Until I began working with leather, I had no idea how much variety could be found in one simple impact implement: the flogger.
I have heard people say, “Oh, I already have a flogger. I don’t need any more.” I was one of those people once upon a time. I didn’t realize that in addition to the basic cagegories of thud and sting there was an entire range of sensation available in one style of tool. While the same can be said for other kinds of implements, such as canes or paddles, I personally feel that floggers have an even wider range of possibility.
If you aren’t sure what a flogger is going to feel like because you are ordering online, here are some basic categories to be aware of as you make your choice. I recommend visiting local vendors whenever possible to feel their offerings in person. You may find one whose focus is variety of sensation, which can be helpful for increasing knowledge even if you prefer to purchase elsewhere.
Kind of Leather
Different kinds of leather provide different sensations. The ones you may see most commonly are cowhide in a variety of finishes and elk, though I have also seen implements in pigskin suede, lambskin, rabbit skin, water buffalo, deer, American bison, bull, kangaroo, and many others. A softer, stretchier leather will provide a thuddier impact. Deer and elk are very soft and all thud. Pigskin suede is super lightweight and adds a smidge of sting, but can often be more noise than sensation, which can be fun mixed with other leathers or for someone interested in sensation play. Rabbit is super soft but the smaller skins limit its use while maintaining structural integrity in an impelement. Lamb can be soft unless finished with a metallic or special coating, which will add some sting. Water buffalo is thick and thuddy, a heavier impact than fists when used in larger quantities. Cowhide has the most variety. Some will be finished for use as clothing, with a smooth texture, making it sting more. Some will be soft, like suede, and run towards thuddy when used in combination with other techniques to bring out those characteristics.
Number of Falls
The way falls work can almost be graphed on a parabola. Fewer larger falls (one inch, for example) will be thuddier. As they thin, it will get stingier for the same amount of leather until you get to a point where there are so many falls, it becomes mop-like, at which point it becomes thuddier again. To increase thud with any fall width, working with more leather (more falls) will up that sensation.
Length of Falls
Inertia is important to understand (at least basically) when swinging impact implements. The more momentum, the more force behind impact. I generally don’t recommend falls longer than the arm. Obviously, there are exceptions if you are looking for a flogger to hit like a freight train. I consider 12 inches of falls to be a medium length. I personally consider 15 inches and longer to be “full size,” but opinions may vary in that area. Floggers at different lengths will have very different impacts when swung with full force, even when made with the exact same material, fall width, and fall count. The longer they are, the heavier they will land. I say heavy rather than thuddy, since I consider thud to be the type of impact rather than the weight of it. A heavy flogger doesn’t have to be thuddy. It can still sting.
A lot of floggers come with straight cut falls, like so:
Ignoring everything else about the flogger (hide type, treatment of the leather, length of falls, width of falls), let’s just talk about corners and points.
The impact from a flogger comes from inertia. The speed and force it is swung with is kinetic energy being channeled into the falls. The more point those falls have, the more that energy is directed into those points. Thus the squared-off tips can still have a little minor sting in the points, though that style tends to be more thuddy in terms of comparison to other cuts of falls.
If, however, one desires to increase the amount of thud an implement gives, either because it stings a little more than preferred, or just to up that thud factor, rounding the tips of falls will help.
Whether the rounding is gentle, as in the first example, or a little more obvious, as in the second, it can make a pleasant difference.
If, however, one desires to increase the amount of sting an implement gives, adding focal points for the energy will do that. There are several ways to add points. A single cut at one inch, two inches, or whatever steepness you prefer can add some sting. That point can be along one edge or in the middle of a fall. A second point (snake tips) can add to sting, giving two focal points for energy with every fall.
Splitting a fall and adding one slant tip per new split can give a similar effect to snake tips, by effectively doubling the number of points you can create.
I recommend for any serious tip cutting: a metal ruler, a basic rotary cutter available at any craft store or on Amazon, some tailor’s chalk, and a cutting surface such as a mat or even a kitchen cutting board). Measure where you’d like to cut and make a mark with the chalk. If cutting a straight edge, use the metal ruler to guide your cutting implement. When cutting snake tips, I suggest marking three points, one at each corner and one in the middle, using the ruler to connect the points and cut. Alternatively, scissors work just fine.
Just make sure you are absolutely sure before you make that first cut! Once you begin, you’ve committed to making changes to your implement, in one way or another.
Handle Type / Length
While most handles are a round grip with falls extending from the base, pairs can also be created with t-shaped handles for Florentining or finger loops, even loops with chains or nunchuck style attachments, which I find work well for larger hands. This choice mainly impacts how you’ll use your floggers. While finger loops and t-shaped handles can be used in one hand to double the amount of leather being swung, they tend to lend themselves most easily to use in a two-handed style.
Handle length on a “standard” style cylindrical handle can make a difference in how it throws. Most handles are around 8 to 10 inches. Longer handles change the fulcrum point, where the balance is. Builders who weight their handles usually try to take that into account and add weight to the back of the handle so it balances a little better. Some people argue that a weighted handle makes it easier to wield for longer scenes, others don’t feel it matters. My personal opinion is that the heavier (more leather and longer falls, remember?) a flogger gets, the more important having that counter-balance becomes.
In addition to the details which effect impact, fall color or colors and handle style are merely cosmetic changes. While these details won’t change the feel, they can give you an opportunity to showcase favorite colors, superheroes, sports teams, or any other meaningful celebration of color, making your flogger or floggers truly unique.
Hopefully you can use the information I’ve acquired through trial and error (and more trial) to help when you are working with a builder, or even choosing an implement from a seller’s existing stock, either online or in person. You may even need one of each kind!
Christmas bunny has been exploring kink since she was legal to do so. Her serious writing started in college, where she accidently got some of her papers published in educational journals. She has recently expanded her writing to include her kink journey. She began writing in the physical realm, but shed some of her inhibitions and began sharing those entries with others. She now keeps an active blog of her personal growth and her relationship with her Master / Daddy Dominant and writes helpful educational posts on a variety of subjects. In addition to her writing, she is a leatherworker specializing in impact implements.