Cheap Kites

Material Costs For MBK Skewer Kites

MBK Skewer designs are indeed very cheap kites to make! Just for fun, I thought I would demonstrate this...

Even the much bigger Dowel designs only set you back a few dollars per kite.

But the Skewer designs are spectacularly cheap, as you will see from these figures compiled in late 2008. OK, so they might be a little out-dated, but you'll get the general idea about the rock-bottom costs involved.

Very cheap kites can be made from bamboo skewers and plastic!Tiny Delta uses bamboo skewers

The first step was to visit the local stores where the original materials were bought, and note down some prices. Of course, prices shift around from week to week, and also from store to store for the same product. However, the Australian Dollars figures below should be approximately correct, even now in 2012. Even the equivalent prices for U.S. products should be in the same ball-park.

The cost of flying line is not included, since we use just 2 or 3 lines shared between all our kites. However, in this day and age of light but strong polyester sewing thread, flying line for these rather small kites need not be expensive at all. Heavier than average grades, like 'bobbin thread', would be required for the 2-Skewer designs however.

With generic brand products available, some of these items can vary a lot in price, but I have gone for the cheapest in every case. That usually meant the generic brand, if available. Some were on Special too, but in those situations I used the original price. That was so the final figures for these cheap kites were as realistic as possible.

The Materials Unit Price

From the supermarket price for each item, a unit price was calculated. This figure makes it easy to estimate what any given kite actually costs to make.

Have you ever made cheap kites in a workshop for kids or interested adults? If so, note that the more plastic kites that are made, the more accurate these costings will be since a bigger percentage of the bought material will be used up. Even if all the info here is not entirely relevant to your own situation, you might like to go through a similar process one day when costing your own kite-making activities. For instance, if you live in the U.S., there will be differences in all the products and prices.

ItemPriceUnit Price
bag of 100 bamboo skewers, 30 cm $1.40 1.4 cents per skewer
bag of 40 large freezer bags $0.70 1.8 cents per bag
50 black garbage bags $5.46 11 cents per bag
10 orange garden bags $2.05 21 cents per bag
3 rolls clear sticky tape, 33 meters each $2.00 0.02 cents per cm
6 roll pack of electrical tape, 7.5 meters each $2.29 0.51 cents per cm
250 ml Aquadhere PVC glue $5.60 2.2 cents per ml

The above table was compiled mainly from info gleaned from the shelves of a local supermarket and variety store here in Adelaide, South Australia.

VERY Cheap Kites!

Here's proof, in the form of total cost for every kite made so far - and a couple that I hadn't even got to making at the time of this writing!

Just before I list the numbers, I thought it might be useful to show a detailed costing, to show the process. Cheap kites don't come much more inexpensive than the 1-Skewer Diamond Kite. It's pretty small and simple.

1-Skewer Diamond Kite Costing

Sail: 2 sails can be made from 1 large freezer bag. Unit price for the bags is 1.8 cents per bag, so one sail costs 1.8 / 2 = 0.9 cents.

Reinforcement: All together, about 95 cm of sticky tape are needed to secure the sail to the spar ends, and reinforce the sail edges. Unit cost is 0.02 cents per cm, so all up cost for tape is 95 x 0.02 = 1.9 cents.

Spars: 2 bamboo skewers are required. Unit price for skewers is 1.4 cents per skewer, so 2 skewers cost 1.4 x 2 = 2.8 cents.

Spar Attachment: Let's assume 0.1 ml of glue is used to fix the spars together where they cross. Unit price is 2.2 cents per ml, so that's 2.2 / 10 = 0.2 cents.

Tail: A single bag is used for all the loops in the tail. So that's 1.8 cents.

So, one of these nifty little diamond kites will set you back a total of 0.9+2.8+1.9+1.8+0.2 = 7.6 CENTS. Isn't that amazing! Even if you took no care with prices, the 1-skewer diamond would probably still come in at less than 30 cents. Talk about cheap kites!

In a similar way, I have costed all the other MBK kites in both the 1 and 2-Skewer series. Here are the results, from cheapest to most 'expensive' (!), rounded to the nearest cent:

MBK KiteMaterials Price (in cents!)
1-Skewer Diamond8
1-Skewer Barn Door9
1-Skewer Sled11
1-Skewer Rokkaku11
1-Skewer Sode12
1-Skewer Roller12
1-Skewer Delta15
1-Skewer Dopero15
2-Skewer Diamond33
2-Skewer Rokkaku38
2-Skewer Delta42
2-Skewer Sled45
2-Skewer Barn Door46
2-Skewer Sode49
2-Skewer Roller67
2-Skewer Dopero77

Some notes on these results...

For practical purposes, there's no point in calculating the sail area of each kite precisely. That's because you can't use all the off-cuts can you! So, the cost is based on how many sails you can get from a single bag.

If you are super-stingy you might find ways to use all the off-cut material! If nothing else, it would leave you with the warm feeling that absolutely nothing has been wasted in making your cheap kites. :-)

In fact, here's an idea: Cut the off-cuts into odd shapes, and then tie them at regular intervals along a long narrow ribbon. The ribbon could be cut from another bag of the same material. Fluttering around in the air, this tail wouldn't look that much different from one done with perfectly rectangular cross-pieces.

The photo below shows me launching the original 2-Skewer Diamond kite. A good reliable flier...

Flying the original 2-Skewer Diamond kite on a perfect day for it.Launching the very first 2-Skewer Diamond

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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.

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"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."


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


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 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!"


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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