What do you use to straighten strings?

10shoe

Professional
For years I have been using one of these (pic below) to straighten strings after removing it from the machine. I do straighten them during the stringing process, but afterwards, there is always a certain amount of string curvature to deal with and these were simple, effective and inexpensive. They are unfortunately no longer available and this one as you can see is already missing a tooth so....

 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
Setting off awl--have used one for years and years. The Kimony one above is an example. Several others, including Babolat, make something similar--they can be had for $15-25 USD.
 

esgee48

Legend
Psionics Kinesis. If that does not work (100% failure rate so far) I use my claws. :p
Most of the straightening occurs when I pull tension and push the curve out of the cross.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
First, you can do it with your fingers. In fact, a number of top notch stringers do just that. The reason some use the setting off awl is if you're stringing a ton of frames, particularly in these times of poly and shaped strings, your fingers can get sore. The awl, after some experience, can be as effective and quicker. While using it, it is a bit of a stabbing motion but that's just the angle you use to get leverage to move the string--the awl tip does not hit the top of the string--it goes into the space at an angle, providing a glancing nudge to move the string. Keep in mind that, irrespective of whether you use your fingers or the awl, if you've kept your strings mostly straight while weaving/tensioning, these are just small adjustments--the finishing touch, if you will.

I'm not sure I've seen a video tutorial on the technique, but Richard Parnell's video of the Wimbledon stringing room last summer (do a search on You Tube) shows a stringer or two using the awl technique (and a few just using their fingers). If you decide to get a setting off awl, start off slowly or you will surely damage the strings. The pro stringers who have perfected the "Norman Bates" technique have years of practice on thousands of racquets.
 

ElMagoElGato

Semi-Pro
First, you can do it with your fingers. In fact, a number of top notch stringers do just that. The reason some use the setting off awl is if you're stringing a ton of frames, particularly in these times of poly and shaped strings, your fingers can get sore. The awl, after some experience, can be as effective and quicker. While using it, it is a bit of a stabbing motion but that's just the angle you use to get leverage to move the string--the awl tip does not hit the top of the string--it goes into the space at an angle, providing a glancing nudge to move the string. Keep in mind that, irrespective of whether you use your fingers or the awl, if you've kept your strings mostly straight while weaving/tensioning, these are just small adjustments--the finishing touch, if you will.

I'm not sure I've seen a video tutorial on the technique, but Richard Parnell's video of the Wimbledon stringing room last summer (do a search on You Tube) shows a stringer or two using the awl technique (and a few just using their fingers). If you decide to get a setting off awl, start off slowly or you will surely damage the strings. The pro stringers who have perfected the "Norman Bates" technique have years of practice on thousands of racquets.
Stringers are hitting the string bed like crazy in a few videos I've seen. Are you saying they're so skilled that they're aiming very precisely? It's much more difficult technic than I thought. I used it once before but I felt messing around instead of straightening. No wonder I only have 40 to 50 jobs under my belt.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm surprised no one mentioned the String Thing. I keep my string pretty straight as I string and only use my fingers.
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
^^^Actually, you are correct. The String Thing works decently but unless you are stringing exclusively for yourself, you need to buy both versions (open and dense pattern)--$40--but it works.

Edit: As some posters below pointed out, there is now only a universal version for $20--this tool would be more than fine for the average hobby stringer.
 
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MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
Stringers are hitting the string bed like crazy in a few videos I've seen. Are you saying they're so skilled that they're aiming very precisely? It's much more difficult technic than I thought. I used it once before but I felt messing around instead of straightening. No wonder I only have 40 to 50 jobs under my belt.
Well, I wouldn't compare it to splitting the atom but the more you do it, the more precise you get at it. I would defer to Paul or Ron or one of the top flight pro stringers on the boards as to how they developed that skill over time. I'm reasonably quick and precise but not in the league of some of the pro tourney stringers I know or have witnessed.
 

Chotobaka

Hall of Fame
^^^Actually, you are correct. The String Thing works decently but unless you are stringing exclusively for yourself, you need to buy both versions (open and dense pattern)--$40--but it works.
I think they are down to a single, one size fits all version these days. I have the older open version and it works just fine. I use my Kimony on my machine and keep the String Thing in my bag.
 

10shoe

Professional
There was a time when strings were softer and my fingernails were stronger that I did my all my string straightening with my right thumbnail. But I have been using these "String Tuners" now for quite a long while and I am soft and spoiled. I have seen plenty of stringers using a setting off awl, it has never appealed to me. Like commuting to work on a pogo stick has never appealed to me.

Was I the only one buying these "String Tuners"?
 

MAX PLY

Hall of Fame
There was a time when strings were softer and my fingernails were stronger that I did my all my string straightening with my right thumbnail. But I have been using these "String Tuners" now for quite a long while and I am soft and spoiled. I have seen plenty of stringers using a setting off awl, it has never appealed to me. Like commuting to work on a pogo stick has never appealed to me.

Was I the only one buying these "String Tuners"?
Apparently so . . . the rest of us were buying pogo sticks, which still work by the way.
 
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Wes

Professional
Was I the only one buying these "String Tuners"?
Apparently so... I'd never even heard of them let alone seen or (gasp) used one.
They look pretty nifty. I would've given it a whirl.
Looks like I'll stick with my fingers & setting off tool.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
There was another tool mentioned in a thread back in 2015
I don't know all of the little gadgets on the market, but this one works fine if one were to use it (Just pulled out of my desk drawer.):

Gives you a god idea of how the string thing works.
 
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ElMagoElGato

Semi-Pro
There was a time when strings were softer and my fingernails were stronger that I did my all my string straightening with my right thumbnail. But I have been using these "String Tuners" now for quite a long while and I am soft and spoiled. I have seen plenty of stringers using a setting off awl, it has never appealed to me. Like commuting to work on a pogo stick has never appealed to me.

Was I the only one buying these "String Tuners"?
I bought a kitchen hook that has several hooks inspired by your picture. That might work. Don't you think?
 

PBODY99

Legend
Purchased a damaged Phillips head screw drive from Goodwill,for $0.10, ground down & polished the tip , one snowy afternoon years ago. Added a used grip to the handle.
 

jim e

Legend
Purchased a damaged Phillips head screw drive from Goodwill,for $0.10, ground down & polished the tip , one snowy afternoon years ago. Added a used grip to the handle.
This is just what I use, except I did not add the grip to the handle.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
Fingers usually work fine, with the exception of say, full 4GS at 60 lbs on a Prestige mid. Then the pain comes. :p
 
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10shoe

Professional
The String Tuner was designed to be held like this. For a time, I did use it this way. Held this way you pull the string with the hooks.


The picture below is the way I actually use the tool. In addition to allowing me a couple minutes of sitting, I feel that visually I get the crosses straighter when I am looking at them vertically. Note that I am also pushing with the top of the tool as opposed to pulling with the inside edges of the hooks.


More to come when I have less of a backlog of racquets including my plans to build one of these from Lexan that I hope will finally be an unbreakable version.
 

10shoe

Professional
I've been buying these String Tuners for at least 15 yrs and generally each one has lasted about a year. Each time I bust off one of the teeth I tell myself that one day I will make a plaster cast of the thing and mold one out of Lexan and have myself an indestructible tool. And then I buy another one.

But now they are gone and so is the company that makes them. Sent a letter to their last address, came back undeliverable. So, now I am really going to have to make one.

One thing that has occurred to me in looking at the tool is that it isn't a one-step build. I really don't think it comes out of the mold like this. I think it is molded flat and then the "handle" is bent into it with a brake. As such, it must be one of the simplest molds ever made. The tool is 1/4" thick. If you laid a pair of 1/4" thick pieces of aluminum on top of each other with one 1/4" shorter and framed them you'd just about be finished. And since I don't actually hold the thing as intended I would probably be better off with the sort of handle you'd find on a small wood plane.

Alternatively, this thing could be fashioned from a 1/2" thick piece of plastic milled down 1/4" from the teeth back.

This is a forum full of do-it-yourselfers. Much as I had my heart set on making this from Lexan, is there someone here who has experience with 2 part resins or something of that nature that wouldn't require the use of heat? Lexan is incredibly resistant to breakage but it is not an easy melt.
 
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Dags

Hall of Fame
Reminds me of a kids sand rake if you were looking for a ready-made replacement. We do like a spot of DIY around here though.
 
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RJYU

Rookie
Well, I wouldn't compare it to splitting the atom but the more you do it, the more precise you get at it. I would defer to Paul or Ron or one of the top flight pro stringers on the boards as to how they developed that skill over time. I'm reasonably quick and precise but not in the league of some of the pro tourney stringers I know or have witnessed.
I use a blunt awl (setting off tool) to pull the cross strings up a bit before taking the racquet off the machine. I then straighten the mains and crosses with my fingers once the racquet is off the machine. I've gotten pretty good at using the setting off tool, but then again, I've also strung around 60,000 frames in my life, so I'd better have figured it out by now.
 
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Wes

Professional
You're right, it does look like a sand rake. Hmmm...
In breaking news tonight...
country clubs across America are finding that the rakes, previously located in the golf course sand traps, have mysteriously gone missing...
only to later discover that they are turning up in the same country club's tennis pro shop.

One golf pro, who was shaking his head and visibly disturbed, was quoted as saying "I just don't get it at all... it's like a bizarre alien abduction or something".
Authorities are looking into the matter, but as of yet, have no leads.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
I've gotten pretty good at using the setting off tool, but then again, I've also strung around 60,000 frames in my life, so if I'd better have figured it out by now.
60k frames?! Holy crap! :eek:

Can't imagine there is much you haven't figured out by now...
 

tennytive

Professional
String Thing works well on the mains, but the crosses still need tweaking, so I use my fingers or sharpie pen.

As it happens for me, the mains always move more than the crosses because of the spin factor, so the string thing has been well worth the $20. Easy to keep in the bag and use on change overs if needed.

I tried once or twice using the blunt tool, but couldn't get the knack. Props to those that can.
 

Irvin

Talk Tennis Guru
String Thing works well on the mains, but the crosses still need tweaking, so I use my fingers or sharpie pen...
I'm thinking the String Thing straightens the string running the string between the two star wheels. That being the case is you run the tool perpendicular to the mains it should straighten the crosses.
 

tennytive

Professional
I thought the same, but the stars don't fit the cross string spaces well enough. Tried it many times on different rackets, but no go. Maybe the tension of the mains interferes? At any rate, I never saw demos of players using the string thing on their cross strings, only the mains. Has to be a reason.
 

tennytive

Professional
The mains take about 10 seconds. Lately I only straighten the mains after a hit and only because it's become a habit.
 

jim e

Legend

I asume here he is straightening the crosses?
I would say String Thing straightens both main and cross strings, to a degree rather fast, even though you just go up and down over the mains, as those wheel gears straighten both mains and cross strings.
As you should know, while stringing a racquet when the mains are in and tensioned they are straight , but when stringing cross strings, sometimes the mains get a little out of line like when clamping cross strings, etc.
and even though a stringer tries to keep cross strings straight when pulling tension on cross strings, a little final straightening needs to be done on cross strings as well. This tool straightens cross strings and mains to a degree rather fast even though you only go up and down mains with the tool.
I have 2 of those string things, but most of the time I just use my home made set off tool, as I like them to be as straight as possible, I can do a decent job with my set off tool rather fast , which is a ground down Phillips screwdriver.
My string thing gets used mostly on court when using racquet moves strings around somewhat, as I like to put racquet away in bag with straight strings after hitting.
I prefer set off tool for when I am stringing racquets as it does do a better job, string thing gets it moderately close.
 
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