A Ben Franklin Kite To Make

DON'T Try The Famous Experiment!

Once in a while, someone in the U.S. wants to make a replica of the famous Ben Franklin kite. This page is dedicated to helping you do just that!

However, the instructions here are mainly for getting the 'look' right. That is, putting together something that looks very much like the original would have - if it was ever built! There's no proof that it actually was.

OK, take a look at the diagram below. Everything is labeled in some detail...

(By the way, the sticks are behind the sail material. The bridle lines are therefore poked through holes in the sail before being tied to the vertical stick.)

If you simply follow the diagram as closely as possibly, you will certainly end up with a very authentic-looking historical kite. At least from some distance away!

Really, there is a lot of variation in the looks of Diamond kites that are capable of flying. For example, compare the Franklin design with my own light-wind Dowel Diamond...

Making The MBK Dowel Diamond is a printable e-book. It's a PDF file download.

Getting back to the historical kite...

An expert would say 'tut tut, the handkerchief isn't real silk, and the string should be hemp twine.' And so on. But hey, this Ben Franklin kite is close enough to use as a prop in a play, for example.

Further down, a few tips are provided for getting the design as shown to actually fly. Plenty of people have tried and failed. But this is a specialist kite site ;-)

Ben Franklin Kite - diagram of the original design

Flying This Ben Franklin Kite

Now supposing you really need this replica to actually fly successfully. The guys on Myth Busters (a post-millenium U.S. TV show) failed to do it and ended up using a traditional Diamond with round wooden doweling. At least they used real silk for the sail - I think!

This short list of points should ensure that your replica flies well. It will give you the best chance possible of success...

  • The handkerchief should be as large as possible. Big kites always fly better than small kites of the same type.
  • Ben Franklin specified a silk handkerchief. Whatever sail material you use, the weave should be as fine as possible. Too much porosity to air will result in failure. So, make sure you can't blow air through it!
  • The sticks should be just thick enough to resist excessive bending in a light or moderate breeze. The thicker the sticks, the more wind required. If they are way too thick and heavy, the kite will just not fly.
  • The tail as specified in the Ben Franklin kite diagram should be fine, but the cloth ties should not be too heavy. Here, it's 'drag' that counts, not weight. Extra length in the tail line, plus a few extra ties, should fix any tendency for the kite to loop around continuously.
  • That wire on the top should be pretty thin. Otherwise, it will weigh down the kite. Not only that, but it will shift the balance point of the kite towards the nose, which is a no-no for kite stability.
  • Connect the bridle loop and flying line as shown in the diagram. But use a shift-able knot such as the Prusik to connect the flying line to the bridle loop. Some experimentation in the field will be required before the ideal position is found. Shift the knot along the bridle loop just millimeters (1/8" or 2) at a time, until the kite flies high with little effort. Assuming the breeze is somewhere in the 'light' to 'moderate' range.

Out In The Field

Diamond kite stories of my real-life flying experiences are worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

Have I made one myself? Not yet - have you seen the prices on big high-quality silk handkerchiefs?!

I do intend to one day post photos and video of a flying Ben Franklin Kite replica.

Mind you, I might get out a few more times with my own Diamond, before then...

Making The MBK Dowel Diamond is a printable e-book. It's a PDF file download.

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. Soft Kite Posts - Sled

    Sep 26, 18 06:00 AM

    This previously published page is a compilation of short Flight Reports. All describing outings with the MBK Soft Sled design. Enjoy...

    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