How To Make A Sode Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK Dowel Sode

This set of instructions on how to make a Sode kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required.

Learn how to make a Sode kite like this one.

Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

The MBK Dowel Sode is a large tail-less design based on the traditional Japanese kite. Like the other Japanese design in this series, the Rokkaku, this kite is a light to moderate wind flier. However, it can take a little more wind strength than the Rok.

The Sode scoots around the sky in very gusty moderate winds. In smoother and lighter winds, it is a very efficient and steady flier.

Setting up on the flying field is just a matter of attaching the bow-line toggles to put some curvature into both the horizontal spars. Also, the upper bow-line is connected to the nose of the kite and the lower bow-line connects to the tail. Thus, the horizontal spars are tensioned away from each other.

Then, when the flying line is attached to the bridle, you are ready to launch! The method of attachment is illustrated further down this page.

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.




How To Make A Sode Kite
Sail

Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making a Dowel Sode, if you haven't already.

Sail template for the Dowel Sode kite.

The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

The Dowel Sode - template shape marked onto plastic bag.
  • Firstly, take a large bag that you want to use for the sail, and lay it flat on the floor.
  • Mark 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 sail.
  • 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.



The Dowel Sode - complete outline marked onto plastic.
  • Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
  • Cut 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 photo.




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.

The Dowel Sode - sail cut and edged with sticky tape
  • Lay clear sticking tape along all the lines, letting it overlap at the corners.
  • With scissors, cut along all the black lines. This will leave most of the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline. See the photo.
  • Where indicated by the yellow rectangles, reinforce those 2 corners with extra sticking tape. On both sides of the plastic for extra strength!




How To Make A Sode Kite
Spars

For this Sode, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel. Enough for the upper and lower horizontal spars of 1.0DL (120cm, 48") each, the 0.96DL (115.2cm, 46") vertical spar and the 0.5DL (60cm, 24") bottom spar. They are easily cut to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.

The Dowel Sode - spars
  • Lay down a dowel over the center crease of the sail plastic, mark it at the exact height of the sail, and cut off at the mark. Include the length of those tabs on the bottom edge of the sail! Round off the tips with a wood file. This is the vertical spar.
  • 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.
  • Lay down some more dowel across the width of the sail, mark it at the exact width, and cut off at the mark.
  • Round off the tips with a wood file, then add a bow-line so the depth of the bow is 0.06DL (7cm, 3"). 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 another spar. However, the depth of the bow this time should be 0.1DL (12cm, 4 3/4"). Now you have made the lower horizontal spar.
  • Finally, lay your remaining dowel across the bottom edge of the sail, mark and cut off. This is the bottom horizontal spar which should be about 0.5DL (60cm, 24") long. Round the tips with your wood file. The photo shows all the spars, with the horizontal spar bow-lines attached. See how the upper horizontal spar has less bow.

Note: You might find it handy to make a mark both horizontal spars to quickly tell them apart, when they are lying straight. For example, a 'U' on the upper spar and an 'L' on the lower spar.





How To Make A Sode Kite
Spar Caps

Prepare 11 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 Dowel Sode - spar cap detail
  • Spread out the sail, with the edge tape facing upwards.
  • Lay down the upper horizontal spar over the sail, so it would bow away from the sail if you attached the toggle. With the toggle unattached, line up the tips of the spar with the upper corners of the sail.
  • Cap 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!
  • For added strength, put another piece of tape around the leading edge. The part of the first tape that was sticking out is now folded back under the leading edge by the second piece of tape.
  • Now do the other tip of the spar similarly, using 2 more pieces of tape.
  • See those tabs on the top edge of the sail? Fold them over the dowel and run clear sticky tape along the entire length of the tabs to secure them. See the photo for a completed tip-cap plus one end of a secured tab.

After the upper horizontal spar is all capped and wrapped :-) do the same for the lower horizontal spar.

The bottom horizontal spar is very similar too, except that you can get away with only 1 piece of tape over each tip instead of 2. With the tabs folded over, the vertical spar sticks out a little, but that is correct.

Finally, you should have one piece of tape left. Use it to cap the upper tip of the vertical spar, attaching it to the small triangular piece of sail.





How To Make A Sode Kite
Lashing The Spars

The Dowel Sode - lashing spars together with flying line.

At all three crossing points, lash and glue the spars together, using short lengths of flying line. Fix each knot with a drop of glue so it can never come undone or shift along the vertical spar.






How To Make A Sode Kite
Bridle

Try this Stake Line Winder from Amazon, if you are not sure where to get suitable flying line. The 50 pound strength is ideal for these Dowel Series kites.
The Dowel Sode - bridle details
  • Cut off some flying line to a length of 1.0DL (120cm, 48"), and tie a very small Loop Knot into each end.
  • Poke 2 holes in the plastic, right where the knots are in the top photo.
  • Tie each end of the line to the spar, through the holes. Use a Slip Knot with 2 wraps around the dowel, and pull tight against the knot of the small loop. This is the upper bridle loop.
  • Now prepare a 1.5DL (180cm, 72") length of line with loops in each end as before, and move down to the lower horizontal spar. Similar to the upper loop, add the lower bridle loop. Again, poke 2 holes in the plastic. The bottom photo shows the 2 knots - I've added white rings around them since they are hard to see.
  • Cut off some flying line to a length of 1.0DL (120cm, 48"), 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 them both to center. Let's just call this the bridle line.

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 First Pre-Flight.





How To Make A Sode Kite
Nose and Tail Loops

To keep the bowed horizontal spars from flopping back down to the sail, they need to be tethered with short loops of flying line. Firstly, let's look at the upper horizontal spar...

The Dowel Sode - nose section, rigged.
  • Make a big loop from a length of flying line, by tying the 2 ends into a Multi-Strand Simple Knot. The loop should stretch from the center of the upper bow-line to the top of the vertical spar, with plenty of length to spare so you can tie it off. See the top photo.
  • Attach the loop with a Lark's Head Knot to the bow-line, directly over the vertical spar or close to it.
  • Wrap the other end of the loop around the corner strap a couple of times and tie off with a single Half Hitch so it's easy to undo.
  • Make another loop for the tail end of the kite. The loop should stretch from the center of the lower bow-line to the bottom shoe-lace tie on the vertical spar. See the bottom photo.
  • Attach the loop with a Lark's Head Knot to the bow-line, directly over the vertical spar or close to it.
  • Simply place the other end of the loop over the tip of the vertical spar, so it slips back up to where the shoe-lace tie is. If the length is a little too long, just tie another Simple Knot near the first one until you get the length right.

Note: These loops stay attached to the bow lines from now on.

At this point, you've pretty much finished making the Dowel Sode! However, there is a short Setup procedure to go through before it will fly...





How To Make A Sode Kite
Prepare To Fly

Attaching the flying line to the bridle.

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.

Suspend the kite from the knot at the end of the bridle. Shift the Prusik Knot along the bridle line until the kite hangs at around a 20 degree angle from the horizontal. 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 horizontal spars. 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.





How To Make A Sode Kite
Flying!

The MBK Dowel Sode kite in flight.

Firstly, if it's very windy outside, stay home! This is a light-wind kite and won't like being launched in a gale or even a fairly fresh breeze. If the wind is too strong, it will deform badly and refuse to fly properly.

Out In The Field

My collection of real-life Sode 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 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.

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 Sode 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...




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!

Please Enter A Title

Flight Reports From Other Visitors

Click below to read about various kite-flying adventures, contributed by other visitors to this page...

My new Sode kite. 
Testing a new design is always a true joy. How will it fly, has it been put together good enough, how to get the bridling correct, will it be a success …

Click here to write your own.

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What's New!

  1. Rough Moderate Winds - No Problem!

    Sep 18, 14 03:00 PM

    An old flight report, detailing the remarkable reliability of the original 3-sparred Allison Sled kite. Mine is a much smaller version, made from plastic sheet, tape and bamboo skewers...

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