How To Build A Box Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK 2-Skewer Box

This set of instructions on how to build a box kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. 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!

How To Build A Box Kite - the 2-Skewer Box in flight.

The instructions on how to build a box kite might look awfully long, but each step is quite simple to do. Just quickly work your way through, skimming over any detail that you don't need. All in all, it should be quite hard to make a mistake!

If made from 30cm (12") skewers, the MBK 2-Skewer Box Kite is not huge at 58 cm (23") long, with cell panels measuring about 17cm x 20cm (7" x 8"). This box design is a moderate to fresh wind flier, and requires no tail. Unless you are flying in a storm which is not recommended anyway! If accurately made, this kite can cope with quite strong wind.

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 Box Kite
Main Spars

The 2-Skewer Box kite - spars.
  • Snip the point off a skewer. To 29cm for a 30cm skewer, or 11 1/2" for a 12" skewer. This will be '1 skewer length' (1.0SL) for your kite.
  • Snip the points off 7 more skewers, to exactly the same length as the first one. These 8 skewers will form 4 main 'spars'.
  • From a spare skewer, snip off 8 lengths, each just 0.1SL (2.9cm, 1 1/8") long. These are the reinforcers which will connect the spar skewers together.
  • Lay down the 8 spar skewers, together with the 8 reinforcers, and lay wood glue down the joins. See the photo.
  • Get down low and look along each spar in turn. Carefully move them as necessary to get each spar as straight as possible, before the glue dries.




How To Build A Box Kite
Cross-Pieces

The 2-Skewer Box kite - cross-pieces
  • Take 2 more skewers, and trim each one to a length of 0.98SL (28.4cm, 11 1/4"). These are 2 of the 'cross-pieces' - 2 more will be needed later, but don't make them now.
  • From a spare skewer, snip off 8 lengths, each just 0.05SL (1.5cm, 5/8") long. These will secure the cross-pieces to the main spars.
  • Arrange these to make 2 cross-pieces, as in the photo. Lay down wood glue over every join.




How To Build A Box Kite
Sail

The template down there represents one cell of the kite, laid out flat. Now transfer the measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

The 2-Skewer Box kite - marking the sail on plastic
  • Firstly, take a light, single-ply plastic bag and lay it flat on the table. I use cheap orange garden-bag plastic. The more expensive bags are usually 2 or 3-ply plastic, which is heavier and less see-through.
  • Measure and mark the rectangle outline first, with a black marking pen and ruler. Do this near the side crease of the bag, as in the top photo.
  • Now measure and mark the fold lines.
  • Flip the bag over and trace over all the lines.
  • Cut out the plastic containing the 2 rectangles and open it out, as in the bottom photo.
The 2-Skewer Box kite - sail template



The 2-Skewer Box kite - attaching the spars to the sail
  • Cut around the 2 rectangular outlines with scissors, one at a time. You'll be sorry if you attempt to cut both thicknesses of plastic at once, since the bottom one will tend to slip out of position!
  • Arrange the 4 bamboo spars over the plastic as in the photo, covering up the drawn fold-lines.
  • Tack down all 8 corners of the sails to the floor or table top with small pieces of sticky tape. This stops unintended shifting of the plastic while you are trying to...
  • Lay down 4 long lengths of clear sticky tape, securing the spars to the plastic. The tape is visible in the photo - look for where the plastic is smoother and slightly darker, near the edges.



The 2-Skewer Box kite - closing the 2 cells.
  • Remove everything from the table top, either pulling off or trimming away the small square bits of tape at the corners.
  • Fold the sails, bringing the short edges together and sticking them with tape as shown in the photo.
  • Now open the box kite out, and carefully lay down tape along the inside edges as well, to make the 2 joins even more secure. A bit tricky, take your time!




How To Build A Box Kite
Add Cross-Pieces

The 2-Skewer Box kite - adding the cross-pieces to brace the kite.

Firstly, take a good look at the top photo. The cross pieces both go under one middle spar and over the other one. Hence the kite can be opened out into a box shape.

Another 2 cross pieces need to be fitted now, to make the kite rigid. However, due to the inexact nature of working with bamboo skewers and plastic, you need to fit each one individually. Here's how...

  • Take a bamboo skewer, and snip it to a length just a little longer than one of the cross-pieces already in place.
  • By trial and error, trim the bamboo down until you can just squeeze it into place next to an existing cross-piece, but diagonal to it.
  • Mark the cross-piece and the 2 main spars it touches so you can put it back in the same spot later. Remove the cross-piece and glue small pieces of bamboo to it, just like the 2 already done.While the glue is drying...
  • Just one more cross-piece to do. Fit the last cross-piece in place in the same way, at the other end of the kite. Make more marks so you know where this one goes too. When its length is just right, glue the small pieces on and wait for the glue to dry.

The bottom photo is a close-up, with my markings visible on a main spar and one of the cross-pieces. The other cross-piece had single marks instead of double, to tell them apart. Hope you get the idea!





How To Build A Box Kite
Bridle

The 2-Skewer Box kite - bridle detail
  • Measure 0.3SL (8.7cm, 3 1/2") in from one end of a spar (half the width of the sail), and use a spare skewer to poke a small hole through the plastic, on either side of the spar.
  • Cut off a 3.0SL (87cm, 34 1/2") length of 20 pound flying line, and tie a small Loop Knot into one end.
  • Attach the looped end to the kite, by passing it in one hole and out the other. Feed the other end of the line through the loop and pull tight around the bamboo. See the photo.
  • Add a small length of clear sticky tape onto the sail plastic, to prevent the bridle shifting forward and stretching the plastic. The yellow rectangle on the photo shows where the tape is.
  • Attach the other end of the line to the same spar, just behind the join of the 2 skewers, using a couple of Half Hitches. Smear a drop of wood glue all around the bamboo and into the knot, to hold it secure.

Now take a length of flying line about 1.0SL (29cm, 11 1/2") long, and tie one end to the bridle line with a Prusik Knot, or any other shiftable knot. Tie a small Double Loop Knot into the other end.

All this is visible in the above photo. At this point, you've pretty much finished making the MBK 2-Skewer Box Kite!

Now, I had some trouble with the cross-pieces falling out while the kite flew in rough air. Hence you might like to glue the cross-pieces in place! The kite is a convenient size to put in the car, fully rigged, and won't take up much space in a shed.





How To Build A Box Kite
Flying!

Finally, make up a flying line and attach it to the bridle with a Lark's Head Knot. See the photo down there.

Attaching the flying line to the bridle.

Assuming there is plenty of 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 letting it slip through your fingers.

Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, with maybe 10 or 20 meters of line let out.

This way, the kite soon gets high enough to build it easy to let more line out. That's assuming there is plenty of wind!

Out In The Field

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

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

If the kite doesn't fly, there is only one explanation - not enough wind! If it loops around in both directions, try shifting the towing point forward a little. That is, move the shiftable knot along the bridle line towards the nose of the kite. As a last resort, you could add a small tail.

Isn't it nice to not be grounded when it's windy outside, and it's way too strong for most other MBK kites! By the way, if the kite stays quite low despite a good wind, you could try moving the towing point back a bit, towards the tail end of the kite.

Here's another picture of the MBK 2-Skewer Box Kite in the air. Air pressure on the sails is causing the main spars to bow out a little. Hope you've enjoyed learning how to build a Box kite!

The 2-Skewer Box kite in flight.

And here's a video, taken on the same day...





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!

Please Enter A Title

Flight Reports From Other Visitors

Click below to read about various kite-flying adventures, contributed by other visitors to this page...

McGyver Kite in 30mph Winds 
My son and I started out to build the simple box kite with bamboo skewers, tape, a garbage bag and lots of enthusiasm. 3 Hours later... the Gorilla …

Click here to write your own.

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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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