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Making your own bow part 9: making a string

Figure 2: Making bowstringsIn this articles in the series on bow building Cleve Cheney gives instructions on how to make a string for your newly build bow.

> Figure 2: Making bowstrings

The bow is basically completed and now you have to make a string and perhaps one or two spares for it. We will show you a number of ways to make strings.

Measure the length of string you will require as follows: Take an ordinary piece of string and make a loop on one end that will fit snugly over a nock without slipping. Bend the bow to the approximate brace height (about 8 inches or 20 cm) and stretch the string across to the opposite nock, and looping the string once around the bow, measure the point of the string where it lies in the middle of the nock at the opposite end of the bow.

To make a Dacron bowstring you have two options, you can make a standard type of string or you can make a Flemish string. Let's begin with the easier of the two.

Step 1: Take a flat wooden plank and knock two six-inch nails in the plank. The distance between them will be the length of bowstring that you require. Saw or snip off the heads of the nails. Now knock two more nails in as shown and leave their heads on. These must be on a lower level than the first two nails so that they do not get in your way later on.

Anchor the end of the string with a drawing pin to the board.

Loop the string around the shorter left hand nail a few times and then around the longer nails, back and forth until you have got 18 to 22 strands of Dacron (up to 40 pounds draw weight 18 strands; 40 to 50 pounds draw weight 20 strands, and 50 to 60 pounds 22 strands).

Wrap the end of the last strand of string around the right hand shorter nail a few times.
For clarity the strands in the diagram are shown far apart. These should in actual fact be close together. We must now tie the strings together with material called "serving". Serving can be sinew, dental floss or commercial material. See figures 1 and 2.

Leaving enough space for a loop wrap the serving tightly around the strands for about 6 inches (15 cm) and then tie off the serving. This is the trickiest part of the whole process and we will try and illustrate how to do it in the figures 3 to 5. Repeat on the opposite end and a section in the middle as well.

Figure 2: Making bowstrings< Figure 3: Making bowstrings

Wrap as shown for about 6 inches.

Pull out a loop about 20 cm long as shown on the right and wrap (wind), the serving back towards the existing serving in the opposite direction laying the end of the string over the loop as shown.

Now continue to wrap the serving on the left hand side (red arrow) and as you do this it will unwind on the right side (yellow arrow). Continue until all the wraps on the right have been unwound. Now pull on the end of the string (blue arrow) to snug everything up.
"Snug" the "back" serving up tight.

Cut off ends of string and serving.

Melt the ends a squash flat with a wet finger to prevent strands pulling loose.
Repeat the process on the other end and in the centre of the string where the arrow will nock to the string and you should have a string that looks like the one below.

Now to finish off your string give it a thorough rub with bowstring wax and rub it in well with a piece of leather.

In the next article for those who want to be really traditional we will show you how to make a Flemish string.

About the Author

Cleve Cheney

Cleve Cheney

Cleve Cheney,  hunting and environmental editor of Africa’s Bowhunter is a very well known figure in bow hunting and in conservation circles in South Africa. Cleve Cheney has been in conservation for 27 years, of which 20 years were spent with the National Parks Board – most of it in the Kruger National Park. During the time spent in the Kruger National Park Cleve culled no less than 50 elephants with a rifle and he has hunted most African game during culling operations.

Cleve has also been an avid bow hunter for 22 years and he has an extensive technical knowledge on bows, arrows and broadheads. Cleve is also an accomplished bowyer and has built many recurves over the years. He began offering bowhunting education courses more than 15 years ago. Until recently, Cleve was a lecturer at the South African Wildlife College where was a lecturer and instructor. He has a diploma in Nature Conservations and a MA degree in animal Physiology. Over the years Cleve has written more than a hundred articles on tracking, hunting, survival skills, and bow and rifle hunting. He started an 18 month long professional hunters course at the SA Wildlife College where he trained the first group of professional hunters.

Cleve has trained many bow hunters and his educative articles on how to hunt African game, as well as many other articles on different aspects of archery bow hunting an bush skills has been published in Africa’s Bowhunter, Game and Hunt magazine, Universal Hunter and many other magazines. He has been the lead article writer for Africa’s Bowhunter for more than 14 years.

His book on tracking, The Comprehensive Guide to Tracking: In-depth information on how to track animals and humans alike, is probably the most in-depth study on this subject available. For those who want to learn more than the basics, this book is a treasure trove of tracking information, insights, methods, and knowledge. The book is divided into logical sections: teaching yourself to track; understanding wildlife behavior; identification of tracks and signs; gait patterns and pressure release; blood trailing; tracking specific animals; track, stalk, and approach; bird, reptile, and invertebrate sign; man tracking; and dangers in the bush.

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