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Murphywhips ships an order for stocked items on the same business day an
order is received. Any order received after 4PM will be shipped the next
business day. All products offered online and via our printed catalogue are
stocked items - all except the Murphywhips Signature Range of whips. The
Murphywhips Signature Range of whips are made to an individual customer's
requirements and are individually handmade by whip maker Michael Murphy. The
waiting time and the Signature Range whip's specifications are discussed in
the email confirming receipt of your order. Feel free to
estimated time of shipping for your custom made whip before you order.
Waiting times are generally very reasonable, with most custom whip orders
being shipped within 14 days. Murphywhips acknowledges its hard to wait for
a beautiful whip at the best of times, but remember the good things in life
are worth the wait. Good whipmakers have a waiting list for all the right
reasons - their past customers keep coming back and they bring their
FAQ1 - Where does Murphywhips ship?
Murphywhips ships within Australia and to the Rest of the World. The
Murphywhips shopping cart has destination drop down menu that you can choose
from and you'll find your country in that. If you are ordering within
Australia, the shopping cart will calculate shipping costs based on your
post code and weight of your order. All Australian destination orders are
shipped at current Australia post parcel rates and are registered. For
destinations other than Australia, shipping costs are again based on actual
shipping costs to your country which is based on the weight of your order.
FAQ2 - Shipping methods to non-Australian destinations?
Rest of the world or non-Australian destination orders that include high
value products like a whip are shipped by courier. Our courier fees are very
reasonable and a signature is required of the recipient on delivery. Tracking
details are emailed to you on the day of shipping so you can follow the
progress of your package all the way to your door. Courier shipping
normally takes 4-5 days for a parcel to be delivered all the way from Australia to
any major city in the USA, Canada, through-out Europe and the United
Kingdom. Add a day or two depending on how far you are from a major city in
your country. The only exception to this rule is an order for one of our
leather splitters. Our leather splitters are valuable pieces of machinery,
but they are also very heavy. Shipping by any method other than Economy air
is cost prohibitive. In this case, the actual Economy Air shipping rate plus
insurance is what your shipping costs will be. An Economy Air shipped
splitter normally takes 2-3 weeks to arrive to most overseas destinations.
Orders of books, accessories, videos, braiding supplies and so on can be
shipped by Air or Economy Air. Shipping by Air takes 7-8 days and Economy
Air takes up to 21 days for parcels to arrive.
FAQ3 - Shipping methods to Australian destinations?
Shipping is based on standard parcel post rates that are calculated on
weight and post code destinations. Added to this is a small registered post
fee that requires the recipient to sign for their parcel. Remote destinations
will take longer for parcels to arrive and 2-3 day delivery times to major
cities is normal.
FAQ1 - Choosing the right whip length:
It helps to decide on the whip length you need by thinking of where you are
most often likely to be cracking your whip. Cracking mostly indoors with
standard ceiling heights will mean any whip longer than 4ft is going to be
too long. If your practicing out on the lawn then a whip of any whip length
will probably be fine. But even if you have all the space in the world to
crack a whip in, getting a whip too long for what you want to practice the
most is all too easy.
For targeting, the distance your cutting targets at should correspond to the
overall length of your whip - this includes the fall (and whip handle if a
stockwhip) because it's the cracker of your whip that does the cutting.
Falls range in length from 1ft on some 3ft snakewhips and bullwhips to
nearly 3ft on long bullwhips and some stockwhips. See FAQ2 for more on how
whip length is measured.
For stage work, wraps and pick ups you have to assess how much room the
'normal' ( there is no such thing - any performer will tell you) stage
environment is going to give you. This will limit the whip length you
choose. As a general rule, choose the longest whip that can be thrown
safely. This ensures you get the best sound out of your whip. The physics of
whip construction means the longer whip magnifies a given amount of energy
you impart into the whip much more than shorter whip.
For double handed whipcracking choose 6-7ft bullwhips or 5-6ft stockwhips
depending on how tall you are. A pair of 6ft stockwhips to a tall person
will feel more like 5ft stockwhips to a shorter person. Whip lengths shorter
than this will make you work much harder to get good sound out of your
whips. This means you either put more muscle power into your whipcracking or
you move your whips faster or both. Either way it's not as satisfying with
short whips in double handed practice. Whips longer than recommended will
also zap your energy so much so that a whip an extra 6 inches long might as
well be a mile. Practicing double handed whipcracking with whips that are
too long makes you feel like your running up hill all the time and, again,
it makes for less satisfying practice sessions.
Practicing with a friend's whips is also a good place to start to get a
handle on the whip length that suits you best.
FAQ2 - How
is whip length is measured?:
Signalwhips are measured from the butt of the handle section to the last
knot of the plaited cracker point. Some measure the signalwhip to the tip of
the cracker - an extra 3 inches.
Snakewhips and bullwhips are both measured the same way. Overall length from
the butt of the handle section to the start of the fall hitch. This
measurement doesn't include the length of the fall - no whip length ever
includes the length of the fall.
Stockwhips are measured from the knot that is tied in front of the thong's
keeper to the start of the fall hitch. This is the length of the thong - the
length of the handle is not included.
Stockwhip handles can range from 16-17
inches for early colonial Australian stockwhips to 21 inches and on odd
occasions even longer for the spring steel and cane handles of today.
FAQ3 - What are the strengths/weaknesses of each type of
Signalwhips were innovated by Whipmaker David Morgan. Originally
designed as sound-maker in sled dog handling it is now favoured in the adult
whip play scene. It is easy on the eye and looks fantastic in 2-tone and is
an excellent short range targeting whip. In practiced hands it is capable of
great accuracy but with a strike that can be as light as feather. The
cracker point is plaited into the whip and is not replaceable by anyone other
than a good whipmaker. So order your signal whip with a replaceable cracker
point. Even if you choose a standard signalwhip it's cracker will last for
several years -so long as you don't want to crack the whip as a sound maker.
Snakewhips are similar whips to signalwhips - shot loaded without a
stiff handle section. They are easy on the eye and they evolved from cattle
work in several American states as a pocket whip - a whip capable of being
coiled into a saddle bag. Snakewhips have a replaceable fall and cracker
set-up. So a snakewhip makes a better choice as noisemaker/target whip
combination than the signalwhip. It is inherently a little less accurate
than the signalwhip, but in practiced hands the accuracy that can be
attained is exceptional. As a whip suitable for complex whipcracking
routines it is a little lethargic and reluctant.
Bullwhips have a stiff handle section that can be as short as 4 inches
and as long as 18 inches. There are two main styles, the finer Australian
style and the robust American style. Both styles are lovely whips and when
made well are energetic and give big sound with the minimum of effort. Poor
to average whipmakers get the handle connection wrong resulting in a hinge
at the stiff handle/thong junction. In my opinion there is no shortcoming in
this style of whip so long as the whip is made by a good whipmaker. For
complex whipcracking routines the bullwhip is less hungry than the stockwhip
to get the job done. This won't phase the bullwhip afficionado - it's all
part of it's charm.
Stockwhips are the Australian contribution to the whipcrackers choice
of whips. Originally developed in the droving routes of England were it's
'concept' evolved in Australia into the stockwhip we recognize today -
forged out of necessity in the Australian droving environment. The stockwhip
lacks the classic 'whip' form for most people (other than Australians). It
is the easiest of all the whip styles to make into a poor performer. Made
well though, it will punch out the hardest of whipcracking routines with the
cleanest sound imaginable.
Other Whip types have evolved to meet special requirements. The Bullock whip
has handle section that is very long, sometimes as tall as the bullocky (the
driver of the bullock team and dray). The thong is a heavier/cruder version
of the stockwhip thong and is nearly always made out of cowhide. This
is the iconic colonial Australian whip - but it's form was copied from the
Dutch colonies on the African continent visited by the early tall ships that left
England to colonise Australia. Take another look at the bullock team picture
on my home page, that's a bullock whip being held, in the classic way, in a
circa 1895 Western Australian goldfields scene. There are many other types
of whips and these are sought after by whip collectors (including myself!) as
they are a fascinating window into our past.
FAQ4 - Is 16-plait better than 8-plait?:
My opinion on this question is no. When I say this I'm assuming
the same care in manufacture has gone into making both 8 and
16-plait whips that are to be compared. I personally judge a whip on it's
action foremost. If it's action is good only then will I give the plaiting a
closer look. In my opinion too many people fall for the trap of homing in on
the fine plaiting of a whip first..."Ah - that's a nice whip" and they
haven't even cracked it yet! To me there is no whip more ugly than a fancy
plaited whip that promises so much because it looks good and delivers so
little when it's cracked.
A whip though is more than just about function. Some are bought as treat, as
a gift, to match a corset or performer's costume, to add to a collection, to
get a 'representative' example of a whipmaker's talent...the list goes on.
Everyone has a different opinion on what a beautiful whip is to them. Most
people love a finely plaited whip and more power to them. It's no small
thing treating yourself to a beautifully plaited whip and having the
pleasure over the years of using it and showing it off to friends. No matter
what reason a new whip is ordered for - the assumption is the whip is going
to be well constructed no matter what plait count it is made in. With good
whipmakers this assumption is a reasonable one to make.
A well constructed whip means the foundation of the whip is made to a
standard that can't be improved on. This means the best materials to suit
the task are used. This means the plaiting is tight and neat. This means all
the component that combine to create the foundation are well prepared.
A 4-plait cowhide stockwhip is hard to beat if it's your first whip
and it's going to get a hard life, lent to friends and taken to an Aussie
Ute show etc. Bullwhips in 8 through to 16-plait are all good performers.
The shorter the bullwhip though, the more the flexibility inherent to the
finer 16-plait overlay becomes useful. It gives a short bullwhip (and
snakewhip and signalwhip for that matter) a smoother action. 8-plait
snakewhips and signalwhips take longer to relax but will break in to become
great movers. 16-plait snakewhips and signalwhips start off from day one as
good movers and only get better with time. I'm not sure whether I like
8-plait over 12-plait for stockwhips more. I think I'll give the
recommendation to 12-plait on looks and the ability of the whipmaker to
adjust weight a fraction more as the stockwhip is plaited. Obviously a
24-plait whip of any type is not suited to serious daily practice nor for
hard work in a cattle yard. Few whips will stand up better to hard yard work
(or to the BS Ute crowd for that matter) than a 4-plait cowhide stockwhip.
Such a stockwhip, well made, will out-perform many of the fancy looking
kangaroo hide stockwhips that get made. So when choosing what plait count
your whip should be in, remember that a good whipmaker is going to build
your whip on the best foundation possible - no matter what plait count it's
going to be covered in. The overlay is just like paint on a car. If your
budget lets you get 16-plait then fine, just make sure it's not pretty paint
on a poor car.
Lower plait count whips can be more durable than higher plait count whips.
Remember that a 16-plait whip will terminate in 8-plait, just like a
12-plait whip and often 8-plait whips end in 8-plait as well ( I make them
this way). The last couple of feet of a whip thong is what is most
vulnerable to damage and wear. An 8-plait point, be it on a 16, 12 or 8-plait whip is
inherently a very stable long life plait to end a whip thong in. Arguably an
8-plait whip terminating in 6-plait, with it's wider strands, is more
durable. Fair point. But no whip is going to stand up to sustained
punishment on abrasive surfaces, being cracked with lots of muscle power and
mistreated in other ways for long. From this standpoint it's an academic
discussion deciding on what plait count is more durable.
One last point - I have friend who was the Australian Men's whipcracking
champion several years in a row. He was given a few whips by a whipmaker who
was hoping he'd use them. He was desperate for good fall leather and not
having a good supply of whitehide he cut open one of these whips to get at
the wide strands of the plaited belly...for fall leather. It's a pretty
honest assessment of how good he thought those whips were.
FAQ5 - How do I look after my whip?:
A stitch in time saves nine.
I encourage all whipcrackers to take the time to learn to replace a worn
fall and to make their own crackers. While Murphywhips offers 10-packs of
crackers in nylon and
polypropylene, it's a handy skill to learn
how to make your own crackers. There's two benefits, one is it's fun and a
cheaper alternative to buying them ready made and two, you get to experiment
with cracker weight and length to get the best action out of your whips.
Check out Plaiting
Supplies for cracker making threads of nylon or
poly. If your not sure how to go about making your own crackers and don't
have someone close by to show you, treat yourself to Whip Maintenance and
Repair. It's available in DVD and in
VHS. This video deals with
every whip repair challenge you'll face, from simple cracker making and
cracker/fall knots, to fall making and fall hitch methods, to re-plaiting
your whip point and repairing a broken strand in your whip and lots more.
Changing a fall is very easy once you know how, again that's what the "Whip
Repair" video is all about if you don't know how. A fall is not unlike a
tyre on a car. If you don't crack your whip or drive your car much it lasts
a long time. If you thrash your car or muscle a whip along then the tyres
and the falls wear out real quick. There are a couple of things that are
important in getting the most life out of your falls. The first is use
leather dressing. See FAQ6 for how often you should apply a leather
dressing to your whips. Secondly - how you crack your whip makes a huge
difference. The best habit to form in your whip practice is that of taking
muscle power out of you whipcracking. The ladies do this naturally, most of
them anyway - they go for timing skill instead of muscling a whip into
action. Fellas tend to use far too much muscle power. The best whipcrackers
make their whipcracking look effortless and that's about right - it's pretty
well is effortless. Their timing is so refined and perfected that their
whips change direction at the perfect moment and the sound they get is big
in volume. Yet they are using a quarter of the effort of the whipcracker who
is starting out. The by-product of this habit is your fall gets next to no
stress and your whipcracking gets better and better. The trick to this habit
is always asking yourself "Can I take more power out of the mix?" The more
muscle power you remove the more you must perfect timing skills to get a
Where you crack your whips makes a big difference on the whip repair
challenges you'll face later on. A dry grass lawn or smooth polished floor
is the best for longer whips. Concrete or bare dirt is abrasive on whips,
steer clear of this sort surface if you don't want to have a broken strand
or two in the future. The best test I've come up with to determine whether a
surface is suitable is if you wouldn't want to kneel down on it with bare
knees because it would be uncomfortable then it's not suitable for your
If you keep all these common sense points in mind when you practice you'll
face next to no whip repair challenges for years and years. Expect to
replace crackers on a regular basis and the odd fall depending on how much
you practice and that's pretty well it. But if you do need whip repair help
. Repairs are done at a nominal cost plus postage.
One more thing, don't lend your whip. A fall that's had a long life by being
well managed by good whip care and practice habits will be gone in 2 seconds
by lending it to someone who just wants to show you they can crack a whip.
They'll crack it so loud and with so much force you'll wince. You'll wince
again in a few minutes too - as you watch your half your fall sailing off
into some trees. Come prepared with a 'loaner' whip so you can encourage
friends who want to have a go.
FAQ6 - Leather dressing and your whips:
It's vital your whips get treated with leather dressing when they need it. A
good leather dressing coats the leather fibres of your whip thong and fall.
This excludes the oxygen in air from coming in contact with the fibres.
Extended exposure to air oxidises the leather so it becomes weak and
brittle. Most people have seen old harness or a bridle that's been hung up
in a shed or stable that is so stiff it hardly flexes. This is oxidised
leather - it's brittle and cracks when it bends. The leather in this case
cannot be revived and cannot be returned to useful service. But you can
still halt the oxidation process on this leather by adding a good leather
dressing which means your preserving what's left.
Leather dressing your whips benefits them in other ways. It makes water bead
off the fall and thong for that rare occasion you end up cracking on a damp
lawn. It also keeps the weight up in the thong. Whip enthusiasts who've been
cracking for a while will know what their whips behave like when their falls
get too wet - the whip starts to buck and kick. Keeping leather dressing
topped up in your whip has the opposite effect...getting weight where your
need it. With leather dressing your making this effect of weight on the whip
work in your favour and that translates to more sound with less effort.
Don't underestimate this - it's important.
There's basically two types of leather dressings or conditioners. The type
that is liquid at room temperature is not to be used on your whip. It will
tend to loosen leather fibres and it evaporates out of your whip too
quickly. Leather dressings that are a wax or thick grease consistency at
room temperature are what you want. I prefer beeswax based leather dressings
because beeswax is one of the least reactive compounds with air and natural
fibres. There are several good leather dressings on the market but the one's
we offer at Murphywhips are the ones we recommend.
How much do you put on your whip? About a teaspoon will be enough for a
whole whip for a week or so if your using the whip nearly every day. Gauge
the amount to use next time by checking how your whip feels the day after
you've waxed it. If it feels dry to touch then you've got it right. If it's
damp to touch then use less next time and wait a week or few days longer
before you wax the whip again. Your whip leather should never 'chatter' when
it flexes (a noise similar to twisting a paperback book in your hands). It's
a sure sign the whip is too dry. Apply the wax at the start of the stockwhip
thong or bullwhip's handle/thong connection and run the wax off your hand
until you finish at the fall. Use the fall like a rag to wipe the last of
the wax off your hand. A bullwhip or stockwhip handle doesn't need much
leather dressing. A little bit now and then won't hurt. Don't forget the
keeper of your stockwhip, use your fingers to move the grease into the folds
and loosen the knot up a bit and spread a little wax there.
FAQ7 - I want to learn how to make a whip:
Plaiting a whip is a bit of a misnomer. The plaiting part of making a whip
is the way you combine all the whipmaking techniques you've employed in
preparing the raw materials that are needed. Start off with small whipmaking
challenges. This way you'll accumulate whipmaking and plaiting techniques at
the same time. As you progress to more challenging whip projects you'll
build up more of both techniques. I suggest you start off making a 6ft
4-plait cowhide stockwhip for your first whip. After you've completed it,
give it a fly. If it doesn't crack so great then that means there's some
whipmaking techniques of yours that need some ironing out. A well made
cowhide stockwhip is a good moving whip so if your first attempt is a good
moving whip - well done. Maybe next time you may want to try a 6-plait
cowhide stockwhip or even a kangaroo hide stockwhip. Either way, depending
on how well this first stockwhip moves, you're still going to have a decent
hit-list of things that you need to improve on to make a better stockwhip
After you've cracked it for while have a critical look at the neatness of
the plaiting. Run your hand (and eye) down the the thong - are there any
lumps and bumps? Have you twisted a strand in plaiting somewhere? Twist the
thong - can you see heaps of daylight under the strands as they open up? If
yes is the answer to any one of these questions I suggest you take your awl
(What's an awl?) and unpick your whip thong all the way to the start
and re-plait it. This time shave down the bevel edge of the 'heavy' strands
at the swell in the thong that was not in the right place. Make sure this
time you don't fold over a strand by mistake. Put more wax on your strands
as you plait and pull each strand tighter. If you do this you'll see how far
you've progressed and how the small things really count.
All the tools you need for whipmaking can be found in Knives and
Tools. A good knife, a lacing needle for turkshead tying and an awl
are the important ones. You'll also need a worktable to prepare your work
on, a tape measure and a hook attached to something solid to plait from. All
the raw materials you need can be found in Plaiting
redhide blank Murphywhips stocks will be enough cowhide leather for a
stockwhip keeper, fall, filler and 4-plait thong. Pre-cut kangaroo
hide lace for plaiting a 1/2-cane handle is available in several
colours. Cane, waxed thread for turkshead preparation, tacks, thread
to tie your keeper on, shellac to polish your whip handle are also available
in Plaiting Supplies. There are a number of books that will step by step
guide you through the process.
FAQ8 - How heavy do you make your Signal whips?:
I make two distinct styles of signal whips. One is noticeably heavier and
has a girth at the handle base of approximately 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
The lighter signalwhip is still loaded with lead shot deep down the whip
thong but it's overall proportions are finer and this whip style has a girth
at the handle base of a fraction less than 1 inch in diameter.
gravitate towards heavy whips, like to feel that you've got lot of whip in
your hand or you just have big hands, the heavy signal whip is for you. It
cracks with a fraction more energy than the finer proportioned signal I
make, but not as much as you'd think.
The finer proportioned signal whip is
a fast moving whip and will feel more comfortable to use for the ladies and
anyone else who prefers a whip's action to be effortless and the weight to
be less noticeable in your hand.
FAQ9 - Why can one whip feel too heavy and another feel too
A whip walks a fine line between being too light
and requiring 'more' effort to make good sound than a better
crafted/shaped/weighted whip. A similar whip can equally be too
heavy and also zap your energy (and annoy you). It's more likely
to give good sound in this case, but it'll most likely feel
lethargic. A well weighted whip is where the shape/weight of the
whip is just right so it feels like your holding nothing when
you crack (weightless) but it gives good sound. And this is
really a comparison thing. It helps a lot if all you have is a 'cheapy'
whip so the contrast is monstrous when you crack a good whip for
the first time! But the thing is my goal in making any whip is
to make that whip move right - ie- gives good sound with the
least amount of fuss.
FAQ10 - How do I replace a fall?
Cut a point on the tip of the
Slide the new fall up over what's left of the old one so the new
fall loop is 1ft up the plaiting of the point of your whip.
Push your awl point (a knitting needle works well too) under the
old fall's loop where it meets the fall hitch/plaiting of the
whip terminates. Make sure no whip strands are caught by the
awl. Twist the awl like a turnbuckle for an old fashioned
tourniquet - the fall loop will snap.
Pull the old fall out - use a
multi-tool if you don't have
enough fall length for a hand hold.
Thread the new fall into the hole left by the old fall - with
that tip point you've just cut on the new fall.
Put a little leather dressing on the wider diameter part of the
new fall and pull the new fall in place - the dressing makes it
Hints - pull the fall in place in one smooth motion - get
someone to hold the handle end of your whip - look at the old
fall and make sure the new one isn't too fat to get back into
the old fall hitch hole - shave the new one down if this is the
case - smooth/grain side of the fall is upper most when it gets
threaded on - make sure there's no twists in the new fall before
you pull in place - to remove twists - twist against the twists!
and pull the twisted bit through the fall hitch until the fall
is sorted and the you can pull it in place in one smooth motion.