How To Make A Round 2 Bundle Flemish Bowstring
Tutorial by RMSG
Pictures and Writing by Tommy Clum
String Making by Dan Clum

Two bundle flemish twist bowstrings are the easiest to make, but many archers prefer three bundle strings because they create more of a "round" string. There are many tutorials out there on how to make flemish twist strings in both two and three bundle. This tutorial, however, is about how to create the desirable ROUND two bundle string.

There is one twist (pardon the pun) in the process to achieve the roundness in the two bundle string.

Since there are other string making tutorials available we will assume that if you're reading this you have a basic understanding of the string making process. If you have never made a string before we will still walk you through the step by step process, but you might be left with questions that this tutorial does not answer.

We will be making a black and white, 15 strand string. Seven strands will be white, and eight strands will be black. Why 15? Just felt like it this time I guess... ;) You can choose to make a string of however many strands you please.

Below is a perfect example of what we are trying to avoid. The string on top is a prime example of why archer's dislike two bundle strings. The bottom string is what we're after, a perfectly round, clean, two bundle string.

The undesirable string, on top, is created because throughout the string making process the individual bundles get wound too tightly (they become "cabled"). Once this has happened, it is impossible for them to be twisted together because they are wrapped around themselves too tightly. If you know how to make strings and want to get to the point skip on down to STEP 11.

My String Making Terms

I have found that over the years there is not always a common vernacular in string making terms, so I will use terms commonly used out here in the Rockies. I am including this list and picture to help distinguish the different terms that I am using. They may, or may not be the popular or "correct" terms.

  • Strand: The smallest piece of thread in the string. Strings are commonly referred to as being "16 strand", which has a literal meaning. (To see an example of individual strands jump down to STEP 1)
  • Bundle: All of the individual strands of the same color. In the picture above you can clearly see a brown "bundle" and a yellow "bundle".
  • Loop: Part of the string that goes around the end of your bow limb.
  • Splice (splicing): The thicker part of the string below the loop, usually runs past the end of the tags, how far is up to you.
    Tags: The tags are the ends of the individual strands, which are cut to different lengths so that the splice will taper into the main part of the string. (Jump down to STEP 2 to see how the different length tags are cut)
  • Main part of the string: I'm not sure how to describe this one in writing, I guess you would call it...the main part of the string ;)
  • Cabling (or cabled bundles): An example of Cabling can be seen in the picture above, the yellow and brown bundles are cabled, this is what we want to avoid. Cabling = Bad!!!
  • Twist: I twist the strands together in the bundle
  • Wrap: I wrap bundles together in the string

 

STEP 1: Laying out the first bundle

There are other tutorials out there on how to make your own string making jig. Below you'll see our board, made with just a piece of wood and small nails. Start by tying a not around the top right nail at point A, continue in order wrapping the string around each point.

The nail at point C is removable, and can be adjusted up and down the board depending on the overall length you wish to make your string. In our example below we are making a 62" longbow string.

Each time around the board, A-E, move to a progressively lower nail. The reason for this is so that the string will be tapered, from the fatter tip loops into the main part of the string. If you've never made a string you will see this explained in STEP 10 (Creating the splice) as we move on.

We put seven strands into the white bundle, as you can see by counting down the nails starting at point A (see STEP 2 for a clearer example of the seven strands) .

 

STEP 2: Cutting away the first bundle

After completing STEP 1 use a knife to cut down the center of the strands, as seen below.

 

STEP 3: Waxing the first bundle

Remove your string from the board and apply string wax up and down the whole string. The wax will help in keeping the strands together, making the entire process much easier.

 

STEP 4: Laying out the second bundle

Repeated STEP 1 to create the second bundle. In our example we are using black. As you can see we have made the black bundle with eight strands. Added to the seven strand white bundle, our finished string will have 15 strands. Why? I guess it's just what we felt like making this time. Play around with different amounts of strands to find out what you like best.

 

STEP 5: Cutting away the second bundle

Repeat of STEP 2 with the black bundle. Cut down the center of the strands to finish your second bundle.

 

STEP 6: Waxing the second bundle

Repeat of STEP 3 with the black bundle - waxing the bundle to help the individual strands stick together.

 

STEP 7: Line up the bundles

Now we have our two bundles (as seen in the picture below). One white bundle, and one black bundle, both waxed.

Line up the ends so that they are both the same length.

 

STEP 8: Measuring the loops

Now we will start making the end loops. There are several methods for measuring the correct starting point (including just doing it by eye). We use the markings below so that we can be consistent from string to string.

Our markings are at 9.5 inches and 8 inches. What is the difference? It will effect how short or long the tapered splice will be from the loops into the main part of the string. We use 9.5 inches because we like the "splicing" to be longer.

What will happen, as you will see in the step below, is that we will make the splice longer. One benefit of a longer splice is that it helps to quiet the bow. When you shoot an arrow, the part of the string that contacts the bow is thicker, reducing the "slapping" sound upon release. Some archers attach felt to their bow limbs to achieve the same effect. Another benefit of longer splice is that brush buttons fit tighter, for those who like to use them.

We use a paper clamp to grab the string as you can see below. Many string makers don't use a clamp at all, and you can produce a fine string without using a clamp. However, for ease, speed, and (in our opinion) in order to make a "cleaner" string, using a clamp is the only way to go!

 

STEP 9: Creating the loop

Placing the clamp 9.5 inches from the tips of the bundles we can start to make our loops. Twist each individual bundle to the LEFT, until they are tight.

How far we wrap depends on which loop we are making. The top loop is typically larger than the bottom loop. This is your personal preference. We have markings on our board so that our string loops are consistent.

You can see why we use this type of paper clamp. Having the string anchored helps create tight bundles, which are important to have in the loops of your string.

Once you've twisted each bundle you can start wrapping the bundles together. Now, it is important to twist and wrap them the correct direction.

TWIST the individual bundles left. WRAP the bundles together to the right. TWIST LEFT, WRAP RIGHT

Again, wrap the bundles so that they go left over right. It is important that you do these correctly. If you twist left and wrap left your string will not be tight. All the twists will come apart.

Remember: TWIST LEFT, WRAP RIGHT. (note, if you twist right wrap left, that would also work - this is individual preference).

Note how each bundle is tightly twisted.

Continue this process until you reach your desired length. If you've never done this before you can check your loop size throughout the twisting/wrapping process.

After every wrap give the individual bundles some more twists. This keeps everything tight and clean. Wrap, twist, wrap, twist, etc.

 

STEP 10: Creating the splice

After X number of wraps (until you reach your desired loop size) we will come to this point. Remove the clamp.
Bring together the two points where the wraps end. Match black with black, and white with white.
Once you have matched the bundles we can start to create the splice. Again, you can see that we place the loop around a screw. We do this so that we can make everything tighter, making the string cleaner. Just like in STEP 9, we twist left, wrap right.
Just like above, twist left, wrap right. Continue this process until you reach the end of the "tags".
Twist left, wrap right, twist left, wrap right, twist left, wrap right.....etc
Okay! Now we have reached the end of the last tag. We only have a little bit more to wrap (some choose to stop here).

We like to create 8 wraps after the last tag to complete the splice. Like I mentioned above, we choose to create a longer splice because we like the way it shoots, the durability, the way it quiets the bow, the way it looks, etc. How much splicing you create is completely up to you. I wouldn't claim my way is the right way and your way is the wrong way. You can play around and find out what you personally like.

Place your clamp back onto the string at the end of the wraps. If you fail to place your clamp back onto the string you run the risk of your string unwinding itself when you create the second loop.

 

STEP 11: Remove the cabling, and compensate for the cabling we will create when we twist the second loop

Okay -Here is the most important step in creating a 2 bundle string that is ROUND.

Many people skip right on to STEP 14 at this point. In doing so I can almost guarantee that you will create the undesirable, cabled, 2 bundle string - like in the picture at the top of this tutorial. If we want to create a nice, clean, round string we must not skip this step.

We have been wrapping the bundles to the right for quite some time at this point. As you can see in the picture below, our individual bundles are somewhat cabled. If we moved right on to making the other loop we would only twist the individual bundles tighter, increasing the cabling effect.

Trying to understand this is sometimes futile. You're just going to have to trust your eyes if you don't trust me. When we are wrapping we are creating right twists in the bundles. We have to take the cabling out by twisting the bundles to the left.

What we need to do is not only untwist the bundles (to remove the cabling), we need to also compensate for the cabling we're going to add when we create the bottom loop.

Leave the paper clamp onto the string and put the loop around something. We do this so that we can stretch the string out to remove the twists in the bundles.

If we did not have the paper clamp we would run the risk of undoing all our work. If you are not using a paper clip, USE SOMETHING!

Anchoring the loop (like we did on the screw) is a huge help.

In the picture below we are removing the twists we put into the white bundle. The white bundle is cabled at this point.

How do I know how much to untwist? Count how many left twists it takes to completely remove the cabling. Once you've undone the cabling and counted how many twists it took, do that many left twists AGAIN to compensate for the cabling that the bottom loop will cause.

For example, if we count how many left twists it takes to remove all the cabling, and we come up with 10 (fictitious number used for an example), then we are going to continue to make ANOTHER 10 left twists, in total, we are making 20 left twists.

  • Creating the top loop = 10 right twists in each bundle (which causes cabling)
  • Creating the bottom loop = 10 right twists again, creating 20 total right twists and a badly cabled bundle.
  • Offset this cabling effect here in the string making process by making 20 LEFT twists in each bundle. When you are finished you will have NO cabling in either bundle, and the final twisting (STEP 13) will cause the two bundles to mesh together perfectly for a clean, ROUND string.
Below: Removing twists put into the black bundle - AND THEN compensating for the twists we are going to create when we make the bottom loop. This extra step in the process takes ten minutes to explain, but in all reality only adds 30 seconds to the entire string making process.

 

STEP 12: Create the second loop

This step is to redo STEPS 8 - 10 for the other loop (Measuring The Loop, Creating The Loop, and Creating The Splice).

I have omitted the pictures for this step because they would look the exact same as the pictures in STEPS 8 - 10. Go back up and look at them if you need to. Since the bottom loop is typically smaller than the top loop there will be small modifications for your second loop.

 

STEP 13: Finishing the string, the final twists

Congratulations, you are almost finished in making a ROUND 2 bundle flemish string.

Here we are inspecting our string, hopefully there will be no cabling in the bundles.

As you can see, we have a small amount of cabling in the bundles. The string we made in this tutorial did not turn out "perfect". If this happens do not worry, the next step will provide a way to mesh the bundles together even when you mess up a little bit.
Add twists to the string - how many is up to you. Twist until the bundles come together nicely, or until you reach your desired length. The number of twists you are making will effect the overall length of your string.

 

STEP 14: The final waxing

Using a small piece of leather rapidly stroke the string with short strokes throughout its entire length.

What we're doing with this leather is heating up the wax, causing it to melt its way into and between the individual strands. This will cause the white and black bundles to become one clean, ROUND bundle.

 

You're done!

As you can see in the pictures we have a nice string, with tightly wrapped loops and splice, free from large tags sticking out.

If you've ended up with a string like the top brown and yellow one you will still have a functional string. But if you are like us, you would rather have a functional and nice looking round string, like the bottom one.
THE END
Thanks for reading through my tutorial. Please feel free to Email me or call with questions. If you have any suggestions for other tutorials please let me know. I will be making more as time goes by about all facets of traditional archery that I think are interesting. Help me out by letting me know what is interesting to you, and I'll do my best to help you out.
 
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Special thanks to Dale R Petefish for allowing us to use his photography
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