How To Make A Roller Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK 1-Skewer Roller

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

Learn how to make a Roller kite from skewers and plastic.

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

These instructions on how to make a Roller 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.

At 29cm (11 1/2") wide, the MBK 1-Skewer Roller Kite is a rather small Roller, with dihedral and a simple 2-leg bridle. A moderate breeze is ideal for this design.

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?

The "Making Skewer Kites" e-book has plenty of 58cm (23") designs in bamboo skewers and plastic. Plus all the 1-Skewer designs.

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, tablet or other device.




How To Make A Roller 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.

Sail template for the 1-Skewer Roller kite.H

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

The 1-Skewer Roller - template shape marked on plastic bag.
  • Firstly, take a light plastic bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
  • Mark dots on the plastic, corresponding 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.

The 1-Skewer Roller - complete sail outline 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 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 Roller Kite
Vertical Spar

The vertical spar is 1.25SL (36.3cm, 14 3/8") long, so two 30cm (12") bamboo BBQ skewers need to be glued together.

The 1-Skewer Roller - close-up of the vertical spar join
  • Snip the point off 1 skewer.
  • From another skewer, cut off 2 lengths of 0.06SL (1.7cm, 3/4") each.
  • Butt the 2 skewers end-to-end, laying the 2 short lengths beside the join as in the photo.
  • Lay down a line of wood glue on each side of the join, and leave to dry. You can be generous with the glue here, since the joint also serves to bring the balance point back towards the tail for more stability.
  • Get down low and look along the skewers to ensure they make a straight line, before the glue sets! The photo shows the join after the glue has set.




How To Make A Roller Kite
Spars

For this Roller, you also need two 30cm (12") bamboo BBQ skewers for the horizontal spars. The photo shows all the spars laid over the sail, before being snipped to length with scissors.

The 1-Skewer Roller - skewers laid over sail.
  • Lay down the glued vertical spar over the center crease of the plastic, with the tip of the longer skewer over the top corner of the plastic as in the photo. Snip the bottom end of the spar to length, so it lines up with the bottom corner of the lower sail.
  • Lay down another skewer across the left and right corners of the upper sail, and 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.
  • Do those last 2 steps again, over the widest part of the lower sail, to create the lower horizontal spar.





How To Make A Roller Kite
Attaching Sail

The 1-Skewer Roller - close-up of spar tip secured with sticky tape
The 1-Skewer Roller - attaching the leading edge of the lower sail
The 1-Skewer Roller - almost complete
  • Lay down the vertical spar over the sail, and wrap a short length of clear sticky tape around each tip, securing them to the top corner of the upper sail and the bottom corner of the lower sail. The top photo shows the top tip in close-up.
  • Lay down the upper horizontal spar skewer and attach its tips to the upper left and right corners of the sail, in the same way.
  • Lay down the lower horizontal spar skewer and attach its tips to the left and right corners of the lower sail.
  • Fold down the flaps over the lower horizontal spar, and secure with 3 short strips of tape on each side. In the middle photo, I have drawn yellow rectangles to show where the tape goes.
  • Bend the upper horizontal spar in the middle, until it starts to crack at the indent! Carefully increase the bend until each wing-tip stays at 0.06SL (1.7cm, 3/4") off the table top.
  • Do the same for the lower horizontal spar. This time, the tips should be about 0.10SL (2.9cm, 1 1/8") off the table top.
  • Dribble some wood glue all around where the skewers cross each other, for both horizontal spars. See the bottom photo up there. Use enough glue to make the bent part of the bamboo strong.

Be careful that the horizontal spars don't slip up or down the vertical spar while the glue is still wet.





How To Make A Roller Kite
Sail Tethers

The 1-Skewer Roller - sail corner tethers
  • Cut off a piece of flying line of length 0.75SL (22cm, 8"). Tape one end to a corner of the upper sail, as in the photo. See how the tape points to the tip of the lower horizontal spar. Excess tape can be trimmed with scissors or folded back on itself.
  • Pass the other end of the line around the tip of the lower horizontal spar. Pull most of the slack out and tie off with a couple of Half Hitch knots. Using the Half Hitch makes them easy to unpick and re-tie later, if any adjustment is needed to make the kite fly straight.
  • Repeat the previous steps on the other side of the kite.
  • Snip off some of the excess line if you want to, but leave enough for adjustment purposes.

The kite should now look like the photo.





How To Make A Roller Kite
Keel

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 Roller - making the keel
The 1-Skewer Roller - keel knots.e
  • Mark out the keel shape on some spare plastic, as per the dimensions on the template. A keel in black garbage bag plastic looks good with a lighter colored sail!
  • Cut out the keel and tape down 2 lengths of flying line onto one side, using clear sticky tape. One goes from the bridle attachment point to the upper attachment point, and the other goes from the bridle attachment point to the lower attachment point. The pieces of line hanging free should be at least as long as your finger. See the top photo
  • Now flip the plastic over and tape down another 2 lengths of flying line, directly over the first 2.
  • Where 2 pieces of line come together, tie a Multi-Strand Simple Knot close to the plastic. These 2 knots will sit against the vertical spar.
  • Where the 4 pieces of line come together, tie them into another Multi-Strand Simple Knot close to the plastic, then tie another one further out. The photo on the right shows some of these knots.




How To Make A Roller Kite
Attach The Keel

The 1-Skewer Roller - attaching the keel to the vertical spar.
The 1-Skewer Roller - taping keel to lower sail.
  • Poke a hole in the lower sail, just below where the lower horizontal spar crosses the vertical spar.
  • Take the keel, poke the upper 2 lines through the hole and pull tight against the knot, then tie them off around the bamboo.
  • Use the keel itself to find the exact spot to poke the lower 2 lines through, near the bottom tip of the vertical spar. Poke a hole in the plastic there, thread the lines through and tie them off around the bamboo. As in the top photo.
  • Flip the kite over, lay the keel down flat, and lay a length of sticky tape all along the base of the keel. Half the width on the keel, the other half on the lower sail plastic. See the bottom photo.
  • Now flip the keel over, so it lies flat again. Stick down the base with sticky tape. Now the keel is attached along its full length, on both sides.




How To Make A Roller Kite
Attach The Bridle

The 1-Skewer Roller - attaching the bridle 1
The 1-Skewer Roller - attaching the bridle 2
  • Lay the kite down with the keel on top, then cut off a length of flying line about 3 skewers long
  • Tie a small Loop Knot into one end, and a larger one into the other end. See the top photo.
  • Poke a hole in the upper sail, just above where the upper horizontal spar and the vertical spar cross.
  • Using the small loop knot end, attach the line to the vertical spar with a Double Wrap Slip Knot.
  • Attach the other end to the keel using a Larks Head.
  • 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 bottom photo.
  • Secure each knot on the vertical spar with a tiny blob of wood glue.




How To Make A Roller Kite
Tail

The 1-Skewer Roller - attaching the 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, between the keel knots but as close as possible to the lower knot. A single Half Hitch will do, since there are very low forces on the tail in flight. Pull it fairly tight and trim off any excess plastic. See the photo for the final result.



At this point, you've finished making the 1-Skewer Roller!

To attach the flying line, just Lark's Head the flying line to the short bridle line.





How To Make A Roller Kite
Flying!

The MBK 1-Skewer Roller kite in flight.

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.

Out In The Field

My collection of real-life Roller 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 taking loop after loop off the winder.

Another 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.

The picture shows this latest version of the 1-Skewer Roller on its first outing. Just for a bit more drag, I put a loop of plastic as the last tail section.

Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Roller kite!

The video below shows the kite flying in wind just strong enough to keep it up there for a minute or so at a time...




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

 

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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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