String Tension and Cross-Stringing Tools

StringWeaver

New User
On threads pertaining to the use of cross-stringing tools such as the StringWeaver or the Stringway MK2 there has been a good deal of discussion and speculation about how such tools affect the string tension and bed stiffness. People ask if they need to reduce the pull tension on the crosses to achieve the same results as when not using these tools. Often they are looking for a specific number or percentage. Some people have tried taking measurements of tension and stiffness on a racquet strung with and without a tool and offer an answer often based on a single data point. But to obtain statistically significant results requires a great many data points as well as accurately calibrated and correctly used measuring instruments. However, as I will show shortly, there is a simple way around this.



First, let me point out that pulling yards of string through the mains before tensioning does not affect the final tension. But unless you are using a StringWeaver, Stringway MK2, or other tool that creates a gap in the mains, you are most certainly damaging the outer coating of the string as the cross string rubs against the mains. That cannot possibly be a good thing.



When you pull tension on the cross, the cross moves only a very short distance, depending upon the elasticity of the string, how straight the cross was after weaving, and other factors. Without a cross stringing tool you are fighting against the drag caused by the friction between the mains and the cross. With a tool there is no drag so long as the gap in the mains is open when you tension. Now, the way these cross stringing tools work is they push down on every second main while pulling up on the adjacent mains to create a gap. This push/pull action is achieved using a cam and lever. Moving the lever to the opposite direction reverses the up/down direction of the mains to create a gap for the next cross. When the mains move from one position to the next, they MUST pass through the neutral position. This is the position the mains would be in if there was no cross-stringing tool attached. If you pull tension at this point, the conditions are exactly the same as if the tool wasn’t there. You don’t need to worry about reducing cross tension in order to get the same results. And fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell when the mains are in the neutral position. The lever will be pointing within a few degrees of vertical. You can also feel the difference as you move the lever from one position to the next.



Ever since racquets have been strung there has always been friction drag when pulling the crosses. The amount of drag will vary depending upon which cross is being strung. The first crosses will see much less drag than the last ones because the effective length of the mains is reduced with each cross that is woven, resulting in a stiffer weave. When using a StringWeaver or Stringway MK2, the drag can be eliminated if tension is pulled while the gap is open. This may result in more uniform tension across the bed, and that may be a good thing. It may be an improvement, just as composite racquets were an improvement over wooden ones. Yes, they felt different at first, and many people were reluctant to switch from wood because that’s what they were used to, but ultimately the new-fangled racquets won out.



Finally, I string my racquets with the gap open on my StringWeaver, I don’t reduce the tension on the crosses, and I like how the strings respond from the first ball struck. If I make an off-center hit, I feel less difference than I used too. It’s as if the sweet spot has become a little larger. But that’s just my opinion.
 

Imago

Hall of Fame
Finally, I string my racquets with the gap open on my StringWeaver, I don’t reduce the tension on the crosses, and I like how the strings respond from the first ball struck. If I make an off-center hit, I feel less difference than I used too. It’s as if the sweet spot has become a little larger. But that’s just my opinion.
I always string the crosses 1 or 2 kg higher.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
@StringWeaver I find that if you pull the next string to be tensioned up against the last tensioned string and weave one ahead the mains are lifted and lowered by the last tensioned string so the pre-weave goes in with distortion. Pulling the cross through except for a loop long enough to reach the tensioner will reduce most of the friction on the main strings. Like @Imago says if you want higher tension raise the reference tension.
 
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Dags

Hall of Fame
unless you are using a StringWeaver, Stringway MK2, or other tool that creates a gap in the mains, you are most certainly damaging the outer coating of the string as the cross string rubs against the mains.
Presenting as fact that 99.9% of all string jobs 'most certainly' have damaged strings is... interesting. I try to keep an open mind to gadgets, but blanket statements like this one where no evidence is presented is unlikely to win you many fans in the community.

When the mains move from one position to the next, they MUST pass through the neutral position. This is the position the mains would be in if there was no cross-stringing tool attached. If you pull tension at this point, the conditions are exactly the same as if the tool wasn’t there. You don’t need to worry about reducing cross tension in order to get the same results.
I'm confused as to the advice here. If I pull tension exactly as if the tool wasn't there, am I damaging the string? Or is the suggestion that string damage only occurs when weaving and fanning the crosses, and that it's perfectly safe to pull tension without a tool in place?

There's no mention of the impact on the mains. I've never used one of these tools, but I assume that the way they work is to deflect the mains to a degree that allows the cross string to pass through unimpeded. This movement will occur in opposing directions as you move between strings, and presumably requires increasing force further down the stringbed. Is this not worth commenting upon? Or do you believe it is negligible?
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
There's no mention of the impact on the mains. I've never used one of these tools, but I assume that the way they work is to deflect the mains to a degree that allows the cross string to pass through unimpeded. This movement will occur in opposing directions as you move between strings, and presumably requires increasing force further down the stringbed.
There is little or no friction if the you pre-weave with the next string to be tensioned up against the last tensioned string. I believe more damage is done to string pulling them through the grommets, and there’s no way this tool can remedy that.
 

Imago

Hall of Fame
There is little or no friction if the you pre-weave with the next string to be tensioned up against the last tensioned string. I believe more damage is done to string pulling them through the grommets, and there’s no way this tool can remedy that.
Not if the string is Tour Bite. It just bites on the mains when weaving it, hence the name.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
Not if the string is Tour Bite. It just bites on the mains when weaving it, hence the name.
Ive strung with Tour Bite and Black Widow and don’t have a problem. Maybe it the weaving method. With soft strings I usually use a push method. When I push the loop of string after it enters the fram stick up and I probably have to drag it through the first couple mains. The farther you push the greater the friction. With stiffer string I use a pull weave and the string lay perfectly flat and since I’m only pulling the end it gets easier as I go through the main.

In the picture below I was using ULTRA Cable. Notice with the next string to be tensioned pull up against the last tensioned string the 1 ahead lay almost perfectly flat.

If you allow the next string you’re going to tension to be straight it will pull down the high strings and pull up the low strings. The farther the string you’re going to tension next is from the last tensioned string the harder your weave will be.


 

StringWeaver

New User
Presenting as fact that 99.9% of all string jobs 'most certainly' have damaged strings is... interesting. I try to keep an open mind to gadgets, but blanket statements like this one where no evidence is presented is unlikely to win you many fans in the community.

I'm confused as to the advice here. If I pull tension exactly as if the tool wasn't there, am I damaging the string? Or is the suggestion that string damage only occurs when weaving and fanning the crosses, and that it's perfectly safe to pull tension without a tool in place?

There's no mention of the impact on the mains. I've never used one of these tools, but I assume that the way they work is to deflect the mains to a degree that allows the cross string to pass through unimpeded. This movement will occur in opposing directions as you move between strings, and presumably requires increasing force further down the stringbed. Is this not worth commenting upon? Or do you believe it is negligible?
Point one: There is rubbing and friction when several yards of cross string are pulled through the mains. It is unavoidable unless the mains are sufficiently separated so as to minimize contact. Rubbing will cause wear on the outer coating of the strings. In the worst cases, usually as a result of pulling too fast and not fanning, notches are actually cut into the mains.

Point two: The suggestion is that most of the damage occurs when pulling the woven cross through the mains, just prior to tensioning. When tensioning the cross, its movement is quite small so there is far less rubbing and less likelihood of damaging the strings. My personal opinion is that it's better to tension the cross while the gap is still open. However, to address the concern of many that this changes the resulting tension on the crosses, I suggested that they could move the StringWeaver lever to the neutral position so the stringbed is exactly in the same condition as if the tool wasn't there. Then they can tension the cross. They may be causing a small amount of damage, but at least they don't have to worry about how much they should reduce the tension to compensate for the lack of drag when they tighten the cross.

Point three: Yes, the tools work by deflecting the mains slightly from the plane of the bed. The StringWeaver moves half the mains up by about a tenth of an inch and the other half down by about a tenth of an inch, creating a gap of about two tenths of an inch. The resulting stretch induced on the mains is extremely small--a few thousandths of an inch. The deflection is far less than the strings undergo when they are struck by a tennis ball.
 
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