Single Loop Flemish Twist Bowstring

Single Loop Flemish Twist Bowstring

by Jenny Underwood The bowstring has been around as long as there have been bows of course. While the style and materials have changed, the actual function has not. Though you can buy quality bowstrings, it’s a wonderful ability to be able to make your own. Not only is this cost-effective, but it’s also a fun and relaxing hobby that you can do just about anywhere. 

There are about as many different bowstring styles and materials as bowstring makers. The materials range from the very primitive made from plant fibers to the fastest and newest bowstring material available. The string we’re making is a perfect string for beginners to make because it’s easy to learn, minimal tools and materials are required (no jigs required), can be used on multiple bows, and can be used as a tillering string. The type of string you’ll be learning is called a Single Loop Flemish Twist Bowstring. Happy twisting! 

First, gather your materials. All you need is: 

  • 1-2 spools of Dacron B-50 string 
  • 2 nails 
  • Tape measure 
  • String wax (I use beeswax) 
  • Sharp scissors 

You may only use one color of string, however, it’s MUCH easier to keep your thread bundles separate if they’re two different colors. Plus, the multiple colors really add to the aesthetics of the finished string. 

Measure

To begin, measure your unstrung bow from nock to nock. Now, add 20 inches to that total. Write it down so you don’t forget and have to remeasure! For example, my bow is 66 inches long from nock to nock. I need to cut my strands 86 inches long. 

We will be making a 16 strand, two-bundle string. To do this, we will cut eight strands of each color or 16 strands of the one color. Again it is rather difficult to do this twist with the two bundles the same color so I do not recommend it! 

Cut

Place two finishing nails at your measured distance apart on a wall or board (in my case it was 86 inches). Wrap your first color around the two nails a total of eight times. Carefully cut the thread so you have eight equal strands. Repeat with your other color. Keep your two bundles of eight strands separate! 

bowstring- measuring

Now, carefully wax your bundles so they stick together. This makes your strands so much easier to work with. There is specialized bowstring wax, but my preference is just a chunk of plain beeswax. 

Loop

Hold your two bundles in one hand and measure down nine inches. This is where you will start your single loop. Take the first color and twist it towards yourself. Then twist the second bundle towards yourself. Loop the first bundle over the second bundle. Repeat the twist. You will do this approximately 22 twists. Now you have your single loop. Check to make sure it fits over your nock but isn’t too big or too small. You may need to add twists or reduce. 

Twist

Next, you will start to twist your string. Create your loop and take the remaining tag ends and incorporate them into your string strand bundles (one in each). Wax to help keep everything stable. Begin your twist again. Only this time, you simply twist both bundles together, not separately. Just keep repeating until your thread is all twisted together. 

Now you will place a bowyers knot or timber hitch at the end of this string. This allows you to adjust your string length to fit multiple bows or to use it as a tillering string. To create a timber hitch/bowyers knot, first, form a loop and take the other end, and put it down through the hole. Then take the string back on itself, turn it through three to four times. This process forms the knot. If you have difficulty with tying the knots many online videos show the process. It’s quite simple once you’ve done it a few times. 

You Did It!

You have completed your first bowstring. Congratulations! Just like any other craft or art, it’s likely every time you make one you will continue to improve. Many people enjoy learning more complicated methods the further they advance in string building. That’s the wonderful thing about skills like these. They are fun, practical, can be passed down, and provide a means of hobby or possibly full-time income. 

Just a note on supplies:

There are many wonderful traditional bowmaking suppliers. A couple that I recommend (I’ve ordered many times from these but have no other affiliation with them) are 3 Rivers Archery and Kustom King Traditional Archery. Both have been very reliable and provide good quality supplies at a reasonable cost. 

Originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal and vetted for accuracy.

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