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Friday, August 30, 2013

Quick and Dirty Serving Jig

Back when I made my first bowstring, I also made a serving jig. For those of you who do not know what that is, serving is the thin thread that 'serves' the string, protecting it from wear where the arrow nocks and where the string would hit an arm guard. The jig that spins the serving around the string is quite simple in principle, and for some reason sells for around $20.00. Aside from not wanting to wait and pay for shipping, that is absurd to me (and it should be to you, too).

To make your own, all you need are the following: a piece of scrap sheet metal, mine was brass and about 12cm x 2cm x 16 gauge. Anything will do, as long as you can hammer it and it is not unreasonable (use your judgement); a bolt a little longer than your serving spool and slightly smaller diameter; a matching nut; and two washers (not critical).

Find the centre of the rectangle of sheet metal and hammer a ridge across the width of it. This will be where the bowstring sits while you serve the string. I did this by clamping a chisel in a vice and hammering on either side of the tip, but you can place the metal on a piece of wood and hammer it in with an old flathead screwdriver. Next, find the centre of the ~2cm width inside the newly hammered ridgeline and punch a hole through it with a nail or screw, making sure to go through the INSIDE of the trough. If you are confused, look at the above picture. The divot goes towards the inside of the ] shape, and the hole started on the outside. The reason for this is, unless you spend a lot of time filing down and sanding the shavings on the back side of the hole, it will rip your bowstring apart.

Now measure the length of your spool and find the centre of that. Use that distance and bend a right angle on the sheet metal on either side of the centreline and hole, as shown above. Finish off the jig by punching two more holes, one in each end. I rounded off the ends of my jig purely for aesthetics. Make sure the new holes are large enough for the bold to slide through.

Insert the spool in the jig and slide the bolt through both holes and the shaft of the spool. I used a wingnut because it gives me more control. Tighten down the bold just enough that the weight of the jig does not allow the string to unwind when you hold it by the loose end. If it was not obvious already, you put the end of the string through the hole in the divot you hammered in earlier. This keeps the string in the same place where it meets the bowstring.

For more on the use of the serving jig, check out the tutorial on a simple bowstring.

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