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.
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.
Now's the time to read up on the 'tools' and materials required for making a Skewer kite, if you haven't already.
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...
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 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!
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...
TIP: Secure the slip knots around the bamboo with a blob of wood glue, so they can't loosen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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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