Rolling The Whip

Every whipmaker knows that it’s important to roll the whip once it’s completed, as well as roll each belly that’s plaited. Rolling the whip helps produce a smoothened finish on the whip, as well as compact the strands & help with symmetry. To do this, a board or something similar is used, pressing down on the whip as it’s rolled on a hard surface. Some whipmakers use a marble or granite counter top to roll the  whip. I’ve seen where some use a piece of steel from an old leaf spring on a car or truck to roll the whip with. I use a piece of hard plastic, actually made from a cutting board, that’s been heated & shaped into a slight curve. A couple of drawer handles are attached for holding it while I roll the work. It’s small & light, and has worked great for a number of years now.

For years I’ve rolled my whips on my main work bench. I don’t have a long table top made of marble or granite to use. With short whips, this works well. But with longer whips, 8-10 feet, it can be a little bothersome to roll a whip on a 5 ft long table. So, I came up with a solution, and so far, has worked pretty well. What I did was to take a short section of pvc pipe that’s used in plumbing applications & attach it to the side of a book case which holds some supplies. The book case sits across from the bench. When I’ve rolled a section of a whip that is about the length of my work bench, I insert an end of the whip into the pvc pipe, extending the distance for the whip to be outstretched. It helps hold the whip in a stable position, keeping it from bouncing all over the place while it’s rolled.

The pipe is held loosely on the book case with a couple of metal brackets. The brackets are C-shaped & larger than the diameter of the pipe, so the pipe can telescope closer to or further away from the bench. I’d originally thought of attaching the pipe to the opposite end of my work bench, which would be to my right as I’m standing at the bench. The idea was to store the pipe beneath the bench, and extend it out & to the right when I needed to roll a whip. The pipe increases the distance for the whip to be fully laid out flat while it’s rolled. I read in the forum at the APWA how one seasoned whipmaker rigged up a system where he uses a couple of large springs, like those used in garage doors. The springs are hung from above the work bench, or table where the work is being rolled, several feet apart from each other. The whip is attached to the springs by lace of string of some sort, so that the whip is suspended just above the bench. When the whip is pushed down onto the bench, the springs are stretched & the whip is rolled. When a section of the whip is rolled, the strings holding the whip are moved so that another section of the whip can be rolled. I thought it was a great idea, yet decided to figure a different system for myself.

Hope this helps give you an idea or two if you’re looking to make it easier on yourself when rolling a whip. Most people don’t have a long bench available for this purpose, so some ingenuity is needed . Thanks for reading.


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One Response to Rolling The Whip

  1. Mel says:

    Great blog, been a stranger for a while but I\’ve caught up now Steve, I commented on your ringwork blog, looks great, and as usual your being generous with sharing your whipmaking tricks here, If I wasn\’t already a seasoned marble and steel leaf spring man I\’d make myself one like yours……Take careTony

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