Chapter 8: the String
Here’s one way to make a single loop flemish twist string, there are better ways out there but this one’s simple and will get you going. Buying a roll of string material from most archery suppliers is typically cheaper than the cost of buying a finished string—and will last for many strings.
I’m making a 12 strand string out of B-50 Dacron. There are better stronger string materials out there, I just like Dacron for the convenience, it makes for a nice string thickness without needing any extra padding. Whatever string material you use, make sure you have a total breaking strength around ten times the draw weight of the bow.
To start off, set two nails 100 inches apart. The board I have isn’t long enough, so I’m using a third nail. This will yield an oversized string that you can use as a tillering string and later cut down to use as your final string. Since we’ll be using an adjustable timber hitch, it’s not critical to get the length of the string exactly right.
Wind the string around the nails 6 times for 12 total strands.
Cut the strands free and separate the bundles. Don’t let them tangle.
Winding into bundles helps avoid tangles.
Next, trim the ends of the bundles so they all end at a slightly different length. This way when the string tapers out you won’t get a sudden bulge from all the tag ends coming out of the same spot.
Wax the ends of the bundles with beeswax or bowstring wax.
Now we’re ready to start reverse twisting the string. If you’ve never made cordage before, the basic idea is to twist each individual bundle in one direction, and then countertwist the two bundles in the opposite direction.
Start 8 to 10 inches from the ends of the bundles, and keep reverse twisting until you have enough cordage to fold back on itself and make a loop.
Once you’re happy with the size of the loop, fold the bundles over, fuse the bundles with wax, and then continue with the reverse twisting.
Make sure you keep the twist as tight as you can manage while the bundles are still fusing together. Once you get past the first foot or so, after you’re past all the loose ends, then you don’t have to tighten quite as much.
With pristine modern string materials you don’t actually have to tightly twist all the way down the length of the string. If anything, over twisting can make the string stretchy, so for the center portion of the string I’m doing a much looser reverse twist. Once I get close to the end, then I go back to making the twist much tighter.
Keep twisting all the way to the end of the string. For now the string will be too long, but that’s ideal since we’ll use it as a tillering string. Later on you can cut the string shorter to use as your final string, or make another permanent string.
If you’re looking for a slight bit of extra performance try out a continuous loop string. The disadvantage is that you’ll lose the adjustable timber hitch.
Snip off any loose tag ends. and you’re done for now.
To simplify things I will not be stretching this string out, I’ll just let it stretch out naturally on the bow. If you want to eliminate the stretch, hang a heavy weight on your string overnight, or put it on a bowstring stretcher.
Serving the String
Don’t perform this step unless you’re making a completed string. If you’re following the buildalong, serve the string later when the tiller is complete.
Serving adds some durability to the string and also ensures that the string is the right diameter to accept the nocks on your arrows.
the Timber Hitch
Here’s how to tie a timber hitch, which you can use to adjust the length of the string.
Make a loop.
Bring your string end around the loop
Then wrap the end through the loop once, and then a second time.
There it is. When you pull on the string it will tighten itself. Just undo it and retie to adjust the length of the string and the brace height of the bow.
For now the next thing we need is a way to attach the string to the bow: nocks.