Topic: Dynamics of a Whip

I wasn't sure if it was prudent to post a whole topic about this, but I wanted to ask some questions about whips.  Some of them may sound ignorant or dumb, but I hope you folks can enlighten me.

I was wondering a few things about whips in general.

After using my bullwhip for a almost a year, I notice that the opposite side of where it 'coils up' is much more rigid than the side that wants to bend a certain way. This makes forming a loop and performing cracks correctly on that side a lot more difficult.  Is that a normal phenomenon with whips? Is it a sign of damage, or is there something I can do to alleviate the tension, perhaps like rolling the whip?

Also when I feel the whip while cracking, sometimes it feels like it wants to twist. I notice the plaiting wasn't always dead straight, but maybe through my inexperienced hand it has exacerbated things as the plaiting seems to be twisting a little.

I don't want to sound like I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but I was hoping people with more experience might be able to school me up with this.

Thank you very much.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Hi Russell, I'm not nearly experienced enough to give the best advice but my first questions would be:
Nylon or leather?

May we see a few pictures?

A whip plaited tightly will have a natural curve, bend one way easier than the other.  Think of trying to coil a tight twisted rope or an extension cord.  It's easy one way but not the other.  A lot of that has to do with how the whip is plaited, the individual whipmaker's style.

I found when my plaiting got a lot tighter I was having trouble with twisting.  The tighter the plaiting the less margin of error there is for lining up the bellies.
Tight plaiting acts like a spine, it can bend a lot in many directions but drives the whip down a main line.  When the plaiting is twisted to one side on one layer then to somewhere else on the next it is driving the whip in different directions.   
I found this out the hard way as I plait a layer and turn the whip 180 degrees (turn it over) then plait the next layer.  Any error one way or the other and it kicks out instead of flying straight. 

You've seen a millipede.  The big ugly ones that look like they're wearing an armadillo shell?  They can move in many directions but you always see them curl up only one way.  The plaiting causes a whip to act similarly, in my mind. 
I know that doesn't answer your questions, but for what it's worth... smile

Do some of the strands seem to be looser at those twisting points?

Inch by inch.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Rachel, ahh, a rolly-polly bug.
They are rampant around here in the grass.

I think Russel has discovered the "natural curve" of the whip.

I believe it's one of the reasons that Robby stresses how you can let the whip turn in your palm as you move from one crack to another. That lets the natural curve flow it's natural course.


Procrastination is totally a good thing. You always have something to do tomorrow, plus you have nothing to do today.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Yessir Ron that's what I was thinking too- Robby's video on letting the whip handle turn in you hand.

Inch by inch.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Thank you very much for chiming in on this Ron and Rachel.

Rachel that was a very clear and understandable explanation of the dynamics, thank you very much for taking the time to type that.  It's great to hear that from a whipmaker's point of view.
Unfortunately I am at work and can not provide photographs right now, but I can tell you that the plaiting right after the transition knot does feel more malleable and not as tight as the lower sections of the thong. (Maybe that is normal?)
I like how you mentioned "The swiveling handle method" Ron, it was something I have tried to implement a while back so as to not fight the whip.  I had discovered the natural curve of the whip when first using one, but it wasn't until attempting this timing exercise of Robby's where I really felt the fight against it, when you flip your hand back over to form the loop for the second crack. When I do, I can really feel the whip wanting to twist back to the natural curve.
I did not notice Robby using a swiveling handle method for the exercise, so I did not attempt to. I will double check the video clip just to make sure though.
By the sounds of things I may be overthinking things again lol Thanks a lot for your replies though smile


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Sorry Rachel I forgot to mention it is a paracord whip.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Thanks, Russell, I thought it was from the description!  Leather is a completely different beast!

Inch by inch.


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Hehe would be nice to delete this thread now big_smile


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

No.  This is a good discussion and something that a whip handler should know.  There is a marked difference between different styles of whips depending on what they are for, and the method in which they are used.  I see whips like tools.  You don't use your 3/4 " socket wrench to pound nails, just like you don't use a shorty hybrid to target with.  I see hybrids as cartoon whips.  "They flutter, they flop.  They flit, but they pop."  They are made cheap and light to go fast and make noise. 

Then you have a heavier and slow whip that is more...alive?  Dare I even say "a real" whip?  They have a spine, some weight, and personality. I have run into people that want weight and length, but decide that they have a shit whip because it won't go fast, because it's heavy, because it won't flop around like an earthworm on speed.   I think it is very important for an individual to know the difference so they can have the correct tool to perform a specific job to their satisfaction. 

That is why this thread is not ignorant at all.  It's honest and informational.  I hope there is more discussion.

Due to rising costs, dirty deeds are no longer done dirt cheap. 


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Jessie - Never use a large wrench as a hammer when a small wrench will do.

If I can't run fast, I'll make slow look impressive.
"By the power of ibuprofen!"


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

"Earthworm on speed" may now be my favorite statement. That was pretty amazing,,and accurately sums up the experience of using a PH whip

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.
          -Mark Twain


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

It was a great question Russell. Nothing to be ashamed of. Any question is a good question if you don't know. That's learning. smile


Re: Dynamics of a Whip

Thanks Jessie and Geoffrey smile

I have to admit apart from the obvious things in a whips design, like whether it was a snakewhip or a bullwhip I had little idea of the what other parameters affect a whips dynamism.
Nice to feel like I'm beginning to learn a little.  Thanks everyone for your help smile