Introduction: Paracord Bullwhip

Picture of Paracord Bullwhip

Hello everybody!

I've been enjoying this site for long and have finally found enough time to write a first Instructable by myself.

I'll will share with you how to make a real paracord bullwhip.

It should not be that hard for those of you who know their way through ropes, knots and braiding.
I wouldn't recommend this as a beginner project though.
It involves careful and regular braiding of up to 12 strands a bit over 12 feet long, which can be a bit messy or frustrating if you're not familiar with manipulating such lengths of cord.
You will also need to know ( or be willing to learn) some 'advanced' knots to make it look nice, and I won't cover that lengthly point in this Instructable since there is already a lot of resources on that topic on the Net.
I however do plan on doing a few other Instructables on that topic if people are interested in it.

We will be making a 2.50m ( ~8.2ft) whip, from handle tip to fall, not including the cracker.

Take your time with this one, you'll get what you give.
It took me maybe a week or so worth of evenings to complete it.

The result was well worth it, this thing cracks loudly and easily as expected and it ended up being a very rewarding project.

I'd like to thank "Bullwhipcracker" for his nice info  about whip making that served as an inspiration for this project and saved me some headaches about figuring out the correct lengths for the different steps.
I was unable to find a homepage or anything that links directly to his work to give him proper credit though.

Now, let's get to the fun stuff :)

Here's a short vid showing that it's indeed the real deal.

Step 1: You Will Need...

Picture of You Will Need...

First things first, for this project you will need :

-    Paracord ( lots of it ) I started with 60m (196 ft.) and had maybe 15m left after I finished.
      But better be safe than sorry on this point :)
-    2m (6.5ft ) of some light chain, the kind you find on lamps or that holds your sink plug.
-    Duct tape and/or electrical tape
-    1 "Big" Nail ( Big meaning that it would do the trick as a handle )
-    Some medium width string to tie the cracker
-    Something that cuts ( my trusted Surge in that case)
-    Something that makes fire to neatly melt the ends of your butchered paracord.
     A Zippo is a nice choice, it will get you a nice flame and stand on the desk by itself while you use both hands to melt/cut the paracord over the flame.
-    Measuring tape
-    Patience

Optionally you might find useful to have:
-    Some kind of marlinspike needle for dressing the fancy knots.
-    A file or some kind of grinder or Dremel tool to cut grooves in the "handle"
-    A spot  to tie the whip to while you're plaiting ( holding it between my knees worked well in my case ) you could also use a lightly tightened vice.

Also this project works with mainly gutted paracord so you will end up with vast amounts of unused inner strands.

Let me know if you think making a hammock, net or bag out of them would be an interesting Instructable :)

Step 2: Some Usefull Knotting Ressources

Picture of Some Usefull Knotting Ressources

As I said in the introduction, this project will also require you to know and master a few knots, both for practical and decorative purposes.

I'll assume you either do know them or will be able to learn them so I will not be covering them here . There are a lot of great ressources about that on the Internet.
( I also plan on doing separate instructables on these various knots soon)

- The half hitch and the overhand knot ( you DO know them ,trust me :) )
- Basic rope whipping ( to hold strands together, the picture below should be enough )
- The constrictor knot, serves the same purpose as the above.
- The star knot ( makes a wonderfull handle knob)
Best explained here :
- The matthew walker knot ( holds well as a final knot around the handle)
( Sorry, I couldn't find any really clear tutorial to share on this one )
- The turk's head if you want to mark the end of the handle.
- Any kind of multi-strand knot you know and would like to use as a decoration on the handle ( crown knot wrappings, half hitch coverings, various round braids..)

Only the first three of the list are really mandatory if all you need is a working whip.
But it would be sad not to wrap things up in your favorite fancy knots.

See the last picture to see what goes where.

Step 3: Cutting Things to Length

Picture of Cutting Things to Length

Ok, so here i'll sum up all of the various lengths you will need.
I'll remind them in the revelant steps so you don't need to take notes for now.

Our whip will  be made of 3 layers :
The guts, that will provide some weight and springiness, and two layers of plaiting around it.

You will need:

For the guts :
-    x1    2m strand  ( 6.5ft )
-    x1    1m strand   (3.30 ft )
-    x1    80cm strand   ( 2.6ft )
-    x1    50 cm strand (1.6 ft)

along with the corresponding 3 lengths of  lamp chain for the shorter ones :
-    90cm   (2.95ft )
-    60 cm   (1.95ft )
-    30 cm   (1ft )

The first layer wil be a 8 strand round plait ( 4 strands folded in half will make it neater )
-     2x 5m       -> 4x 2,5       (16.4ft )
-     1X 3m      ->  2x 1,5      (9.90 ft)
-     1x 4,30m -> 2x 2,15     (14.10 ft )

The outer layer will be a 12 strand plait ( again, 6 strands folded in half )
-    2x 7,30m   (24 ft)    
-    1x 5,50m   (18 ft ) 
-    1x 5m         (16.4ft)
-    1x 4,30m   (14.10ft )
-    1x 3m         (9.90 ft )

Please note that this is not an exact science.
These are the lengths I used and that worked for me.
I had some leftover after this,but it is still better than lacking some length after hours of plaiting right ? :)
The exact amount of cord you'll end up using depends on many factors ( how tight you plait, the thickness of the core...)

You don't have to cut all that mess in advance, especially since you're going to gut most of these strands.

I also suggest to think in advance of a way of storing the leftover inner strands for later use if you don't want to end up with 7times more of an inner strand spaghetti meal than what you began with :)

Step 4: Preparing the Core

Picture of Preparing the Core

For this first step, you will need your first 4 strands of paracord and the 3 corresponding lengths of lamp chain:

-    x1    2m strand (6.55 ft )
-    x1    1m strand (3.30 ft )
-    x1    80cm strand (2.60ft )
-    x1    50 cm strand (1.60ft )

-    90cm     (3 ft )
-    60 cm    (2 ft )
-    30 cm    (1 ft )

You will remove the inner strands from the 3 shortest pieces... but wait !
You will then have to put the corresponding lengths of chain into the corresponding strands and this can be a real pain without the proper technique.

I've tried a few:
Making a wire needle to pull the chain through the strand, hand threading cm by cm, threading a whole wire through it first and pulling it back with the chain taped to it...
None of them worked...

On the other hand, this last technique did wonders :
Carefully remove 6 of the 7 inner strands taking great care not to let the last one slip along with it's friends ( you can tie it around a finger, a pen or anything that will stay out of the paracord sheath).
Then tie one end of the last inner strand 1-3 balls away from the end of the lamp chain using the smallest knot possible.(  preceding it with half hitches between every ball might  help to improve it's lengthwise pull tolerance as knots tied in those slick inner strands tend to be a bit slippery )

Then just pull the inner strand out of the cord to get the chain in place and cut the string off.

If by mistake your last inner strand slips out of the sheath early or alone, you might try to feed it back through the cord by tying it to a long piece of stiff wire ( longer than the cord ).
Or you might just cut another piece of paracord and start over.

Step 5: Beginning the Core

Picture of Beginning the Core

We will now bind those first strands to the handle.

Using your grinder/file/dremel/teeth (no, don't ! ), put a small groove near the tip of the nail.
That way you'll be able to tie the strands efficiently here and only have a minimal thickness change.

Then, tie the 4 strands evenly spread around the nail.
Fasten them where the groove is using a constrictor knot ( or two ) and using one of the inner strands you just took out ouf the cords.
Do this as tight as you can get it, you don't want your whip to break there.

Now you can wrap the constrictor knots with a basic whipping to ensure it won't slip.

Being paranoïd, I also whipped mine once above and twice below the main whipping to be sure it wouldn't come apart.

You could also add a bit of duct tape there being careful not to make it bulky.
I diddn't since the whippings were going to hold well anyway.

Trim the cords close to the whippings ( not to close so as not to let them spill open )

Step 6: Properly Twisting Strands

Picture of Properly Twisting Strands

To make sure your whip will have consistent behaviour when bent in all directions, you should then twist the strands together.

If you've ever made your own twisted rope, you know how to do this properly.

If you haven't, here is a short video illustrating the process.

Basically, you twist every strand a bit in one direction and then lay it against the others wrapping it in the opposite direction.
The same techniques applies for 4,3, or 2 strand sections.

Twisting the strands:

Step 7: Wrapping the Guts

Picture of Wrapping the Guts

When you're done neatly twisting the strands, you are ready to wrap the guts in Duct Tape.
Lay the tape 45° across the strands, and wrap it up to the end of the 3rd cord in a single and even layer.

Take great care to keep the inner strands untangled to get an even surface.
Try to keep them in a round section as much as possible.

I used some thin duct tape that i had laying around  at the momment and the result felt pretty limp to me at this point.

So i decided to add a 2nd layer of some thicker more rubbery electrical tape.`
You may or may not want to add this second layer depending on what you have on hand and how your whip behaves at this point.

Try to make it neater than in the first picture, I took it hastly on a new nail after the project was finished to illustrate this step.

Step 8: Begining the First Layer

Picture of Begining the First Layer

You are now ready to begin plaiting the first layer.

Get the appropriate lengths of paracord to make this 8 strand round plait:

-     2x 5m           -> 4x 2,5      (16.4ft)
-     1X 3m          ->  2x 1,5     ( 9.90 ft )
-     1x 4,30m     -> 2x 2,15    (14.10 ft )

Take the inner strands out of them, save for later use.
Don't forget to melt the ends before going on.
From now your gutted paracord will tend to lay flat.
You can run it once or twice around a soft round spot to make it even if you want. ( a metal bar or pipe of some kind )
You could also just run it through your fingers as I did, but do this carefully so as not to burn your fingers, you'll need them later  ;)

Next, fold the 4 pieces in half and work with the middle of the cords.
How you group them doesn't matter for the next step.

From there, follow the pictures to lay them out properly :

-    Using a first pair ( again, which strands doesn't matter), cross them in front of the handle as pictured.
-    Then, thread the second pair through the loop and lay it as in the third picture.

Make sure all the lengths are even on both sides while you still can :)

( For the sake of simplicity i'm not showing the actual whip here but a "model" of it using 2 different colors.
Also note that your strands should be gutted and flat at this point )

Step 9: Plaiting the 8 Strand Layer

Picture of Plaiting the 8 Strand Layer

Now the actual plaiting.
Don't let the amount of strands frighten you, the actual thing is actually quite easy to remember.
( Although mastering the technique might take some mishaps first ;)

From now on, remember to keep your strands neat, flat and dont let them overlap.

You will have 4 strands laying neatly arranged on each side.
Begin with the right top one, this will be the "working strand" for that pass.

-    Take the working strand
-    Pass it around the back so it gets to the left side
-    On this  side you have your 4 left strands.
-    Pull the working strand under the first two, and over the last two
-    Lay it on the right side
-    The working strand ends lined up with the remaining 3 strands of the right side.
-    It began at the top of the right side, and ended up at the bottom of it.

You've just completed one "pass"

Now , do the same with the top strand from the left side, only in reverse :

-    Take the working strand
-    Pass it around the back so it gets to the right side
-    On this side you have your 4 right strands.
-    Pull the working strand under the first two, and over the last two ( no inversion in this step )
-    Lay it on the left side
-    The working strand ends lined up with the remaining 3 strands of the left side.
-     It began at the top of the left side, and ended up at the bottom of it.

At this point you probably got the trick, that's all there is to it:
-    You take one sides' top strand,
-    make it travel around the back ,
-    under 2-over2 on the opposite side
-    lay it at the bottom of it's beginning side.
-    repeat with the top strand of the opposite side, on and on...

Step 10: Keeping Things Neat

Picture of Keeping Things Neat

You want your plait to be as even and smooth as possible.
The tighter the better also.

It would be very hard to plait it tight right as you do it.

Instead, I suggest that you first plait 4 "passes" ( 2 right, 2 left), then hold on tight on both sides and tighten the last lines one by one , beginning with the top ones and alternating sides.
( top right, top left, 2nd top right, 2nd top left  .....   bottom right bottom left )
Follow the  numbers on the first picture if you don't get it.

The upper strands should hold tight if you don't release your pull on both sides too much.
The 2-4 bottom ones may not stay very tight but that's ok: after the 4 next "passes" they'll become the top ones and get tightened as desired.

Continue plaiting and tightening regularly up to the spot where the shortest gut-strand ends.
When you reach it , go just a bit past it ( by a few passes ) and then you'll proceed to "drop" a first couple of strands to accommodate the thickness change: see next step.

Step 11: Dropping Strands

Picture of Dropping Strands

When you reach one of the points where the whip gets thinner, you'll need to cleanly "drop" two of your working strands so the number of them remains adequate to the thickness.

This step is an easy one as well and should produce a seamless transition from 8 to 6 strand-plait.

As you reach the thinning spot, two of your strands will be close to running out as you'll probably have only a few inches left on them( 10-15 cm or so (0.5 ft )).
These will be the strands you will drop ( the shortest ones to make things simple ).

The actual drop:

-    As you plait, each strand becomes the active one for each pass when it reaches the top of it's respective side.
-    The drop will occur just before the short strands reach the top position.As you're about to work with the opposite side's top strand.
-    Simply let the to be dropped strand fall under the plane in which all strands of the corresponding side are aligned.
-    Then, push the 2 bottom strands of the same side up, close to the top strand
-    You end up grasping 3 strands :the top one+ the 2 bottom ones.
-    Now work with the opposite side's top strand as you would if the drop did not occur.
-    The formula changes now : form "under 2, over 2 ", it becomes "under 2 , over 1 "

Make sur you "trap" the dropped strand agaisnt the core with the working one.

Now the to-be-dropped strand on the other side should have reached the next-to-top posiion.
( if it ends up on top right now,this means you began your drop one pass to late and should have beginned dropping on the other side).

Simply repeat the manoeuver on this side :
-    let the shortest strand fall and lay it against the core
-    put the remaining bottom strands up where the dropped one used to be
-    work as you would with the opposite's side top strand.

Remember, from now on, you're plaiting a 6 strands plait.
The formula is under 2 , over 1.

Do this a couple of inches or so ( 5 cm , 0.15ft ), being sure you trap both dropped strands against the core with each pass, then cut one of the strands.
Go on for another couple inches and cut the 2nd one.
Both strands will remain hidden under the plait.

Once again, the pictures for this step are an illustration and not the actual whip.
The drop does not occur on the handle, but on the guts , at the spot where the whip becomes thinner.

Step 12: Finishing the First Layer

Picture of Finishing the First Layer

You will have to perform the 2 strands drop routine again at the next  spot where the whip gets thinner .
The technique remains the same.

When you reach the 4 strand plait, the formula simply becomes  " under 1 over one" on each side.

Plait the 4 strand plait up to the point where the core becomes the single unwrapped paracord strand.
You should have a few inches of strands left ( up to 15-20 cm / 0.5-0.6 ft )

When you're there, temporarly tape the strands together so they dont come appart while you're plaiting the second layer.

You might want also want to mark the spots where the whips goes thinner, it will make it easier to know when to drop strands on the next layer.

When you reach those spots, tie a small constrictor knot using one of your leftover inner strands or use a bit of duct tape depending on your preferences.

Step 13: Making the Handle Transition Stiff

Picture of Making the Handle Transition Stiff

At this point the whole thing should start to resemble a real whip and behave like one.

Resist the temptation of playing with it too much though, you wouldn't like to see all that hard plaiting coming undone would you ? :)

You might find that the transition between the handle and the core is still a bit limp, we're going to reinforce things up a bit.

FIrst , cover the transition with a looong, tight whipping.
When making the round turns, let the inner loop be out for a few turns every now and then.
Otherwise the combined friction of all those turns wouldn't allow you to pull the loop inside the knot at the end.
Take some time time to make this really tight.

Then cover the whipping with a tight layer of strong tape as you did for the core.
Don't go all the way up, just cover a few inches before and after the knot.

What you're looking for, is this part of the whip to stand up straight when held vertically (  = not bending at a wild angle under the whips own weight ).

Step 14: Plaiting the 12 Strands Outer Layer

Picture of Plaiting the 12 Strands Outer Layer

You already guess what goes in this step.

First , get/cut your strands for this layer :

-    2x 7,30m
-    1x 5,50m
-    1x 5m
-    1x 4,30m
-    1x 3m

Once again, take the inner strands out and fold your gutted paracord in half .
Work from the middle to get your 12 strands.

Begin this layer as you did the first one, only arranging the strands by groups of  3 instead  of pairs (see pictures)
Begin plaiting with the upper right strand, then go on as you did so far.

The formula for the 12 plait is under 3, over 3 .
remember to keep things tight and even.

When you reach the marks where the whip becomes thinner,go a bit past them ( remove your marking aid ) and drop 2 strands as in the previous steps.

The formula for the 10 plait is under 3, over 2.
For the 8 plait it is under 2 over 2.

Continue the 8 strand plait until you reach the point where the taped part of the inner layer is.
Remove the tape.

Cut the 2 shortest strands of the inner layer there.
Cut the remaining 2 at 10cm(0.30 ft)  and 15-20cm (0.5-0.65 ft )

Continue the 8 plait over these.

Drop to a 6 plait ( under 2 over 1 ) as you progress.
Then to the 4 plait ( under 1 over 1) when to the end of  the lone inner cord.

Keep 15 cm of strands at the end to tie the fall knot.( next step)

  Once again, the pictures featuring orange paracord are illustrations, they're not what your actual whip should look like at this point.

Step 15: Finishing Off

Picture of Finishing Off

This part might be a little tricky.
I'll once again show it with 2 colors of paracord to make things clear.

When you reach the end of the plait you will have:
-    4 strands from your plait
-     1 strand from the core.

Prepare the "fall" as shown:

-    Cut an armlength of paracord
-    Be sure to melt both ends
-    Pierce it near the top
-    Thread the other end of it through the hole ( This can be very tricky, make sure you melt the end of the cord in the smoothest and sharpest fashion you can.)
-   Put the loop you just frmed around the end of your whip.

Then you will need to tie that mess together in a clean way.
The theory behind it is quite simple: you will use each of the 5 strands in turn to make a half hitch around ALL the other strands.
It's easy to get lost at this point since all those strands will look alike.

Don't make it tight yet.

When you've tied your 5 knots ( the last one being the one tied with the core strand), use the help of something thin like your marlinspike, a big nail or the awl from your favorite multitool to thread this last strand through all of the previous knots.

Then put it's end through the loop of your fall, tighten the loop, and pull on the fall so it goes inside the knots, altogether with your last strand.

Then you can finally make it as tight as you can, and trim the edges.

Don't get frustrated if you can't get it right, i had to do this again a few times, both during the original project and the shooting of the additionnal pictures.

Step 16: Making the Cracker

Picture of Making the Cracker

The last thing we will need to make things fully functional is the cracker.
It's the part of the whip that makes the actual noise.

This is a throw away part of your whip as it will wear with use.
When it becomes to damaged, just untie it,trash it  and make a new one .

To make it :

-    Take an arm length piece of your string
-    Fold it in half, then twist the two strands together as you did when making the guts.
-    Tie both strands in an overhand knot a few cm from the end
-    Fray the ends

Then tie it to the fall as pictured.

Step 17: Making It Yours !

Picture of Making It Yours !

Congratulations !

You just got a homemade fully functional whip :)

At this point the finishing touch is up to you.
Fell free to decorate it with all your favorite knots or any other skills.

Here is what I have done:

-    Tied a star knot at the end of the handle
-    Made it hold with a Matthew Walker's knot.

Here are some suggestions for making yours unique :

-    Use different colors of paracord in your plaiting
-    Build up handles using fancy knots ( see the marlinspike picture for an example )
-    Use turks heads to mark the upper end of the handle
-    Wrap the handle in leather
-    Use various braids to make the handle
-    Use a hollowed out golf ball at the end of the handle, cover it with a monkey fist..
-    Use some carved wood handle instead of the nail, do something nice with the protruding end.

I will probably soon make a few other Instructables on the advanced knots if you lack inspiration.

Step 18: Trying Things Out

Ok, now go outside for a test run of your new toy.

Cracking your whip is about technique, not force ( and my technique just plain sucks , these are my first tries :)
They're lots of vids on youtube teaching you proper moves.Be sure to check a few out before trying to go Indianna Jones.

Remember to do this outside, and wear proper face protection untill you feel completely confident with it.
( A full face paintball mask would not be too much for beginners, it's SO easy to have the thing jump back at your face even if you think you are being carefull... And trust me...that hurts.)

I hope you enjoyed this instructable as much as I did doing this project.

Have fun and play safe!

Leave suggestions in the comments if you think that some steps deserve further explanation.

Step 19: FInal Reference Sheet

Picture of FInal Reference Sheet

Here's a final reference sheet with all the revealant data for making the whip once you've understood the process.

It sums up everything number related :)

You will need (Total):

-    60m (196 ft.) of paracord
-    2m (6.5ft ) of lamp chain

Then cut it to the following lengths:

For the guts :
-    x1    2m strand  ( 6.5ft )
-    x1    1m strand   (3.30 ft )
-    x1    80cm strand   ( 2.6ft )
-    x1    50 cm strand (1.6 ft)

Along with the corresponding 3 lengths of  lamp chain for the shorter strands :
-    90cm   (2.95ft )
-    60 cm   (1.95ft )
-    30 cm   (1ft )

The first layer is a 8 strand round plait
-     2x 5m       -> 4x 2,5       (16.4ft )
-     1X 3m      ->  2x 1,5      (9.90 ft)
-     1x 4,30m -> 2x 2,15     (14.10 ft )

The outer layer is a 12 strand plait:
-    2x 7,30m   (24 ft)    
-    1x 5,50m   (18 ft ) 
-    1x 5m         (16.4ft)
-    1x 4,30m   (14.10ft )
-    1x 3m         (9.90 ft )

The formulas for the various plaits:

12 strand:   Under 3 Over 3
10 strand:   Under 3 Over 2
8 strand:     Under 2 Over 2
6 strand:     Under 2 Over 1
4 strand:     Under 1 Over 1


NealM4 (author)2016-01-19

This is by far one of the best instructions I've read. Very clear. My first para cord project ever and turned out better then I thought. I wanna make another one now and work out the kinks on it.

I was also wondering how you determine the lengths for plaiting. I'd love to make one 10-12 feet long. And maybe even longer someday. But I have no idea how you determine that. I have thoughts but I'd rather not plait for hours and come up short, and I don't want to have 10 ft extra that I'm working with on each side. So how does one determine that?

Here's my whip btw

horsesnarrows (author)NealM42016-12-19

Just size up accordingly. Want one twice as long? Double the measurements.

ch5 (author)NealM42016-01-28

That's the most frequent question I got since I published this.
Unfortunately, I don't know of any "rule" that would allow to precisely calculate required lengths to use to hit for a given target length.
Even if there was one, difference in plaiting tightness between different people could lead to wild variations.

You may sift through all the comments for the project, some people have tried various lengths whips over the years, and some published the used lengths along the way.
If you can't find what you need, you'll have to try by yourself, just remember to take notes of what you do and come back to share with others!

Bswartz18 (author)2016-09-23

Thank you so much for this instructable it helped alot i had a few areas where i had to improvize but it turned out great thanks again

ch5 (author)Bswartz182016-09-24

Love your color scheme :)
Thanks for sharing!

AndyH7 made it! (author)2015-09-15

I have made several of these in 6", 9" and 12" lengths. They are super awesome. My kids love them, my scout troop is known for their abilities with a bullwhip and I have used the instructable to teach others how to do it. Both of my girls have made their own and all four of my kids can crack a whip like a champ thanks to this instructable and Adam Crack (See YouTube for instructions, thanks Adam). I am learning how to aim and have done a small show for a local scout camp.

I first tried this because a friend and I are a bit eccentric. He wanted to learn and bought several that lasted from several minutes to several hours and cost $20-$200 each. When I saw the instructable, being and Eagle Scout myself, I knew I could do it. $20 dollars later I gave one to my friend and several years later we are using the first one I made. I can't thank you enough for the fun that I have had. The police have been called, and my life has been threatened for violating the noise ordinance (the police said it was within the ordinance where I live.) We worked out the life threatening since I have learned to love my neighbor.

Live is such a thrill and bullwhips make it so much better and louder and funner. The picture is of three 6" and one 9" that I have made. The one in the top left it three years old and is still going.

Thanks again.

ch5 (author)AndyH72015-09-16

Thanks a lot for sharing your story. It's always nice to see people enjoying the new hobby and passing it down to others.

I still have the original whip from this instructable too, and yes, Adam is also my go to source for learning.

Have fun and maybe try to have the neighbor join in ?

Qubik made it! (author)2015-01-25

Well first one, not the best, but gives skills for next and better. Thanx for instructable.

JohnS53 (author)Qubik2015-02-12

thanx again, made another. Shorter version as one friend asked..

ch5 (author)Qubik2015-01-25

Looks good to me. Now let's make some noise!

jcarter35 made it! (author)2015-02-05

Love this ible, thanks so much for writing it. It's definitely the best one I've found. I've made two whips and am working on a third now. My first whip is pictured. Right now, I'm working on a hybrid of your metal core / paracord belly with a leather outer plait. It's almost done, and I can't wait to show it off!

On a side note - I couldn't find any lamp chain, so I did the next best thing. I used a whole mess of .177 steel BB's and fed them one at a time into the gutted paracord (at about 6 BB's per inch). It took forever, but worked REALLY well. I might write up my own ible as an alternative starting method and reference yours for the main body of work.

I've also found what might be the best cracker material - Kevlar! I have a sample of some and pulled a few strands of out the weave. I then used your method to wind them into a cracker. It is holding up extremely well. and sounds great. The cracker pictured is Dacron or something, not Kevlar (which is yellow).

ch5 (author)jcarter352015-02-05

Nice job ! Glad to see that the ible met it's expected purpose.
I wrote it because "back then" I couldn't find any step by step ressource that one could follow without doing further research on the various aspects.

There might be an alternative to stuffing BB's into the cord that might be easier to obtain locally in sewing or craft shops: google "curtain weighted cord" or "sausage bead weighted cord". It's basically hollow cord with shot grains already put inside, and threaded on a smaller cord so they don't risk ending up packed at one side of the cord from repeated swinging around.

(Their legitimate use is being sewed at the bottom of curtains to ensure a nice fall. )

logan_campbell (author)2014-10-28

Thanks. Your ible was very helpful.

flattail made it! (author)2014-08-05

Thank you very much! I made one for one of my friends and it works great!

Here are some pictures of the finished product:

eisener (author)2014-07-16

just finished my second. started yesterday and only put around 5 and a half hours into it.

Your link for the star knot is no longer working. I think this may be the same one you were talking about:

Your whip looks nice, good instructable.

Yes,thanks.Your link is indeed a mirror of the tutorial I was recommending.

kylet1 (author)2013-08-26

I made two whips and they came out good. If anyone is interested I'm selling them

yamnitram (author)2011-07-19

Hey CH5,
brilliant set of instructions. Time estimate right on and what an excellent whip to end up with. The missus and I went into the back garden and were breaking the sound barrier within minutes. Excellent. Thank you

ch5 (author)yamnitram2011-07-26

Thanks for your comments :)
I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Any pics ?

yamnitram (author)ch52011-07-29

Hi CH5
Here are a couple of photos.
Rather than a nail I used an old kite strut for the handle. I lengthened the first four strands to run the length of the handle as I thought it would hold together better. To finish off I screwed a round head brass head screw up the center of the rod. I am contemplating doing a knot on the end of the handle but having tied it in larger rope the thought of doing it in paracord is giving me the willies. Maybe I will just polish the screw head and call it a day as it does look nice and works very well.
thanks again

ch5 (author)yamnitram2011-12-26

Thanks :)
Seeing all those pictures makes me wish i had much more time to try out all those color variations.

essigurken (author)2011-12-23

Great design, excellent and clear instructable. I've been working on mine on and off for a while, and just finished it. Figured I'd share.

I didn't have much luck with the knot you used to secure the cracker, so I made up my own. pictures and video below.

ch5 (author)essigurken2011-12-26

Awesome ! thanks for sharing the pictures :)

Spy_64 (author)2011-06-24

Hey, I completed another! (c;

Spy_64 (author)2011-03-24

I finally made my second whip. Black and pink. Took about a week to make. I used mosquito cord for the crkacker... best thing I have found yet, works amazingly. Also, instead of using duct tape for wrapping the core, I used light automotive shrink tubing. I was hesitant at first, but it made the whip less rigid and really gave it more crack. This whip ended up being 10ft. from handle to cracker.

ch5 (author)Spy_642011-03-30

Sweet :)
I guess you only used one ping doubled strand to achieve this pattern ?
( I'm stressing that so people could have various recipies for differnt patterns from the comments )

Nicely done!

WataAtaCrackahJack (author)2011-02-13

good stuff... here are pictures of a few whips I have made, and by the way I'm only 16 so I'm sorry if the picrtures don't look very "professional" XD

The 100 % complete ones are shown in close ups, the 8ft blue one is gutted paracord with simple round diamond and tripled 4 strand plaiting on the handle, the black one is a 10 ft 8 plait "Indy" Bullwhip made of... the DIYer's best friend Duct Tape

ch5 (author)WataAtaCrackahJack2011-02-16

These look nice !
I was wondering: how good does the duct tape one perform?
What did you use on the inside ?
It looks great.Did you fold the tape strips lengthwise to get a thinner non-sticky band ?

Spy_64 (author)2010-12-16

I have found that mosquito cord works exceptionally well for a cracker. Light weight, super strong, flexible and small diameter (1/16"). Its sheathed with nylon like paracord but has a twisted pair of very tough nylon string in the core.

Spy_64 (author)2010-11-22

After many many hours over several weeks of evenings, I have complete my own using these instructions. I have made a few changes including larger lamp chain... which I think ultimately is the cause of mine being a bit shorter; from the tip of the handle to the tip of the fall it is 7ft. 3in. to the tip of the cracker it is 8ft. 3in. Lookng at your star knot and handle compaired o mine, I believe the spike I used for the handle was a bit larger, but it tapers nicely to the whip. I had to use more material in the plaiting for some reason I cannot explain and still ended up too short on the plaiting. Also, I think I pulled the plaiting too tight, as my whip is very rigid and in some spots was not able to hide the drop strands very well because I could not slide the bottom strands up enough to hide them. I thought the red stripe would make the whip stand out a bit more. Like yours, I fastened the star knot with a Mathew Walker knot, but I crowned the star knot to fill the hole in the end and have three passes through the rabbit holes. I put a turks head on to mark the top of the handle. Unfortunately, I did not know how to hide the ends to the Matthew Walker or the Turks head nicely, so there is a small dot where I melted the ends where each string came out. Also, I cut the ends off short and melted them to the half hitch knots where the fall attaches because I got ahead of the instructions, where you left the ends just cut short, but it ended up looking fairly nice regardless. I didn't have any medium diameter string, so I made the cracker out of some of the guts from the cord and it worked extremely well. This whip cracks incredibly loud and easy. All in all, I am very happy with the results of my first attempt. I think my next will go faster and a bit smoother. There are a few things I may put my own twist on with the next one. One of the bigger changes I may make next time is using shrink tubing in place of duct tape. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise on this project, I enjoyed doing this immensely. (c;

ch5 (author)Spy_642010-12-05

Hi, your whip looks very nice :)
I featured your comment so everybody can see the results near the top of the page. I also planned on using multiple color strands, but didn't have long enough strands of matching colors at the time.
How many orange strands did you use ? My guess from the pattern would be one ?
Very nicely done, and thanks for your support :)

wangerton (author)2010-09-15

so I'm layin on the couch snappin my paracord bullwhip around the room like I tend to do when I decided to revisit your instructable.
After perusing the comments for quite some time I realized no-one has actually posted a pic of a bullwhip they made using your directions.
So here is some photographic whippage for your ogle-ing pleasure. It aint perfect but neither am I. Your instructable was excellent, well written, easy to follow, at least if a dullard like myself could do it, well, you know.

ch5 (author)wangerton2010-09-18

Hi, thanks for posting some pics, as you mentionned it I didn't get that much graphic feedback on this instructable, it's nice to see some.
Also thanks for your support, doing this instructable took some work, and i'm glad people find it clear enough to follow.
I hope you have fun with your hand made supersonic toy :)

runowicz (author)2010-06-25

hey! great instructable - i've made a whip of my own in a few hours :) could you please come up with a formula to calculate particular lengths of paracord for different whip lengths? is it just proportions i'm looking for or is there more to it? all the best, tomek

ch5 (author)runowicz2010-06-29

That's the question I most get since I published this instructable.
But unfortunately, I don't know of any ratio for this.
Especially since many things might make it may vary such as :your plaiting style , the initial materials, the thickness of your differents layers...
I think using simple ratios based on this example should be close to what you'd need, but i'd recommend extanding them a bit , just in case.
That's the only whip I've made so far so I lack data to make the estimates more accurate, but if you happen to try it with other lengths, I'd be interested in the outcome ( lengths you used, length reached, leftovers..)

I'm glad you like it, thanks for your support ;)
( You're from Poland ?Right? )

runowicz (author)ch52010-06-29

Thanks for responding. In fact I've made the one to your measurements for my kid (who is really into indiana jones at the mo) but had so much fun doing it, that i'd love to make another, possibly longer. The question is not so much about the length of the plating but about the guts. Logically the guts determine the length of the plating, so I can figure them out. It is just a question of dropping the thickness at the right points. How did you come up with the lengths? Did you just eyeball it? And, yes, I'm very much from Poland (Warsaw at the mo) :) All The Best, tomek

ch5 (author)runowicz2010-06-30

The exact place where the whip gets thinner isn't really critical.
Even I didn't 100% follow the exact measurements I give here.
To make it neat , if the whip is 5 sections long,thinning every 1/5 will probably work fine for the guts, maybe with the end segment slightly longer than the others.
You might also want to add additionnal sections ( and a corresponding number of pair of strands to the plaits) to the whip If you want to make it longer.

Since they're 3 layers, when making each one, drop thicknes 1/3 way of the underlying layer to get an even progression.

I made a ( crappy ^^' ) diagram to better explain it below:
Black bars are the gut sections, blue is the first layer, red is the second one.
vertical green marks show points where the whip loses thickness, note that they end up evenely spaced.

I hope this helps.
( I was born in Warsaw btw ;) )

runowicz (author)ch52010-07-01

thanks a lot :) now i have enough info to figure it out :) (as for you being born in warszawa, well .. it's a small world already, and it's getting smaller by the minute :) regards, tomek

salomon1996 (author)2010-06-10

hello again! :) this instructable is AWESOME! well, i finished my whip, but the only problem is i cant get the star not on the end of the handle, any tips? i will post some pics soon. THANKS!!

ch5 (author)salomon19962010-06-12

I answered that earlier in the comments already: Once you've tied the knot on the table, it will very loosely fit around the nails head. What makes it hold is the very tight matthew walker's knot tied with the remaining strands around the base of the handle. Then just cut the ends of the remaining strands so a few millmeters are left, melt them, and smear around the knot's end like an O-ring. Also, when beginning the knot , i dont melt 6 strands together like on the suggested website but rather cross 3 middled strands "over/under" like In the following. It helps saving some space.( you could also thread them through each orher like in step 15,pic 3 to save some more and make the tying easaier.)

salomon1996 (author)ch52010-06-12

well, i tied my star knot, but i didn't do what the picture above suggests(at that time i had no idea what you were talking about in the other comment) and when i make my mathew walker knot, it just slides right off, it was tight too. any suggestion?(sorry if i am getting annoying with all my questions)

salomon1996 (author)salomon19962010-06-12

here are some PICS!

ch5 (author)salomon19962010-06-13

It looks nice in beige too :) I think that from the pics I understand what's going on: The melted part on your knot seems to take up a lot of space from inside the knot, and therefore you're just putting the knot close to the nail tip before tying it, leaving all the strain on the matthew walker. It should look more like the following illustration ( fear the epic paint skillz ^^ ) Using one of the 2 techniques I mentionned for beggining the knot will probably help a lot. The nail's head is supposed to be stuck inside the knot after it is tied and dressed. It will fit loosely. I hope this helps.

salomon1996 (author)ch52010-06-13

that helps a lot! thank you! i will remake the star knot, hopefully, and see if that works.

hailtothkngbby (author)2010-04-13

Great instructable! You beat me to it! I have made several whips of paracord, but lack the documentation for a full on instructable as of yet. The most recent I made was a snake whip with plastic coated steel cable as the core. Keep up the good work. You have my vote and 5 stars!

ch5 (author)hailtothkngbby2010-04-14

Thanks for your support!
Your whip sounds great ^^

HecateH made it! (author)2017-01-09

I still need to do a proper handle on it, but it's completely functional! Thank you!

conorjamesd (author)2017-01-05

That is a incredible instruction . Just one question , is it possible to make one without a chain? Thank you , and again this is awesome.

ch5 (author)conorjamesd2017-01-06

Glad to see people still use it :)

You could probably get away with not using the chain.
The end product will be slightly harder to crack without, but people have reported it to work.

I'd still recommend trying to use it or to find an alternative (read through the comments for other stuff people have used: chain, BBs in gutted cord, fishing weights, weighted curtain sausage cords...)
It will be worth taking that extra step given the time you'll be putting in the project.
Don't forget to come back to share your results! :)

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