How to make your own poppers for a bullwhip, snakewhip or stock whip.

The popper is the fuzzy thing that is tied onto the end of the bullwhips fall. It gets a lot of wear and will need to be changed from time to time. You see the popper when tied onto the end of a bullwhip travels at the speed of sound. That's about 750 miles per hour or 1400 feet per second! In fact the crack we all love so much from our bullwhips is the result of the popper breaking the sound barrier. It's a sonic boom. All be it not quite as loud as that made by a super sonic jet but a sonic boom none the less. There have even been scientific studies to confirm this little fact. I want to know who funded those studies and why they didn't call me. Just another case of your tax dollars at work I guess.

If you are making bullwhip poppers from upholstery thread do this first

Bullwhip poppers can be made with heavy nylon upholstery thread. You get a hook (teacup hooks or larger work) and screw it into a stationary object. Loop the nylon thread through it and back around a finger and the hook. Make about 7 or 8 complete circular loops - loop length should be twice or more what the finished popper will be. Cut (this stuff is too strong to break) the thread and tie the 2 loose ends together.

If you are making a bullwhip popper from nylon string start here.

Hold one end with your fingers of one hand then twist the thread or string until it becomes quite tight. This can also be done with a hand crank drill or even an electric drill. But I wouldn't use an electric drill unless you can set the speed very slow. You'll know it's tight enough when it starts to kink. At this point Fold the piece of string or the tied off upholstery thread in half and it will twist up on it's self and form a small loop at one end. Now tie an overhand knot about 3 inches down from the loop. (longer or a shorter depending on the length you want to popper to be) Cut after this knot about an inch and a half or so out, to make the fringe.

If you want to make a bullwhip popper very fast and by-pass all the twisting, you can use braided mason's twine. Just cut it off at the desired length and tie it on the bullwhip fall. I know this kind of negates the whole article but the kind of poppers that you make by hand will give a much sharper sound. For trick cracking like doing volleys you can use poly twine. (The kind they give away at Home Depot.) The advantage of this is that it will not get tangled up in the fall. If you do use poly twine start at the nylon string method. The disadvantage of poly twine is that it doesn't last very long. However there is a way to make a hybrid popper that is a combination of poly twine and nylon that solves this problem and still gives the advantage of being tangle proof.In the old days before nylon it is rumored that the best crackers were made out of silk. Some cowboys even carried a silk scarf or a piece of a silk undergarment just for this use. Call me crazy but somehow cowboys with silk scarves or silk under garments just doesn't fit my image of a cowboy.

Now let's learn how to tie that popper on the fall of your bullwhip.


© 2006 Victor Tella

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