Before you start making the centre serving…
Use our nock fit guide to get the right centre serving material and thickness
Nock fit is a hugely important part of your bow setup, it drastically affects your tuning. There is an optimum centre serving for each bowstring and nock combination which will give you the safest, most forgiving setup.
To make sure you get the right nock fit, first check out our in depth post: Testing Proper Nock Fit – The Complete How To Guide. You can also directly jump to the Nock Fit Chart.
Once you know if you’ve got the right material and nock fit, then you can get started with the centre serving.
STEP 1: PREPARE THE BOWSTRING
You should always prepare your bowstring in the same way each time before you make a centre serving. I personally put 15-20 twists in the string, lightly wax the string and burnish it with a small piece of leather. I only burnish it until it’s slightly warm, not until it’s hot! Burnish lightly as you can damage the fibres of the string if you burnish too aggressively and heat the string too much.
Then, I get a short length of serving material and loop it around the string. I then run it up and down the string to remove any excess wax and form the string into a nice circular cable.
Finally, mark on the string where you want your centre serving to start and finish. It should go high enough to allow your tab and bracing height gauge to rest on it. It should stretch down low enough so that it protects your string from any armguard vibration and wear after the shot has finished.
Now we can get started with making the centre serving.
STEP 2: START THE CENTRE SERVING
P.S. Hover over (touch on mobile) any of the images in this guide to zoom in for a closer look.
Fig. 1: To start the centre serving, lay the serving material across the bow string, this is your root strand. Direct one loop of material away from you. Hold it with your finger.
Fig. 2: Do the same again, looping another thread of material over the bow string. Then hold both with your index finger. As you do this you need to keep your thumb holding the root strand in place.
Fig. 3: Continue doing this until you build up a few loops of material and the serving can almost support itself without you holding it with your index finger. At this point, you should slide the material into the exact place you need it on the string.
Fig. 4: Serve a few more loops of material. Now the serving is in the right place and it can support itself. In the previous picture the end portion of the centre serving was angled. Get your finger nail and push the end of the serving so it’s flat all the way round.
Fig. 5: Again, serve a few more loops of material. After every loop, make sure to pull it tight and then hold it down with your index finger.
Fig. 6: Stop when you’ve got about 1 inch of material served. Get a pair of needle nose pliers or medical forceps (available on Amazon) and use them to pull the root strand as tight as you can. As you do this it will pull the end of the centre serving tight and prevent it from coming loose. You might have to use your serving tool and index finger to keep your serving from sliding along the string slightly.
Fig. 7: Take a bracing height gauge and use it to push the end of the centre serving into itself all the way round. Try and make it as circular as possible. Then pull the root strand tight one more time.
STEP 3: SERVE THE CENTRAL AREA
Fig. 8: Wind your serving tool into the string and tighten the bolts down as much as you can. Hold the root strand down with your finger and use your tool to start serving the main area of the centre serving.
Fig. 9: Once you’ve served a few inches, and at least 1inch before you reach the nocking point area, cut the root strand with a sharp blade.
Fig. 10: Continue serving with the tool. Take care to completely cover the last remnants of the root strand.
Fig. 11: Serve until about 1-1.5inches before your end mark for the centre serving length that you want. This part is important. Take the serving tool and loop the string down on the opposite side than the side it rises up from. In this picture, you can see the main serving leads upwards on the side of the string closest to the archer. As a result, we’ve looped down on the side of the string furthest from the archer.
STEP 4: SERVE THE END PART
Fig. 12: Continue this looping direction to start forming a length of material going the reverse way to the main area. You can see this forming in the image and it’s important you make this in the area between the two parts of material.
Fig. 13: Bunch this reverse serving up into a neat length and continue until you have served 1-1.5 inches, depending on how far you stopped from your end mark.
Fig. 14: Take your serving tool and place the material into the open groove created by the upward strand, keep the tension on the tool to keep the serving neat. Look closely at the figure to see this.
Fig. 15: Now, by hand you need to start looping the centre serving around. As you add material to the main area, the reverse area you created unserves itself. Magic!
Continue looping the material away from yourself to keep adding to the main serving area. You must make every loop as tight as you can and really pull the serving into the main area on each loop you make. Take your time here to make the serving neat and as tight as you can on every single loop. If you don’t your serving could come loose and eventually break.
Fig. 16: Eventually you will get to this point where you’ve finished adding material. Now it’s time to get your needle nose pliers or medical forceps again.
STEP 5: FINISH THE CENTRE SERVING
Fig. 17: Put the forceps through the loop and pull it firm to keep tension on it. Get your serving tool in the other hand and pull it. As you do this the loop will start to pull itself under the serving area.
Fig. 18: The loop will pull the forceps into the string. Allow it to whilst keeping tension on the loop. Once the forceps are close to the string keep the loop in place and firmly pull the serving tool. Quickly pull the forceps out whilst still pulling the serving tool. The material will pull completely under the main area.
Fig. 19: Now, the centre serving is almost complete. Pull the serving tool as tight as you can to secure the end of the serving.
Fig. 20: Finally, use your bracing height gauge to push the end of the serving level all the way round. Then pull it tighter once more before cutting the hanging material.
Congratulations, you’ve made your centre serving! Be sure to check out our full Recurve Bow Tuning Guide for more information on how to setup your equipment.