Making and Replacing a Cracker

Whip Crackers are made of string and often accelerate to speeds faster than the speed of sound, so it is no surprise that they often wear down and need to be replaced. For this reason, learning to replace your cracker is an incredibly important skill.

There many different methods for making crackers, but we have chosen this one because it is easy and used by some of the best whip artists in the world. If you’d like to see another method, click on the link below the video.

Don’t like this method, or want to try something different? Check out this video for another common way people make their crackers!

Making a Cracker

Making a whip cracker is as simple as twisting two strings together and tying a knot! For a tight cracker, make sure to twist the string in one direction and wrap it in the other direction. After tying your knot, leave a few inches of untwisted string to fray for a sonic boom. For more details, see below:

For this tutorial, you will need:

  1. String or thread (We will be using poly string, but mason’s twine, Kevlar thread, or nylon paracord gut are all equally popular)
  2. Scissors or a sharp knife

To start, we are going to cut two pieces of string to just over two feet (60cm) each. This length doesn’t need to be exact, so don’t worry about measuring it: the length from your fingertips to your shoulder should be more than enough, and we can cut off the excess later.

Next, we are going to hold both pieces of string side by side, and find the middle. Hold both pieces of string and pinch on either side of the middle, leaving a few centimeters of space in between your fingers (again, this doesn’t have to be exact. The width of both of your thumbs is a good measurement).

Twist the middle of the two strands together

Twist the two pieces of string together. After you’ve given the middle of the string about two or three twists, bring your thumbs close together and let the twisted string form a loop. Pinch the loop closed so the string doesn’t unravel.

Bring your hands together to form a loop

You should now have two sets of two strands. Twist the set that is on the bottom, and place it over the two strands that are on top. Make sure you twist in the opposite direction of the way the strands need to move. In the next picture, I twist the strands clockwise, because they will be travelling counterclockwise around the top strands.

Twist the bottom strands before you wrap them over the top strands

Repeat this process until you have the length that you want.

Your cracker should start to look like this

Once the twisted part of your cracker reaches a good length (around 15cm/6”, or the width of your hand plus a little bit), it is time to tie it off. While keeping your twist pinched, take the top two strands and lay them over top of the twisted part of your cracker. This should form a loop. Pull the strands around the cracker and through the loop twice, and then pull the knot tight.

Form a loop with the top strands
Push the strands through the loop

Finally, we need to cut the four end strands to length. These are typically cut to about half of the length of the twisted part of your cracker, so use that as a guide. Take your scissors or knife and cut all four strands in a straight line, making sure they are all the same length. This will ensure that the force from your cracks is evenly dispersed, and make for the loudest cracks possible.

Congratulations! You’ve finished making your cracker. It may not look like one yet, but once you have put it on your whip and cracked it a few times the end strands should fray out nicely and evenly, giving you loud and crisp cracks.

Your finished cracker!

Replacing a Cracker

You can tell that your cracker needs to be replaced if it:

  • Has worn down so much that the frayed bit is almost gone
  • Has lots of knots in it which can’t be untied
  • Doesn’t sound as good as it used to
  • Came off during practice and is missing entirely!

To replace the cracker on your whip, remove the old cracker by untying it or cutting it off. Next, thread the fall through the small hole at the end of your new cracker. After that, make a loop with the fall, and pull the cracker through that loop. For more detailed instructions, see below:

To start, we need to remove the old cracker from our whip. Methods for this may vary depending on how the cracker was initially attached. If possible, untying the cracker from the whip is the best way to remove it, but this is very rarely possible because of how tight the knot can become. Instead, we are going to have to cut the cracker out.

Look at the knot which ties the cracker onto the end of the whip, and find the bit of cracker that is exposed inside of it. This is typically on the back of the knot. Cut away at the cracker using scissors or a sharp knife (some people find nail clippers work really well), and take care not to cut or damage the fall. Once you have cut through the bit of the cracker that is exposed, you should be able to pull the whole cracker straight off.

Cut the cracker out of the knot

To tie on your new cracker, first untwist the loop at the bottom of it so that the fall will fit inside. Put the fall through the loop and twist it back closed, leaving a little bit of space between the end of the fall and where the cracker is.

Put the fall through the loop in the cracker

Next, fold the fall over itself to form a loop, with the end of the fall on top.

Make a loop in the fall

Put the cracker through this loop, making sure that the fall itself does not come through with it. Pull this tight, and your cracker will be tied on and ready to use!

Put the cracker through the loop
Pull tight and your cracker is attached!

Want to access this tutorial offline? Download it in a PDF file here!