There is an old Chinese saying, “for a job done well, first sharpen your tools.” to have the proper tools will make the stringing process much more enjoyable. Aside from the stringing machine itself, here is a list of essential tools for badminton stringing. I also recommend a few popular and best of these tools.
A good cutter is the minimal tool that one need to string a badminton racket. If you have nothing else, you still need to cut the string at the end of the string job. The quality of the cut is not important at the tie offs, where it matters is when you cut the string tip when you try to thread a shared hole. a sharp tip often make the difference between success and endless frustration.
Xuron cutters are well known to be one of the best cutter for stringing. The extra hard cutting blades slices through the string and leaves a very sharp clean cut. Lower end Xuron goes for under $10 and goes up to $20 or so for the best of the best.
Plastic Model Side Cutter
Side cutters for plastic modelling are equally sharp. Cost can go from under $10 to over $30 depending on the source. The top of the line Tamiya cutter cuts through strings like a hot knife through butter, the result is even better than Xurons. Unfortunately Tamiya (model 74001 and 74035) comes in a premium and cost even upwards of $20 in Asia and can go up to $30+ on Amazon and ebay.
For budget conscious stringers you can use a Nail Clipper. They do give a clean cut but the action is not as smooth and the shape of the tool is not easy to use when you need to trim that string end hidden below the racket head.
A pair of pliers are used most often for pushing the string through a shared hole, or pulling fibers of it out of a blocked non-shared hole. The perfect pair of pliers for badminton stringing should have a small tip to reach through those tight corners as well as a tight jaw and strong gripping action to push and pull the string, esp trying to fish out the string from just a few fibers.
Most pliers comes in this category. Again one of the most renown is Xuron which has both serrated and non-serrated versions. I like the serrated one for better gripping power. Alternative option is to find a pair of beadmaking pliers. They too have miniature tip and very tight grips.
In my opinion the bent tip pliers is a better alternative. This is the only type i use and the bent tip allows access to the internal of the frame with ease, or go under that side support. Again Xuron or a beadmaking pliers wiorks very well here.
The primary use of an awl in badminton stringing is to open up a shared hole that is blocked by the mains string. The secondary use is to nudge and move a string that blocks a grommet opening. As a result, the badminton awl is designed to be slim with rounded tip to avoid damaging the occupying string.
The best awl that i have used is the Yonex badminton awl that was gifted to me by AK. Unfortunately this awl is hard to find and usually come with some expensive Yonex tool kit.
Alternative great awls are Kimony awl which are quite pricey at $25 each. Kimony awl has both thick and thin, only the thin ones are suitable for badminton.
I also have the Gamma awl which has a huge handle but actually very good for badminton use as the shaft is thin and smooth. The size of the handle tend to get in the way sometimes.
Kimony has a Bent awl that is good for opening a hole from the inside of the frame.
Flying Clamps are essential in a stringing machine that doesn’t have fixed clamps. and can also be useful for machines with fixed clamps to do different styles of stringing as well as for occasional use in place or in addition to the starting clamp.
there are two general types of flying clamps. main factor of differentiation being the width of the jaw. most clamps that comes with flying clamp machines have thinner jaw that is suitable for main strings spacing. while the Yonex flying clamp and also some similar type like the orange MBS clamps have wider spacing suitable for cross.
MBS / Alpha
these are mainly metal clamps that are more weighty and larger. their jaws are thinner for mains spacing. the quality and design of the MBS/Hiqua tends to be better and higher.
Yonex clamps are hybrid metal plastic design. they are compact and lighter than the HiQua clamps and they have spacing suitable for cross. the clamp teeth are smoother. The AEF/MBS clamps have a rougher teeth which should mean they grip better than the Yonex one but extra care is need to make sure they don’t marr the string.
Starting Clamp serves a few different purposes. The main one is to clamp the string outside the frame to temporarily holds the string there, either for starting the cross/main, or to hold a string to free up the fixed clamps. The other use is to use as a string extension, this is useful when the end string become too short and cannot reach the tensioner gripper. A third use is to provide a hold onto the string end when tightening the knot.
The Babolat starting clamp has always been regarded as the best starting clamp around. It has a compact size head as well as a strong hold with just two springs. they tend to be harder to find. Grand Slam Stringer has an alternative one but i have not tried it.
Gamma is the one that i use because it comes with my stringing machine. It works well for me and in general for badminton we don’t need as much holding power as the other sport.
A string mover is essentially a hook with a T-handle at the end. Some place mis-advertise it as a tool to help weaving the cross against the mains, but i believe the true use is to help weave the cross into a hole that is occupied by the main string. Another use is to help pull pre-weaved cross strings.