Domina's Shopping and Home Manufacturing Tips


Homemade Whips and Snakes from Rope


Using whips and snakes is potentially hazardous and should be approached with caution. The end of a whip is moving faster than sound and can raise huge welts, tear flesh and cause injury if used carelessly. I have no control over how you make a whip or snake and use it, and therefore I claim no responsibility for the use of this information. If you make a whip or snake, you do so at your own risk.

The main benefit of making a whip or snake from rope or clothesline is cost. For a tiny fraction of the price of a professionally-made whip, it's possible to make a whip that's adequate for practicing and learning basic skills. For those who've watched all the Indiana Jones movies and always wanted to try it, a low-priced, homemade whip is ideal. It also gives a person a chance to try a new length or style of whip with little investment of time or cash and should last at least long enough to let you know if you like this hobby and want to pay the higher cost of a professional leather whip.

The materials:
You need some form of sturdy rope or clothesline. My whip is nine feet long and was made with plastic-core, cotton-covered clothesline. You also need some strong thread (carpet thread is ideal), possibly some tape, and some leather thongs for the poppers. Boot laces work fine.

Two techniques are used in construction: a four-strand "macrame" and a three strand braid. Both are simple. The macrame is similar to closing the flaps of a cardboard box. Three strands overlap, either clockwise or counterclockwise, with the fourth strand tucking under the first. With both the macrame and the braid, you may want to experiment a bit with string or light rope before buying or cutting something more expensive.

Starting the macrame's a little tricky. Cut however much rope you're going to use in half and cross the two parts at the midpoint. It should look like a big "plus" sign. For the sake of description, imagine the four parts pointing North, South, East and West. Arrange the ropes so that the North-South rope is the one on top. Let's start by taking the East rope and folding it back towards the West end. What you should have is a "U" shape with the N-S rope running through it. What *was* the East rope should be "above" or "North" of the West rope. Now take the North rope and fold it in half towards the South rope. It should end up lying next to the South rope, just to its "left" or "West" side. Now take the original West rope and fold it back toward the East side, so that the East-West rope looks like a big backwards "S." Finally, take the South rope and fold it toward the North. It will pass ON TOP of the West rope you just folded over toward the East, and THROUGH the loop formed by the first fold you made (folding the East rope toward the West). What you now have is two backward "S" shapes (one rotated 90 degrees) that interlock.

Looking at it another way, we just folded all four ends over, working in a counterclockwise direction, much as we fold over the flaps of a box, as I mentioned earlier. Pull all the ends tight, and you have the basis for the macrame pattern. Repeat the steps above, but in reverse this time. That is, you started going counterclockwise, so this time go clockwise, folding over an end, then folding over the next one, then the next one, and tucking the last one in and pulling all the ends tight. The next layer is counterclock- wise, then another clockwise one, etc. Congratulations! You've learned the four-strand macrame, the only difficult part in making a whip!

The three-strand braid is even easier. Lay the three strands out in front of you. One end of the three strands should be secured. When experimenting with string, just tie the three ends together or wrap a piece of tape around them. Now, take the right strand in put it between the other two. Then take the left strand and put it between the others. Then take the right strand and put it between the others, then take the left strand and place it between the other two. Continue alternating between the right and left strands. Simple, isn't it?

The construction process:

Whip construction using this method consists of four steps:
-the handle
-the macrame part
-the braided part
-the poppers

The handle is simply a piece of wood, such as a 3/4" dowel, in the center of the first part of the macrame. Start the whip by crossing the two pieces of rope and placing the butt of the handle down onto the intersection. Do the macrame, but with the wood in the center of it. The handle of my whip is about 18" long. I used some electrical tape at the very end of the handle to stabilize the macrame and to form a grip. You could conceivably wrap the entire handle with tape. If it works for you, do it.

When you reach the end of the handle, continue the macrame as you originally learned it. On my whip, this part is about 3.5 feet long.

The next stage is the braid. To make the transition from macrame to braid a little less abrupt, I cut off one rope, leaving an end a few inches long. Placing it alongside another one of the three remaining ropes, I began a three-strand braid, with one strand being thicker than the other two. I didn't bother to finish the raw end of the fourth strand in any way, so it has frayed a bit over the years, but it's never come loose from the braid. To be neat, I could have tied the end to one of the other strands with carpet thread before braiding. The braided portion of my whip, by the way, is approximately 3.5 feet long, just about the same length as the macrame part.

I finished off the braid by attaching one popper to each of the three strands in the braid. I then wrapped the last few inches of the braid with tape. It's not exactly elegant, but it allows me to replace the poppers when one breaks. I've done this once that I can remember. The poppers are 12" long, plus a few inches of overlap with the braided part. The poppers were originally leather boot laces, and they've become very soft and supple over the years from use.

Dimensions of my whip:
Handle: 15"
Macrame: 3.5'
Braid: 3.5'
Poppers: 12" Total length: 9 feet, 3 inches

That's it! I hope these instructions were clear enough to follow easily.

To make a snake instead of a whip, simply omit the wooden handle. The whip which I examined before making mine was about 12-14 feet long. It used a double macrame to start off, then went to a single macrame (the four-strand type describe above), then to a braid, and finally to the poppers. The double macrame is nothing but a four-strand macrame, but each "rope" is now two pieces of rope treated as one strand. In other words, you would cut *FOUR* pieces of rope. Lay down two alongside one another, then lay down the other two perpendicular to the first two. Pretend you're doing a four-strand macrame, but with thicker ropes. I don't think the double macrame will be useful unless you want to make a *REALLY* long whip. As shorter whips and snakes are safer and easier to control, I don't recommend the long ones.

Good luck, and be safe!