Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


The Aussie stock whip

The skills behind a craftsman's product

Story: Don Tilmouth
Photos: Peter Hoar

The Aussie stock whipThe Australian stockwhip has its origins in the English hunting whip, but since the beginning of European settlement it has evolved into a form that is almost unique to this country.

A major difference is the solid handle, which can be separated from the thong or body of the whip, but when put together as a unit allows the coiled thong to hang easily hooked over a horseman's forearm.

Another differentiation is the use of stranded, vegetable-tanned kangaroo hide - the toughest leather for its light weight in the world.

John Tuchyna, who works in the R.M. Williams craft department, continues the company's the company's long tradition of making fine whips by hand.

Our photos show how R.M. Williams whips are made.

Step 11.To produce the outside plaiting for a 12 strand, 7 foot (2.1 m) whip, John uses a tool specially designed by Dene Williams to cut a 5 mm strand continually around the perimeter of a pre-shaped piece of kangaroo hide.

Step 22.John hangs the leather on a plaiting hook and applies saddle dressing to the strands so that each one is individually stretched to assure a tight plait. He then bevels the edges of each strand with the aid of a craft knife blade so that each edge of the strand will lay "smooth" in the overall plait of the thong.

Step 33.John then makes a four plait belly of 9 mm strands by plaiting over a 1.5 cm centre length of kip, which is gradually tapered towards the tail. This is followed by the plaiting of the 12 strand main body of the outside surface of the whip.

Step 44.Taking the unplaited strands of the whip, John uses eight of them to make a series of loop knots around the end of the thong and the fall. He then pulls the fall through the small tunnel of loops until the slotted end of the fall is hard up against the first loop knot.

Step 55. The finished product hangs on the only platform appropriate to such a fine plait whip - a stock saddle.

Story from: Issue 2, December 1998-January 1999

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