How To Make A Rokkaku Kite
Step-by-Step - The MBK 1-Skewer Rokkaku
This set of instructions on how to make a Rokkaku 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!
instructions on how to make a Rokkaku kite might look a bit long, but
each step is quite simple to do.
Just steadily work your way through
from top to bottom, skimming over any detail that you don't need.
29cm (11 1/2") across, the MBK 1-Skewer Rokkaku is a rather small Rok.
This kite has dihedral, a 2-leg bridle and a long streamer tail which keeps it stable in moderate winds.
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 Rokkaku Kite - Sail
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. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
- Firstly, take a light plastic bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
dots on the plastic, corressponding to the corners of the Template.
There is no need to use a T-square, since any small error will be
duplicated on the other side of the sail.
- Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots, as in the photo.
- Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it
out and lay it flat on the floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.
- Cut along the black lines with scissors, to create the sail.
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Vertical Spar
The vertical spar is 1.4SL (40.6cm, 16") long, so two 30cm (12") bamboo BBQ skewers need to be glued together.
- Snip the point off 1 skewer.
- Lay down another skewer, butting together 2 flat skewer ends.
- From yet another skewer, cut off 2 lengths of 0.15SL (4.4cm, 1 3/4") each. Place these beside the join, as in the photo.
- Lay down a line of wood glue on each side, and leave to dry.
- Get down low and look along the skewers to ensure they make a straight line, before the glue sets!
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Spars
Now you need another two bamboo skewers. The photo shows them laid over the sail, after being snipped to length with scissors.
- Lay down the glued skewers over the center crease of the
plastic, lining up the non-pointy end with the top corner of the
plastic. Snip off the other end so the skewer lines up with the bottom
edge of the plastic as well. As already mentioned, this is the vertical
- Lay down another skewer across the top left and right
corners of the sail, and again snip to length, removing the point. Also
make an easily-seen mark on the skewer at the exact center-point. This
is the upper horizontal spar.
- Using a sharp corner, perhaps a blade of the scissors, make an indent in the bamboo, at the center-point you marked.
- Lay down another skewer across the lower left and right corners of the sail. Snip, mark and indent just as you did for the upper spar. This is the lower horizontal spar.
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Attaching Sail
- Lay down the vertical spar skewer over the sail, and
wrap a short length of clear sticky tape around each tip, securing them
to the top and bottom corners of the sail. The top photo shows the top tip in close-up.
- Lay down the upper horizontal spar skewer and attach its tips to the left and right corners of the sail, in the same way.
- Now do the same for the lower horizontal spar skewer.
- Bend each horizontal spar in the middle, until it starts to crack at the indent! Carefully increase the bends until you can get the kite looking like the one in the middle photo. Note that the lower spar has a little more dihedral (angle) than the upper one. Don't worry if the bent part feels weak, since glue will make it strong enough...
- Dribble some wood glue all around where the skewers cross each other. See the bottom photo over there.
Wait for the glue to dry.
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Bridle
- Cut off some 20 pound bridle line to a length of 2.0SL (58cm, 23"), and tie a very small Loop Knot into each end. See the photo over there.
- Poke a hole in the plastic sail, just above where the upper horizontal spar crosses the vertical spar.
- Poke another hole in the plastic sail, just below where the lower horizontal spar crosses the vertical spar.
- Poke the Loop Knots through the holes and tie off around the vertical spar with a Double Wrap Slip Knot.
- Now take a length of flying line about half a skewer long, and tie one end to the bridle line with a Prusik Knot. Tie a small Loop Knot into the other end. There's the whole bridle, in the photo up there.
- Secure each knot on the vertical spar with a tiny blob of wood glue.
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Tail
- Cut out a long thin rectangle of colored plastic for the tail.
Mine is black, to contrast with the orange sail. Make it 8.0SL (230cm,
90") long and 0.2SL (5.8cm, 2 1/4") wide. Knot pieces together if
necessary, to get the full length. Avoid taping, because it adds weight!
- Tie one end around the vertical spar, as close as possible to the bottom tip. See the photo. A single Half Hitch will do, since there are very low forces on the tail in flight. Snip off the excess plastic so the knot is neat and tidy.
- At this point, you've finished making the 1-Skewer Rokkaku!
- To attach the flying line, just Lark's Head the flying line to the short kite line as in the photo.
How To Make A Rokkaku Kite - Flying!
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.
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.
video down below shows the little Rok struggling to stay up in a very
light gusty breeze. Half a minute later it was on the grass!
worry, I've had this kite up to 200 feet altitude, in slightly stronger
wind. Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Rokkaku 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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