Introduction: Paracord Pocket Bullwhip
Necessity may be the mother of invention but sometimes it's the accidental result of a 12-year-old kid pretending to be Indiana Jones. That was me five years ago when I attached a half-way crocheted cord to the end of a yellow tent stake and the pocket whip was born. At first, it didn't crack. Actually, I didn't even think it ever would crack. Then, in a moment of bravery (and a major lapse in wisdom), I snapped the whip in front of me as hard as a could. CRACK! In that moment I became addicted to whip cracking. I discovered there were two ways to crack that first whip and boy were they hard to master. Eventually, I made a full-size bullwhip because I wanted something better, but in spite of this, I still continued to use and make minor adjustments to the pocket whip. Then about a year ago I decided it was time to make some major improvements to my invention. I started prototyping with different braiding methods and handle lengths to try to find what would crack best. This paracord pocket bullwhip is the product of all that experimentation. The whip has a telescoping handle so that you can get more leverage for easier cracking. The braid is hollow as to allow the whip to fold on itself and fit in your pocket. This project was a lot of fun. It doesn't crack as loud or quite as easily as my full sized bullwhips but it does crack and I've found that it's a great learning whip. Best of all may be how surprisingly easy it is to make. Whip braiding may look complicated but this one can be made fairly quickly. Need a fun afternoon project? Grab your tools and supplies and let's get making!
- 6-1/2" long, 3/4" wide steel pipe (.645" inside diameter)
- 7-1/2" long, 5/8" wide steel pipe (.570" inside diameter)
- 1/2" wooden dowel
- Golf Ball
- Paracord (around 27 feet plus whatever you use to wrap the handle)
- Black spray paint
- Electrical tape
- 1/4" heat shrink tubing
- Medium size guitar string (or hanger wire)
- Card stock paper
- Super Glue
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Pipe Cutter (for steel pipe)
- 3/4" speed bore
- 3/8" speed bore
- 3/16 drill
- Lighter (for heat shrinking and fusing cord)
- Hot Glue gun
- File (for knocking the burrs off the pipe)
Step 1: Preparing the Handle Rods
First, you need to prepare all of the components to make the handle. The 3/4" pipe I used was a closet hanger rod my neighbor was throwing away. The 5/8" pipe came from a curtain hanger (which I also found in the trash;) Really you could just use any two pipes that are around that size and fit together tightly enough not to rattle around, but loose enough to slide easily. First, cut the 3/4" pipe to be 6-1/2" long and the 5/8" pipe to be 7-1/2" long and deburr both of them (remove the sharp edges). Then paint or polish the 3/4" pipe however you like. If there's a protective coating on the pipe then make sure you sand that off first so that the paint will stick. Now the 5/8" pipe you're going to want to sand and polish till it's got a shiny finish since any paint will eventually get scratched off by all the sliding. Once the pipe is polished to your liking, cut four tabs at the end of the 5/8" pipe and bend them at 90 degrees as shown using pliers. To cut this I used my Dremel, but there are other tools you could use. If all else fails a hacksaw and plenty of patience will do the job:) Once the tabs have been made, use a grinding bit or a file to grind the tabs until the 1/2" dowel rod will just barely slide through. Next, drill three equally spaced 3/16" diameter holes a little under a 1/4 of an inch from the nontabbed end of the 5/8" pipe. Make sure you deburr these and knock off all of the sharp edges with a file so that they won't cut your paracord later.
Step 2: Making the Pommel and Handle Core
Next, to make the pommel, drill a 3/4" hole 1/2" deep in the center of the golf ball. Then drill a 1/2" hole another 1/2" deep inside the first hole (one inch total). I find that speed bores are the best bits for this and I also recommend drilling a small pilot hole first to make sure the golf ball is solid (some rare golf balls have gel in them and wouldn't that be a mess). It's also important to note that the rubber inside of golf balls will start smoldering very easily (ask me how I know this) so be careful when you're drilling.
Once you've drilled these holes you can rough up the finish on the golf ball using a scotch bright pad or sandpaper and then paint it however you like, or just leave it white if you're in a hurry. Now onto the core of the handle.
The core of the handle is made from a 7-3/4" long, 1/2" diameter, wooden dowel rod. First, wrap the end of the dowel with a 1" wide strip of cardstock paper. Add super glue as you wrap to make sure it doesn't unravel. Once you've wrapped enough paper so that the dowel just barely fits into the untabbed end of the 5/8" pipe, cut off the extra paper and finish gluing what is left in place. Next, use a utility knife to take a skim cut around the bottom edge of the paper wrap so that it will have a flat edge. Then, use the knife to whittle a shallow channel below the wrap and drill two small holes side by side, inside the channel as shown. Next, wrap a short segment of wire around the dowel and glue the ends into the holes. For this, I used an old medium size guitar string but I've also had success with hanger wire. The purpose of this wire is to protect the paper from the lock tabs whenever the handle is being extended. Next, it is finally time to assemble the handle!
Step 3: Assembling the Handle
The first step in assembling the handle is to slide the wooden dowel through the end of the 5/8" pipe. Next, smear some hot glue around the bottom and sides of the dowel and press the dowel into the half inch hole in the golf ball. Once the glue has dried, slide the 3/4" pipe over the 5/8" pipe and glue it into the larger hole. Finally, for aesthetics and grip, wrap the lower portion of the handle in some gutted paracord. Whenever I use paracord to wrap a handle, I always pull the inner strands out (gut it), and then run the sheath through a flat iron (that thing that's used to straighten hair). It makes the paracord nice and flat and pre-stretches it so that it doesn't come undone as easily. You can use your own handle wrap method, or if you like you can try mine. I just start with a clove hitch and then do several half hitches before simply wrapping the paracord around the handle and then I finish with a few half hitches. Alternatively, you could just wrap the handle in electrical tape. It works fairly well for grip so long as your hands don't get too sweaty.
Step 4: Preparing the Handle and the Cord for Braiding
Next, you're going to want to cut your paracord to the lengths on the list below. You should end up with three strands total.
Paracord Strand List:
- One: 10'-10" long strand
- One: 7'-10" long strand
- One: 7' long strand
Once the strands are cut then cut three, 1/2" long pieces of 1/4" heat shrink tubing, and slide one onto each strand of paracord. Next, using the list below, position one piece of tubing on each strand of paracord and shrink the tubing with a lighter. Be careful not to over heat the tubing and burn through the cord.
Heat Shrink Position List:
- 6' from the end of the 10'-10" strand
- 5' from the end of the 7'-10" strand
- in the center of the 7' strand
Once you have these positioned and shrunk, then thread one strand of paracord through each of the holes in the handle and pull it through until each of the heat shrink pieces are centered in their prospective holes. Originally I didn't use the heat shrink tubing, but I've found that it helps protect the paracord and also makes for a stronger transition from the handle to the braid. Once you've got everything positioned, wrap the handle in a piece of scrap leather and gently clamp it in a vise and you're ready to move on to the braiding!
Step 5: Braiding the Whip
There are probably other ways you can braid this whip and I'll eventually find a better one, but for now, this is the method I'm using. This whip is braided slightly different from a traditional whip. Basically, it starts out as a hollow six strand round braid and then as strands start to run out the braid changes slightly to compensate for the missing strand. This can be really difficult to explain so if you do try to make this whip and you find yourself getting lost, let me know and I can point you to some videos on doing a six strand round braid. Now without further ado, here are the best step-by-step instructions I could up with on how to braid the pocket whip.
First, separate the strands and hold one strand from each hole in each hand (so three strands per hand). Once you're holding the strands as shown, take the top right strand around the back and over the top left strand, under the middle left strand, over the bottom left strand, and back over so that it is now in the bottom right position. Next, take the top left strand and pull it around the back over the top right, under the middle, over the bottom strand, and back over so that it is now the bottom left strand. You're going to want to repeat this process until one of your strands (it doesn't matter which) only has about 1-2 inches left. When you've reached this point, continue the braid until the short strand is in the bottom position. Then try to hold the short strand in the middle of the whip and continue to braid around it until it is completely surrounded. This is the method you will use whenever you drop a strand. If you're slightly confused by trying to braid with five strands instead of six, just imagine that the sixth strand is still there and continue to braid as such. Eventually, you'll drop another strand in the opposite hand so that now you'll be doing a four strand hollow round braid. This is done pretty much the same as a six strand braid. Just take whichever strand is on top, pull it around the back, over the top strand, under the bottom strand, and back over to the bottom of the side you started on. When it comes time to drop the fourth strand, go ahead and braid until it only has about 3/4 of an inch left. then completely forget about it and switch over to a typical three strand braid (the kind that's used in hair). When one of these strands only has about 2 inches left then cut the second longest strand to be the same length. Then take the longest strand and tie it around both of the short strands using a very tight half hitch as shown.
That's pretty much it for the braiding. The long strand should go between 16 and 18 inches beyond where the braid ends. If it's too long then just cut it down to length. Next, you'll want to tie an overhand knot in the long strand around 2" from the end. Then cut off the tip of the paracord and make it fray. This is going to be your "popper." I've tried putting actual whip "poppers" on these whips before but they don't seem to work as well. I think it is because these whips don't have enough weight to drive a full fledged popper.
Finally, take some electrical tape and wrap it tightly around the end of the handle and the first 3/4" of the braid. This will protect the paracord and also make a stronger transition from the handle to the whip. (Plus it makes it look so much better:)
Step 6: Cracking the Whip
Congratulations, you've made the paracord pocket bullwhip! Now it's finally time to break that precious sound barrier. What I like about this pocket whip vs. the other versions that I've made is that you can crack this whip using many of the same whip cracks that you would do with a typical stock whip or bullwhip. A few things to note though. First, since this whip is so light you're going to have to swing it very fast to get the timing right for a crack. Second, it doesn't always crack loud. Sometimes the best I can get out of it is more of a snap than a crack. If you want it to crack louder and more easily then get the end of the whip wet. This gives it more weight which makes it easier to crack (it also makes a really cool mist). The purpose of this whip is just to have fun and get used to swinging and experimenting with a whip without hitting oneself. For that purpose, it has served me well and I'm quite pleased with it. If you have any suggestions for improvements, I would love to hear them so let me know down in the comments. I hope you've all enjoyed this instructable and if you do make one of these please post pictures, I love seeing what other people make!
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