How To Build A Barn Door Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK 2-Skewer Barn Door

This set of instructions on how to build a Barn Door kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. And if you are a 'visual-learner', it should be possible to complete the kite by referring only to the pictures.

Learn how to make a Barn Door kite like this one.

You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required. Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

Probably the most important thing to get right is making and adjusting the bridle. This trips up so many would-be kite makers who are trying it for the first time! I've tried hard to make the instructions fool-proof in this area.

The MBK 2-Skewer Barn Door is medium-sized at 58 cm (23") across and 53 cm (21") tall, with generous dihedral and a fairly short looped tail.

The 2-Skewer Barn Door is a very nice light-to-moderate wind flier.

Way up into the moderate wind range in fact. Up to around 30 kph if the bridle is adjusted forward enough.

The "Making Skewer Kites" e-book has this design and many others in bamboo skewers and plastic.

A handy approach is to just print out the pages for the kite you want to make next. The e-book is also handy for working off-line on a laptop or tablet.

How To Build A Barn Door Kite

Now's the time to read up on the 'tools' and materials required for making a Skewer kite, if you haven't already.

Sail template for the 2-Skewer Barn Door kite.

The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. The left edge of the template corresponds to the edge of the plastic bag. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - dots marked on plastic.
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - template shape marked on plastic bag.
  • Take a light plastic bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
  • Mark dots on the plastic, corresponding to the corners of the Template. There is no need to use a T-square, since any small error will be duplicated on the other side of the sail. And it will make hardly any difference to how the kite flies.
  • Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots to create the Template shape.

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - template shape traced to other side.
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - plastic opened to show complete sail outline.
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - bag cut ready for unfolding
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - sail cut out and edged with sticky tape
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - close-up of edge tape.
  • Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
  • Cut out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it out and lay it flat on the floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.
  • Run clear sticky tape along every straight line, leaving most of the tape on the inside of the sail edges.
  • Cut along the black lines with scissors, to create the sail. See the close-up photo on the right.

How To Build A Barn Door Kite
Making Spars

For this Barn Door, you need...

6 bamboo BBQ skewers, 30cm (12") in length

2 short 0.15SL (4.4cm, 1 3/4") lengths of skewer

2 short 0.25SL (7.3cm, 2 7/8") lengths of skewer

See the photo...

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - lengths of bamboo skewer required.

The photo below shows how the pieces of bamboo are all glued together. The skewers at the top of the photo form the horizontal spar. See how each tip is raised away from the table top. The short bits in the middle just lay flat against the table.

The other skewers form the 2 diagonal spars. These have all the bamboo lying flat against the table top.

To make sure there are no kinks at the joins, get your head down low and look along the spars. Shift one or 2 skewers a little, if necessary, before the glue dries!

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - gluing of skewer spars

How To Build A Barn Door Kite
Attaching Spars

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - attachment of bamboo to plastic
The 2-Skewer Barn Door - all spars attached
  • Snip off one point from one of the diagonal spars.
  • Line this end up with the top left corner of the kite sail, with the spar crossing the bottom right corner of the sail.
  • At the top left corner, attach the bamboo to the plastic with insulation tape. As in the photo over there.
  • At the bottom right corner of the sail, snip the spar to length and attach the tip to the plastic in the same way.
  • Do all the above steps again to tape the other diagonal spar in place, crossing over the first one.
  • Now lay down the horizontal spar across the left and right corners of the sail, so the middle join is centered over the crease line of the plastic bag.
  • Snip off the points of the skewers so the tips line up with the left and right corners of the sail, after they are folded up to meet the bamboo tips. Take your time - you don't want to snip off too much bamboo...
  • Tape the tips to the sail corners. The second photo up there shows the kite at this point.

How To Build A Barn Door Kite

Try this Kite Winder from Amazon, if you are not sure where to get suitable flying line. The 20 pound strength is ample for all the Skewer Series kites.

All the construction details for the bridle are contained in the large photo below. Look and read carefully, and you can't go wrong on this rather important bit! Just use 20 or 30 pound flying line for the bridle pieces.


If you are new to this, you might need instructions on how to tie the following knots...

(Double) Loop Knot
Double Wrap Slip Knot
Prusik Knot

TIP: Secure the slip knots around the bamboo with a blob of wood glue, so they can't loosen.

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - bridle detail


Once your kite + bridle looks like the photo up there...

Adjust the Prusik knot that is closest to the kite. It needs to be as close to center as possible.

Next, hold the short bridle line up so all the bridle lines are straight, with the kite laying flat on the table or floor.

Referring to the diagram below, shift the other Prusik knot to the shown position. It's not necessarily the perfect position for your individual kite, but it should at least fly on the first attempt!

Later, you can experiment with shifting the position away from the nose a little at a time to improve how high your kite flies in light wind. Alternatively, you can experiment with shifting the position towards the nose more, to help the kite cope better in very windy weather.

Bridle diagram for the 2-Skewer Barn Door kite.

How To Build A Barn Door Kite

Cut out a long rectangular piece of dark plastic for the tail. Black garbage bag plastic works well. Make it about 0.3SL (8.7cm, 3 1/2") wide and 12SL (350cm, 140") long.

The 2-Skewer Barn Door - attachment of loop tail.

Tie one end around one diagonal spar, and the other end around the other diagonal spar, as close as possible to the bottom tip in each case. See the photo on the right.

A single Half Hitch for each knot will do, since there are very low forces on the tail in flight.

Flying line attachment.

You can see the full length of the tail in the 'Flying' photo further down...

At this point, you've finished making the 2-Skewer Barn Door!

To attach the flying line, just Lark's Head the flying line to the short bridle line as in the photo.

How To Build A Barn Door Kite

The 2-Skewer Barn Door kite in flight.

Firstly, if it's very windy outside, stay home! This is a light-to-moderate wind kite and won't like being launched in a gale.

Out In The Field

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

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

Assuming there is some breeze outside, just dangle the kite at arm's length until the wind catches it. As long as you feel the kite pulling, let out line slowly by taking loop after loop off the winder.

Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, on the end of maybe 10 or 20 meters (around 50 feet) of line. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.

Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to build a Barn Door kite!

The video below shows this latest version of the 2-Skewer Barn Door scooting around in winds of around 20 kph.

Now, just in case you have actually made and flown this kite at least once already...

Ever Made This Kite?

You've probably read a kite-flying story or 2 of mine, after they appear under the "what's new?" link on this site. I sometimes wonder if anyone else has made and flown this particular design...

If you feel your efforts really paid off when the the kite finally got airborne - please type a few paragraphs in here telling us all about it!

P.S. I can only accept stories of at least 300 words. Just mention a few details like the weather, onlookers, the kite's behavior and so on - 300 words is easy!

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You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...

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

New! Comments

Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...

Apologies for this site's current lack of video when viewed on mobile devices...

For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!


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