Flying Barndoor Kites

Choose From Tiny, Medium or Large!

Not long after starting this site, I made some tiny Barndoor kites from bamboo BBQ skewers and clear plastic. These little Barndoors flew well in slightly stronger winds than the similar-sized Sleds and Diamonds. They had a tendency to traverse from side to side, extending further to each side as the wind speed increased!

More recently, the 1-Skewer Barndoor has been made more visible by doing the sail in orange plastic and using a simple ribbon tail made from black plastic. The tail is looped, being attached to the lower tips of the 2 diagonal spars.

Next up in size comes the 2-Skewer Barndoor, which again prefers moderate winds. The 3-leg bridle keeps it steady and helps prevent flexing of the spars. Hence this design can put up with fairly fresh winds, if well-made.

Finally, we started making larger Barndoor kites like the Dowel Barndoor pictured in the ad over there. This one also has a 3-leg bridle, which is the practical minimum for this kind of design anyway. The 1-Skewer version does manage with a single-leg bridle, but only because the horizontal spar was placed in just the right spot. It took some trial and error!

Down below is a photo or 2 and a video of each MBK Barn Door. This illustrates the end result, in case you decide to use our instructions to make one of these kites.

Barndoor Kites - early 1-Skewer barndoorOne of our first Barn Doors

Several 1-Skewer Barn Door kites were made, while I experimented with spar configurations and one or 2 other things. This photo shows one of the earliest ones, where the diagonal spars come to a point at the tail end of the kite.

These originals were made from clear freezer-bag plastic, which made them hard to see against a gray sky. However, it's a different story when back-lit by the setting sun!

This little Barndoor required considerable dihedral to fly properly. But the reward was a great reliable little moderate wind flier!

Barndoor Kites - 1-Skewer barndoor in orange plasticAnother variation

We fly this kite on 50 meters (150 feet) of 20 pound line. It doesn't need that strength, but we also fly our 2-Skewer kites on the same line....

Over there is a photo of the latest version of the 1-Skewer Barn Door, in orange garden bag plastic.

The tail is cut from a cheap black garbage bag. The looped tail gives the kite more stability than if the same length was allowed to just hang by one end.

Check out the video below, which shows this kite bobbing around in a fairly light but very gusty breeze.

You can probably tell that the little Barn Door was flying on a fairly short line at the time. Particularly when the trees come into view!

Barndoor Kites - 2-Skewer barndoor with looped tail2-Skewer Barn Door, twice the size

The 2-Skewer Barn Door is, as the name suggests, exactly twice as tall as the 1-Skewer design. This gives it 4 times the sail area with not much more than double the weight. Hence, it doesn't need quite as much wind as the smaller design.

The kite pictured has 2-ply plastic which makes it a little heavier, but it still flies great. A little dihedral plus the 3-leg bridle keeps this kite much steadier in the air than the tiny 1-Skewer version.

This is the kite we pull out when there is too much wind for all the other skewer kites!

The video below shows this kite so close to the bottom of its wind range, that it almost sinks to the grass below! Every now and then, a soft gust would propel the kite back up several meters into the air. In stronger winds, Barndoor kites like this one have no trouble climbing up to 400 feet on a 20-pound line.

Barndoor Kites - Dowel barndoorDowel Barn Door needs no tail

The big Daddy of MBK Barndoor kites, the Dowel Barndoor. Or, depending on your culture, perhaps the Mother of them all!

It took a couple of attempts to design a Barn Door which was reasonably easy to rig and de-rig. Also, the original one used 4mm dowel, which proved to be far too light. Not to mention non-standard, since the rest of the Dowel Series uses 5mm dowel.

The Dowel Barndoor is a reliable flier in light and moderate breezes.

Like most Barndoor kites, the flying line angles are modest, but it climbs easily to 400 feet if you let enough line out.

Size? It's twice as tall as the 2-Skewer version, so that's 4 times the sail area. Compared to the 1-Skewer version, the Dowel Barn Door has 16 times as much area!

That's about it for this page on Barndoor kites. In 3 convenient sizes! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the info.

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

What's New!

  1. The Dowel Rokkaku Kite

    Oct 17, 18 06:00 AM

    This previously published page is a flight report featuring the 1.2m (4ft) span Dowel Rokkaku kite. Read how the kite performs in light winds and thermals...

    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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"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."


"I decided to run kite making as an elective again on this camp in the past week - so I bought all your e-books, a bunch of materials, and then took a group of 10 high school students through making the kites over 4 days. We built a diamond, a Barn Door, a Delta, and two skew delta kites. Again - every single kite flew."


"I've just bought your super e-book and spent most of last night pouring through all the great stuff in it!

Very detailed and USEFUL information - thanks for such a great book."


"30+ years ago, I tried making a kite using the 'instructions' in a free kite-safety booklet. What a disappointment for a young boy.

 Your instructions and methods are wonderful. You help the builder to focus on accuracy, without making it hard. Also, you use materials that are durable, yet cheap!"


"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

thank you"

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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