The weight within a whip is crucial in how it performs. When many people think of weight within a whip, they believe it is comprised within the tool’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 the object, or what it weighs in pounds, ounces or grams. I’m referring to the individual components of weight within a whip, or separate parts that help give it its weight. The core of a whip does provide some of its weight, but not all of it. I’ve broken down the basic process or components into four sections: the core, the butt, the thong (main portion) of a whip & its point or end.
1. The core – The core of a nylon whip is what is commonly believed to give the object its weight. This is partly true. The core of many nylons 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 within the tool, 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 model that they’re building. Whichever material is being used, use that material only on that model & don’t mix materials. Using more than one core material within a whip can cause potential problems in its 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) – Many nylon whipmakers use lead strips added to the butt, or heel portion, 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. Some choose to add the lead once the plaited overlay is complete. Some people don’t use any lead in the construction at all. It’s a matter of preference.
3. The thong (main portion) – The plaited thong itself makes up a good portion of the weight within the plaited object, especially in how the whip tapers. Because the paracord strands in are a consistent width, the taper is achieved mostly by dropping strands into the core while plaiting. The taper is also subjective to the whipmaker. Some taper the object 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 will retain more weight throughout its length, whereas a faster taper means the tool will retain less weight in the thong.
4. The point – The point of a whip is its end, 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. Some nylon whipmakers end their whips in an 8-strand point, some in a 6-strand point, while most finish with 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 nylons are finished with a single strand of paracord for the fall. The point of 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. 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 the plaited object, the shrinking diameter of the thong pushes the energy along, increasing its force. When it reaches the end of the thong, or the point, it needs to pass through the fall in a consistent manner. This is why the fall & point should not vary greatly in diameter. If they do, it will affect the whip’s handling and cause an undesirable action. The action should flow smoothly & freely without jerking or bouncing.
Although a whip is simple in its design & construction, a properly weighted one will feel alive in a person’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.