Racquet Tech: Use Care When Sharing
All stringers have to deal with shared-hole string patterns. Here are some tips to help.
In the days of wood racquets, shared holes for main and cross strings were common. The fewer holes drilled into the wood frame, the stronger it remained. With the emergence of stronger frame materials, though, shared holes all but disappeared.
In recent years, however, there’s been a resurgence of shared holes in racquets as manufacturers are using various string patterns and string spacing to enhance features like spin, control, comfort and power. Even on strings without a shared-hole pattern, you will always have to "share" a hole when tying off. Two common problems you may encounter with a shared-hole pattern are crossovers on the outside of the frame and, quite simply, trying to fit two strings into one space.
Most shared holes may have a larger grommet to accommodate both strings, but others have double grommets in one hole or a grommet barrel divided either completely or partially. With all of these, though, it’s important to plan ahead to avoid crossovers. If the mains aren’t installed properly, you won’t be able to install the crosses without having a crossover.
If you have two shared holes on one side of the frame, make sure the main string is in the same section of both. In other words, the string should go from the bottom of one to the bottom of the next, or top-to-top, so the strings lie parallel on the outside of the frame. Otherwise, it will create a crossover when the cross strings are installed. In some cases the notes in the Stringer’s Digest will instruct you if the manufacturer designates a certain order for the strings, meaning the top or bottom of the grommet.
Fitting the second string through a shared hole can be frustrating. All stringers eventually encounter a shared-hole pattern that sends a seemingly simple string job into double overtime. Here are a few tricks to make the process easier.
- Pull your second string slowly. When installing a string into a grommet hole already occupied, you risk burning the string if you pull too quickly. Applying a small amount of wax to the first 6 to 8 inches of string will reduce friction.
- Keep your string tip sharp. String tips wear quickly during installation, especially coreless synthetics and natural gut. Working with a frazzled tip can really slow you down. Keep cutters handy to maintain a sharp string tip.
- Harden the string. On softer strings, some stringers add a dab of glue, lacquer or clear nail polish (allow adequate drying time) to keep fibers from unraveling or “mushing.”
- As a last resort, use a waxed awl to carefully enlarge the hole. This flattens the grommet material around the hole to give the extra room you need. Use only a blunt-tipped awl and wax the tip. You don’t want to damage the string already in place.
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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