Get the free e-book 'What Kite Is That?' by Tim Parish, when you
subscribe to the newsletter
This set of instructions on how to make a Roller 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 pretty similar!
The MBK Dowel Roller is a large tail-less kite based on the old Pearson Roller design. Like the original, this kite is a great light to moderate wind flier.
Also like the original, this Roller has quite a distinctive and attractive appearance in the air! Certainly something different from your usual Diamonds and Deltas.
These instructions might look quite
detailed. However, your reward is a decent sized and very cheap kite that should fit in most vehicles. Of course it helps if you undo the bow-line toggles. Then, the kite can lie flat in the trunk (boot) or even rest on edge in the rear passenger section.
Setting up on the flying field
is just a matter of attaching the bow-line toggles. Or perhaps not, if you were able to leave them done up. Then, you just attach the flying line to the bridle and let the wind do the rest.
The "Making Dowel Kites" e-book
has this design and many others in hardwood dowel and plastic. Plus some giant 2.4m (8ft) bonus designs!
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, tablet or other device.
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.
Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making a Dowel Roller, if you haven't already.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
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.
For this Roller, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel. Enough for the 3 spars of 1.0DL (120cm, 48") each. They are easily cut to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.
The upper and lower sails now need to be joined in the center.
Prepare 6 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.
The two horizontal spars will now be lashed to the vertical spar. Firstly, just make sure that everything 'looks right', with no bunched up plastic anywhere.
After putting several turns of flying line around each crossing point, fix the joins with a generous drop of glue each. This will also prevent any shifting along the vertical spar.
Finally, take a length of flying line about 0.2DL (240mm, 9 1/2") 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. See the photo down below, in the next section.
this point, you've pretty much finished making the Dowel Roller!
However, there is a short Setup procedure to go through before it will
The 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 put a small drop of wood
glue on each so they can never come loose. You won't have to wait the
full drying time for this glue to dry, since the amounts are small.
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.
My collection of real-life Roller kite stories is worth checking out!
Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.
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 flying session.
Assuming there is some breeze outside, just dangle the kite at arm's length until the wind catches it.
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.
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 Roller kite!
The e-book instructions for this kite include even more handy hints which will ensure you get the most success possible when flying this particular design. They show you how to make the kite more transportable too, so you can remove a spar and roll the kite up into a slim bundle.
Now, just in case you have actually made and flown this kite at least once already...
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!
Click below to read about various kite-flying adventures, contributed by other visitors to this page...
Dowel Roller Kite - Worth The Effort
I was really excited to build this kite. I used some of the suggested improvements. I built the kite using Tyvek cloth. I made both spars with a 6" bow. …
A Success Story With A Roller Kite
So, got inspired to build a Roller by this site. It took about 6 hours, but I used taffeta nylon instead of a bag. It was OK for a first try... When …
You might have noticed that this site has a monthly newsletter...
For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!
So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.
And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.
Apologies for this site's current lack of video when viewed on mobile devices...
For now, please view this site on a Desktop or Laptop computer to see the videos. And there's plenty of them!
comes to you...
Get this free e-book
subscribe to my
Make all the Dowel kites, including the one above...
ALL the e-books.
Best value of all...
"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."
"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