line up of longbow

How to Make a Bow String for a Longbow (Complete DIY Steps)

The bowstring is responsible for transferring your energy from the bow to the arrow. As a result, it’s an integral part of your archery gear that requires regular maintenance and replacement to guarantee long-term use.

However, purchasing a bowstring can be pretty costly. To avoid the steep price, I will teach how you to make a bowstring for a longbow.

Types of Bowstrings

For longbows, there are two types of bowstrings: the Flemish twist and the endless loop. The braided loops on each end of a Flemish twist give it a stunning, classic look. Loops are made by looping serving material, a braided thread, around the bowstring to create an endless-loop bowstring.

Thus, traditional archers favor the conventional beauty of Flemish twist bow strings, whereas target archers prefer the precision of endless-loop bowstrings.

But, here, we will only go through the method of how to make a Flemish twist:

7 Ways to Make Flemish Twist Longbow String

For generations, the production of Flemish twist strings was from hemp, flax, or linen until the 1960s and 1970s production, when machines made endless loop bow strings were widespread for production bows.

It’s not difficult to construct your own Flemish twist bowstring, and while you can do it without any specialist tools, some will make the job go faster and smoother. So, you need to gather essential bow string materials like:

  • Sharp knife
  • Flemish string jig
  • String wax/beeswax
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Lighter

A Flemish string jig is an excellent instrument for rapidly and reliably measuring the staggered length strands necessary in string bundles and is strongly advisable for beginners. String wax, suitable for the string material chosen, will be required. To precisely finish off the center serving, needle nose pliers and a lighter.

Step 1. Determine the Specifications

The first step is determining some specifications, such as string length, strand count, and the number of bundles or plies. Using an old string that provided the bow with an appropriate brace height, you should measure for string length. Pull the old thread tight by tying it to a nail. From the outside tip of one loop to the other, measure with a tape measure. This is the length of our string.  

If you don’t have a string available, you’ll have to do some background research. AMO is a standard for determining bow lengths in the industry. On the lower limb of many bows, you will see a print of the AMO length.

Step 2. Get the Optimal String Length

Now, to get the optimal string length for longbows, subtract 3 inches from the bow length.

After that, you must consider the number of strands and bundles. To handle a given bow’s draw weight, you should employ a sufficient number of strands, and neglecting to use enough strands could breach a bow’s warranty and might result in a possibly fatal failure. But, for convenience, you may use two bundles.

Here’s how you can measure your bow’s draw weight.

Step 3. Make the String Bundles

( Video | Clay Hayes )

You should make a Flemish twist bow string’s bundles with groups of strands that get shorter by half-inch increments at each end. As you wove the ends of the bundles back, the string takes on an elegant taper of a loop into the main body. Wrap the strands around a Flemish string jig to determine the length of the taper. Wrap the string repeatedly around all of the pegs of the jig for a specific length string.

You will end up with many staggered length strings after you cut the strand from the jig. Smooth the ends with about 12 inches length using a string wax, making sure there are no kinks in the center of the length of the bundle. Here’s a guide on how to wax a bow string.

Step 4. Make a Loop

It’s now time to create the first loop.

1. Align the ends of the bundles and clamp the string securely 8 inches from the end. You may use needle-nose pliers to hold the string on the 8 inches mark.

2. You can hold the clamp with your left hand or secure it to something stationary. Twist the separate bundle tag ends tight to the clamp in a clockwise orientation to the right.

( Video | Clay Hayes )

3. Then, begin braiding bundles together by tugging on the right twisted bundle and crossing it over the other bundle to the left, maintaining the complete workings under tension. (1)

( Video | Clay Hayes )

( Video | Clay Hayes )

4. Pull and twist each successive bundle tight to the right before crossing it over to the left of the preceding bundle in your right hand. 

5. Bend the braided portion over to the body and verify loop size after two inches of the braid.

When you’ve made a loop that’s the right size, pinch the parts together at the bottom of the loop and gently remove the clamp. To begin attaching the loop tags to the string body:

  1. Place your unsecured loop on a hook or peg. 
  2. Align and smooth the bundles from the tag ends with the bundles in the body.
  3. Repeat the procedure used to create the first half of the loop. Pull the rightmost bundle tight against the loop junction point and twist the uppermost component.
  4. Cross it over the other bundles on the left side and repeat. Repeat until you blend all tag ends into the main string body, then perform one more series of pulls, twist right, cross over, and stop for all bundles.

Repeat the steps to create a second loop identical to the first and bind it with a twist tie. Pull the newly produced string tight between your thumbs with the twist knots in place. 

Examine the string to ensure that all bundles are under similar pressure throughout the string body. The string will be ineffective if any of the bundles’ sags.

Step 5. Settle the String

To finalize the bowstring, it should either be placed on the bow to stretch and settle in for a few days or pre-stretched with a string stretcher. While you set the string in, apply some more bowstring wax and polish it with a piece of leather until the body is smooth and round.

You wrap a center serving onto the string after some initial stretching when the string is on the bow. In choosing serving material, keep arrow nock fit in mind. To provide protection against clothing, armguards, and other objects, begin serving three inches above where the arrow nock lies on the string and proceed down seven inches.

Step 6. Attach the Nocking Point

( Video | Clay Hayes )

Using twine or tape, make some temporary nock points. I recommend using a T-square to measure 5/8 inches above the level, with the shelf as a decent beginning point. Attach either brass or tied-on nock points once you identify an appropriate nocking point placement.

Read our guide on how to string a bow without a stringer.

Step 7. Fine-Tune Your Custom Bow String

Proceed to tune with appropriate arrows and heads, fine-tuning by twisting the string to alter brace height up and down. If you untwist a Flemish string too much, it will come apart. A full twist per inch of the string is a good starting point. Determine whether string silencers should be employed once the arrows are flying well.

You may attach fur silencers between the string bundles, wrap them around the string, and place them through the bundles on the other end. You may also use a double constrictor knot of B-50 string material to bind cat whiskers or wool puff silencers onto the thread. Place one silencer 1/4 of the way down from where the string makes contact with the upper limb. Also, you may place the other 1/3 of the way up from where the string touches the lower limb. (2)






References
(1) tension – https://www.britannica.com/science/tension-physics
(2) silencers – https://www.businessinsider.com/how-silencers-actually-work-2014-9



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