Gone Outdoors

How to Make a Bowstring

by Lynette DiPalma

Making the bowstring is certainly one of the easiest parts of making your own bow. Though there are a few different techniques used to make a bow string, the most common is referred to as the continuous loop bowstring. This continuous loop bowstring is a good choice for either recurve or compound bows.

Set the String

Determine the length of the bowstring. For a recurve bow, the string should be 3 1/2 inches shorter than the full length of your bow. The string length for a compound bow should be listed in the literature from the manufacturer, or it may be found written on one of the bow limbs.

Calculate the number of strands in the string. The number of strands will depend on both your bow's weight and the breaking strain weight of the string material you have chosen. A basic formula is to multiply your bow's poundage by four, and then divide this number by the strain weight of your string material. For example, for a 35-lb. bow using BCY 450, which has a breaking strain of 10, you will need 14 strands.

Set up the bow rig according to the manufacturer's instructions, and set it at the appropriate length for the string you're making. Set the winding posts into position to form a straight line.

Tie the end of your string material to the winding post located on the far left, which is usually marked winding post A or 1.

Wind the string around the winding post to the far right, which is usually marked winding post D or 4.

Repeat these steps until you have the correct amount of strands. You will be counting the strings from both sides of the winding posts.

Untie the string from winding post A or 1.

Tie the two ends of the string together.

Reset the winding posts to the serving position by pulling the two center posts down, and locking them into position below posts A and D. Whereas the string made one long, narrow continuous loop in the winding position, the string should now resemble a rectangle with each of the posts forming a corner.

If you're simply replacing a worn bowstring, whether for a recurve or a compound bow, you can simply measure the old string to determine the length of the new bowstring.

Many bow string material manufacturers will provide a chart on the product spool to tell you how many strands you'll need depending on the weight of your, so you won't have to make any of the calculations.

Use a serving jig to keep the tension of the jig and strand materials while making your string.

String your bow.

Winding the Serving

Find and mark the center between posts A and B.

Mark the length of the loop, centering the measurement on the true center mark made in step 12. In other words, if you are making a 30-inch loop, mark the string 1 1/2 inches on either side of the true center mark.

Serve the bowstring by first laying down about 1-inch of serving material along with the strand material.

Wind the serving material around both the strand material and the first inch of serving material, binding it all together. Start binding about 1/2-inch from the loop marking on the left of center.

Pull the first inch of the serving material to tighten it once you have wound it several times. Leave the tail sticking out as you bind past that first inch.

Continue to wind the serving material until the entire loop section is bound, ending about 1/4-inch from the loop marking right of center.

Shift the string around the winding posts until the serving is on either side of winding post A. One side of the serving should be about 3/4-inch longer than the other.

Slide winding post B back into line with the center of the jig.

Serve the two sides of the string together to form the loop. Continue to serve the two sides together for 3 to 4 inches. Repeat steps 1 through 10 on the opposite side of the string.

Serving the Nocking Point

Remove the string from the string jig.

Twist your new string several times. This helps compensate for any extra length created during the stringing process.

String your bow.

Position the bow square on the string and arrow shelf.

Mark the nocking point.

Mark the top serving point about 2 inches above the nocking point.

Mark the bottom serving point about 3 inches below the nocking point.

Serve between the marks made in steps 6 and 7.

Apply wax to your new string only where there is no serving.

Items you will need
  • String material
  • String jig
  • Serving material
  • Serving jig (optional)
  • Bow square
  • Bow wax

Warning

  • Though adding strands to your string will make your bowstring stronger, it will also greatly reduce the flight speed of your arrows. Keep the tension even on the strings both during winding, and when you are trying to tie the string off. Uneven tension may cause the string to perform poorly. The knot made in the string material should always be within 1/2-inch of either end of the loop.

About the Author

Lynette DiPalma has 12 years of writing experience with various publications, ranging from novels to magazines to poetry. She is a full-time freelance writer and artist, specializing in wedding-related articles. She also holds a license in couples counseling focusing on holistic practices. DiPalma has Master of Arts in English from Eastern New Mexico University.