Whips have always been around in one form or another... Throughout history, rulers, law enforcers and slavers all used whips to get their way.For instance,on many reproductions of hieroglyphics you may see that many depictions of rulers show them with their arms crossed across their chests holding in one hand a staff or religious symbol and in the other a whip. Not the kind of whip we know today as a Bullwhip, but a long handle with strands attached. But today this enduring symbol of power is mostly used in driving animals (herds of cattle or teams of horses), when we steer them by frightening with the sound of whip cracking. Modern cattle and horse ranchers in the US rarely use a whip (helicopters are more effective), but in Australia they are still used.
There are several types of whips, so here is my classification:
Types of Whips.
- Bull Whip
- Blacksnake Whip
- Stock Whip
- Signal Whip (Single tail)
Bull whip: Bull whips are single, long whips, with a wooden handle and rawhide core. They may be 6-12' long braided from top grain leather. They are also the whips used most often by movie characters such as Indiana Jones & Catwoman! They are built for durability, reliability and to be easily carried in saddle bags. They are not intended for swinging with though.The defining feature of a bullwhip and the thing that sets it apart from a stock whip is that the handle and the thong are made from the same plait. They are essentially one unit.
Blacksnake whip: These are similar to Bull whips, except that the handle is made of rawhide instead of wood. Typified by the handle and thong made out of the same plait and specifically that the handle is flexible that one prefer.
Stock whip: The classic Australian whip. Is usually made from Kangaroo leather.Probably, such whips got their name from the fact the they were used to control stock or cattle. So the name comes from the handle of the whip called the stock,but it's only a suggestion.
Signal whip (Single tail): These are the same in construction as Bull whips and Blacksnake whips, but are shorter, usually 3-5'. They are short enough to use indoors, and easy to crack. The longer is whip, the more difficult it will be to crack.
Weaves: Bull whips are braided from long strips of leather. They taper form the size of the handle, about 2"dia. to about 1/4"dia at the tip. This taper is accomplished in one of two ways.
- Multiple strand braid: This is where a number of small, straight strands (usually 12) are woven together, dropping out strands along the length to decrease the diameter, until only 4 strands are left. This allows for variations in the weave for decorative purposes.
- Four strand tapered braid: This is a whip made from a single piece of leather, cut in a taper and split into 4 tails. It is trickier to cut, but makes a good solid whip.
What Makes a Whip Crack?
In the past, it was assumed that the sound made by the crack of a whip was caused by the tip either slapping against the body of the whip or slapping against the air.
But the cracking sound actually comes from the mini sonic boom that's created by the arc traveling along the length of the whip.
The whip's pop is a result of the tip of the whip (the "popper") moving beyond the speed of sound and creating a vacuum in space. The air rushing back into the vacuum makes the pop sound. A whip generates its speed through the "conservation of energy". The body of the whip is built to be a continually shrinking diameter from the thick handle down to the tip of the popper which is only a few strands of fiber. A little energy imparted at the handle accelerates along the diminishing diameter until the popper is moving over 700 miles/hour.
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