How To Build A Dopero Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK 2-Skewer Dopero

This set of instructions on how to build a Dopero kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required.

Learn how to build a Dopero kite from bamboo skewers and plastic.

Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

The MBK 2-Skewer Dopero Kite is small compared to shop-bought Doperos, at 58cm (23”) across and 58cm tall. Some 'dihedral' on the outer panels of both the upper and lower sails give good all-round stability without the need for a tail.

This 2-Skewer Dopero is an efficient light wind flier. Take it out when it's not very windy, and you won't be disappointed. Also, the 4 leg bridle keeps the frame rigid, letting this kite cope with stronger winds as well.

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 Dopero Kite

Have you read the page on kite materials? If you haven't already, do it now to see what's needed for building a Dopero kite.

The 2-Skewer Dopero - spars.

For this Dopero, you need to glue skewers together to form the 4 spars. Since this kite has plenty of sail area for its width, there is no need to worry about selecting the lightest skewers! In fact, stiffer and heavier skewers would be good for the vertical spars. As for any kite, it's best to try and match the left and right ends of the horizontal spars as well. Having said all that, just using any old skewers at random should not present any real problems. The wind range of the kite might not be as good as it could be, that's all. You can always add a bit of tail!

  • Snip the points off 4 skewers, then check to see that they are all exactly the same length. Measure it, this is '1 skewer length'.
  • Snip another 4 skewers to a length of 0.65SL (18.9cm, 7 1/2") each.
  • Snip another 2 skewers to a length of 0.7SL (20.3cm, 8") each.
  • From the scraps of bamboo left over, snip off 6 lengths of bamboo, each 0.06SL (1.7cm, 3/4") long. These are the short reinforcers for the 3-part horizontal spars.
  • Similarly, snip off 4 more lengths of bamboo, each 0.1SL long. These are for the 2-part vertical spars.
  • Arrange all the skewers as in the photo, with some paper underneath to later catch excess glue. Tape the paper to the table top to prevent it shifting.
  • You should have 2 short reinforcers left over. On one of the 3-part spars, add these reinforcers so there are 2 beside each join, one on each side. (The photo is wrong, this mod was done after test flying!)
  • Prop up each end of the 3-part horizontal spars to 0.15SL (4.4cm, 1 3/4") above the table, to give them 'dihedral'.
  • Get down to table top height and look along the spars, and make sure everything lines up nicely.
  • Lay down a thick line of glue all the way down each join, as in the photo.

How To Build A Dopero Kite

Sail template for the 2-Skewer Dopero kite.

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

The 2-Skewer Dopero - template shape marked on plastic bag.
  • Firstly, take the large bag that you will be using for the sail, and lay it flat on the table.
  • Make sure all the glue is dry, then lay one of the vertical spars on the edge of the bag and mark the position of the nose and tail of the kite.
  • With a ruler, measure and mark all the other points except the 'wing-tips' of the upper and lower sails.
  • Mark the 'wing-tips', laying down a vertical spar to find the upper and lower wing tip positions. You can't use one of the horizontal spars since they're not straight!
  • Use the marking pen to rule lines between the dots. See the photo.

Note: Arranging the spars on the plastic by eye is quite accurate enough, as long as you take some care. Since both sides of the sail will be identical, any small error in judging the 90 degree angle has almost no effect. I have made the dots big just so they show up easily in the photo.

The 2-Skewer Dopero - complete sail shape marked on plastic.
  • 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 table. You can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.

The 2-Skewer Dopero - sail cut out and edged with sticky tape.
  • Lay clear sticking tape along all the lines except the trailing edge of the upper sail and the leading edge of the lower sail. Each taped line should show through the center of the tape.
  • With scissors, cut along the all the black lines. This will leave half the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline.

Note 1: I pull off the length of tape required, plus a bit extra on each end, then lay it down in one motion, pressing to the plastic at both ends at once. Then I smooth along the tape with a finger, making sure it is stuck down firmly along its entire length.

Note 2: Don't worry about overlapping lengths of tape at the corners, it will all look tidier after the cutting is done.

The 2-Skewer Dopero - spars taped to sail./
  • Place one long vertical spar over the plastic, with the edge tape facing up.
  • Cap the ends of the spar with electrical tape, as in the photo, by sticking it down over the bamboo and plastic then folding it under the plastic to stick on the other side - a bit tricky, take your time!
  • Do the other vertical spar in the same way.
  • Next, lay down the upper horizontal spar and secure it with longer strips of tape as in the photo - the white tape, which is temporary.
  • Cap each end of the spar with electrical tape. Pull the slack out of the plastic, but don't pull it really tight.
  • Do the same for the lower horizontal spar.
  • Finally, add pieces of clear sticky tape where indicated by the yellow rectangles. Stick them down to the plastic and bamboo then fold around to the other side
  • Remove the temporary strips of tape where the spars cross. Also, it might be handy to support the spar tips, as in the photo.
  • Secure the upper and lower horizontal spars to the vertical spars with drops of glue - above and below where the spars cross.

How To Build A Dopero 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.
The 2-Skewer Dopero - making keels

In this photo, pieces of clear sticky tape are indicated by yellow rectangles.

  • Mark out a triangle on some spare sail plastic, as per the dimensions on the template.
  • Cut off 4 pieces of flying line, each about 1.25SL (36cm, 14") long.
  • Cut out the triangle and tape down 2 lengths of flying line onto one side, as visible in the photo.
  • Now flip the plastic over and tape down another 2 lengths of flying line, directly over the first 2.
  • Also lay down tape along the remaining edge of the keel, on both sides of the plastic.
  • Reinforce the keel corners by sticking down and wrapping extra bits of tape where the pieces of line come out, making sure the plastic remains flat.
  • Where the 4 pieces of line come together, tie a Multi-Strand Simple Knot as close to the plastic as possible, then tie another one further out, as in the photo.
  • Also tie Simple Knots very close to the plastic at the other 2 corners.
  • After all the knots are tied, trim off the line ends to an even length.
  • You have one finished keel. Now do it all again to make the other one!

It's a bit fiddly, but you'll be proud of this kite when you finish it!

How To Build A Dopero Kite
Sail Tethering

The 2-Skewer Dopero - upper sail tethering

At this point you need to make sure the glue is dry on the frame. If it is...

  • Lay down the kite with the bamboo on top, and cut off 2 lengths of flying line of 0.6SL (17cm, 7") each.
  • First, sticky tape the lines to the lower sail near the tips. Lay line over the bamboo, around the sail edge and then back towards the bamboo on the underside - as shown by the yellow rectangles in the photo.
  • Lay the lines across the upper sail and tape them down with just a small square piece of tape near the sail corner.
  • Carefully pull each line through the tape until there is no slack - as in the photo.
  • Add sticky tape to cover the full length of each line on the upper sail.

Note: During test flying in gusty thermal conditions, these lines had a tendency to pull out from the lower sail! Feel free to tie them to the lower horizontal spar instead, using 2 or 3 Half Hitches.

How To Build A Dopero Kite

The 2-Skewer Dopero - attaching keels to vertical spars

Firstly, attach a keel to one side...

  • Poke 2 holes in the lower sail, near the lower horizontal spar, where indicated by the black dots near the top of the photo.
  • Take the keel, poke the upper 2 lines through the holes near the horizontal spar, pull tight against the knot, then tie them off around the bamboo using a Granny Knot.
  • Now poke the bottom 2 holes in the plastic, using the keel to find the exact spots for the holes.
  • Thread the lines, pull tight against the knots, and tie them off tightly around the bamboo with a Granny Knot.
  • With the keel flat against the kite, lay clear sticky tape along its base, sticking it to the lower sail plastic. Flip the keel over, and do its other side too - see the yellow rectangle in the photo.
  • All done? Now do the other keel on the other side!

These knots must never come loose, so use tiny drops of glue to keep them secure.

The 2-Skewer Dopero - bridle details

In the original photo, parts of the bridle were very hard to see, so I have colored them pure white.

Attach the upper bridle loop...

  • Lay the kite down with the keel on top, then cut a length of flying line, about 3.0SL (87cm, 35") long
  • Tie a small Loop Knot into each end of the line.
  • Poke 4 holes in the upper sail where indicated by black dots in the photo.
  • Attach each end to a vertical spar through the holes in the upper sail. Use a Double Wrap Slip Knot and pull tight, then secure with a tiny dob of glue.

Now attach the lower bridle loop...

  • Cut off a length of flying line, about 2.0SL (58cm, 23") long.
  • Tie a Loop Knot into each end of the line. Don't make them too small, since...
  • Attach each end to a keel using a Lark's Head Knot, and pull tight against the keel's big knot.

Next, attach the central bridle line...

  • Cut off some flying line, about 2.0SL (58cm, 23") long.
  • Attach one end to the upper bridle loop with a shiftable knot, such as the Prusik.
  • Attach the other end to the lower bridle loop, also with a shiftable knot.
  • Shift each knot to the middle of its loop. Check by suspending the kite from the central line, then tighten both the knots. Don't worry, the knots are still shiftable.

Finally, take a length of flying line about 0.5SL (15cm, 6") long, and tie one end to the central bridle line with another Prusik knot. Tie a small Double Loop Knot into the other end.

At this point, you've pretty much finished making the 2-Skewer Dopero. Whew... But hey, I'm looking at it now, and it's the best skewer kite of the lot!

How To Build A Dopero Kite
Prepare To Fly

Attaching the flying line to the bridle.

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

Check those shiftable knots on the loops again. Suspend the kite from its upper bridle loop Prusik knot, checking that both tips of the upper horizontal spar come off the table at the same time. Shift the knot until this happens. Now do the same for the lower bridle loop Prusik knot, this time observing the tips of the lower horizontal spar. All square now?

As a final check, lift the kite by the loop knot right at the end of the bridle. Shift the Prusik knot along the central bridle line until the kite hangs at about a 30 degree angle from the horizontal.

Also lift the kite with a finger under the nose and a finger under the tail, balancing it on the central crease line in the plastic. Try this a few times, and if it's clear that one side of the kite is heavier, add small bits of electrical tape to the spar caps on the lighter side, to balance it up.

How To Build A Dopero Kite

The 2-Skewer Dopero kite in flight.

The picture up there shows the MBK 2-Skewer Dopero kite being launched, down at a local flying field. The pint-sized support crew is ready to swing into action at a moment's notice... If I don't catch him first!

Out In The Field

My collection of real-life Dopero 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 letting it slip through your fingers. If it refuses to climb despite pulling on your hand, shift the Prusik knot towards the nose a bit, and try again. Keep going until the kite behaves itself!

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 make it easy to let more line out.

Finally, if the kite doesn't seem stable enough, looping around in both directions even in light wind, just add a simple short tail to each vertical spar and try again. However, if you have put the correct dihedral in both spars, this should not be necessary!

If the kite flies OK, but tends to hang to the left or right, try shifting the sliding knot on the upper bridle loop. Make very small adjustments until the kite flies noticeably better.

Note: If you have seen the plans page for this kite, you will see there are 2 extra reinforcers on the joints of the upper horizontal spar. If the glue you are using can't hold the correct dihedral angle, it's easy to add the 2 extra small pieces of bamboo later, after a bit of test flying.

Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to how to build a Dopero kite.

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...

2-Skewer Dopero Takes To The Sky 
There's always a certain feeling of trepidation when you've spent a week or more on a project, and then crunch time comes. Especially when 'crunch' is …

Watch Your Knuckles 
Grandson and I had built a few Dopero kites to fly, but the weather was either too bad or no wind. So the other day it was about 20 degrees F. with a fairly …

Click here to write your own.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Barn Door Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 17, 14 06:33 AM

    Well, it was the same reserve and a similar time of day. A bit closer to sun-down perhaps. Only the kite was different - the Dowel Barn Door kite this time, chosen to suit the 'gentle' strength wind gusts of between 15 and 20 kph.

    The first flight went well, with the kite soaring straight up on around 45 meters (150 feet) of line. The late afternoon sun glinting off the panels as the kite moved about at steep line angles. In the gusts and lulls, the kite had a tendency to pull to the right at times.

    As I was taking the kite down to do a bridle adjustment, the main problem became apparent. The horizontal spar had pushed through the tip-tape on the right corner of the sail, drastically reducing the sail area to the right of center. It was actually surprising how well the kite was still flying, given the gross problem with the sail!

    On a second flight, with the tip repaired, there still appeared to be a slight pull to the right. So, after taking some video footage of the Barn Door's antics, it was brought down once again. This time the bridle knot was taken across by about a centimeter (1/2"). That was better! The 1.2 meter (4 feet) span pale orange kite shot right back up, showing much less tendency to pull across when under pressure.

    After some more video was taken, with the kite soaring around almost directly overhead at times, it seemed safe enough to let out more line. It was surprising to feel the flying line touching my jeans while it was anchored under-foot! How much rising air can there be at this time of day? At the time I was concentrating on keeping the wandering kite in-frame as I took video.

    Finally, after enjoying the kite doing its thing on over 60 meters (200 feet) of line, it came time to pull the Dowel Barn Door down. When within 30 feet or so of the ground it started to float and sink face-down. Then it was an easy matter to pull in the remaining few meters of line, keeping the kite flying until the bridle lines were in hand.

    Weather stations were reporting around 10kph average wind speeds with gusts almost to 20kph.

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe what's on offer in that message series!

    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...

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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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