Making a Paracord Whip

There are many kinds of whip, but the most popular for sport cracking and target cutting are the Australian Stockwhip and the Bullwhip.

This is a 12-plait, 6-foot stockwhip with an 18-inch, 16-plait stock. Lengths are in American customary units, since for some reason whip lengths are measured in feet and it was easier to do all the calculations for strand drops in inches because of this.

I am also including instructions on how to make a 6-foot Bullwhip and a 6-foot pocket snakewhip. Since the differences lie in the handles the second two whips will merely show what is different from the stockwhip.

This is an advanced tutorial. I will show several complex knots and methods for creating fancy patterns on the stock. The reader should have a knowledge of basic knots, such as the constrictor knot , the sheet bend , the wall knot, the crown knot, the blood knot, and the Spanish ring knot. I do assume a knowledge of plaiting (braiding) terms, and knowing how to plait (braid) will be helpful, though I do describe all over and under patterns. Explaining the tying of Turk's Heads and Globe knots would take up far more space than is available in this tutorial, so if you wish to use them I suggest KHWW.net's Grid Maker, the Turk's Head Cookbook, and the Globe Knot Cookbook.

I frequent the KHWW forum, and there are many helpful tools and articles on the site. The International Guild of Knot Tyers, of which I am a member, is also a good resource.

Terms:
O Over
U Under
O1U1 Take the strand Over one and Under one other strand.
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vamty22 days ago

This is a well done starter guide for making a whip, good job! I'm a professional whip maker in Massachusetts and I've made several hundred whips. I hope you aren't offended if I offer a little bit of advice.
When deciding on a handle core you want to keep in mind that wood will absorb moisture and swell/shrink quite a bit. This will drastically shorten the life and impede the performance of the whip. Almost all professionals use 1/4" steel rods; They cost a few dollars for a 3ft rod at most hardware stores. With the width of the handle, your best performance will come when the finished handle is 3/4" thick. Traditional stock whips have handles slightly thinner than that. American Stock handles are 18" and Australian are traditionally 21". I prefer the Australian stocks (they are lighter and thus faster). My biggest advice is to always, always, always remove the white inner core from the paracord. The white core is prone to shrinking and will cause your finished whip to warp drastically. Also, by removing the cores, your whip will have less bumps and lumps in them improving the flow of energy and the overall look of the whip.
A general guide line for core/belly/overlay is that the core should have a tapered weight going 7/8 of the length of the finished whip. The belly should go 3/4 and the overlay (obviously) goes the full length.
If you want to learn some smoother techniques, look up Em-brand-whips on Youtube. Bernie does a wonderful job of offering instruction. Also, Ron Edwards book "How to Make Whips" is an amazing resource.
-Theodore - ViciousWhips.com

havaren1 month ago

Do you have a better visual for step 26? the visuals are just confusing me....

kylet13 months ago
Can I use a 1 inch dowel and will this effect it?
SAI Peregrinus (author)  kylet13 months ago
You want a dowel that is comfortable in hand when wrapped in 2 layers of paracord. 1 inch might be a bit thick, but shouldn't be a problem if it's comfortable to you.
willowwhip5 months ago
First off, I want to say that I am really excited to start this project; I never thought I would be able to just make a whip but now have a matched pair of 4ft, 16 strand snake whips planned for a Christmas present. To double check my planning: OVERLAY cut& burn lengths will be: 2x98 - fold at 84 1st + full. 84/14 (in inches) 2x112 - fold at 84 2nd + full 84/28 2x126 - fold at 84 3rd + full 84/42 2x126 - fold at 70 4th + 5th 70/56 BELLY cut& burn lengths 2x84 - fold in half 2x112 - fold in half CORE 24+12 of ball cord 36 + 48 unweighted Bringing me to a grand total of 658in of each color, plus 120in of one (plus a few feet of spare) Comes to minimum 60ft black and ~80 of lime per whip A question on the prep work: the ball cord and the belly plait are gutted; are the overlay and two long core strands gutted as well? Thank you for making this project possible!
SAI Peregrinus (author)  willowwhip5 months ago
The overlay is gutted, the long core strands are not.

The measurements look about right at first glance, though I've not actually calculated them out. Most paracord shops sell in 100 foot hanks anyway, (eg Supplycaptain.com sells 100ft for $7) so buying 4 hanks should give you some to spare. tdavis666 months ago So on the bullwhip the core strands you said to cut the longest one at 63 inches, and since it is supposed to be a 6ft. whip, I was wondering how it ended up being 6ft if it's only 63"? Do you just go past that on the overlay doing it on no strands or what? If you could post some pictures of the finished bullwhip belly that would be great. Thanks SAI Peregrinus (author) tdavis666 months ago The core goes beyond the belly. You can see a picture of it in step 5, substep 11. The overlay goes beyond the belly and core. ahumphries6 months ago Hi I am wanting to make an 8ft bullwhip how far should I shot it to have an ideal weight for whipping ? How would I work out the lengths to the plats too ? I don't understand the way you have the formula on your instructable sorry, I will have an 8.2 ft core but unsure how to calculate the strands for platting it. Thanks I am guessing the 6*12*1.75 is 6 being length of whip ? But unsure on the others thanks SAI Peregrinus (author) ahumphries6 months ago For the shot, the ideal weight depends on the user's preference and the intended use of the whip. More shot makes for a heavier base, so a larger mass change from the handle to the cracker and thus a greater acceleration and louder crack. The formula, with units: 6 ft * 12 in/ft * 1.75 = 126 in. (TeX$6ft\times12\frac{{in}}{ft}\times1.75=126in\$) It's just converting feet to inches, then multiplying by 1.75 to give extra length for the braiding (the strands spiral around the core/belly, and you need some room to work with.) Really it's just WhipLength * 1.75 (or WhipLength * 1.5 if you don't need as much extra cord due to being an experienced plaiter.) The other strands drop out at intervals along the thong, so you cut them shorter so as not to waste cord. You COULD do the entire thing with full-length strands, but there would be quite a lot of waste. Paracord is cheap, but it's not THAT cheap. If in doubt, err on the side of wasting some cord by making the strands too long. You can always cut more off, you can't easily add more in.
To explain the reasoning, and how to figure out what the lengths should be:
So you have a strand length of 126" for a 6 foot whip. You could cut 12 strands 126" long and bind all 12 strands together at the handle end, but that's hard to do, it's far easier to start the plaiting in the middle of the strands. So you make 6 strands 252" and fold them in half. But that wastes cord, since you need to drop strands in pairs to get a good taper. If you want 6 strands to be full length for the fall knot (a good number) then you can pick your strand drop locations to determine how the whip tapers. If we want a perfectly even taper there will be three drops (6 strands dropping out in pairs) so the whip gets divided into 4 parts (start -> 1st drop, 1st drop -> 2nd drop, 2nd drop -> 3rd drop, 3rd drop -> end) of equal length. 126"/4=31.5". 252"-31.5"=220.5", 252"-63"=189", 252"-94.5"=157.5".
I've updated step 14 with a more thorough explanation of the strand drop math.
ahumphries6 months ago
I have managed to work it out I am guessing the 6= length of whip 12 = number of plats and 1.75 being increase in length of whip? So for an 8ft it would be 8*12*1.75?
CorporalPunishment7 months ago
whips are measured in feet cause MERICA!
SAI Peregrinus (author)  CorporalPunishment7 months ago
Essentially yes. America and Australia were major users of whips even after the use declined in other countries, and being former British colonies they use systems based on the Imperial system of measurement.
tdavis667 months ago
So I was a little confused on the bullwhip instructions. When you make the "ballcord" do you seal one end as you put the bbs in, and then seal the other when you're done? Then after you get the core done you attach the belly to the core on the bullwhip too, right? Then most of the instructions are the same for the stock whip and bull whip? Thanks a lot, your instructions are really good.
SAI Peregrinus (author)  tdavis667 months ago
Correct on all counts. Thanks for the praise!
Lohan727 months ago
I've started making the 6' snake whip per your instructions, my question is I would also like to make a 3' or 4' snake whip what would the ball chain and para cord lengths be for that?
Those were some really great detailed instructions. I have a mess load of paracord a paratrooper friend of mine gave me and now I know what I'm going to do with it.
aclugston11 months ago
I've been having a lot of trouble with this wee knot, I finally got something that i thought was right on my whip, but upon looking at yours i realize that some of my cords on the way down on the lump knot weren't doubled up. Not sure if it helps, but it's the ones going from right to left(with the knot facing up). I'm about to move onto my second whip from your instructable(the first one cracked well, but it was only my 2nd whip, and I wasn't pleased with the build quality, so I'm making another) and I'd like my next one to be perfect, so any help with my knot problem would be great.
SAI Peregrinus (author)  aclugston11 months ago
When you start doubling the strands make sure you're using all of the working ends, not just half of them. Also make sure you follow the same strand all the way around until you come back to where you started doubling it.
aclugston11 months ago
thanks for the quick reply. So just so I've got this right, from top to bottom on the overlay, the lengths would be 135", 52", 135", 83", 135" and 115"(from the centre)? And they way you say to go 18" then drop 2 strands, is that 18" from the base of the handle, so 9" from the end of the handle? And i saw you said in a previous comment that you used 4mm BBs, but in your pictures it looks like a much larger size of BB
(sorry for not putting this as a reply, it wouldn't let me for some reason :S )
SAI Peregrinus (author)  aclugston11 months ago
Strand lengths look correct.
18" from the base of the handle, yes.
The bb container says 4mm, my calipers say 4.35mm.
aclugston11 months ago
Hello, I am slightly confused by your instruction for the bullwhip for the lengths of cord i will need, and also the part about not starting in the middle to account for dropping strands. I have made a paracord bullwhip before using another instructable, but I want to give this one a go as it looks to give a better grip, however in my last one i just folded the chords in half to get the desired lengths. Could you possibly list the lengths needed for the bullwhip and explain the reason behind starting 126 inches from one side?
SAI Peregrinus (author)  aclugston11 months ago
Strand lengths:
2x 187", 2x 218", 2x 250" for a 12 plait whip.
The reason to start 126" (135" for a bullwhip) from the middle is just a way to reduce waste cord. If you were to make the strands longer and fold them in half (they'd be 252" for a stockwhip or snake, 270" for bullwhips with 9" handles) you'd have more excess when you went to drop a strand, by starting with an offset your strands will end a bit beyond where you would want to drop them anyway, so you should have at most 2-6 inches of waste instead of several feet.
nneander1 year ago
Great tutorial! Thank you so much for the time and effort put behind this. I do have one question. I'd like to make a signal whip. I've made a 3' and a 6' snake using your instructions and they've turned out well. How do you weave the strands directly into the popper instead of using a fall? I've spent too many hours googling to no avail. I also own the Edwards "how to..." book and he doesn't include signal whips in his instructions either. Any help would be truly appreciated.
SAI Peregrinus (author)  nneander1 year ago
Signal whips use a fall and replaceable popper, just not a replaceable fall. Simply make one of the core strands extra long, this becomes the fall. Then attach a popper.
pcbandit1 year ago
step 6 for the bullwhip do you attach the belly on the spot you taped of further down?
SAI Peregrinus (author)  pcbandit1 year ago
Since the core is inserted into the handle of the bullwhip I attach the belly at the taper of the handle, so that the taper stays roughly even.
wwlk1 year ago
Hello...

Let me say, your tutorial is the best about nylon whipmaking I´ve ever seen, and I´ve been searching a lot...

I only have one more question about the construction:
How do I determine the correct length of weighted parts of the core (the strands filled with bb´s) accoring to the length of my whip?

I´ve built a bull and a snake following your tutroial but now I would like to make something very short....2, max. 3 foot long...
The other formulas considering strand lengths and drops work well, but I need to know about the length of the weightened core...

Thanks for your precious work here...
SAI Peregrinus (author)  wwlk1 year ago
Thanks for the kind words!

1/3 to 1/2 of the whip should be weighted. With a bullwhip much of that weight comes from the handle, so I use less cord, with a snakewhip there is no extra handle, so the full 1/2 length gets ballcord.

Of course this can vary depending on what you want. I've made some very small "pocket snakes" with ballcord all the way to the end, and a very heavy weighted handle end. These are traditionally made because a whip is legal, while a blackjack is not. For faster fancy-crack whips I tend to use less (or no) weighting to make fancy patterns easier, while more weight makes getting a loud crack easier.

So first figure out what you want, then determine how much weight you need. More weight = louder but harder to crack rapidly, less weight = softer and easier to crack rapidly.
Mr.Tom1 year ago
I've made three paracord bullwhips and after seeing this and a few videos about the Australian National Whip Cracking Championships, I've decided to try a pair of stockwhips. My question is this: for the loops on the stock and the overlay instead of the method you use could you just figure out strand lengths find the middle (exactly half of each strand) put them all together and then flat braid them together? Just clip them together with a clamp of some sort (I'm thinking a chip bag clip should work great) braid from one side, move the clip, and then braid from the other side to make it even then attach it to the stock/overlay. It seems like it would be just as easy to braid and much easier to get the lengths right. Sorry if this all seems confusing. I'll see if I can post some pics when I get to that point.
SAI Peregrinus (author)  Mr.Tom1 year ago
If I'm understanding correctly yes, it should work. It will hang a bit differently, but I don't think it will make a huge difference to how the whip works.
robsanz1 year ago
SAI:

Thanks for the great instructions on making a whip. I've been looking for this for some time now. Great instructions and great looking whips!

Robert
ironbaer1 year ago
So I'm having a complete arsehole of a time trying to start this step. I've tried 3 times to attach my belly to the core and each has failed. I can get the diamond down decent but can't get past the next step. Your second photo is confusing me on how to do the O1U1. Any tips?
zbichard2 years ago
I've already completed a whip following your instructions and love it. Thanks for the great instructable. I am interested in making a longer whip... considerably longer say 11 foot florida cow whip, is there a formula you found, or a way you know of for calculating lengths of cord needed for each step given an aproximate desired finished length?
SAI Peregrinus (author)  zbichard2 years ago
Yes, there is a formula for it.
Pick how long you want the whip.
Pick how many strands you want. Divide the length of the whip by HALF this number, that's how far apart the strand drops will be.
Divide the whip length by 4. This is the length of your shortest core strand. Multiples of this are the lengths of the other core strands.
Multiply the whip length by 3.5 (I get this from 1.75x the length x2 because the strands are folded in half. If it were a leather whip one would multiply by 1.75,)
Do the same with the strand drop distance.
You now have your total length, and a length for each set of strands. The longest strand of the core comes out to the end of the whip, and your belly plait should end 1 strand-drop length away from the end, so chose the lengths of its strands appropriately.
EG 11 foot whip, 16 plait. Convert to inches for convenience.
132" whip.
132/8=16.5" between strand drops (1'4.5")
132/4=33", 66", 99", and 132" core strands.
132*3.5=462" for the longest overlay strand.
16.5*3.5=57.75" off the strand length for each strand drop.
The rest of the overlay strands will be: 404.25", 346.5", 288.75", 231", 173.25", 115.5", 57.75"
The belly is an 8 plait, going out to 115.5", so:
115.5/4=28.875" between strand drops.
28.875*3.5=101" off each strand.
115.5*3.5=404" for the longest strand.
The rest will be 303", 202", and 101" long.
1 year ago
I began working on a snake whip here a few days ago. I have the core construted, but I have a question about the lengths of strands.
Using your example the shortest belly strand is 101". This strand won't make it to the end of the belly(115"), so I'm assuming that it gets folded and accounts for strand drops. How should these strands be folded to account for the drops?
Secondly, in your tutorial you only have two lengths for your belly strands, are these two different methods?
2 years ago
Thanks for all your help. I truly do appreciate all your insight on whipmaking. I hope this doesn't offend you and I truly didn't mean to if it does, I am just trying to figure this out to the best of my ability and you happen to be my "mentor".

I was working out your whip on here to try to make sure I was doing the math right on my own and I came across:

"For the overlay there are 12 strands total, so 6 strands folded over. I don't fold them in half, that wastes cord when dropping strands. Instead I chose how many strands will go all the way to the end (usually 6 or 4) and figure out the length of the side strands. 6*12*1.75 (1.75 is a reasonable "safety" margin for the extra amount taken up by plaiting) = 126" long strands. Accounting for strand drops every 18": 2x 169" (14'1") 2x 200" (16'8") 2x 232" (19'4") Find the "middles" (actually 126" from one side of each of the strands, lay them out with 3 long sides & 3 short on the left, 3 each on the right, and start a 12-strand diamond. "

Given my math is correct, You subtracted 20" from the longest 252" strand to give the 232" piece, then subtracted about 31.5 thereafter, what was your reason for subtracting 20" the first time?
SAI Peregrinus (author)  zbichard2 years ago
Aaah, yes. My post above showed for folding in half, in the tutorial I only folded the necessary length.

Your error is the 252" bit, I never use 252" long strands anywhere.
So we want a 16 plait whip, with 6 of the strands extending the full length.
After folding, we want:
6x 132" strands, the rest evenly spaced strand drops, without wasting cord.
So 132/4 = strand drop distance = 22" (Why divided by 4? because there are 10 strands left, in pairs, and if we divide by 5 the last pair would be 0" long. We want them 1 strand drop out, so divide by 4 to get even drops with a nice start.)
2x 132-22 = 110"
2x 110-22 = 88"
2x 88-22 = 66"
2x 66-22 = 44"
2x 44-22 = 22"
But that's after folding! What about before? Well, just pair them up, shortest to longest.
2x 132+22 = 154"
2x 132+44 = 176"
2x 132+66 = 198" (we have now used up the 132" strands, so the 88 and 110 inchers get paired...
2x 110+88 = 198" strands Hey, it's the same as above! They just get folded differently. This will happen sometimes. I sometimes use masking tape tags at the fold point to remind me which strand is which.

As for offending me, I made this tutorial to teach some basic whipmaking. Expanding on it to make longer/fancier whips is certainly a good thing, and I'd much rather know that people are getting use out of the tutorial as a jumping off point than have it tell you only how to make one kind of whip. (well, three.) Since the questions and answers are public they can help anyone else who runs into the same problems later on. So no, I'm not offended at all.
1 year ago
Would the total amount of paracord for a 11ft 16 plait bullwhip be:

18" - Ballcord (I doubt that is the correct length)

33" + 66" + 99" + 132" = 330" - Core Strands

101" + 202" + 303" + 404" = 1010" - Belly Strands (Are these folded in half?)

154" + 176" + 198" + 198" = 726" x 2 = 1452" Overlay Strands (Folded at 132" right?)

16" Bullwhip handle = 32" + for each overlay strand? (derived from 9" bullwhip handle in your instructable + 18" for each overlay strand)

2x154 + 32 = 186"
2x176 + 32 = 208"
2x198 + 32 = 230"
2x198 + 32 = 230"

186" + 208" + 230" + 230" = 854" x 2 = 1708"

Grand Total of 3066"
2 years ago
Making your stock whip, you used 126" as your "middle" for your overlay strands. How did you figure 126" needed to be your middle?