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 books are all about - see over 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?
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.
I feel another bullet list coming on here. Here it is...
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!
Never made a kite?
Child wants one?
Check out the...
MBK Beginner E-course
Are the e-books good?
Find out by trying...
'Simplest Dowel Kites'
(wait for cover page to appear)