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 easily bought.

Learn how to make a Box kite from bamboo skewers and plastic.

If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

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 fresh winds.

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 transporting it.

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How To Make A Box Kite

The 1-Skewer Box kite - spars
  • 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 template for the 1-Skewer Box kite.

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

The 1-Skewer Box kite - marking the sail.
  • 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!

The 1-Skewer Box kite - taping spars to the plastic
  • 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 to slip!
  • 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.

The 1-Skewer Box kite - closing the 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. 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

The 1-Skewer Box kite - fitting the 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

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 1-Skewer Box kite completed.  - 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

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

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

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 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.

The 1-Skewer Box kite in flight.

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.

Out In The Field

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

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

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.

Hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Box kite!

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...

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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What's New!

  1. Rough Moderate Winds - No Problem!

    Sep 18, 14 03:00 PM

    An old flight report, detailing the remarkable reliability of the original 3-sparred Allison Sled kite. Mine is a much smaller version, made from plastic sheet, tape and bamboo skewers...

    Read More

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