Welcome to our whip cracker/popper tutorial section! This page details the procedure for making and replacing the cracker of your whip, which is a very useful skill. 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, being able to make and replace them is highly recommended, and will save you a lot of time and money if you do it yourself!
While there are many different methods for making crackers, Canada Whips has chosen to demonstrate the method below because it is used by some of the best whip makers in the world. Further, this method is quick and simple, which is definitely a benefit when you want to get back out there and keep cracking!
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
For this tutorial, you will need:
- String or thread (We will be using poly string, but mason’s twine, Kevlar thread, or nylon paracord gut are all equally popular)
- 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 two pieces of string together. For the tightest cracker, make sure to twist them in the same direction the string itself is twisted (if you’re unsure of this, look closely at one piece or string and twist it both ways in order to find out).
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.
Next, take the two strands which are on the bottom of the loop and twist them together in the same direction you initially twisted the string. Take these twisted bottom strands and put them on top of the non-twisted top strands, making sure to pinch where the two sets are connecting so the cracker doesn’t unravel. Now, twist the bottom strands (which were originally the top strands) and put them on top. Repeat this process over and over, making sure to keep moving your thumb down as the twisted part of your cracker gets longer and longer.
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.
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.
Replacing a Cracker
Now that we have our cracker made, it is time to replace our old one. 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 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.
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.
Next, fold the fall over itself to form a loop, with the end of the fall on top.
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!