Whip Frequently Asked Questions
We are pleased to offer a wide range of hand crafted leather whips made here in our own leather workshop and synthetic whips made in New Zealand. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive concerning these items.
- What is the difference between the American and Australian bull whips?
The American bullwhip has a short handle and a heavy thong. The handle is weighted to balance the thong. As the name “bull” implies, it is a heavy, hard-hitting whip. Its primary use was in working cattle.
The Australian bullwhip came into fashion after World War II, mainly to sell to visiting Americans. A few had been made in earlier times, purportedly for use in the cane fields in Queensland, managing kanakas, the impressed labor from the South Seas. These bullwhips are made on a long cane (later nylon) as a handle, usually about 16 inches long, and the whip was braided continuously from the butt. Most Australian bullwhips are similar in weight and balance to stock whips, light thongs and long handles. They have never been taken up for working cattle, but are used by some performers in place of stock whips.
- What is the best way to break in a new whip?
A new whip is best broken in by using it gently. This will let the thong soften according to needs, more so towards the point than towards the butt. It is unhelpful to “work” the thong with the hands to soften it. Never apply neatsfoot oil or any oily or solvent based dressing to a new whip to soften it, nor indeed to any whip at any time.
- What is the best whip for beginners?
A good whip will move out and crack when it is thrown with very little effort, and will retain its shape and structural integrity over many years of use. While there are many styles of whips, the choice for whip cracking is between bull whips and Australian stock whips. The best length for a first stock whip is a 7 or 8 foot thong. The best length for a first bull whip is about 8 feet.
- Can I use cheaper whips?
Less expensive whips can be made by using cheaper leathers, or the poor parts of a skin or side, by using cheaper cores, or by making the whip light, so using less leather. Shape or taper of the less expensive whips is normally poor. The more consistent shape is with rope cores, although the rope makes a less dense whip. These whips can be improved somewhat by making a wide fall narrower, or by putting a good fall, sized to suit the thong, on the whip, with a suitable popper. A light whip, or rope core whip, can be improved by saturation with leather dressing. But do not expect too much from a less expensive whip (or an expensive whip made by someone with little experience.) Compare them with violins or cigars — there are uses for $50.00 violins or 5 cent cigars, but the best use is as stage props or wall hangers.
- Why do your natural color whips cost less than the black whips?
We sell many more natural color whips and natural kangaroo skins than we sell black whips or skins. Having a larger selection of kangaroo skins enables us to better optimize selection of a skin or skins for each whip, which in turn decreases production time and costs slightly. Our inventory carrying costs are also lower for the natural whips due to the greater sales. We are pleased to pass on these cost savings to our customers.
- How do I care for my whip?
Good whips, properly used and maintained, should give long service. Please see our Care of Whips page for detailed information.
- How do I look after an older whip?
If you come upon an old whip, treat it with understanding. If a whip has been stored it is probably dried out, and the leather may have deteriorated to the point of fragility. The general rule is that if a whip has value as a collectible, trying it out, cracking or using it may radically reduce its value. Please see our Care of Whips page for detailed information.
- Can I make my own whip?
When whipmaking was an active trade in Australia, whip makers had a five year apprenticeship, and spent years longer to gain a reputation for quality. An amateur making a whip with no instruction and little experience may anticipate that the resulting whip will be less than great. Despite this, there is a lot that can be learned about whips by making them, however poor the whips may be.While Americans may prefer bullwhips, the best whips to make as a learning experience are stock whips. They are simpler whips to make, and by fitting different handles to different thongs whip characteristics can be compared. With three thongs and three handles, nine different stock whips can be assembled. Three bullwhips, much more difficult to make, cannot be changed readily. Stock whips can thus provide much more information on the variables such as handle length, weight and flexibility, thong length, weight and taper, and the relationships between these variables.
Further information on the design and construction of whips can be found in Whips and Whipmaking, 2nd Edition by D.W. Morgan.
- What whips were used in the Indiana Jones movies?
We supplied over 30 bull whips of the 450 series for the first three Indiana Jones movies. These ranged in length from 6 feet to 16 feet. The standard length carried in the movies was the No. 455 10 ft. Bull Whip. The other lengths were used in special stunts. All were in the natural tan color.
In addition to our whips, a child’s whip made by Swayne, Adney and Brigg’s was used in a scene from Indiana Jones’ youth.In 2007 we supplied one 453 8 ft. Bullwhip and five No. 455 10 ft. Bullwhip to LucasFilm for Harrison Ford’s preproduction training and for the movie Indiana Jones 4: the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Additionally we provided two special whips, one 12 ft length and one 16 ft. length, with either polyester or nylon line running down the center extending 30′ past the end of the braid. All of the whips were 12 plait natural tan kangaroo hide.
- What whips were used in the Mask of Zorro?
Two types of whips were used in The Mask of Zorro movie, our 450 series bullwhips in black, used throughout the movie, and an Australian target whip, used in an early scene.We supplied a dozen whips, varying in length from the No. 453 8 foot Bull Whip, the standard whip carried, up to 16 and 25 feet. Two special order whips, a 14 foot and a 45 foot, were plaited over steel cables supplied by the studio for use in swinging from one place to another.
An Australian target whip was used in a scene snuffing candles, where Alex Green, the whip coach, used a personal whip he has used since he left Australia years ago. A copy of this whip, made by Joseph Strain in Idaho, is offered by Mark Allen with a souvenir silver band.
- What whips were used in Batman Returns?
Our Australian bullwhips, No. 451C Bullwhip, 6 ft and No. 453C Bullwhip, 8 ft, were supplied for Batman Returns. The whips were dyed black by the studio. The 8 foot length was preferred for most stunts. Although we no longer offer these Australian bullwhips, Terry Jacka is still producing some.
- Do you ship your braided kangaroo leather whips internationally?
Yes. However, due to the strict US import and export regulations, we are only able to ship kangaroo leather products outside the US by adhering to the US Fish and Wildlife Service export inspection procedures.
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