Basic Kite Making

A Hand-Waving Guide - Plastic Diamond

Trying to make a start in basic kite making? Without actually providing step-by-step instructions, this page will get you off to a good start. I will show you how to build possibly the quickest, simplest and most fool-proof type of kite that results in reasonable flying performance. It will also prove very cheap to put together.

Basic kite making with the classic Diamond.

Sure, you can spend more time and make rather more interesting and higher-performing kites than these. The books over there on the right can teach you all about that. But the ultra-simple Diamond described below will provide the all-important early success that you need. Then, you might end up really motivated to progress further in the hobby.

Great durability or crash-resistance, is not a priority here, since you just want to see your creation fly, right? ASAP! After a bit of the inevitable wear-and-tear, you can just patch things up with a bit of tape. Or even quickly whip up another kite.

In time, you might move on to less basic kite making techniques which result in hardier kites. Besides, you'll be less prone to mis-treat them then!

Try this Stake Line Winder from Amazon if you need some flying line. The 30 pound rated Dacron is good for a wide variety of small to medium sized kites. Anything with a span of 2 meters (7 feet) or more would be safer on heavier line.




Basic Kite Making Materials

Suitable sail material is all around, just about anywhere you look. It just has to be light. The lighter the better. Serious kite-makers tend to turn up their noses at plastic, but the truth is, it's a fantastic material for your very first kite. Here's a list of possibilities...

  • garbage bags (best for quite small kites, say up to 50cm or 18" in height)
  • garden bags (similar, although some brands are slightly heavier multi-ply)
  • old shower curtains (make sure the kite is fairly big, say over 1 meter or 3 feet tall)
  • space blankets (similarly!)
  • painter's drop sheets (for even bigger kites)

Finding spar material, that is, the sticks that the sail is attached to, is a little harder. But still fairly straight-forward. For rather small kites, you can experiment with bamboo skewers. Find them in any supermarket. Kites around 1 meter (3 feet) in height can employ 5mm (3/16") hard wooden dowel. Hardware stores sell wooden dowel.

Here's the trick with basic kite making using wooden dowel... If your finished kite bends like crazy and flops about on the end of the line without flying well, the dowel is too narrow. Go up a size or 2 and try again! At the other extreme, if your kite needs a fresh breeze to even look like flying, your dowel is far too thick and heavy. Go down a size or 2 and try again! A light wind is all the kite should need.





Basic Kite Making - A Plastic Diamond

Armed with the diagram down there, and the general guidelines already given, you have a great chance of seeing your very own Diamond kite soar up high into the blue. Or gray or white or whatever. Soon.

Diagram for a basic Diamond kite.

See how the flying line attaches to where the spars cross. The location of that crossing-point is important. Stick to it exactly, and you should not be disappointed when the kite is ready for a test fly.

By the way, the flying line is threaded through a small hole in the sail, to where it is tied to the spars. When flying, the spars are on the far side of the kite. You will most likely be able to see the spars through the plastic sail.

This basic kite design definitely needs a tail. A simple ribbon of the same material as the sail will do, about 1/10 as wide as the kite itself. Just to be safe, try making it 10 times as long as the kite is high. That might seem a lot, but it can make up for inaccuracies in construction. It gives you the best chance of success. Just tie the tail to the vertical spar, where indicated on the diagram.

When you have the kite flying successfully, you can experiment with shorter tails. The shorter the tail, the wilder and more unpredictable the flight patterns!

Join those spars together any way you like. Just keep it light! Go for shoe-laces rather than high-tensile fencing wire :-)

Out In The Field

My collection of real-life Diamond kite stories is worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

In fact, if you are happy to have the flying line permanently attached to the kite, simply bind the spars together with the end of the line.

The raw simplicity of this approach does not call for anything around the edge of the sail either. No string, no tape. Quick and simple! Definitely basic kite making. Like the tiny blue Diamond below, which uses 2 bamboo skewers for spars...

My wife flying our Tiny Tots Diamond design.




This kite, in almost any size, will fly a little erratically, but that long tail will keep bringing the nose back into line with the wind. Thus the kite will remain well off the ground. The ideal wind strength required will vary, according to just how big and how heavy you have made this Diamond.

Hope you have enjoyed this discussion of basic kite making. Happy flying! Once you have seen your first plastic Diamond dancing around at 200 feet, you'll be itching for more. Browse around this site a bit more and you'll find enough to keep you busy for years!

Try this Stake Line Winder from Amazon if you need some flying line. As mentioned earlier, this product is a good compromise for many small to medium sized single-line kites.

Check out one of our own simple dowel-and-plastic Diamonds in the video below...



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For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!

So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.

And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Box Kite Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 16, 14 05:51 AM

    A recent bout of sickness has left me with double vision for a while, which rules out driving the car anywhere. So it was time for a return visit to the small grassy reserve where many of the 1-skewer designs made their debut years ago. The easy walking distance from home was the main thing!

    Looking out the window, the breeze shifting the tree tops around seemed capable of supporting the Dowel Box kite. The Fresh Wind version with its smaller sail panels. Sure enough, down at the reserve, the kite managed to grip enough air around 50 feet to stay up fairly comfortably. A couple of times I had to interrupt some movie-taking to coax the kite higher as it threatened to sink right back to the grass.

    After 20 minutes or so of flying near the lower end of the kite's wind range, a period of fresher breezes began. In the somewhat sheltered location where I stood, the wind meter showed around 8 kph gusting to over 12 kph. However, the breeze was clearly over 20 kph higher up. The firm pull on the flying line was one indication!

    Isolated rain showers had been forecast for the area, so fairly low cumulus clouds were everywhere. No rain had fallen all day in our suburb though.

    The cloudy sky-scape made for some attractive footage of the 2-celled Box surging about in the gusts, lulls and wind-shifts. Due to the small size of the reserve, it was wise to not let the kite fly on more than about 45m (150 feet) of line. But that was enough to let it take full advantage of the moderate-strength (20kph+) airflow over the treetops.

    So, some enjoyable box kite flying today, with the 50 pound Dacron feeling like thread compared to the 200 pound variety with which I do most flying these days!

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More





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