How To Make A Dopero Kite
Step-by-Step - The MBK Dowel Dopero
This set of instructions on how to make a Dopero kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some
of the simple tools and materials required.
Anything you don't have is
easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something
The MBK Dowel Dopero is a large tail-less kite loosely
based on the original double-roller design. Like the original, this
kite is a great light to moderate wind flier.
These instructions on how to make a Dopero kite might look quite
detailed. However, your reward is a large, very cheap kite that is quick
to set up and break down.
This Dopero is designed to roll up into a
slim cylindrical package like a Sled, thanks to the removable vertical
spar and the toggle-linked bow lines. Setting up on the flying field
takes less than 5 minutes once you get the hang of it.
Of course, if you have room, you can always leave this kite ready-to-fly.
If it's not convenient to use these instructions straight off the screen, have a look at the e-book up there on the right. That's the way to get nicely formatted print-outs.
I have chosen to make '1 Dowel Length' equal to 120cm for every kite in
the Dowel series. If you are in North America, 48" of 3/16" dowel is
close enough to 120cm of 5mm dowel. This will result in a kite with
similar flying characteristics to my original.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Sail
Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making a Dowel Dopero, if you haven't already. For this kite, you will also need some cheap thin shoe-laces.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
- Firstly, take a large bag that you want to use for the sail, and lay it flat on the floor.
dots on the plastic which correspond to the corners of the Template.
There is no need to use a T-square, or an extra-long ruler since any
small errors in position will be duplicated on the other side of the
- Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots, as in
the photo. For lines longer than the ruler, just add a few extra dots
using one of the dowel spars as a ruler! Then it's easy to connect the
dots with a ruler. It's probably best not to rule the whole line with the dowel, since it bends easily.
- Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it
out and lay it flat on the floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photos.
When doing the following, most of the width of the tape should be inside
the kite's outline. Use a single length of tape for each line. Hold it
out straight, touch it down to the plastic at one end, then at the other
end, dab it down in the middle, then press down all along its length.
- Lay down clear sticking tape where indicated by the yellow lines in the first 2 photos. Just over half the kite is shown, so do the other side exactly the same.
- With scissors, cut along all the black lines. This will leave most of the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline.
- Add a corner strap to the top corners of the upper sail. These 0.26DL (32cm, 13") straps are much longer than the one in the example. See the third photo, which shows 1 of the 2 straps.
- The 2 bottom corners of the lower
sail require pockets. First you cut out a triangular shape from some
spare sail plastic. Lay the triangle down on the sail corner, and fold a
square piece of insulation tape around the trailing edge. See the fourth photo, to get an idea of the size required.
another 3 short pieces of tape to completely attach the plastic pocket
to the sail and to prevent the vertical spar from shifting sideways. The
corner should now look like the fifth photo.
bit of extra weight in those pockets is actually helpful, since it will
make this Dopero a little more stable! So there's no need to be stingy
with the insulaton tape here.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Spars
For this Dopero, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel.
Enough for the 4 spars of 1.0DL (120cm, 48") each. They are easily cut
to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.
- Select the straightest piece of dowel you can find.
Measure off two 1.0DL (120cm, 48") lengths, mark them and saw them off
at the marks. Round off the tips with a wood file. These are the 2 vertical spars.
- Cut off 2 very short 0.01DL (1.2cm, 1/2") lengths of dowel. Round off the tips with a wood file. These will be used as the bow-line toggles. You can use thinner dowel for these if you have some lying around. I use 4mm dowel for toggles, just to save a bit of weight.
- Lay down some more dowel across the width
of the upper sail, mark it at the exact width, and cut off at the mark.
Also make an easily-seen mark around the dowel where it touches the
center crease of the sail.
- Round off the tips with a wood file, then add a bow-line
so the depth of the bow is 0.08DL (9.6cm, 3 3/4"). With the kite flat
on the ground, that's how far the tips should be from the grass. This is
the upper horizontal spar.
- While the glue is drying on the knots, do those previous 2 steps again to create the lower horizontal spar. For this kite, the amount of bow is the same for both spars.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Joining The Sails
The upper and lower sails now need to be joined where the vertical spars
cross, and protected against stretch for when the corner straps are
- Insert the vertical spars into their lower sail pockets, and
line up the upper tips with the corresponding upper corners of the upper
sail. This shows you exactly how far apart the 2 sails should be!
- Check that the sail is quite flat everywhere, with no folds or creases. Double-check that everything lines up and looks square.
- Add 4 strips of clear sticky tape onto the sails, as illustrated by the yellow rectangles in the top photo. Yes, the tapes might stick a bit to the floor, between the sails, but...
the sails over, and stick down another 4 strips of tape of exactly the
same size and postion, so they stick to the 1st 4 tapes in the area
between the sails. The exact length is not important, just copy the
- Now that the sails are joined, flip the plastic over again, and add another 4 lengths of tape to the lower sail. Two tapes beside each spar, as the middle photo shows.
- Finally, remove the vertical spars and add 2 lengths of tape to the upper sail. See the bottom photo.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Attachment Ties
The vertical spars will each have 2 shoe-lace ties attached to them,
which will be used to lash them to the horizontal spars before flying.
- Firstly lay down the vertical spars, then the upper horizontal
spar (un-toggled!) over the sail. Carefully line up the tips of the
horizontal spar with the sail corners.
- Make marks on the
vertical spars, showing where the horizontal spars cross. The leading
edge of the lower sail is where the lower horizontal spar will cross, so
you don't need to actually lay it down. Then remove the upper
- Measure and cut off four 0.16DL (20cm, 8") lengths of shoe-lace. To prevent the cut ends from fraying, just tie a Simple Knot near the end.
and cut off 2 lengths of insulation tape that are long enough to go all
the way around the dowel, plus a little more. Cut them in half, in the length-wise direction, so the widths are halved. Now you have 4 pieces, one for each tie.
the ties at the spar-crossing points which you marked on the vertical
spars. Each red tape wraps around the dowel, attaching the middle of the
shoe-lace to the dowel, as in the photo.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Spar Caps
- Prepare 4 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
- Spread out the sail, with the edge tape facing upwards.
down the upper horizontal spar over the sail, so it would bow away from
the sail if you attached the toggle. With the toggle un-attached, line
up the tips of the spar with the upper corners of the sail.
one tip of the spar with tape, by sticking tape down over the dowel and
plastic then folding it around and under the plastic to stick on the
other side - a bit tricky, take your time! See the completed cap in the first photo.
- Now do the other tip of the spar similarly, using another piece of tape.
- Attach both tips of the lower horizontal spar to the sail in a similar same way, using the last 2 pieces of tape.
outer long tabs of the lower sail need to have a slit, to let the
bow-line through when the tab is folded over. Make a short vertical snip
with scissors, in each tab, right down to the bow-line knot.
- Fold down the plastic tabs over the spar and tape in place using clear sticky tape. See the second photo, which shows one side of the kite.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Sail Ties
- Add a short length of clear sticky tape to an upper sail
corner, then add another one of the same length to the other side of the
plastic. Where they stick out from the sail edge, press the 2 tapes
together so they stick to each other. About the length of a fore-finger
should be sufficient, half on the sail, half off.
- Put a Loop Knot
into a length of flying line, and thread the tapes through the loop,
before folding the tapes over and securing them to the sail with another
short length of tape.
- As in the photo, snip off the line so you have enough length to fasten it to the lower horizontal spar with some Half Hitchs. There should be a little slack in the line, but not as much as in that photo!
the other sail corner exactly the same way. The exact length of the
ties is not important, but do try to get them the same as each other.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Keels
- Mark out the keel shape on some spare plastic, as per the dimensions on the template.
out the keel and tape down 2 lengths of flying line onto one side. One
goes from the bridle attachment point to the upper attachment point, and
the other goes from the bridle attachment point to the lower attachment
point. Use sticky tape, not electrical tape. The pieces of line hanging
free should be at least as long as your finger.
- Now flip the plastic over and tape down another 2 lengths of flying line, directly over the first 2.
- Where 2 pieces of line come together, tie a Multi-Strand Simple Knot close to the plastic. These 2 knots will sit against the vertical spar. See the top, left photo.
the 4 pieces of line come together, tie a Multi-Strand Simple Knot
close to the plastic, then tie another one further out, as in the top, right photo. The bottom photo shows the complete keel.
- Reinforce the keel with short lengths of sticky tape, where indicated by the yellow rectangles.
- This kite has 2 such keels, so now do it all again to make the second keel.
- Insert a vertical spar between the sail and the horizontal
spars. Make sure the lower end of the vertical spar is into the bottom
pocket as far as it will go, and then mark the spar at the top edge of
- Remove the vertical spar and tightly tie the lower keel lines around the mark on the dowel, using a Granny Knot.
the keel itself to find the exact spot, tightly tie the upper lines
around the dowel also. This will be quite close to the shoelace tie.
- Fold the 4 dowel-width tab over the dowel and tape it down all along its length with a piece of clear sticky tape.
the knots with the shoe-lace ties. Smear wood glue all over the 2 knots
and all around the dowel where the keel lines touch the wood. When dry,
it should look like the top photo.
- Cut a slit in the
plastic sail, between the 2 long vertical pieces of tape. The slit
should go all the way from where the lower knot will sit, up to where
the upper knot will sit, after the vertical spar is inserted. The bottom photo shows how the keel is poked through the slit after the vertical spar is inserted.
do all the above steps again, on the other side of the kite. Position
the keel exactly as it is on the spar you have just done.
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Bridle
- Cut off some 50 pound flying line to a length of 1.0DL (120cm, 48"), and tie a very small Loop Knot into each end.
holes in the plastic, on either side of the upper horizontal spar. Four
holes altogether, 0.24DL (28.8cm, 11 1/2") from the center-line of the
sail, as indicated by the 4 yellow dots in the photo.
- Tie each end of the line to the spar, through the holes. Use a Double Wrap Slip Knot, and pull tight against the knot of the small loop. This is the upper bridle loop.
another bridle loop just the same, except make the loop knots bigger,
since they will be used for Lark's Head knots. This is the lower bridle loop.
off some flying line to a length of 2.0DL (240cm, 96"). Attach one end
to the upper bridle loop and the other end to the lower bridle loop. Use
a shiftable knot such as the Prusik Knot, and adjust it to center on both bridle loops. Let's just call this the bridle line.
the first flight, the 2 loop knots of the lower bridle loop will get
attached to the free tip of each keel, using a Lark's Head Knot.
Finally, take a length of flying line about 0.2DL (24cm, 10") long, and tie one end to the bridle line with a Prusik Knot. Tie a small Double Loop Knot into the other end, just to get a large knot. There's a photo of this further down, in the section titled Before First Pre-Flight.
this point, you've pretty much finished making the Dowel Dopero!
However, there is a short Setup procedure to go through before it will
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Setting Up
- Spread out the plastic sail on the ground, with the horizontal spars on top.
- Slip the top tip of one vertical spar under the lower horizontal spar, then under the upper spar.
the bottom tip of the vertical spar in the corresponding sail pocket at
the tail end of the kite. Tuck the keel through the slit.
- Fasten the vertical spar to the horizontal spars with the shoe-lace ties, as if you were doing up your own shoe.
the top tip of the vertical spar in its corner strap, pull just a
little tension into the sail, feed the strap around the middle of the
upper horizontal spar a couple of times then tie off with a half-hitch
or small bow. See the photo.
- Insert and attach the other vertical spar in the same way.
- Attach the bow lines of the horizontal spars.
- Finally, attach the keels to the lower bridle loop using Lark's Head Knots.
looks a lot, but once you have done it a few times, it's not hard to
remember. In fact, after the first flight, you can just leave those top ties done up. The top tip of the vertical spars can just be carefully slipped in, the next time you fly. Also, the Lark's Head knots on the keels may be left attached!
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Breaking Down
I don't mean breaking down in grief because your flying session has come
to an end - I mean getting the kite packed up ready for transport or
- Lay the kite on the ground with the spars on top, and flying line removed.
- Un-attach the bow lines of the horizontal spars.
and loosen the upper sail corner straps. Or you can experiment with
leaving them in place and just slipping the dowels out sideways. That's quicker!
- Undo all 4 shoe-lace ties, then carefully feed the keels back through the slits.
- Remove the vertical spars, slipping them towards the tail end of the kite.
the vertical spars between the horizontal spars, parallel to them, left
keel to the left and right keel to the right. Roll up the kite from
bottom to top.
- Finally, wrap the remaining bridle line around
the kite a few times to prevent it unrolling. There it is in the photo,
taking up no more space than a Sled kite. The Dopero doesn't look so
big now does it!
How To Make A Dopero Kite - First Pre-Flight
Make up a flying line and attach it to the bridle with a Lark's Head Knot. See the photo over there, where the Lark's Head has been left loose.
bridle is a bit long to check on the ground, so fly the kite on a very
short line to see where the towing point is. Shift the Prusik Knot along
the bridle line until the towing point appears to be level with the
upper horizontal spar or a little below it. To lock the Prusik in place,
take the 2 bridle lines in one hand, the flying line in the other, and
pull tight. To unlock it, you just pull the bridle line straight, with
the knot in the middle.
Check the bridle slip knots on the upper
horizontal spar. Re-tighten if necessary, and smear a little wood glue
around where the line contacts the spar, and into the knot. This way the
knots can never come loose or shift along the spar. You won't have to
wait the full drying time for this glue to dry, since the amounts are
How To Make A Dopero Kite - Flying!
Firstly, if it's very windy outside, stay home! This is a
light-wind kite and won't like being launched in a gale. If the wind is
too strong, it might get damaged.
The Prusik knot on the bridle line can loosen off a little over time.
If necessary, pull on all the lines to tighten the knot up before a
Assuming there is some breeze outside,
just dangle the kite at arm's length until the wind catches it. As long
as you feel the kite pulling, let out line slowly by taking loop after
loop off the winder.
Be cautious about letting line slip through your
fingers. If a big gust hits the kite, the line could burn you! For any
kite this big or bigger, it's a good idea to wear a glove of some sort,
unless the wind is very light.
Another approach is to get
a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, on the end of maybe 10 or
20 meters of line. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it
easy to let more line out.
Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Dopero kite!
The "Making Dowel Kites" e-book
has this design and many others in hardwood dowel and plastic. A handy
approach is to just print out the pages for the kite you want to make
next. The e-book is also handy for working off-line on a laptop or other
That's great value already, but "The Big MBK Book Bundle" is even better! This includes the "Making Skewer Kites" compilation e-book, plus several other handy kiting e-books.
Now, just in case you have actually made and flown this kite at least once already...
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!
Flight Reports From Other Visitors
Click below to read about various kite-flying adventures, contributed by other visitors to this page...
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