Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 00:50:46 -0700
From: (Laura Werner)
Subject: Homemade toys

Hi again,

I've been making a few of my own s/m toys lately, and I thought I'd write a bit about it. I'm a total toy slut, so this is a great way for me to acquire new playthings without spending too much money. (Of course, anyone who knows me has figured out by now that I'm still buying professionaly made stuff too, but hopefully I'll be able to stop sometime. :-)

A few years ago I made myself a couple of wooden paddles, but I hadn't done much since then. Those paddles turned out nice, though. I got a cherry 1x4 and used a coping saw to cut out large and small paddle shapes. Then I used a hand plane to make the paddles thinner, maybe 3/8" or 1/2" thick. Once I got the thickness right, I tilted the plane and used it to round off the edges.

After that, I drilled some shallow holes in one side of the paddle to make it nastier. Then I used a wood rasp to finish the shaping and smoothed everything out with lots of sandpaper. Finally, I used a natural oil finish to seal the paddles off. Oil-finished cherry gets a wonderful, deep, almost glowing reddish color as it ages, so these paddles ended up looking really nice.

Recently I got interested in toymaking again, and I started by making a leather strap with a wooden handle on it, kind of like the "belt on a stick" in Lady Green's "Kinky Crafts" book. (A nice book on making basic toys, BTW.) It was my first leatherworking project since I was a kid, so I was kind of making it up as I went along, but it turned out fairly well.

I took a piece of fairly stiff leather that was about 3 mm thick (5 or 6 oz. leather, I think), and cut out two 1 1/2" wide strips about 18" long. I glued them back-to-back using some contact cement, and then used the same cement to sandwich one end between two quarter-inch-thick pieces of oak that were meant to be wood flooring Then I used the coping saw to cut the wood (and the leather in between) into a handle shape, and a rasp and sandpaper to smooth everything off. It's a nice looking but fairly intense toy. It might have been a good idea to use slightly thinner leather, but I'll know better next time.

My most impressive projects lately have been a couple of floggers. A month or so ago I got hit with a flogger whose tails were made of nylon string, and it felt pretty nice. So I decided to make my own. Instead of just bundling the strings together and tying them off, though, I tried to make it more like a traditional flogger. I used a wooden dowel as a handle and glued the tails around one end with epoxy. Then I wrapped some more string around the dowel for padding, and I tied turk's head knots on the two ends. That was the only really tricky part. I figured it out by reading a book on knots and looking at one of my professionally made whips until my eyes bugged out. The fancy handle and knobs on a silly-looking string flogger weren't really necessary, but I wanted practice for my next project....

Sunday I put that knowledge to use and made a "real" flogger with suede tails. I wanted one whose intensity would be somewhere between that of my deerskin and bullhide whips, and I succeeded. The technique was a fancier version of what I did for the string flogger: glue and nail the tails onto a wooden dowel, weight the other end of the dowel to make the whip balance properly, braid a leather covering over the handle, and then create end knobs and tie fancy knots around them. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. Close inspection reveals a few small flaws, but it looks almost as nice as the deerskin flogger I paid lots of money for. A friend even told me I should try to sell the things. That made me really happy; I was kind of amazed that I could create something that beautiful with my own two hands. It's a very nice feeling.

Someday when I have time I may try to write up more detailed instructions on how to make a "real" leather flogger, but for now it's time for bed....