Weekend Project: The Bullwhip

Have you ever broken the sound barrier? It’s easier than you think. You just need a good bullwhip,
which converts arm movement into supersonic speed and triggers a sonic boom
called a whip crack.
Thanks go to William Gurstelle for the original article in Make Volume 9.
To download The Bullwhip MP4 click here or subscribe in iTunes.

Check out the complete Bullwhip article MAKE 09 “The Bullwhip”
and you can see that in our digital edition.

Editor’s note: This video has a new sponsor, GoDaddy – so if you’re thinking of getting a domain name you can use the MAKEMAG code and get 10% off… -pt
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40 thoughts on “Weekend Project: The Bullwhip

  1. s says:

    kip kay annoys me alot i have no desire to make a bull whip and i havehad no desire to make any weekend projects since bre pettis left

    1. KipKay says:

      @s – Sorry I annoy you although I’m not sure why. Not every Weekend Project will be something that everyone wants to make just like not every project in MAKE Magazine is something that everyone will want to make. If you have no desire to make projects purely because I “annoy you alot”, then my best advise would be to save yourself the time and energy of watching the Weekend Projects.

  2. Cory says:

    I so agree.

  3. James says:

    I don’t like to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ as it were bit I’d have to agree.
    Setting aside the fact that KipKay lacks that special something that Bre had (A cookie to anyone who can actually define what it was),
    The choice of project isn’t really ‘Technology on your time’ more braiding some leather to make a whip. I’m not sure if it was KipKay who selected the project, but I didn’t find it very appealing (Hey, this could just me me here).

    1. KipKay says:

      @James – The choice of projects is a joint effort between myself and MAKE. The projects that I have been doing are mostly from Make Magazine volumes and The Bullwhip is one of those. It has been fun making things that I have never made before and using all sorts of tools, not just a soldering station. Thanks for the comments.

  4. Scote says:

    I wouldn’t call that a bull whip so much as a braided leather rope with a fall and a cracker, the difference being that a rope has no taper to it.

    Whips use the conservation of momentum to crack. The body of a good whip is flexible and tapers evenly all the way from the handle to the point (the end of the braid) of the whip.

    As a whip is cast forward, a sort of hairpin loop is propagated down the body of the whip. As that loop propigates forward through the body of the whip it goes faster and faster as it is propagated down the increasingly thinner and lighter body of the whip until it reaches the very end and cracks. The “whip” in this “how to” does not have any body taper and will be very difficult and unsatisfying for most people who try and crack it.

  5. Phillip Torrone says:

    @everyone – this was a very popular article from the pages of MAKE. when bre started a lot of people didn’t like him and many of the comments were the same, at MAKE we’re inclusive so give kip a chance. the video was really good with a lot of fun facts about whips, the sound barrier, etc.

    all these people who are saying they liked bre never said that in the comments at the time, it’s a shame blog comments are now used to poop on something as opposed to do say something nice or at least be constructive with criticism.

    @james, making a whip is a great “technology on your time” project – not everything is electronics.

    1. KipKay says:

      @pt – I appreciate that. I think it’s unfortunate that most people have no idea what it takes to produce a video. To drive 70 miles to find a leather hide, learn how to plait :), build a working project and then learn how to use it is one thing but then to have to decide what to shoot, shoot it, script it, edit it and make it a complete package is whole other story. Regardless, I’m having the time of my life building all sorts of cool projects…thanks to MAKE.

  6. Scote says:

    I agree that whips are a great example of practical science and technology that you can build at home, and I agree that it makes sense to make projects that are easy enough to actually be done. Not all science is circuitry or wood, plastic or metal fabrication.

    Kip specializes in short, easy and clear project videos–though sometimes dangerously over simplified, as in his instantly vision damaging blue laser toy phaser mod, IIRC, IMO. He does have a great talent for creating short and clear instructions–I’d say too short in some case, though I recognize that creating short clear videos can take far more talent than creating longer videos.

    As to the whip project, my comments about the lack of taper are practical ones that people should know. Taper is a fundamental aspect of whip “technology” and, I assume, missing from the original Make article as well.

    1. KipKay says:

      @Scote – Thanks for the comments.In the past, my video projects have always been short and concise but since doing the Weekend Projects they are about 3 times longer than my other videos because I want to go into greater detail. It’s not that easy drawing a line between ‘fluff and yapping” and a detailed video that shows every single solder joint and part that’s needed. In the case of the Bullwhip, I spent equal time learning how to use the bullwhip, since I had never cracked one before, and the actual build. I figured if someone wanted to make one then the PDF wouold have all the details. My intention was to show it in action and explain it in action which the article could not. I may not have explained the taper, but the PDF and article is very clear that the thong is indeed tapered to the end as any whip needs to be and that was how I made it. Thanks

  7. James says:

    I understand and I’m sorry I’m so close minded! Curse my like of things that go ‘Beep’ :)
    and just to add…your videos are deffinately improving, so keep it up (Although I do miss the funky beginning titles from the past!).

  8. Dax says:


    I’ll buck the trend and offer some constructive criticism instead. I think your videos are good, but you are rubbing people the wrong way because you are trying too hard.

    It’s all in the tone and inflection in your voice, you are “selling” the video too much, almost like you are filming an infomercial or something. To be fair, the GoDaddy ad didn’t help that feeling much, lol.

    Try to act more naturally, like you are telling your buddy at the bar how you built the project instead of trying to be “on” while filming. You’re a maker, not an actor and I think people will respond more positively to you just take it down a notch and talk to us like peers instead of viewers.

    My $0.02

  9. etharooni says:

    When I read the comments, I feel kind of sorry for KipKay. I’ve done some video work, and it takes many, many hours, just to edit, and often even more to shoot footage. And just making the project is very hard work as well.

    Sure, I liked Bre, and Kipkay is definitely different, but I think people should be more open-minded to a new kind of weekend project videos.

    So, yeah. I disagree with some of what people have said above me.

    1. MacGyver12345 says:

      kipkay is the best

  10. George says:

    I cant disagree more with these comments!

    I have followed Kips videos for years and i was overjoyed when he joined make, he does a great job of the videos (and makes things look much easier than they really are :] )

    so thank you for the great work kip, and i hope to see more excellent videos in the future.

  11. C says:

    Find something on the web not in video tutorial format and rebrand it as Kipkay! 50K plus year in revenue from metacafe alone….

  12. Phillip Torrone says:

    @C – the videos here on MAKE are not “rebranded” they’re articles from MAKE.

    who cares what revenue kip makes, you realize we paid bre too right?

  13. Anonymous says:

    the starting and ending music is way way way louder than the video, which almost blew out my eardrums. Please fix this on future weekend project videos

  14. DAVE says:

    I’ve made 9 serious bullwhips and a couple snake whips. This project exhibits the basic whip, but a real construction would be a lot more detailed. It would be nice if Kip would mention this, and perhaps provide references for the serious construction of a whip. One good source is How to Make Whips by Edwards that covers the construction of a few different whips. It also covers the proper techniques for plaiting leather.

  15. MacGyver12345 says:

    are there instructions for the whip i cant find a pdf for it

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