Whipping the Neck of a Spliced Wood

I'm sure most hickory players and collectors do whippings, each in their own way. This is how I whip, specifically how I whipped a splice-neck brassie that I recently re-glued. Simple, perhaps crude... but it works for me. Scroll through the individual pictures if you want to see all of the details.

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This is almost the only special 'tool' I use - a stick in a small vise that I picked up. I can put a spool of thread on the stick, and the thread will unwind easily as I pull it.

For this whipping I am going to use some heavy-duty waxed polymer thread that I got from Paul Dietz (a real pro at this stuff). I'm using a very heavy thread here, as this is a whipping that needs to give serious structural support. I also use this heavy thread for repairing shafts.

For the vast majority of my whipping - everything except repairs and spliced necks - I use Crawford's 4-cord waxed linen thread. This is quite strong, whips well, and gives a good appearance.

I always whip from the thinner end towards the fatter end, as this helps to tighten the whipping. I start by looping the thread round the shaft and passing it over itself.

Next I rotate the shaft and make another turn of thread around. Once the thread is wrapped over itself twice, I pull the two ends, and with waxed thread this should be enough to tighten the thread on the shaft, so that it will not move. You can adjust the position of the start of the whipping as you do this initial tightening.

Now I continue to rotate the shaft, and wrap on the whipping.

I am basically just holding the club on my lap, with the head on the left, and drawing the thread off the spool onto the whipping.

Once I've got the whipping going, I switch to rotating the club by using my left hand on the head, and use my right hand to guide and tighten the whipping.

I try to keep the whipping as tight as possible, and lay down one turn directly touching the previous turn. If I get an overlap, I back off a bit and undo the overlap. If I leave a little gap, I push the thread up with a fingernail to remove the gap.

As I get near to the end of the area I want to whip, I will need to insert a 'puller' as this is how I finish the whipping. An alternate method is to make the free end of the thread that is under the whipping long enough to go the whole length of the whipping, and then tie off the end of the whipping to that protruding free end - this leaves a little knot at the end of the whipping, and is not how I do it.

As a 'puller' I just use a loop of thread, knotted. This is a thinner, very strong, unwaxed, artificial thread. Some people use thin wire. And you can get specially made pullers, with little handles.

I put the puller onto the shaft, knotted end back along the whipping, and free end toward the head, and then whip over the puller.

Now I continue whipping over the puller until I get to where the whipping is supposed to end.

I cut off the thread from the spool, leaving about 1" protruding beyond the puller (and holding the whipping firmly, so it doesn't loose tightness).

Now I use tweezers to thread the cut end of the thread through the puller (normally I'd have both hands on the work, but I have to use one hand for the camera in this case).

Here the cut end is pulled through the loop of the puller.

Now the loose end is through the loop of the puller and ready to be pulled under. This thread is heavily waxed - that is what all the white 'goo' in the picture is.

I grasp the puller by the knotted end, and pull it back, to close the loop, and catch the free end of the whipping (again I'd hold the end of the whipping thread, if I wasn't using one hand for the camera).

Now I can keep pulling, and draw the free end of the whipping underneath. This takes quite a bit of force. Small pliers can be used on the knotted puller if necessary. But try to pull smoothly and gently, as we don't want to break the thread.

Pulling strongly, but smoothly, we can draw the free end right through under the whipping.

Now we continue to pull until the free end is completely under and out.

And then cut off the excess with scissors or a knife (taking care, of course, not to cut the whipping itself).

And here's the finished whipping (maybe I should have gone one more turn at the bottom).

Ken Leedham, GHSC. If you have questions or comments, please email