MBK Kite Construction

Materials & Methods Overview

Gee, those titles could send you to sleep couldn't they... Never mind, this discussion of kite construction the MBK way will be kept bright and ... umm breezy!

Would you find a printable step-by-step reference handy for kite-making? That's what my e-books are all about - see down there on the right... They also have flight reports, how to tie all the knots and so on.





What are the goals of making dowel-and-plastic kites this way?

  • Within reach of almost anyone. (Regardless of means, situation or location)
  • Quick to make. (I take a few days over it, but so would you if you had to document everything online and in an eBook! Also, some of the writing up and photography has to wait until a suitable flying day turns up. Also, changes are sometimes made after a test flight or 2.)
  • Very light loading. (This means super light-wind performance. You could even have some fun indoors, although I've never tried it. Drop the kite and see how slow it drifts to the floor. That's roughly the wind speed required to keep it up there!)
  • Transportable. (Poms on bicycles will love these kites ;-) If you have no idea what that means, let's just say it's pretty easy to carry one of these kites around or stow one away when it's all rolled up.)




Kite Construction Materials

The dowel diameter of 5mm (3/16") was selected for just enough stiffness in flight. The first Dowel Diamond used 6mm (1/4") dowel, and it was clear that it was somewhat 'over-engineered' for its purpose! Also, multi-leg bridling helps when pushing the limits of light spar materials.

Single-ply garden bag plastic hardly weighs anything! I wouldn't be surprised if an un-taped sail didn't even register on a set of kitchen scales. This stuff, while ideal for the lightest of wind conditions, does require a little care in handling. A small price to pay for dirt-cheap flying, if you ask me... Other alternatives are not hard to find. For example, large garbage bags. The black ones make things tricky since you can't easily trace with a black pen, though.

Electrical insulation tape has good properties for quickly and securely fastening dowel tips to sail plastic. This stuff is very sticky and it stretches, molding itself around the tip of the dowel. Just don't ever try edging a sail with insulation tape! I did once, and the result was a sail that looked a bit like those cover-sheets that go on beds. All ripples around the edge, and a good deal less area than the intended design! It had to go straight in the bin. A kite construction disaster.

Office-variety clear sticky tape. This stuff hardly stretches at all, so is ideal for edging the sail. Now that fragile plastic edge has no chance of stretching in the breeze! Also, the tape edging provides handy protection against damage by the flying line. You know what I mean, when things are flopping and blowing about in the breeze before launch. You need to be careful adding weight to the perimeter of a kite, but 12mm (1/2") tape seems OK for these Dowel kites which are 1.2 meters (4 feet) across. Indian kite-makers avoid tape during their kite construction since it adds more weight than paper paste - but their fighter kites are much smaller.

Dacron (polyester) flying line is best for single-liners, and becomes more economical the more kites you have and the more you fly them. Using the same line for each kite of course! Dacron is strong for its diameter and doesn't have a lot of stretch.

Plain old wood-working glue is widely available in nearly all cultures I would imagine. It's called Aquadhere here in Australia. For my Dowel kite construction it's just used for fixing knots, for example where the bridle legs attach to the spars. Handy for not only securing the knot itself, but also for ensuring the knot doesn't slip along the spar.

One of my happiest discoveries was using shoe-laces as ties to attach dowel spars at their crossing points! Shoe-laces are designed to be done up and undone easily, and yet hold securely. Perfect for kite construction, don't you think! For the size of the Dowel kites, the small extra weight is not an issue either.





MBK Kite Construction Method

I feel another bullet list coming on here. Here it is...

  • The template for one side of the sail is marked out on a plastic bag, with a side of the bag corresponding to the center-line of the kite. Then, the lines are traced on the other side and the bag is opened out to reveal the complete sail outline.
  • The sail is edged with clear sticky tape, for reasons already mentioned.
  • The strap(s) and pocket(s) are created for the vertical spar(s)
  • The dowel spars are cut to length after laying them over the sail. Hence there is no chance of getting it wrong :-)
  • The shoe-lace ties are cut to length and attached to the spars.
  • The dowel tips are attached to the sail with insulation tape.
  • Bridle lines are cut to length, poked through holes in the sail and tied to spars. Shiftable knots are used where adjustments might be handy.

For some of the more complex kites such as the Roller and Dopero, there's a bit more to it. But the above list pretty well sums up the basic process. So, if you're building from the Plans page for one of the Dowel kites, this info might help smooth out out the kite construction process a bit. Have fun out there in the park or on the beach!




E-book special...


This month, it's the Dowel Delta.

Get the e-book for making this super-light-wind design.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means convenient off-line access while you make the kite. It also means printable instructions if that's what you prefer.



What's New!

  1. A Small Child's Kite Flying Career

    Jul 20, 16 07:00 AM

    This previously published page documents our son's early kite-flying experiences. See him grow up, flying a variety of MBK home-made kites...

    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...



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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."

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"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!"

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"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!





Wind Speeds


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
38–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6