Category Archives: Whip Repair

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Whip Repair Video

The video below shows the steps I go through in repairing cow whips that people send to me. I don’t know who made the whip originally, but it was sent to me from someone in Georgia and as I was looking through my blog archives and realized this whip was probably made by whoever made the one featured in this article that was sent to me from Oklahoma. Whipmakers normally have their own signature styles and ways of doing things. In this instance, the handles look similar and the bellies were both made by taping cords together and instead of being plaited. This all leads me to believe these whips were made by the same person and I just happened to be the guy selected to fix them up. The one in the video was in much worse shape than its sibling.

The video starts out very blurry, but gets better after a couple of minutes and I am sorry for that. I had the camera on the wrong setting and didn’t know it until it was too late to go back.

If you have a cow whip that looks like this and need it repaired. I typically do these for around $35-45 depending on the damage. I don’t care who originally made it, if I can fix it and make it better, I’d be happy to do it.

Rhett Kelley

Taipan’s Review of My Whipmaking DVDs

For years, “Taipan” of has maintained one of the only cow whip tutorials on the web. I have referred countless people to his site for information on making whips and it has been a help to many. Recently Taipan got a copy of my Florida Cow Whip Tutorial DVDs. The following is his assessment of my production:



Supersonic Synthetics

A review of Rhett’s Cow Whip tutorial

Tony Layzell’s review of Rhett’s Cow Whip tutorial says “If your looking to improve your current whip making ability, looking to make a whip for the first time or like me just a collector then click the banner, visit Rhett and buy the DVD set off him, I can’t recommend them high enough, a really comprehensive, educational, value for money purchase I think…..”

I cannot agree more.  I have watched the DVD’s more than a couple of times and want to add my recommendation that any aspiring whip maker get this DVD to put in their toolbox.

He starts off the DVD talking a bit about the history of the Cow Whip and even a bit about the Cow Cavalry which brought a smile to this old troopers face.  I can never get enough history so I would have liked to have seen a bit more but I am happy that he put me on the track to learn more about the ancestry and use of the Cow Whip.  It is fun to know that you are making your own version of what was probably the first kind of whip ever to reach the American continent.

I was a bit disappointed with the production value of the DVD.  Rhett has talked about the difficulty he experienced with producing the DVD and I certainly would have done no better.  That said, making a video is much like making a whip.  Function first and the video does a great job of teaching how to make a whip.  The lighting is good enough so that, usually, the details are easy to see.  Focus was sometimes a problem but it is not even enough of one to require more than a couple of rewinds.

The audio is good and Rhett has a pleasant voice that is easy to understand.  There is a bit of background echo since he was not in a sound studio but it is not a distraction.  Okay, the birds had their say about the process but I have birds too and they can be heard in the background of most of the videos I have made.

Rhett repeatedly says that “Whatever works for you” and “If it works for you” that is the way to do it and this video shows his way.  I have my way and you will have your way to do things.  When we learn from one another it is more tools in the toolbox and I am very appreciative of learning from one of the best whip makers there is.

Learning to plait is an individual skill that is not really covered in this presentation.  He shows how he does it without going into detail.  Watching his hands fly is a joy to see.

He covers his method of dropping strands very well and I am going to try his method next time I sit down at my vice to make a new whip.  He hangs his whip from a door jam and plaits “from the hook” in the way of the old timers.  I am not that good so to prevent my whips from looking like a candy cane I need the crutch of the vice.

I was thrilled with the way he made his tapering twist.  I will probably still call it the twisted fall without meaning any disrespect to him.  I will try this method too since I have always hated the necessity of using what he called “Machines and different do-dads”.  His method is so much easier than the way I had been doing it.  I hope my hands are strong enough to complete the process.

I will probably not tie off the end of the whip as he does but knowing the process is a huge help when it comes time to replace the fall on an well used whip.  I have some that are going on 10 years old including the old “Garden Hose” whip.  One day I will need to make a repair and this is yet another great tool in the box.

Speaking of extras he spent a good bit of time explaining how to splice in a strand.  This is a great part of the DVD which I rewound more than once to 14:23.  He even dropped a stitch at 17 minutes and I have done that more times that I can count.  It was great that he showed how to recognize and correct that common problem in whip making.

The use of the lacing needle is an important part of making what he calls Synthetic and Supersonic and which I am going to steal for the title of this review.  His way seems quick and easy but again I am still going to cut my strands at an angle with a hot knife to thread my needles.  “If it works for you” that is the way to do it.

As for the wax, again I think he has convinced me that it is worth the effort so I am going to give it another try.  I was not happy with the result the first couple of times I did it early on in my whip making so I quit.  I will have to report later on the result.

His handle is beautiful.  Mine never look so good and my method is somewhat dangerous if not downright crazy.  I do like the shape he has made and his method of finishing it has changed my mind completely on the way I will do things in the future.  This alone was worth the price of the DVD just in savings of money spent at Home Depot.

In conclusion, do yourself a big favor and buy the DVD.  You will save enough time and money to recoup the investment many times over.  That said this not the most important thing you will gain from this DVD.  Most aspiring whip makers fail and quit.  There are half finished whips balled up and put in storage all over Texas for sure and surly more across the country and even world.  Rhett’s presentation teaches you to relax and make creating your own Supersonic Synthetic fun and not a chore.  Put Ben Dehart’s song “Cow Hunter Dreams” on in the stereo and enjoy what you are creating.


If you would like to purchase a copy for the discounted price of $67.00, please email me at rhettswhips @

Cow Whip Repair

A nylon cow whip is a pretty tough critter, but sometimes cowboys can be tougher. This week, I had a whip sent to me by a cowboy in Yukon, OK. His old whip needed a new tail (aka tapering twist). I don’t know who originally made it, but it was up to me to fix it anyway. Some might think a whip in this shape is beyond repair, but really it’s not.

This is how older cow whips look when they’re sent in by cowboys who’ve used them hard for many years. As you can see here, the tapered twist is long gone. The nylon that remains is in very poor shape and will need to be replaced as well.

Before I cut it off, the owner had rigged up the end with a popper so he could still use it. Cowboys will normally rig and re-rig until there’s no other choice but to call in a professional.

I suspect this whip started out as a sparkling white, but there’s not much hope it will ever get cleaned, so I will repair it in tan nylon so it will somewhat match the rest of the whip. Often when I tear into an old whip, there will be dust and dirt that has worked into the plaits. Sometimes they even smell like things you find in a stockyard!

When I received it, the whip was less than 9ft long. I unplaited it back to about 7ft, in the middle of the section where the thong was at an 8 plait. I do this because I will begin re-plaiting the whip and gradually change out old material for new. It would be mistake to try to do a bunch of splicing at one spot; the idea is for the repair/transition to be as unnoticeable as possible. If the owner receives his old whip and it works as well -or better- than when it was new, I feel I have succeeded in making a good repair.

It’s always interesting to do this kind of work on whips made by other people because you can see how different plaiters have their own techniques. Blending my ways with theirs is sometimes a challenge. I found that the person who made this whip used yellow tape in the bellies of his whips. Other than that, no major problems while working on this one.

Here’s the finished product! The tapering twist has been restored. Not only was the twist restored, but from the 7ft mark forward, new material begins to replace old so that by the time the thong is back to a 4 plait, there is nothing but new material being plaited. The whip now measures 11ft long and the repair is not all that noticeable to the untrained eye.

A repair like this is normally runs $35-$50, depending on how much trouble I encounter. For some cowboys, this really beats buying a whole new whip. Normally, I’m able to repair every whip that’s sent to me. The majority of the cow whip repairs I do are on whips made by other plaiters and sent in by cowboys who use them on the ranch everyday.

[Update 01/29/2010: Mission Accomplished! The owner of this whip called me a couple of days ago and said he was very pleased with the repair and that his whip was just like new.]

If you have an old cow whip that needs a new tail, give me a call at (912)-685-6759 or email me at