Racquet Tech: Stringing 101 — Knots
For new stringers, tying knots can be intimidating. But a good knot is vital to a good job, since it holds everything in place.
When I run workshops for new stringers, nothing seems to cause more trepidation than tying off. Although, once learned, it seems quite easy. Tying a good knot is vital to producing a good string job. You may have done everything correctly, but it’s all for naught if the knot isn’t perfect.
There are several things that can go wrong, but the most common is simply doing a sloppy job. The knot must secure the tension without damaging the anchor string, and it must hold up during play and not come undone.
For beginners, the double half-hitch is best as it does a great job and is easy to tie with a bit of practice and by following simple guidelines. While many experienced stringers may use a “signature” knot of their own, it is hard to beat the utility of the double half-hitch.
Remember O-U-T: Over, Under, and then Through. After tensioning and clamping your last string, lock the turntable and cut any excess string, saving about 12 inches or so for tying off. Take the string OVER the anchor string and then UNDER it, then THROUGH the loop the string created around the string.
With a good pair of parallel jaw pliers, pull the loop closed around the anchor string and slide it away from the frame to pull any excess slack out of the string along the outside of the frame (photo 1). Once you’ve eliminated the slack, hold the string taut as you slide the loop back toward the grommet (2).
Now repeat the O-U-T loop, taking care to go in the same direction as the first one. The one difference in the first and second loop is one that is often overlooked by even experienced stringers. Do not pull away from the frame with the second loop. Instead, simply cinch the loop up against the first.
Think about the first loop as your lock and the second as the deadbolt. Once you have the first loop locked into place, you don’t want to “unlock” it by pulling it away again. Once you have the second loop snugged up, release the clamp while still holding the knot tail with your pliers. This will ensure the knot stays tight and in place. When completed, the two loops should lie parallel to one another around the anchor string (3). If they don’t, something has gone wrong.
Trim the knot tail (end of the string) to about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Be sure it is at least below the edge of the frame. Knots cut too short may come undone and those cut too long look unprofessional and can cause an annoying buzz during play. If you are using a poly-based or similar stiff string, make sure the string end is cut flat. Sharp tips of strings can actually cause harm if the player hits it (4).
All knots should be tied using hand-applied tension with pliers. Never use your machine to pull knots.
See all articles by Bob Patterson
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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