This set of instructions on making a Box kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite building. 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 instructions on how to make a Box kite might look awfully long, but each step is quite simple to do. Just quickly work your way through from top to bottom, skimming over any detail that you don't need.
The MBK Dowel Box kite (moderate wind version) is a 1.2 meter (4 feet) long design which is very similar to the traditional Box. This design flies best in moderate winds, but will also stay in the air in wind strengths below and slightly above this range.
The Dowel Box is designed to roll up into a slim cylindrical package like a Sled, thanks to the detachable cross-pieces. Setting up on the flying field takes a few minutes at first, but gets quicker with practice.
Also, it's handy to set up in a spot that is sheltered from the wind. Of course, if you
have room, you can always leave this Box ready-to-fly.
If it's not convenient to use these instructions straight off the screen, have a look at the E-books section over there on the right. That's the way to get nicely formatted print-outs.
If it's not convenient to use these instructions straight off the screen...
The e-book for this kite is 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.
Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making an MBK Dowel kite, if you haven't already.
Using your hack-saw, cut off 4 lengths of dowel to a length of 1.0DL (120cm, 48”) each. The dowel should be 5mm (3/16”) in diameter.
With a wood file, round the dowel ends. Just enough to take off the sharp edges will do.
The Template over there represents one cell of the kite, laid flat. That's so it can be cut from a single, large plastic bag. Now transfer the measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
When dry, use extra glue along the joins on each side, to make sure they are strong. In a Box kite of this size, the weight of the glue is not much of an issue!
You also need to tie a 0.3DL (36cm, 14 1/2”) length of small shoe-lace to the exact center of each shorter cross-piece. Then, smear a little wood glue over each knot so it can't slip along the dowel. See the close-up over there...
All this is visible in the photo below, although the cross-pieces are not inserted. At this point, you've pretty much finished making the MBK Dowel Box kite!
If either cell doesn't seem to be stretched tight, you might need to add glue inside the tips of the cross-pieces, to lengthen them slightly. If that's not enough – make another pair, slightly longer.
Lay the kite on the ground with the flying line removed.
Suspend the kite from the Double Loop knot of the bridle. Shift the Prusik knot along the bridle line until the upper bridle leg makes a right-angle (90 degrees) with the spar. The kite should fly like this, but you can try shifting the knot rearwards a little for best results in lighter winds. That is, no more than a few centimeters or a couple of inches.
Firstly, this kite requires more than a 'very light' breeze to stay in the air. So if you can see barely any movement in the leaves of trees or bushes, perhaps take some other Dowel kite instead!
My collection of real-life Box kite stories is worth checking out!
Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.
At the other extreme, you might snap a cross-piece if you attempt to fly in 'very windy' weather. So, a nice average moderate breeze is best.
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 a fair amount of 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! 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 15 meters (50 feet) of line. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.
The picture up there shows the Dowel Box on its first outing, in a gusty moderate breeze. Have fun flying, and I hope you've had fun learning how to make a Box kite.
An Improvement: After testing the original kite, an improvement came to mind. Eventually a new kite will be made and these instructions will be updated...
Right now, those cross-pieces attach quite close to the trailing edge of both cells. Try shifting them 0.1DL (12cm, 4 3/4”) away from the trailing edge. Don't forget the tape reinforcements too, so the ends of the cross-pieces don't puncture the sail. This change should reduce the amount of spar-bending that happens in fresh breezes, will still keeping the cross-pieces within easy reach during setup.
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 device.
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...
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...
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