How To Make A Soft Sled Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK Soft Sled

Learn how to make a Soft Sled kite with these easy-to-follow instructions. Fully illustrated with large photographs, every step of the way. Another name for a soft sled is a para-sled. With those 2 large ram-air cells, you can see the similarity to a parafoil...

Learn how to make a soft sled kite in a few easy steps!Soft Sled in flight

Don't be too concerned about the length of these instructions. The steps are easy, hence this Sled will soon come together.

You can attach a tail at each lower corner if you want to, just for looks. Or even a single tail from the middle of the trailing edge. The kite does just fine without them, as can be seen over there in the photo.

We don't hesitate to take out our Soft Sled out to inland fields where the air is a bit rough at times. It copes! Like all Sleds, it's very convenient to fly - just attach the line and up it goes!

This kite suits fairly light to fresh winds. That is, from around 8kph right up to 35kph. This could vary a little depending on exactly what kind of plastic and tape you are using.



NOTE: Video views from this website don't appear to be counted.




1. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Measuring The Sail

The kite described here will need fairly heavy bag plastic. The orange plastic in the photos is a high-strength garden-bag. Another alternative would be painters' heavy-duty drop-sheet plastic. If very thin and flimsy plastic is used, your kite might tend to fold up in the air rather than fly.

If the plastic is hard to see through, it's probably thick enough!

The Soft Sled kite - sail measurements.Measure and mark dots
  • Place your plastic bag flat on the floor. In the case of plastic sheeting, fold it in half from left to right and run a sharp, straight crease down the left hand side.
  • Starting from near the top-left corner, measure and mark dots on the plastic. Just follow the arrows marked on the photo. I've high-lighted the dots in yellow.

Judge the horizontal and vertical directions by eye. If you're careful, there's no need for a T-square. The slight slope near the bottom of the photo is just the camera distorting the image. The arrows should be horizontal!





2. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Marking The Sail

The Soft Sled kite - sail outline and seamsConnect the dots
  • Take your ruler and connect the dots with the black marker pen, as shown in the photo.
  • Flip all the plastic over and trace over all the black lines showing through the 2 layers of plastic.

Hint: If it's too hard to see through the plastic, just lay it up against a window. The light from outside should show up the lines easily. Mark dots at all the corners, and then connect the dots using pen and ruler.

I know what you're thinking - why not just rule one set of lines and then scissor-cut the two layers of plastic at once?

Answer - it's very easy for one sheet to slip against the other while cutting, with horribly inaccurate results! Do it my way and your kite will fly perfectly, the first time.




The Soft Sled kite - complete sail outline.Sail plastic opened out
  • Open out the plastic to show the complete sail outline, as in the photo above.

If using a bag, you'll first need to cut off the top, bottom and right hand sides of course. So you can unfold it right to left. That's what I've done in the photo above.





3. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Taping The Sail

The Soft Sled kite - sail taped on marked side.Marked side taped
  • Lay packing tape along the marked lines as shown in the photo above.

Around the outside of the sail, let the tape overlap the black lines by about a finger-width. Leaving most of the tape inside the outline.

For the two central lines drawn down through the sail, try to center the tape's width over each line. As close as you can get it by eye!

Hint: It's a lot easier to use packing tape when the roll is sitting in a dispenser. Pull tape out to length and then tear off, just like sticky tape.




The Soft Sled kite - sail taped on unmarked side.Unmarked side taped
  • Now flip the plastic over.
  • Lay packing tape along just the two lines closest to the center of the sail. See the photo above.




4. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Cutting The Sail

The Soft Sled kite - cut-out sailSail cut
  • Take your scissors and cut all around the outside of the sail, along the black lines. When you are finished, it should look like the photo up there.




5. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Measuring The Cells

The cells are the inflatable pockets that do the same job as rods of wood or fiberglass in a simple sparred Sled. Hence some call this kind of soft Sled a Ram-air Sled. The air rams in the front opening, helping to keep the cell rigid while in flight!

The Soft Sled kite - cell measurements.Measure and mark dots
  • As before, place your plastic bag flat on the floor. In the case of plastic sheeting, fold it in half from left to right and run a sharp, straight crease down the left hand side.
  • Just like you did for the sail, measure and mark dots on the plastic by following the arrows marked on the photo.




5. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Marking The Cells

The Soft Sled kite - cell outline.Connect the dots
  • Take your ruler and connect the dots with the black marker pen, as shown in the photo.
  • Flip the plastic over and trace over all the black lines.




The Soft Sled kite - complete cell outline.Cell plastic opened out
  • As you did for the sail, open out the plastic and lay it flat.
  • Now draw a line right down the middle, as shown in the photo up there.




6. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Taping The Cells

The Soft Sled kite - cell taped on marked side.Marked side taped
  • Lay packing tape along just the top edges of the cell plastic, as in the photo above. Let the tape overlap the black line by about a finger-width above the line.




7. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Cutting The Cells

The Soft Sled kite - cut-out cellsCells cut
  • Take your scissors and cut along every black line, including the one down the middle.
  • When you are finished, you will have the two cells as in the photo - ready to attach to the main sail.




8. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Attaching The Cells

The Soft Sled kite - cell inner seam tacked onto sail.Cell inner seam tacked on
  • Take one piece of cell plastic and lay it over the sail, lining it up so it looks exactly like the photo up there. Or as close as possible, given that you are probably using slightly different plastic and tape.
  • Tack the cell plastic in place with several small bits of sticky tape. Align with the black line showing through the packing tape. The sticky tape ensures the plastic doesn't move while you are doing the next step...



The Soft Sled kite - cell inner seam taped onto sail.Cell inner seam taped
  • Run packing tape the entire length of the join, keeping it centered over the black line. Go straight over those little bits of sticky tape!
  • Trim the ends of the packing tape with scissors, so it lines up with the edges of the sail and cell plastic. See the photo above.



The Soft Sled kite - cell flipped and inner seam taped again.Cell flipped and taped again
  • Flip the cell plastic up and fold it flat against the sail plastic, away from where it was before. Crease the join with your thumbnail so it stays down better.
  • Now run packing tape the entire length of the cell, keeping it centered over the line as before. Cut off and trim at each end, so it looks like the photo up there.



The Soft Sled kite - cell outer seam tacked onto sail.Cell outer seam tacked on
  • Line up the other long edge of the cell with the other black line, again tacking it in place with small bits of sticky tape.



The Soft Sled kite - cell outer seam taped onto sail.Cell outer seam taped.
  • Run packing tape the entire length of the cell edge, and neaten it up at each end with scissors. As you can see in the photo, it looks like an inflatable cell now!



The Soft Sled kite - reinforced cell opening.Reinforced cell opening

Now you will reinforce the inside of cell's larger opening...

This is hard to explain in words, so look very carefully at the close-up photo above. Your task is to pull off about a hand-width of packing tape and stick it down along the inside of the edge you taped in the previous step. Trim with scissors if necessary.

The photo's too good isn't it - it shows every bubble, crease and inaccuracy! See if you can do better.




The Soft Sled kite - both cells attached.Cells done
  • Yep, you guessed right... Repeat all the above steps with the other piece of cell plastic. One cell is a mirror-image of the other, as in the photo. It's starting to look like a kite!




9. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Towing Points

The Soft Sled kite - towing point tape 1.Towing point tape - first
  • Place a 10cm (8") length of packing tape over one towing point corner of the sail as shown in the photo. Halfway between each edge of the sail corner. Also, half on and half off - but try not to let the 'off' bit stick to the floor or table-top!



The Soft Sled kite - towing point tape 2.Towing point tape - second, stuck to first
  • Flip the sail over and do your best to stick another similar piece of tape right over the first one. Press them together where they leave the plastic. See the close-up photo.
  • You know what's coming... Go to the corresponding corner on the other side of the kite and do exactly the same thing, using 2 more strips of tape. There's the result below. All that remains is to attach the bridle!
The Soft Sled kite - towing points done.Top half of kite, cells pushed flat




10. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Attach The Bridle

Try this Stake Line Winder from Amazon, if you are not sure where to get suitable flying line. The 30 pound strength is ideal for the Simple Series or Soft Series kites.

The Soft Sled kite - towing point tied.Towing point tape crushed and tied
  • Cut off a 3 meter (10 feet) length of flying line.
  • Tie one end of the line to one towing point tape of the kite, as in the photo. Use any knot you know but make it as tight as possible, to crush the tape *. It helps to fold the tape in half before winding the line around it.
  • Similarly, tie the other end of the line to the other towing point. There they both are, in the photo below. The photo shows the side of the kite which faces the flier, during flight.

( * A very reliable method I prefer is to secure the bridle line to the tape with a Double Wrap Slip knot.)

The Soft Sled kite - towing points tied.Both towing points tied



The Soft Sled kite - bridle complete.Bridle complete
  • Nearly finished! Lay the kite on the floor, folded in half so the towing points are perfectly lined up with each other. See the photo.
  • Stretch out the bridle lines and tie a Simple Loop knot in, right near the end. The 2 bridle lines should be exactly the same length. I've brought the loop knot back into the photo above, so you can see it.




10. How To Make A Soft Sled Kite -
Fold And Roll Up

The Soft Sled kite - folded in half.Fold in half, along the center-line...
The Soft Sled kite - rolled up for transport.Roll up and wind bridle around

All ready to take or stow somewhere!





And now - FLYING!

The MBK Soft Sled kite in flight on a 'blue' day.Nothing to it - attach line, catch breeze

After unrolling the kite at a flying field, your flying line can be tied to the bridle loop. That's it, you're ready to fly.

Alternatively, you can Lark's Head the flying line behind the loop knot. This makes it easier to attach the flying line and take it off again.

Out In The Field

Sled kite stories of my real-life flying experiences are worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

Remember that the inflatable cells need to be on the outside of the kite when flying. You can see them in that photo up there...

Avoid flying in very windy weather.

Tails are optional with this design. If you want to, tie a simple streamer through a hole near each lower corner of the sail. The packing tape border will prevent any further damage to the kite.

It doesn't take much breeze to keep this Soft Sled design aloft. In some ways, it's actually more fun to fly single-line kites in light wind. By watching, you can learn a lot about what's happening up there...

Hope you enjoyed learning how to make my Soft Sled kite!





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!




E-book special of the month...


I've been making and flying traditional-style
Box Kites on-and-off ever since this site was started...

Get the e-book for making a range of bamboo or dowel designs. Down to $7 from the usual $9.95, for this month.

With a large range of wind speeds covered, not to mention a large choice of kite size to attempt, the ideal box kite for you has to be in there somewhere!

My personal favorite would have to be the giant 2.4m (8ft) long Multi-Dowel Box which flies steep and steady. It's on the e-book cover over there...

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.



What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    High Kites At The Park

    Sep 24, 16 05:59 AM

    Plenty of wind, down near Noarlunga today. Two kite fliers, 4 kites. Wait - one more joined in, later in the afternoon. A star cellular, 2 identical smiley face Deltas, the MBK Parafoil and the MBK Mu…

    Read More





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...



Return to How To Build Kites from How To Build A Sled Kite

All the way back to Home Page


 


E-books


Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!



More E-books...





Testimonials
(unedited)

"Love the easy to understand step by step instructions, made from next to nothing materials and above all so much fun to fly... cheers Tim for sharing your well thought out pdf kite designs with the whole world.

Very satisfying making your own and watching them get air-born for the first time."

_________________

"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."

_________________

"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"

_________________

"omg i made a kite from this site and i fly it ....... booom i didnt expect this bc in the other sites instuction are trash

thank you"




Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
Download it now!



More E-books...





Wind Speeds


Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7