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-   -   YULitle Guide to String Tools (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=207401)

YULitle 07-03-2008 02:15 PM

YULitle Guide to String Tools
 
By request...

There are a few tools that you absolutely need, some that I think you should have, and some that you may want to consider.

Disclaimer: The views expressed below are a mix of fact and opinion. The tools I suggest are based on my experience and what I've come to find works best. I've not tried everything, but I've tried quite a bit. Still, you should understand that I do not claim that these are THE answers but merely MY answers.

First.
Tools you Need
Snips
These cut the string. Very important.
The ideal set of snips wil:
1) reach into tight spaces
2) cut all string on the first cut
3) be small enough for easy maneuvering
The best snips on the market are Xuron's. They cut almost every string, no problem. They are the perfect size for repeated use. And they have a system, patented by Xuron, that makes it so that they never go dull. The only draw back they have, which is hardly anything, is that they are sharp, and could scrape a paint job if you are careless.

A good alternative, that will save you some money, is the Sears mini-plier snips. They are available individually or in a pack of other tools. They cut very well and are the perfect size for most hands.



Needle Nose Pliers
Now, for these, the ideal pair will:
1) be flat, no serration
2) small enough for easy maneuvering
3) short handles, for more gripping power
4) bent nosed

Now, there are a few options here. These are the pair that I recommend. They are a great size, perfect size tip, and bent. The bent tip is great from pushing string into tough grommets. The bend allows you to use a more ergonomic hand position for most stringing chores where this tool is needed.

GSS sells a pair of Xuron bent, needle nosed pliers that are also good. They are even smaller at the tip which makes grabbing string behind a mounting post very easy. The one draw back I see with those is that they are serrated, and this can damage string if you are careless.


YULitle 07-03-2008 02:16 PM

Tools I think you should have

Awl

This is an important tool. It really helps when unblocking holes and manipulating string in tight spaces. The best awl is one that never breaks, but since that is unreasonable, the things that make an awl great are:
1) It's blunt
2) Not too thin, on average
3) Not too long

There are a few good awls out there. But, let me explain what I wrote above. A sharp awl can puncture string. You want as blunt a tip as possible to avoid this, and most stringer's awls are plenty blunt enough. A store bought awl will typically be too sharp. Also, it should be thin, to avoid breakage. An awl is not subjected to much bending motions, but when it is, you'd like it to withstand the force and not break. Also, if it is too long, you could get the same bending result. Now, I use the Kimony awl that is available from GSS (their shortest model.) But, I've used many good awls in the past. This is a great tool to have when you need it, but it should be avoided at all costs due to it proclivity to puncture string. Every time you can avoid using the awl, you're saving yourself the risk of heartache.

Starting Clamp
This, I feel, should belong in the first category as a need. Since, technically, you don't need it, it's here. But, I strongly urge all stringers to own one. First, what makes a good starting clamp:
1) Uniform clamping
2) uniform clamp surface
3) plenty of clamping power
4) durability of springs

A starting clamp can help you in three ways
1) Help you tighten knots
2) Act as a bridge when you come up short when pulling tension
3) Help you start crosses

Now, there is a lot of talk about the "best" starting clamp. Many say it's the old red Babolat clamp. I say, it's more important that you have any starting clamp than have none at all. But, be wary of cheap imitators.
I've come across two types of starting clamps, that are different enough to mention. Now, there are some that have more or less springs in the handle. That aside, there is another difference. The clamp that Alpha now sells has a wider head than the one GSS sells. It is also more difficult to open, possibly due to it having a more open grip. I personally recommend the pair sold by GSS. It most closely resembles the clamps I've used and enjoyed in the past (babolat and tecnifibre.)




Setting off awl
This tool is helpful in straightening string. It is a super blunt awl, which allows you to more quickly insert it into the string bed to straighten strings.

It can also save your fingers. When pushing a cross up and down to avoid burning your crosses, you can save your fingers the pain by using this tool instead.
I've used one or two of these. They are all about the same. Just makes sure that it is a rounded, blunt tip. The more blunt, the better.


Tension Calibrator

This tool is essential for all stringers. It allows you to check your machines calibration. ALL machines should be checked for calibration, but drop weights only need theirs checked once. Crank machine owners should check theirs' often (about every 25-30 racquets.) And Electric machine owners should check theirs' about every 200 racquets. This doesn't mean that the machine needs to be adjusted that many times, just that it should be checked. Adjustments to this schedule can be made the more you get to know the eccentricities of your machine.

YULitle 07-03-2008 02:16 PM

Tools you might want to consider

Guide Awl
I've encountered two types of this tool, but they both operate the same way.
When you encounter a blocked grommet, you can insert this awl and remove it. Left behind is a small tube that acts as a passage way for the string to pass through.


This can be useful in a pinch, but be careful when using this tool. It is an awl so it can puncture string if used carelessly. Also, they are notoriously brittle. Once the awl is bent, it rarely works again.

Parallel Pliers
You can use these to help you tighten your knots, if you have chosen not to purchase a starting clamp, and are having trouble using your pliers in this way. They are great for grabbing on to a lot of string and putting the tightening on a knot.


Flare-it C Clamp
This tool is used to apply an after-market flare to grommets on the inside of a frame. Flaring grommets is good for the string and the racquet on grommets that have string exiting at tight angles.


YULitle 07-03-2008 02:17 PM

Sheers
If you've got 20 racquets to string today, you may be tempted to cut the strings out in a hurry, and ignore USRSA sanctioned methods. To do this repeatedly, and without frustration, avoid scissors. Use shears instead, they are different. Also, they are mostly shaped with a bend that makes cutting strings from a racquet more ergonomic than straight scissors.


davidahenry 07-03-2008 03:28 PM

YULitle, you rock Man. This is perfect for a newbie like me. Thanks a miilion!

YULitle 07-03-2008 03:35 PM

No problem. :D

Mansewerz 07-03-2008 04:03 PM

Great thread. I think the starting clamp should be in the needed category as well. Can you use any diagonal cutters as snips? I need new ones because the current one is rusty.

YULitle 07-03-2008 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mansewerz (Post 2486550)
Great thread. I think the starting clamp should be in the needed category as well. Can you use any diagonal cutters as snips? I need new ones because the current one is rusty.

Yep. Anything that is typically meant to cut wire, really. Except wire strippers.

almerickso 07-03-2008 05:37 PM

yulitle,

the gss website says that its not recommended to cut two strings at the same time using xurons. does this really damage them?

Steve Huff 07-03-2008 05:48 PM

No disrespect to Yul (cause he knows I think he's been great for these boards), but it still depends on what you get used to. I've never had a starting clamp, shears, a pathfinder awl, and although I have some snips, I rarely use them (they came in a small set of tools that came with the stringer. I think a 3rd clamp is very handy though. With an Ektelon machine, a half-length slide bar with a 3rd clamp allows you to string an ATW pattern much easier than a starting clamp. For clipping strings, nothing beats a toe-nail clipper in my mind. You can get right up close to the knot, and because of the concave curve in the jaws, it would be awfully tough to accidentally cut the string, and you're also less likely to scratch the racket. Shears?? I guess if I ever HAVE to do 20 rackets in a day, I might consider them--probably not. An awl is essential, but not for moving strings. I haven't used an awl to get through a block hole in 15 or more years (10,000 or so rackets). I have to admit, I did when I first started stringing, but look back at those days and think "boy, was that dumb". There are other, far better ways of getting through a blocked hole. Planning ahead is the best one.

Don't get me wrong. Yul's tools (wow, I like that) are fine if that's what you get used to. But I wouldn't rush out and buy them if you're happy with the things you're using now.

earbogast 07-03-2008 05:49 PM

Yulitle-I've read some posts that the guide awl is extremely hard to use. Have you had a need to use this tool often. Since I started stringing again, cutting the string at an angle and using the bent nose pliers have done the job. Also the starting clamp is really a useful tool as you said. I got one on your recommendation and I use it for tightening knots mostly but have used it as a starting clamp a couple of times. Thanks for your informative posts.

YULitle 07-03-2008 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by almerickso (Post 2486808)
yulitle,

the gss website says that its not recommended to cut two strings at the same time using xurons. does this really damage them?

I can't imagine how or why... Did they give a reason?

On that note, why would you need to cut two strings at once?

YULitle 07-03-2008 06:40 PM

Steve Huff and earbogast: I guess I should've added a JollyRoger-esue disclaimer to the beginning of my guide. :D

Il Mostro 07-03-2008 07:09 PM

Really excellent guide -- thank you. I was scrambling to get tools after my machine arrived and could not find Xuron locally. A nice alternative was the identical looking diagonal cutters from Crescent. Very sharp, made in USA and came with a matching very small needle nose pliers for around $15.00.

almerickso 07-03-2008 07:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YULitle (Post 2486958)
I can't imagine how or why... Did they give a reason?

On that note, why would you need to cut two strings at once?

when cutting the strings off the racquet i just cut diagonally alternating at the points where the strings meet...

i think its in the usrsa quick start guide or something.

halves the number of cuts i need to do.. instead of main, cross, main, cross i just cut at hte intersection.

YULitle 07-03-2008 07:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by almerickso (Post 2487118)
when cutting the strings off the racquet i just cut diagonally alternating at the points where the strings meet...

i think its in the usrsa quick start guide or something.

halves the number of cuts i need to do.. instead of main, cross, main, cross i just cut at hte intersection.

Oh yeah, good call. Didn't even think of that.

I've thought about it, and I think I have an idea. It may interfere with there patented stay sharp system. The idea behind this system, I think, is that the blades don't meet. They are slightly off so that the blades don't touch tip to tip. One of them rests slightly above the other. Cutting two strings might twist the two blades in an unnatural way, causing the tips to touch either at that time, or later.

Just one theory. :D

almerickso 07-03-2008 07:49 PM

it may be so...

so i guess i should just stick to the ones that came with my gamma then :P

tho i may plonk down some cash for the bent nose pliers from xuron... they look pretty compact.

btw, any experience with the Guide Slide thing from gss?

Vermillion 07-03-2008 07:58 PM

I <3 the Awl more than my sister.

zidane339 07-03-2008 08:16 PM

Definitely a sticky worthy thread.

Great job Yulitle!

By the way, maybe a guide to stringing machines? That would eliminate all those "I'm a new stringer, what machine should i get?" threads.

Aerial 07-03-2008 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YULitle (Post 2486218)
By request...

There are a few tools that you absolutely need, some that I think you should have, and some that you may want to consider.

Disclaimer: The views expressed below are a mix of fact and opinion. The tools I suggest are based on my experience and what I've come to find works best. I've not tried everything, but I've tried quite a bit. Still, you should understand that I do not claim that these are THE answers but merely MY answers.

First.
Tools you Need
Snips
These cut the string. Very important.
The ideal set of snips wil:
1) reach into tight spaces
2) cut all string on the first cut
3) be small enough for easy maneuvering
The best snips on the market are Xuron's. They cut almost every string, no problem. They are the perfect size for repeated use. And they have a system, patented by Xuron, that makes it so that they never go dull. The only draw back they have, which is hardly anything, is that they are sharp, and could scrape a paint job if you are careless.

A good alternative, that will save you some money, is the Sears mini-plier snips. They are available individually or in a pack of other tools. They cut very well and are the perfect size for most hands.



Needle Nose Pliers
Now, for these, the ideal pair will:
1) be flat, no serration
2) small enough for easy maneuvering
3) short handles, for more gripping power
4) bent nosed

Now, there are a few options here. These are the pair that I recommend. They are a great size, perfect size tip, and bent. The bent tip is great from pushing string into tough grommets. The bend allows you to use a more ergonomic hand position for most stringing chores where this tool is needed.

GSS sells a pair of Xuron bent, needle nosed pliers that are also good. They are even smaller at the tip which makes grabbing string behind a mounting post very easy. The one draw back I see with those is that they are serrated, and this can damage string if you are careless.


Yeah..we think alike...I've bought the same stuff from sears and got years of use out of them. They used to replace them for free, if defective...Plus the Babolat starting clamp is really nice. cost me only $25 at the time.


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