Kite Making Tools And Materials

For The MBK Dowel Kites

These 2 photos show absolutely all the kite making tools and materials needed, except for child-size shoe-laces which are used as spar-ties.

Kite making tools for MBK dowel kites.
Kite making materials for MBK Dowel kites.


A black permanent marker. These pens are for drawing corner points and sail outlines on light-colored plastic. Also handy for marking dowel before cutting it to length, or marking where bridle legs are to be attached.

A ruler. Any length or type will do. All MBK kites use straight lines to make things easier and quicker. What if the ruler is too short for a long sail edge? It's simple to stretch out a length of flying line, weighted at each end, to mark several intermediate dots. These dots can then be connected using the small ruler. Voila! A long straight line.

A pair of scissors. These simple kite making tools are mainly for cutting around the outline of the sail. Also handy for cutting flying line to length for constructing bridles, trimming excess line, and snipping off lengths of electrical tape.

A small cheap hack-saw for cutting wooden dowel to length.

A cheap medium-grade wood file for rounding spar ends and cutting notches for securing bow-lines. Not everyone has kite making tools like saws and files just lying around the house, but these are very widely available in shops.

A calculator. Yes, a calculator of some sort, like on your mobile phone (cell) or the Windows one or whatever. But there's no heavy calculating to be done, it's just handy for those using Dowel Length units to create a kite on a different scale to my originals.

A smooth flat area to work on. It only needs to be 2 meters (7 feet) square or so. Even if you are living in a tiny apartment, it's possible to use these kite making tools to get something impressive into the air!


50 pound or more flying line, for bridles and other lines attached to the frame. I'm using 50 pound braided Dacron for flying line and bridling. This has ample strength for flying the MBK Dowel kites in light to moderate winds.

If you want something slightly cheaper, you might use Nylon line instead. Another option, if you can get it cheap enough, would be the heaviest grades of polyester thread.

It's convenient to buy 50 pound line from Amazon - if you live in the U.S. or Canada.

Electrical insulation tape,
available from hardware stores. This stuff stretches and therefore is perfect for capping spar ends while attaching sail plastic at the same time. Although a bit heavy, only small lengths are required so it doesn't add much weight overall.

Lightweight, clear sticky tape. Scotch tape, Sello-tape, sticking tape, whatever you like to call it. Just make sure it is about the width of your finger. The tape I use is 12mm (1/2 inch) in width. This is used to reinforce the edge of the sail, since it doesn't stretch and doesn't add much weight.

Large, translucent (see-through), colored plastic bags for making sails. Here in Australia, large orange garden bags are available from supermarkets. These bags are ideal, and also make the finished kite easy to see in the air! Use the lightest single-ply bags you can find for these Light-Wind kites. Color-wise, you must be able to see a black marker pen line through the plastic. The MBK construction method relies on this. Heavier plastic will sacrifice a little light-wind performance in return for a more durable kite. Your choice!

Wood dowels. The one pictured is 5mm (3/16") in diameter, which needs to be cut to length for the Dowel kites. MBK Dowel designs use just a few dollars worth of dowel for each kite. After making and testing the Sled, Diamond and Barn Door, I figured out that the ideal dowel was 5mm hardwood such as the Tasmanian Oak available here. Elsewhere, red or white oak should be OK.

In North America, Chinese Poplar is commonly available as dowel. This is softer than oak and other hard-woods so 1/4" diameter would be a more appropriate size.

Wood glue, such as the Aquadhere in the photo. For most of the Dowel kites, this is only used for securing knots. Hence only very small amounts are needed, and it dries much quicker than expected. Even the other uses, such as box kite cross pieces, use relatively small amounts. A 100 ml container will last a long time when just used for making MBK kites. If you are in a hurry, you will need to spend considerably more per 100ml on a tube of fast-setting general-purpose glue.

Shoe-laces are used for securing spars to each other. We found that cheap polyester laces designed for a child's shoes were ideal, since they were adequately strong yet not too bulky or heavy.

As long as you have access to supermarkets and hardware stores you should be able to get these kite making tools and materials together! Many of the items are probably lying around your house somewhere already.

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Box Kite Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 16, 14 05:51 AM

    A recent bout of sickness has left me with double vision for a while, which rules out driving the car anywhere. So it was time for a return visit to the small grassy reserve where many of the 1-skewer designs made their debut years ago. The easy walking distance from home was the main thing!

    Looking out the window, the breeze shifting the tree tops around seemed capable of supporting the Dowel Box kite. The Fresh Wind version with its smaller sail panels. Sure enough, down at the reserve, the kite managed to grip enough air around 50 feet to stay up fairly comfortably. A couple of times I had to interrupt some movie-taking to coax the kite higher as it threatened to sink right back to the grass.

    After 20 minutes or so of flying near the lower end of the kite's wind range, a period of fresher breezes began. In the somewhat sheltered location where I stood, the wind meter showed around 8 kph gusting to over 12 kph. However, the breeze was clearly over 20 kph higher up. The firm pull on the flying line was one indication!

    Isolated rain showers had been forecast for the area, so fairly low cumulus clouds were everywhere. No rain had fallen all day in our suburb though.

    The cloudy sky-scape made for some attractive footage of the 2-celled Box surging about in the gusts, lulls and wind-shifts. Due to the small size of the reserve, it was wise to not let the kite fly on more than about 45m (150 feet) of line. But that was enough to let it take full advantage of the moderate-strength (20kph+) airflow over the treetops.

    So, some enjoyable box kite flying today, with the 50 pound Dacron feeling like thread compared to the 200 pound variety with which I do most flying these days!

    About This Post: These days, most flight reports are in the short format you've just seen, above. However, longer format reports are done occasionally, which also feature photos and video taken on the day. Here is a link to all those full flight report pages on this site.

    Read More

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