How To Make A Barn Door Kite

Step-by-Step - Page 2 of 3 

The MBK Dowel Barn Door

How To Make A Barn Door Kite

For this Barn-Door, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel. It is easily cut to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.

The Dowel Barn Door - spars and toggle.

Note: The length of bought dowel can be somewhat inaccurate. So if you have bought 2.4 meter lengths of dowel, you might have a couple of centimeters less than you bargained for! Hence I cut my 120cm spars from 1.8 meter lengths of dowel.

  • Lay down dowel diagonally over the sail, cutting off a length that goes from the top-left corner to the bottom-right corner. This is one diagonal spar.
  • Do the same for the other diagonal spar which goes from top-right to bottom-left.
  • Lay down dowel horizontally over the sail, and cut it to length so it goes from the left-most corner to the right-most corner. Mark this dowel with an 'H' since it is your horizontal spar.
  • Cut off a very short 0.01DL (1.2cm, 1/2") length of dowel. This will be used as the bow-line toggle.
  • Using your wood file, round off the tips of every piece of dowel you cut off.

Now there's a little work to be done on the horizontal spar. Use 20 pound flying line if you have some, otherwise just use some of your 50 pound flying line. With this kite laying on the floor, each tip of the horizontal spar will be 0.08DL (9.6cm, 3 3/4") above the floor.

How To Make A Barn Door Kite
Spar Caps

The Dowel Barn Door - horizontal spar cap close-up.
  • Prepare 8 lengths of electrical insulation tape, each one about 4 times longer than it is wide. Stick them by a corner onto something handy like a table edge. You can remove them one at a time as needed.
  • Lay down the horizontal spar, lining it up with the corresponding corners of the sail. TIP: Rest the horizontal spar over the 2 diagonal spars, and weight the center down with a book. This should keep the bow-line knots on top, and the spar curvature pointing in the right direction while you get the tapes on.
  • Cap each end of the spar with tape, by sticking it down over the dowel and plastic then folding it under the plastic to stick on the other side - a bit tricky, take your time!
  • For added strength, put another piece of tape across the cap, folding the corners around and under the sail plastic. The photo up there shows the completed cap.
  • Do the other tip of the horizontal spar similarly, using another 2 pieces of tape.
  • Now slip the diagonal spars into place, sliding the dowels between the horizontal spar and the plastic sail. Use one piece of tape each to cap the four tips, attaching them to the plastic sail.

How To Make A Barn Door Kite
Lashing The Spars

The two points where the diagonal spars cross the horizontal spar need to be lashed together. There's the top-left one in the photo.

Use a drop of glue to secure the knot and also to prevent the dowel from slipping through.

The Dowel Barn Door - attachment for diagonal spars.

Now take a 0.3DL (36cm, 14 1/2") length of 50 pound flying line and tie it around one of the diagonal spars, right where the diagonal spars cross.

Use a Granny Knot right in the middle, so there is an equal amount of line coming out from each side of the knot. See the photo over there.

The remaining steps...

The Dowel Barn Door - diagonal spar attachment details
  • Make a hole in the plastic right where the spars cross.
  • Wrap each loose end of line around the crossed spars - twice. The loose ends should go around in opposite directions. See the top photo.
  • Pull the lines tight. Tie them off tightly against the dowel, right near the hole in the plastic. A Granny Knot is fine.
  • Pull the 2 loose ends together, and tie them into a Simple Knot near the end of the line. See the middle photo, where the line has also been fed through the hole in the sail.

After the bridle has been made up, one line connects to where the spars cross, with a Lark's Head knot. This is shown in close-up, in the bottom photo.

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E-book special of the month (25% off)...

Click to get 'Making The MBK Parachute Kite'

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119 cm (4 ft) wide Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to 38 kph or 13 to 24 mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parachute kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

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. The Classic Cody Kite

    Aug 23, 17 06:00 AM

    This previously published page gives a quick insight into the structure and materials of the original 'War Kites' by Samuel Cody. Plus some history and photos of course. Intriguing stuff...

    Read More


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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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

This one's FREE
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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