Category Archives: Leather whips

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.

Roy’s Whip and Tribute

The whip in the photos doesn’t look like much, but it is one that I am very proud to have in my collection. Why? Because it was made by my great-grandfather, L.R. “Roy” Bronson. The whip is crude; there is no plaiting, nothing fancy. Most collectors would think it was a piece of rubbish.  It’s made from some leather straps, a wooden dowel, some tacks, and a bit of buckskin. According to my grandmother (his daughter), he used it mainly to control his dogs and around the cow pens.

Lest you get the impression that this is simply the work of some poor old cow-poke who couldn’t afford to buy a real cow whip, you should know that Roy Bronson was actually a very wealthy man. His surname is well known and respected among those in the Florida cattle industry.  In his lifetime, he owned thousands of acres of land and tens of thousands of cattle.

You see, the thing about my great-grandfather was that he was a crafty old fellow; he didn’t become wealthy by being frivolous with his money. If he needed something, he usually made it himself.  Long before people ever thought of digital clocks or putting them in car stereos, Roy had mounted homemade gadgets in all of his vehicles that would hold a pocket watch, so he could tell what time it was as he drove down the road or around his ranch.

You never had to look far to find something he had created in his workshop. When I was a child, most of his farm equipment was already decades old, but all well maintained; most of it is still in operation to this day. As a ranch owner, he was demanding; a perfectionist from what I’ve heard. Yet, many of the men who worked for him held him in high esteem.

Roy Bronson was a true Florida Cracker. A real “cowman;” since childhood really. I remember him talking about how that his father weaned him from his mother by taking him away to go “cow hunting.” Perhaps not even 3 years old and his father was already teaching him to ride and work cattle in the humid, mosquito infested scrubs and swamps of old Florida.

Even in Roy’s waning years, he could vividly recall how on that first cow hunt, he was amazed by the way the horses’ hooves splashed water in the air as they rode through a slough in search of wild scrub cattle.

I was living on his ranch, in his house, when I first started to make Florida cow whips. One morning in the Fall of 1991, grandpa finished his breakfast and stood up to go back to his room. As he did, he dropped his walking cane. Being close by, I picked up the cane and handed it to him. He thanked me and I responded with a simple “your welcome grandpa.” That would be the last time I spoke to him; the last time anyone spoke to him. He died later that morning.

Though he died only a short time after I started plaiting, I will always be grateful to God that Grandpa Bronson lived long enough for me to know him well and to be able to show him that I had learned to make cow whips.

His death was an end of an era in the family; I always sensed that it would be. Indeed, things were never the same. There was the usual sadness at first, then years of senseless litigation. Some of the heirs ended up with land, others got money. In the end, nobody really won. A couple of things I ended up with are some great memories of the old man and this old whip.  And I wouldn’t trade those things for all the money, land, and cattle Roy Bronson ever had…

(A special thanks goes out to my grandma, Ruth, for giving me this whip!)

Busy Week

All I have for you is just a quick update for this week. Though I wish I had gotten more plaiting done, I did manage to build a workbench out in my shed so I can make leather lace. Having been a nylon plaiter for so many years, I’ve always had the luxury of working in my house. Making leather lace is a bit more messy than working with nylon, so that project is having to go outside.

Speaking of leather lace, I spent some time this weekend making lace from a cow hide (kip) I got from Ron Allen a while back. I even squeezed in time to make an 8 plait belly that will be made into a 10ft leather cow whip sometime soon. The main thing for me was just to get some time in with my lace making tools. The Dene Williams hand held splitter I have works like a charm. I even took a chance and skived some lace with the Tandy skiving tool I have. It came out fairly good I think. I reckon my son and I made somewhere in the neighborhood of 200+ feet of lace on Friday. When I get the kip hide cow whip finished, I’ll post some pics.

Happy Cracking everyone.

SanSoucie Latigo Whips Arrived!

I haven’t bought a whip since 2001, but after I saw the latigo whips made by Skip SanSoucie at, I knew I had to have one! I ordered a 6ft bullwhip with a bocote handle for myself, and a hunting whip for my wife. The whips arrived today and I am very proud to have them in my small collection. I highly recommend his work if you want to buy  a high quality leather whip that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Here’s some pics:

(The antler on this handle came from a deer I harvested behind our house)

Deer Hide Project Update

Cordell and buck

Cordell and buck

Within a few weeks I will be buying the supplies I will need to start bark tanning my own deer leather. I have looked and looked, and I’m just about certain that there are no commercial sources for top quality bark tanned deer hides.

I’ve found plent of places that sell tanned deer hides, but most are chrome tanned Chinese made trash. I want to make quality deer hide whips, so I am not going to compromise on the leather even if it means I have to tan it myself.

The good news is that the good folks at sell all the supplies I will need to get started bark tanning -including the hides I’ll need when hunting season in closed here in Georgia. With lots of hard work and patience, I hope to be able to unveil my first deer hide cow whip toward the end of the year.

The photo above is of my son with his first buck. He got this one behind our house with his 8mm Mauser rifle last Fall. Unfortunately, this hide went to waste. If I accomplish what I am aiming for, the next buck Cordell harvests will provide food for the family, as well as leather for a cow whip!

Leather Project Update

I’m now in phase two of my leather project. Phase one was to make a cow whip out of pre-cut kangaroo lace.  This project was very instructive. I ended up with a 6ft whip that would be better suited as a belly for an 8ft whip. The diameter of the whip is small because of how thin the roohide lace is in comparison to the #650 nylon I use. In spite of its small size, it’s still a great little cracker. Someday, I’ll plait another layer of roohide over it and it really will make a great whip.

With the arrival of my new Dene Williams hand held leather splitter on Saturday, I’m now one step closer to going into full blown leather cow whip production, this is phase two of the project. Once my copy of Bernie Wojcicki’s whipmaking DVDs arrive, it won’t be long until Kelley made leather cow whips are a reality. Notice I keep writing “cow whips” and not “whips” in general. At this time, cow whips are all I plan to make in leather. Other kinds of whips may come later on down the road, but for now, this project is all about resurrecting the leather cow whip and not much else.

Phase three of my leather whip project will begin in the late Summer, or Fall, of this year. This is when I plan to begin making my own buckskin so I can make authentic buckskin cow whips. As I’ve stated before, buckskin was a very common leather used for cow whips before the advent of nylon. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a plaiter who still uses buckskin. As an art form, I’m afraid that in another decade, it may be all but extinct if someone doesn’t continue it and pass it down to future generations. I may be overreacting a little, but at this time, I don’t personally know a single plaiter who makes buckskin cow whips.

One problem I’ve found is that there’s not too many places you can get good buckskin that isn’t __hr_bigdeer2004outrageously priced. My solution is to tan my own. Every year we harvest deer from our family property and the hides are thrown away. Only the buzzards and coyotes get any good out of them. It’s really a waste. If I learn to tan them myself, I can (A) have a source of high quality buckskin,  (B) not have to pay an arm and a leg for it, (C) and make better use of the deer we harvest. I’ve had several people tell me I can’t do it, but that only motivates me more. As they say around here, “I can show you better than I can tell you.”

Again, this phase won’t/can’t begin until later this year because deer hunting is not in season at this time. Hopefully, I will be able to get a permit from the Dept. of Natural Resources to cull some deer when they begin eating up the cotton/peanut field behind my house. If not, I’ll have to wait until October when season reopens to get the deer. In the meantime, I’m going to be studying all I can on the subject of tanning and trying to get the equipment I’ll need to do the job.

Have a great Monday.


Leather Project Update

img_1147I just got this kip hide today.  It came from the United Kingdom via my pal  Ron Allen. If I’m not mistaken, it’s about 20 sq. ft. in size: a whole animal and not just a side. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to turn this thing into a cow whip or 2 sometime in the future. I’ve got a few more tools I want to get my hands on before I start cutting out the lace, but once I get started, I’ll be sure to post a message about it here.

Oh yeah, stay tuned as there will be probably be some more information and photos of my contribution to the Whip Basics Signature Range whip project.

Have a great weekend everybody.

SanSoucie’s Latigo Whips

HandMadeWhips - by Victor SanSoucie

Though this is a blog dedicated to synthetic whips, I would like to highlight a whipmaker in New England who’s cow hide whips are an amazing sight to behold. I haven’t even handled one of his whips, but from what I have seen and heard, these whips must be awesome.

The plaiter’s name is Victor “Skip” SanSoucie and he resides in the state of Connecticut. What I really like about Skip’s work is that it is made from latigo and his handles are made of nicely turned exotic woods.

Do you know what else is great about his whips? The price! Skip shares the same philosophy about whipmaking as I do: keep it affordable, but don’t skimp on quality!

The final thing that I have to mention about Skip is that he’s a really nice guy. As a whipmaker, sometimes you can run into other whipmakers who are egotistical and arrogant, that’s not the case with Skip. He’s been friendly from the very first time I made contact with him; he has even given me some great tips on woodworking this week.

I hope to add one of these whips to my collection in the not too distant future. Do yourself a favor,  stop by and see what Skip has to offer.

Pondering a Leather Whip Project

Curley Dekles Buckskin Cow WhipIn the picture above is a buckskin cow whip that belonged to well a known Florida whipmaker named Curley Dekle. I found this photo in the Florida State Archives. It is a good example of what cow whips looked like before the advent of nylon. 

Though I’ve achieved some measure of success as a nylon whipmaker, for a long time I’ve wanted to try my hand at making a Florida Cow Whip from leather. I’m currently in the process of gathering up the materials I will need for my first attempt.  

The first time I make one it will probably be out of pre-cut lace of some sort just to get a feel for how leather plaits. The I am considering will be similar in size to the nylon cords I use when plaiting whips normally.

I’ll post updates as I progress with this project.

 Photo Credit: Florida State Archives