The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Making a Bowstring

Posted by Exile on October 21, 2021

…isn’t easy either.

In the middle ages they used flax. These days we use other materials, polyesters and other strange things. I went for dacron, which is a polymer thing and is very strong. One starts by making 7 huge loops at a couple of metres in length and then cut the loops to form two cords of material, each one with seven strands. Wax the ends to form a more solid cord and keep them seperate from each other to avoid tangles. Now one overlaps two ends and begins to twist the cords together to form a string. At some point one has created enough twisted string to form a loop. The overlap has to be long enough to allow room to twist the two sides of the loop together to start forming the string, This is done by combining the two shorter ends made while forming the loop with the opposite string. Continue twisting until the ends are gone. This leaves one with a string with a loop in one end and a lot of untangling to be done on the remaining string.
Go to the other end and choose a point well up on the string. Wax the two strands and begin twisting them together until one reaches the end. Tie a simple knot to end the process.

All a bit difficult to explain, difficult to do and requires a good deal of manual dexterity and patience.
The string then gets put on the bow. Tie a timber hitch (known now as a bowyers knot) to attach the string to the bottom nock and the loop goes into the top nock. Bow strung.

The string isn’t finished yet. It has to be served. This is a process where one whips a thin thread around the string, covering a little more than six inches in length, to protect it from wear from the arrow nocks and your fingers. A simple machine is required to do it nicely but one can wind thread on by hand if one does not possess such a simple tool. Whipping is precise and, again, not easy. Finishing the whipping is especially time consuming as one has to suddenly reverse the proces and bury the loose end under the whipping.
Having got that job out of the way one needs to define the point at which the arrow meets the string and set another nock to mark that point. Make that by whipping a small thread around the string, over the serving or use a brass nock ring squeezed into place with a small tool designed specifically for such an operation.

And that’s it. You’re done. And your fingers hurt. Never mind. You can now use the bow, which makes the whole process worthwhile!

2 Responses to “Making a Bowstring”

  1. James said

    I read the Longbow piece yesterday and when I spotted the Bowstring piece was next, I withheld comment.

    If memory serves (an iffy proposition these days) sometime ago you posted about an archery club you belonged to. Have you made your own arrows yet?

    I have been forced to back away from my workbench in recent years due to that good for nothing old fella “Arthur Itus”. He has managed to find his way into both thumbs.
    Bugger!

    • Exile said

      Hi James. Thanks for the comment.
      No, I haven’t got round to making arrows.. yet. I can get the materials easily enough but I would need to get more tools to begin the job. Maybe a winter project, if I can get the economics to work….
      I am a member of the local archery club here in south-west Copenhagen. I have achieved some status, now being no. 3 in Denmark in my age class (masters), and I am a trainer with the club, mainly working with and training youngsters, but I can still teach the old hands something new every now and then.
      Sorry about the “Arthur Itis”, I have dodgy hip bothering me now, but if I ignore it long enough, I can still get around! Stay safe.

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