your arm, an extension of your hand. I want a whip to roll smoothly and let me touch a target as I would reach my hand out and touch it with a finger tip. 

Talk to me about what you are looking for in a whip and if I don't have something perfect in stock I can custom create your perfect whip.

Do you need an excellent quality whip at the right price? It's all about the core!

One of the most complex things in a whip is it's core. If the core is not correct the rest of the whip will be flawed. I spent a few years playing with just building cores and the results were amazing, I found I could taper in 1/32" increments (diameter). This layering process creates a slight oval shape and adds an element of directional control. Many of my cores have 11 or more layers of micro-braided sheathing. On top of this core can be as many as 5 hand plaited layers of materials all aligned -- adding to the directionality of the belly.  All the products I make are the result of my obsession with the details of internal tensioning and roll of the whip.

Bottom Line -- The more work that goes into a whip, the smoother and more precise the roll will be -- and the higher the price of the finished product. 

American Bullwhips vs. Aussie Bullwhips 

American Bullwhips typically have shorter handles and larger shot bags than Aussie-style Bullwhips. The longer handle compensates for the smaller shot bag. By adding a larger fulcrum (the handle) you can drive a higher initial velocity with less effort. Traditionally, when working cattle, cowboys made their whips with what was at hand and would braid a rawhide bolster or use a stiffener layer in the whip to help keep the whip away from their body and their horse. The bolsters added to bullwhips add stiffness to the handled section of the whip and act to lengthen the fulcrum which allows you to drive the whip with far less effort and far more accurately. The point is to crack the whip easily, quickly and very accurately when it's most important. For example, striking a charging bull with a whip is far less effective than making the crack pop right in front of him. Startling him makes him stop thinking about whatever his intentions were. 

What does a cracker do for your whip?

When the cracker or popper on the end of the whip is forced thru the sound barrier, this rips the air and creates a sonic boom. If the cracker is too big, or too heavy, it will be harder to get a crack from your whip. If it's too small, your whip will crack but the cracker will break down very rapidly and the falls will sustain damage faster.

The falls unloads the energy to the cracker, and balances the throw of the whip. If the fall is too heavy it will overload and over stress the braided end. If it is too light, the braid will break the sound barrier and the tension in the whip may spring back in a dangerous way. Balancing the end of a whip takes a bit of time and practice but is well worth the time. The result is a whip that easily cracks, and rolls smoothly.

I've been asked 'Can you make a whip without a cracker or falls?'

Yes, you can make whips that don't have a falls, or a cracker. The whip will just break down much quicker and won't crack easily.

As your whip accelerates, the body of the whip (or falls or cracker) breaks the sound barrier. Traversing the sound barrier creates a lot of heat and there is a lot of cavitation associated with the splitting of the air. The more of your whip that breaks the sound barrier, the more damage done to the leather or paracord. This is one reason whips break down and eventually fail.

The second factor is when the whip gets to the end, it is under tremendous load and the braiding squeezes down on the core or belly below it and pulls very hard for a moment, This often breaks the internal belly/braid down. The falls unloads the end of the whip and moves the area that wears heavily further down and mostly out of the thong area. 

Interesting article about the science behind the crack

This article explains why the loop causes the majority of the crack, not the cracker/popper at the end.