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!

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

Next up in size came the 2-Skewer Barndoor, which again preferred moderate winds. The 3-leg bridle kept it steady and helped 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 on the e-book cover. 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.

1-Skewer Barn Door

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

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!

Barndoor Kites - 1-Skewer barndoor in orange plasticAnother variation
Barndoor Kites - 1-Skewer barndoor in orange plasticAnother variation

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

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!

2-Skewer Barn Door

Barndoor Kites - 2-Skewer barndoor with looped tail2-Skewer Barn Door
Barndoor Kites - 2-Skewer barndoor with looped tail2-Skewer Barn Door

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.

Dowel Barn Door

Barndoor Kites - Dowel barndoorDowel Barn Door - tail-less
Barndoor Kites - Dowel barndoorDowel Barn Door - tail-less

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.

I can tell you love kites...

Otherwise you wouldn't be all the way down here near the bottom of the page :-)

So, could you do me just a small favor? 

Please sign up for my free monthly publication, "Tethered Flying". No other emails will be sent, and your details are safe with me. You do need to be at least 16 years old. There's...

  • A huge "photo of the month" (linked from a much smaller one in the email of course)
  • 3 "tips of the month" (1 for beginners, 1 for parents and 1 for more experienced kite-fliers)
  • A "flight report of the month" (selected from my own flying logs and illustrated with a photo)

Looking forward to hearing from you...

P.S. My free kite-making e-book "Simplest Dowel Kites" can be downloaded as soon as you sign up.


Back to top of page

Need winders, reels, flying line?

We earn a small commission if you click the following link and buy something. The item does not cost you any more, since we are an "affiliate" of Amazon.

Click here to buy anything you need. Just use the Search box in there if you need different weights or lengths of line, for example.

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

What's New!

  1. Global News Report:
    Detroit Festival

    Jul 18, 19 09:01 PM

    Back in the USA, this piece is well illustrated with video and stills... ---------------------------------------------------------------- With sunny skies and not a cloud in sight, Sunday was the perf…

    Read More

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 ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
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

Like/share this site...

Like/share this page...


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...