Category Archives: deer leather

2009 in Review

As 2009 now comes to a close, we witness the passing of what will be remembered as a tough year for lots of people. But even in a difficult economy, I’ve seen that people continue to buy whips; thus 2009 was a great year for my business. I had many wonderful customers who provided me with plenty of whip orders to fill even when the hours at my job were lacking. In this final post of the year, I would like to highlight some accomplishments and say thanks.

Here’s some highlights from 2009:

  1. got a long overdue makeover.
  2. Developed my own line of Australian stockwhips.
  3. Saw all-time record ordering volume in April and July.
  4. Redesigned the bellies and fall hitches on my bullwhips.
  5. Successfully entered the nylon Indiana Jones bullwhip market.
  6. Started this blog!
  7. Added new options for cow whip handles: Stratabond and exotic woods
  8. Affiliated with the Whip Basics Project: WBSR Whipmaking Team and DVD distribution.
  9. Began making deer leather and experimenting with leather work.
  10. Resurrected my line of wood handled bullwhips.
  11. Saw my son begin his journey as a whipmaker.
  12. Made lots of new friends!

As you can see, 2009 was a busy year. I’m looking forward to what 2010 has in store.  I appreciate all the customers who helped make it possible. Thank you so much! You’re the best!

Happy New Year!


Hanging out with Joe Driver

Yesterday I was very blessed to have Joe Driver come over for a visit. Joe is one of my best friends as well as a fellow preacher and maker of nylon whips.

Joe drove over and preached at our church Sunday. After lunch, we got together for a little whip cracking.  After that, I showed him my leather making projects and how I turn handles on the lathe. The great time of fellowship seemed to come to an end much too soon as Joe had to leave around 3:30pm in order to make it home at a decent hour.

Joe’s website is If you need a nice nylon whip without waiting very long to get it, I highly recommend you give Joe a try. His prices are the same as mine and he backs his work with a guarantee that’s hard to beat.

Here’s Joe with my 6ft Aussie stockwhip made by Simon Martin. Joe was really excited about getting to crack this whip as he and Simon are friends as well.

Here is Joe and I throwing a couple of bullwhips. Joe has my 6ft latigo woody bull made by Skip SanSoucie. I’m cracking a 7ft woody bull made by Drew Schrag. (The Schrag whip is on loan to me from one of my customers.)

It was really great to get to see Joe again today. Getting to hear him preach was icing on the cake. We don’t get to hang out nearly enough. I look forward to doing it again soon.

The Quest Ends!

I finished the quest for homemade bark tanned deer leather this weekend. Here’s a picture of me with the hide. After I finish tanning the next one, I will start trying to make a cow whip out them.

The Quest for Deer Leather: Almost there!

Today I started on the 2nd hide that I have. I fleshed it and now it’s in the lime bath for a couple of days.

My son and I took the first hide out of the tanning solution and rinsed it. After that we hung in on the stretching rack to dry. After I’ve greased it, it will be ready to be made into a cow whip.

Here’s the pic:

Bark Tanned Deer Leather

Bark Tanned Deer Leather

Deer Leather Pictures

If you’re keeping track of the days, today is day 10 of the project. I took the hide out of the tanning bath and snapped a couple of quick photos to record the progress. I sliced off a strip from the edge yesterday and it looks like it’s almost tanned through and through. I plan on taking it out of the solution over the weekend and finish it up.The chestnut extract has given this hide a really nice color. The best part: no foul smell anymore!

Waiting List, Leather Update, and Christmas Deadline

My current turn-around time on new whip orders is about 12 weeks +/-.  This is just an estimate. I should be off work next week and getting in plenty of quality plaiting time, so maybe I can knock a nice dent in that backlog.

My deer hide is still soaking in the tanning solution.  I am hoping to be able to finish it up and start on another next week. I’ll try to get some more pics of that  project sometime soon.

Lastly, now is the time to be thinking about placing orders for Christmas. I know that not too many folks are thinking about Christmas gifts in June, but every year scores of people email me at the last minute asking if I have any nylon bullwhips for sale only to be disappointed.  This year I am asking that all Christmas orders be in by mid-September at the latest.

Quest for Deer Leather: Day 5

After my last post concerning my deer leather project, I took the week off. I had the hide to the point I could store it by freezing, so that’s what I did. (And that’s why today is only “Day 5” of the project!)

The reason I took a break was because I found out I needed more chestnut extract in order to create the proper tanning solution for my hide. Today the extract I ordered came in the mail and I have restarted the process by thawing the hide and getting the tanning solution ready. By sundown I intend to have the hide in the tanning bath and be well on the way to having some bark tanned deer leather.

Quest for Deer Leather: Day 4

Things are smelling better around the “Kelley Tannery.” And that’s a good thing too!

After the ghastly events of Day 2, I hide rinsethoroughly soaked the hide in a solution of water and hydrated lime to make hair removal easier. Early this morning I removed the hair from the hide.  Rinsing the hide in a natural, moving water source is easier, so I opted rinse it all day long in the overflow pool below my grandmother’s fishing pond (see pic). Rinsing the hide gets the lime out of the hide and returns the PH of the hide back somewhere near neutral.

This evening, I retrieved the hide from the overflow pool and began scraping off the membrane on the flesh-side of the hide. The next step will be the actual tanning of the hide. For that I have some chestnut bark extract that I will be using to make the tanning solution.

So far, so good…  I think.

Quest for Deer Leather: Day 2

IMG_1445After having soaked the salted hide in water overnight, I “fleshed” the deer hide. This removed all the fat and meat that was left on the hide from the skinning process. It was mildly physical, but not too difficult. You’ll notice I am wearing a cheap rain poncho to keep a barrier between myself and the hide. Though the hide had been salted to preserve it, it didn’t have the most pleasant aroma in the world.

After I finished fleshing the hide, I put it in a plastic barrel to soak in a solution of water and hydrated lime. This should make removing the hair very easy. I hope the gross factor will go down from here, but I’ll just have to wait and see.

Yesterday, there were a few times I had to keep reminding myself of why I am doing this:

To produce quality bark tanned deer leather for whipmaking!

Deer Leather Project Started

Yesterday evening I began the long process of turning salted deer hides into bark tanned deer leather. This should prove to be an interesting, smelly experience. I’m experimenting with one hide for now. I’ll post some updates as I progress and maybe a few pictures as well. As you might imagine, my lovely wife isn’t all that thrilled with this new project…

“The world needs both perfume-makers and tanners; happy is he who is born to be a perfume-maker, woe is he who is born to be a tanner.” -unknown