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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Make a Flemish Loop in a Bowstring


A Flemish loop is a loop that is twisted up as a permanent part of a bow string.  It is not a tied loop.  It is built in during the process of making the string.  I have never seen an example of an old Native American bowstring with a Flemish loop, nor have I ever seen any documentation of Native Americans using the Flemish loop.  This is not to say that they didn’t; it’s just to say that I have never seen any proof of it.  So, if you are trying to make a reproduction of an authentic Native American bow, you probably don’t want to make a string with a Flemish loop.  If, like me, you make wooden bows to shoot; a Flemish loop is a nice addition to the string.  I personally make my strings with a Flemish loop on one end, and then I tie the other end of the string to the bow with a permanent knot.  I do this whether the string is made of sinew, rawhide, yucca fiber, linen, or waxed Dacron.  In this example I am making a string from eight strands of waxed Dacron.  The string will be constructed by using the reverse wrap (posted elsewhere on this blog) to twist together two bundles, each bundle composed of four strands of waxed Dacron.  Here is how you make a Flemish loop in the string:

First lay cut and lay out your eight strands of waxed Dacron.  I generally cut the pieces one and-a-half times the length of the bow.

Now separate the strands into two bundles of four strands each.  Offset the strands in each bundle by about an inch apiece.

Now drop down about two inches below the shortest strand in each bundle and begin twisting the two bundles together using the reverse wrap.  Keep twisting until you have twisted up about two or two-and-a-half inches of string (this will depend on how large you want your loop).

Next fold the twisted part of the string over onto itself to form the loop.

Take each of the offset ends of the bundles and lay one of them down on each of the long portions of the bundles.  With waxed Dacron you can kind of squeeze them to meld the offset portion into the corresponding long portion.

Now continue your reverse wrap with the melded bundles.  Because you off set the strands to start with, the string will now taper down smoothly as you continue twisting.   

When you get to the point where each bundle has only four strands in it, you can stop and go back with a pair of scissors and trim of any ends that are sticking out from the offset strands. 

Continue twisting until you have completed the entire string and tie an overhand knot in the end of the string to keep it from unraveling.  That’s all there is to it.