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The bowstring is the most pivotal part of any bow. These strings are actually made up of several thinner strands bound together to create a strong cord capable of handling the physical forces that occur during a shot. Even though the bowstring is incredibly important, it’s possible to make one yourself. But how do you do so? We’re going to be covering the exact steps to follow here today.
So how do you make a recurve bowstring? Strands of stringing material are twisted together using a bowstring jig to create the bowstring. Serving material is then applied to secure and safeguard the loops and center of the bowstring against wear and tear. This is a relatively straightforward process.
That is the general gist of what you need to do.
But it is a little more complex than that.
So I will be providing a detailed step-by-step breakdown and everything you need to do shortly.
But first; what are you going to need to follow along and where can you get such supplies?
Let’s get into it!
What Do You Need To Make A Recurve Bowstring?
You’ll need a few integral materials such as both stringing filament and serving filament. You’ll also crucially need a bowstring jig – a device used to correctly measure and then twist a bowstring. There is a range of materials available to create the best bowstring for you.
Let’s start with a complete checklist of everything you’ll need to create your own recurve bowstring:
- Stringing material
- Serving material
- Bowstring jig
- String serving jig
- Bow square
- Extra string
- Bowstring wax
- Measuring tape
- Scissors or a knife
- Pencil & paper
The stringing material forms the foundation of your recurve bowstring.
There are several different filament options on the market, but for a bowstring, you want something that is going to be durable enough to withstand your shooting sessions.
For standard types of recurve bows, the best stringing material is going to be Dacron.
This is constructed from PET plastic and is fairly cheap, but it’s also durable enough to work well for long periods.
If you’re using a higher-performance recurve bow, use something like FastFlight.
The serving material is used to tie together the ends of your recurve bowstring to form the loops. Serving material is also applied to the center of the bowstring where the nocking points will be located.
These three areas face a lot of tension and use, so serving material offers an additional layer of protection.
FastFlight offers good-quality serving material, but braided nylon is also a good, accessible choice.
The other main item necessary for making a recurve bowstring is a bowstring jig.
This apparatus consists of a series of metal posts and a central bar that can be positioned in several ways during the process of making a recurve bowstring.
This allows you to easily secure the stringing material during the twisting process and also ensures that the string maintains the correct amount of tension while being constructed.
A string serving jig performs the same function on a smaller scale for the serving material.
Where To Buy Your Supplies For Making A Recurve Bowstring
Most of the specialized materials and tools needed for making a recurve bowstring can be bought from dedicated archery shops or online. There are also some other avenues to explore when buying these components.
The main place to go to find things like stringing and serving material and a bowstring jig is a specialist archery store or sporting goods shop.
These outlets should have all the necessary materials for making a recurve bowstring.
Additionally, they can offer advice as to the best types of stringing material for your individual recurve bow and other tips and tricks.
The other place to look for these items is online.
Sites like Amazon may have several of these components, but online archery stores should be the first port of call.
They have the specialist knowledge, much like local archery shops, to stock suitable items for archery and may also be able to offer advice.
Many online archery stores are happy to answer questions about their products either online or social media.
My go-to online store for archery supplies is usually Bass Pro Shops.
For things like bowstring jigs or serving jigs, sites like Craigslist and eBay can be useful for getting preowned tools at a cheaper price than brand new ones.
Exercise caution though and try and thoroughly check out a product before buying.
You can also find things like stringing material or serving material on preowned e-commerce sites, but it’s always best to buy brand new with these components to make sure that they aren’t damaged or worn.
You may also be able to buy or pick up some of these supplies from your local archery club.
Someone who is sorting through their archery equipment may offer these items to other members for a cheap price.
Again, you can also get advice from more experienced archers and what’s worked for them.
How To Make A Recurve Bowstring – Step-By-Step
Now that we’ve covered the necessary supplies and where to get them, let’s go through a step-by-step guide to making your own recurve bowstring.
This guide will be broken down into sections that reflect each stage of the process:
Before getting into the process of making a bowstring, there are two main measurements to figure out: the length of the bowstring and the number of strands needed to make it.
To find the necessary length for the bowstring, take the length of your bow in inches and subtract 3.5 inches from it. This will give you the appropriate length. So for a bow that’s 70″ long, the bowstring should be 66.5″. Always leave an extra ½ to ¼ of an inch to allow for tweaking.
The number of strands of stringing material you need to construct the bowstring will depend on the draw weight of your bow and the breaking point of the stringing material that you’re using. The breaking point should be provided on the canister that contains the stringing material. For example, Dacron has a general breaking point range of 10 lbs.
If we assume that we’re trying to string a beginner recurve bow with a draw weight of 25 lbs, we can now work out the necessary amount of individual strands. These will be twisted together to make a single bowstring.
Take the draw weight of your bow (25 lbs) and multiply it by four (100). Then, divide this by the breaking point of the stringing material (10 lbs), which gives us 10. This means that we’ll need to twist at least ten strands together to make a suitably durable bowstring.
Forming The String
Now that we’ve got the measurements we need, it’s time to make the bowstring.
- Set the bowstring jig up to have all four posts in a straight line. The posts should be marked as A, B, C, and D. The A post should be on the far left of the line, with the D post on the far right.
- Use these two posts to measure out the length of the bowstring and secure the device with the locking bolt.
- Tie the running end of the stringing material to post A. Then, wind the material down to post D and around it and back up to post A. This represents two strands. Continue winding until you have the correct number of strands measured earlier. In our case, that means five complete rotations around posts A and D to give us ten strands. Cut the string away from the spool of stringing material without losing tension.
- Unfasten the string at post A and tie it to the opposing end of the string that we just cut. Keep tension in the string while doing this.
Forming The Bow Loops
We now need to create the bow loops at each end of the bowstring. These allow us to install the bowstring onto our bow.
- Using a spare piece of string, loop this around the notch at the tip of your bow’s limb and position the two ends together as if they joined to form a central string traveling down the bow.
- At the point where the two strands cross, measure the width of your bow’s limb. This will give you the loop size, which should be somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
- It’s a good idea to make one loop larger than the other to make it easier to string your bow and to identify which end is which.
Serving The Bow Loops
- With the bowstring still fixed in the jig, move the four posts back to their original rectangular position. Posts A & B should be on the left-hand side and C & D should be on the right. The knot that joins the two ends of the stringing material should be close to post A.
- Find the halfway point between posts A & B. Use this to determine the loop position. If your loop size was 3 inches, mark off 1.5 inches on either side of the center point between posts A & B. Your string knot should be around half an inch away from one of these markers.
- Take your serving material and use a serving jig to control the spool. Lay the serving string over the bowstring, with about an inch of serving string resting on the top of the bowstring about half an inch away from your knot.
- Lead the serving string underneath and up over the bowstring. Do this between ten and 15 times. Loop over the previous inch of serving material laying on top of the bowstring as well.
- Tighten the serving string by gently pulling the leading end. You can either cut the serving off the spool and glue it in place or leave it connected to the spool and secure it with a piece of tape.
- Rotate posts A & B into a straight line following the center bar of the bowstring jig. Adjust the bowstring so that one side of the serving is about 1/8th of an inch longer than the other. Cut the excess serving string on the leading end off.
- Using the spool of serving material, tie both sides of the bowstring together, looping over the top and underneath to draw both sides closer together. Start winding from the shorter side of serving on the bowstring. Do this until about 3.5 inches of the bowstring is looped together by the serving.
- Get another piece of string that measures between four and six inches long. Loop this over and under the part of the bowstring that begins to diverge into two strings at the end of the served section.
- Using your serving material, overlap this string and the bowstrings for another 10 to 15 rotations. Pull the spool to provide an extra couple of inches of serving string, then cut the string and set the spool aside.
- Take the cut end of the serving string and loop it through the eye of the spare string. Pull on the spare string gently. This will pull the two strings together. Once the serving string has traveled all the way through, pull on it to tighten the serving securely. Cut off the excess lengths of string.
- Repeat these steps on the other side of the bow, using posts C & D to serve the other bowstring loop.
Forming The Center Serving
Now that the two bow loops have been served, we need to do the same for the center of the bowstring. This is where the nocking points will be, making it a high-stress area.
- Remove the bowstring from the jig and twist it 10 to 15 times. Then install it onto the bow, keeping the tension in the string.
- Take your bow square and determine your nocking point.
- Once you’ve found it, measure 1.5 inches above it and mark this point. Then mark another point 3 inches below the nocking point.
- Using Steps 3 to 10 in the previous section, loop the serving material around the center of your bowstring.
To finish off the bowstring, always wax it thoroughly to protect it from fraying and other damage. Be generous and vigorous, but not rough. Take great care to avoid getting any wax on the servings. This can cause other components to stick to the servings and affect your shots.
You’ve now made your own bowstring for your recurve bow!
Factors To Consider When Making Your Recurve Bowstring
Although making a recurve bowstring is relatively straightforward, there are a few factors to bear in mind. These mainly include the choice of stringing material as well as making sure that the bowstring is the correct length for the bow.
There are several stringing materials on offer when it comes to making a recurve bowstring.
However, some are better than others. A recurve bow string has to be extremely durable because it takes a lot of punishment during shooting.
But the string also has to be flexible enough to make unstringing the recurve bow as easy as possible.
This gives them a chance to preserve the limb flex that is so paramount to their power.
Your recurve bowstring should be able to handle this regular installation and unstringing.
Some stringing materials such as Kevlar aren’t very suitable for recurve bows.
Most recurve bows aren’t built to handle higher-performance stringing materials like BCY 450 or FastFlight, especially older wooden bows and those used by beginners.
In these cases, aim to use Dacron as it is cheap but also durable and flexible enough for the job.
Getting the right string length is also crucial for having a good recurve bow.
Your string should measure around 3.5 inches shorter than the overall length of your bow.
This is because the limbs will be pulled slightly when the string is attached to create tension in the bow.
If the bowstring is too long, there will be too much slack and the bow won’t generate the correct amount of power.
When twisting your homemade bowstring together to attach it to the bow when serving the center of the bowstring (see the section above), pay attention to the number of twists.
If you have to twist the string more than 15 times, it’s too long for the bow and will generate too much slack.
If the string needs up to 30 twists, shortening the bowstring very slightly by half an inch should solve this problem.
Likewise, strings that are too short are detrimental as well.
These generate far too much stress and tension on the bow’s limbs, which could lead to it snapping dangerously during a shot.
So that’s how to make a recurve bow string.
It may seem a little complex, but if you follow the steps provided here today closely then you should find that you have your new bowstring ready in no time.
Just be sure to buy the right materials and tools.
And here’s the last tip.
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Come back when you have everything you need 🙂
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.