How To Make A Box Kite
Step-by-Step - The MBK 1-Skewer Box
This set of instructions on how to make 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
If not exactly what I used, then at least something
The instructions on how to make 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!
The MBK 1-Skewer Box Kite is rather small at just 29cm (11 1/2")
long, with cell panels measuring 14.5cm x 8.7cm (5 3/4" x 3 1/2"). It will stay airborne in moderate winds, but does even better in
Like all the other MBK 1-Skewer kites, this design can't be taken
apart for transport. However, that's not much of a problem due to it's
small size! Just be sure to treat it with care when handling or
1-Skewer kites are fun, but somewhat toy-like :-) due to their rather small size. Fancy something much bigger to fly, suitable for teenagers and adults?
Have a look at the e-book up there on the right. So you can work from nicely-formatted printouts or direct from the screen on your laptop or other device while offline.
How To Make A Box Kite - Frame
- Select 4 bamboo BBQ skewers that seem fairly straight. Check this by rolling them across a table top, one by one. Or just look down their length.
- In addition, try to ensure that 2 of those skewers have very similar flexibility.
Either bend them by hand to try and judge this, or get a little more
ingenious by suspending the ends and putting a weight in the middle...
Getting this right will help the finished kite to fly straight without
needing too much tail. Put a mark on these 2 skewers so you know which
ones they are. They are the top 2 spars in the photo.
- Snip the point off one skewer, then measure it to establish '1 skewer length' (1.0SL) for your kite. For me, this was 29 c.m.
- Snip the points off the other 3 skewers, to exactly the same length
as the first one. These 4 skewers will now be referred to as the 'spars'
- Take another 2 skewers, and snip one of them to exactly 0.7SL (20.3cm, 8") in length. Make the other one just 0.5cm (1/4") longer. These are the 'cross pieces'. The longer one will be trimmed to fit, later.
How To Make A Box Kite - Sail
The template up there represents one cell of the kite, laid out flat. Transfer the measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
- Firstly, take a light, single-ply plastic bag and lay it flat on the
table. I use cheap orange garden-bags. The more expensive bags are
usually 2 or 3-ply plastic, which is heavier and less see-through.
- Near one edge of the bag, measure and mark a rectangular outline according to the Template. Use a black marking pen and ruler.
- Now measure and mark the fold lines. See the photo.
- Flip the bag over, and trace over all the black lines. Use the ruler, of course!
- Cut the bag down one side and open it out.
- Cut around the 2 rectangular outlines with scissors. I don't
recommend trying to do both rectangles at once, since the plastic tends
- Arrange the 4 bamboo spars over the plastic as in the photo,
covering up the drawn fold-lines. Make sure the marked side-spars are
positioned as shown in the photo!
- Tack down all 8 corners of the sails to the table top with small
square 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 just visible in the photo - look for where the
plastic is smoother and slightly darker, near the edges. Each tape goes
all the way from left to right, over the 4 spars.
- 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. The photo gets close-up on one of the 2 joins.
- 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 Make A Box Kite - Cross-Pieces
- Fit the shorter cross-piece as in the top photo, between the unmarked spars. Wrap a small square piece of electrical insulation tape around where each tip touches the spar.
- Trim the longer cross-piece a little at a time until you can slide
it completely into position between the marked spars. It's ok if the
marked spars are pushed apart just a little. Put a drop or 2 of wood
glue at each end to secure it, as in the bottom photo. At this
point, the 2 cross-pieces should be holding the kite open, with all the
plastic panels under a little bit of tension.
- When the glue is dry, flip the kite over and add some more glue to strengthen those joins on the other side.
How To Make A Box Kite - Final Bits
- Poke 2 holes in the plastic of a cell, 0.2SL (5.8cm, 2 1/4") from
the tip of an unmarked spar. One hole on each side of the spar.
- Cut off a length of 20 pound flying line, about the length of one skewer, and tie a small Loop Knot into both ends.
- Attach one end of this bridle to the kite, by passing it through one
hole and out the other, and then through a loop. Reinforce the sail
near the towing point, with a short strip of sticky tape.
- Cut off 4 squares of electrical insulation tape and cap the spar tips nearest the bridle.
- Now tie a loop of flying line around the 2 marked spars,
which you can also see in the photo, labeled 'tensioner'. Try to pull
just enough tension into it to keep the lines straight, and tie off with
a few Half-Hitches.
- Put a small drop of glue on the tensioner knot.
- Also put some glue where the cross-pieces touch each other, to keep everything stiffer.
How To Make A Box Kite - Attaching The Tail
- Cut off several loops of plastic from a dark garbage bag, and knot
them together to a length of at least 3SL (90cm, 35"). The width should
be about the same as 2 adult fingers, or a little more.
- With sticky tape, attach one end of the tail to the lower tip of the
spar to which the bridle is attached. This should be clear from the
flying photo at the bottom of this page.
At this point, you've pretty much finished making the MBK 1-Skewer Box Kite!
How To Make 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 below.
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
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. That's
assuming there is plenty of wind!
If this box kite doesn't fly, there is only one explanation:
not enough wind! If it loops around in one direction, try adding a
little tail to one side of the lower cell. Imagine the kite looping around... The extra tail needs to go on the outside of that loop.
An important part of making a box kite as small as this one is
selecting bamboo skewers that are as straight and consistent as
possible. If you can do a perfect job, the kite might even fly
straight with no tails at all, over a large wind range. On something
this small, it's just hard to do.
Isn't it nice to not be grounded when it's fairly windy outside, and it's way too strong for the light-wind MBK designs!
If you think you have done an accurate job of selecting
skewers and constructing the kite, experiment with using less tail. It
will fly higher with less tail to drag it down.
The video shows an extra tail in action. You will need to experiment a little, since adding too much tail will make the kite loop around in the opposite direction.
Hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Box kite!
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 other device.
That's great value already, but "The Big MBK Book Bundle" is even better! This includes the "Making Dowel Kites" compilation e-book, plus several other handy kiting e-books.
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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