Tennis Industry magazine

 

Racquet Tech: One Tool, Many Uses

By Bob Patterson

Whether you are a novice stringer or a seasoned veteran, one tool that is second only to the stringing machine itself is the starting clamp. Obviously, it is a great tool to start the stringing process, but it has even more uses that can help stringers do their job. Let’s look at a few of the most commonly used.

Starting — This one seems obvious, but I am always surprised at workshops and other places to see so many technicians who do not use a starting clamp to start. Utilizing only the fixed clamps on the machine is certainly acceptable, but using a starting clamp is easier and faster.

The most common way is to simply place the clamp on the string outside the frame. With the clamp resting against the frame, tension is pulled (photo 1). My preferred method is to place the clamp on the center string (or second string if your machine mount is in the way) and pull tension for the first string on the adjacent string (2). This allows for pulling tension on each string only once, whereas the common method requires pulling the first string twice (once to apply tension and then again in the opposite direction to remove the starting clamp).

The starting clamp can also be utilized to “back up” your machine clamps. This is especially useful if your clamps don’t have great holding power or if you’re using a rather high tension (3).

Starting Crosses — The starting clamp can be used instead of the starting knot on a two-piece string job (4), as we talked about in our Racquet Tech segment in the April issue.

Around-the-World or Box Patterns — When using these patterns, you will often find the need to clamp off two strings on the same side of the racquet (5). A starting clamp is the only way to go. I have actually seen technicians utilize two starting clamps plus the machine clamps on some patterns that require special tie-offs that required three strings to be clamped on one side.

Bridge or Jumper — I have heard it referred to by both names, but whichever you choose, it can be a life-saver (or at least a job saver) if you find yourself coming up a bit short in string length. By placing a piece of scrap string through the eyelets on the clamp to form a loop around the clamp (6), the clamp allows for instant string extension to your machine’s tension head (7). If you have an extra clamp, you can leave it set up for this to make rescues even quicker. A piece of tubing protects the string as it passes through the clamp eyelets.

So, even if you don’t use it for its intended purpose, the starting clamp is an invaluable tool. As with all your tools, make sure you invest in a good one with strong springs and a quality jaw surface. Otherwise, when you apply tension the clamp is likely to become a flying object that does nothing to help you get the job done.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.

 

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