On this page are a number of easy steps showing you how to make an indoor a-frame kite from readily available materials.
MBK Indoor A-Frame
MBK Indoor A-Frame
The only materials required for this design are
- 1 sheet of plain copier paper. A4 or Letter size. Use colored paper if you want to!
- 18mm (3/4") clear sticky tape. In a dispenser preferably. Narrower tape would be even better, if you have it.
- A light plastic bag, at least 45cm x 30cm (18" x 12") before being cut open. I used large-size freezer bags.
- Any polyester sewing thread, preferably the lightest available.
The tools required, if you can call them that, are
- a pair of scissors
- a ruler
- a straight edge longer than 45cm (18")
- a ball-point pen
- colored permanent markers
Note: In the photos below, yellow lines have been added to make clear where the edges of sticky tape are.
Step 1 - Make Sail
Measured and dots marked
- Lay down a plastic bag, and smooth it out to remove the most obvious folds and creases.
- Measure and mark dots as indicated in the photo.
Bag flipped and dots traced
- Flip the bag over.
- Mark dots over the 2 showing through the plastic. To the left in the photo above.
Bag cut and opened out
- Cut the bag along the sealed edge, to open it.
- Cut the bag along the opposite side to the side with 3 dots.
- Open the bag out into a single flat sheet, with the dots on top. In the photo you can see all 7 dots.
All lines drawn
- Using the dots to guide you, rule lines as shown in the (enhanced) photo.
Step 2 - Decorate Sail
Do you have permanent colored markers? Time to take them out...
Decorated with permanent markers
- My approach was to put a 0.6 cm (1/4") wide border of black all around on the inside of the sail outline. Followed by 1 cm (3/8") wide colored stripes down the inside of the 2 diagonals. Also a colored triangle near the nose. See the photo.
- You do whatever you like! Just try not to add too much weight though. Doing 'sparing line art' is how to make an indoor a-frame kite look good and minimize weight.
A-frame shape cut out
- Cut all around the sail shape with scissors. Cutting thin plastic can be tricky so take your time. Sharp scissors help!
- From here on, we will refer to the plastic piece as the sail.
Step 3 - Make Spars
Measure And Draw
Dots measured and marked
- Take your sheet of paper and mark dots as shown.
Note: Each white line - even if it is so short it looks like a dot - has a corresponding measurement nearby.
- With ruler and pen, connect the dots as shown.
Laminate And Cut Out
Tape laid down over shapes
- Lay down sticky tape to fully cover the shapes.
Tape laid down over shapes, reverse side
- Flip the paper over so you can add tape to the reverse side of all the shapes. It might help to place the paper up against a well-lit window, to trace the corners. Another way is to poke holes through the paper with a pin, at all the corners. Then you can see where all the shapes are.
Spar pieces cut out
- Cut out all the shapes, as shown.
Create Oblique Spars
Shortest and longest pieces taped together
- Lay down the shortest and longest pieces wide-end to wide-end as shown in the photo. Although there is no continuous straight edge, do your best to align the pieces as shown, by eye.
- Tape the pieces together at the join. Use just enough tape to go once around the entire join.
Oblique spars folded
- Fold the joined pieces in half down their lengths as shown.
- Pinch between thumb and fore-finger then pull the paper through to get the fold started.
- Crease the folds sharply. The thin ends are tricky, but it can be done! Just do the best you can, by working along from one end to the other. A bit of thumb-nail helps.
- You have created the 2 oblique spars of the a-frame.
At this point, you're about half-way through learning how to make an indoor a-frame kite! The hardest bits have been done already, I'd say.
Create Horizontal Spar
Wide ends of horizontal spars, dots marked
- Fold the 2 remaining pieces of paper down their length, creasing sharply as before.
- On each piece, make a small dot 0.1cm (1/32") along the fold line, from the wide end as shown in the photo.
Gap between ends of fold-lines
- Using scissors and with each spar folded flat, cut through the dot and on to the corner of the paper.
- With the corners touching, there should now be a gap between the ends of the fold lines. See the photo.
Completed horizontal spar with dihedral
- Bring the ends of the fold lines together and tape all around the join.
- The pieces should now form a dihedral shape as shown in the photo. With one side flat against the table, the other side should sit at least 30 degrees away from the table top. In the photo it looks more like 20 degrees - which is not enough for good stability!
Note: It might be helpful to tack the pieces in place with tiny bits of tape first, before double-checking then making the join more secure with more tape.
Step 4 - Attach Spars
Tape Oblique Spars
One oblique spar in position
- Flip the sail so the art work is against the table.
- Take one oblique spar and align the shorter-piece end to the top corner of the sail.
- Align the other end of the spar to one lower corner of the sail. See the photo.
- Also ensure the paper fold angle is 90 degrees or a little less.
Spar taped on, at nose end
- At the top corner of the sail, place a short strip of sticky tape across the fold line of the spar.
- Gently press down on both sides so the tape goes down then across to the left and right. Try not to stick it too hard to the table-top, so it's easy to peel off!
Spar taped on, at tail end
- At the bottom corner of the main sail, lay down a square of tape as indicated in the photo.
Both oblique spars taped in place, edges trimmed
- Now tape down the other oblique spar so that it goes down to the other lower corner of the sail. A little overlap at the top is OK, as you can see in the photo.
- With scissors, trim any overhanging paper and tape flush with the sail edges.
Tape Horizontal Spar
Horizontal spar taped to sail on one side
- Check the fold in a horizontal spar and sharpen the crease if necessary to get that 90 degree fold angle.
- Tape the spar in place over the sail corner, positioning the middle join over the dot on the center-line of the sail.
- Place a 4cm (1 1/2") length of tape diagonally over the spars as shown in the photo. This prevents the oblique spars from shifting towards each other in flight.
- With scissors, trim the overhanging tape and the spar tip if necessary so it all looks neat and tidy around the side corner of the sail. See the photo.
Horizontal spar taped to sail on both sides
- Do the same to the other side of the kite, putting an object under the taped tip to support it. The photo shows the whole horizontal spar taped in place.
Towing point reinforcement
- Put a 4cm (1 1/12") strip of tape over the center of the horizontal spar, as shown in the photo. This secures the sail to the frame, necessary since the flying line attaches here.
Step 5 - Attach Flying Line
You have pretty much finished learning how to make an indoor a-frame kite at this point!
Thread laid down and taped
- Flip the kite over so the spars are against the table.
- Mark a dot on the plastic, at 12.5cm (5") from the nose of the kite, right on the center-line.
- Cut off about 2 meters (6 feet) of polyester sewing thread and lay one end over the dot.
- Stick down at least 3cm (1") of the thread by lining up the top edge of a 3cm (1") strip of sticky tape with the dot, as shown in the photo. Press against the upper side then the lower side of the horizontal spar, to avoid flattening the fold.
- Stick down another, shorter, length of tape - going across this time instead of down. See the photo.
Step 6 - Flying!
Indoor A-Frame Under Veranda
This is a very low-speed kite and it will effortlessly float up at walking pace. Be careful not to jerk the thread or pull too quickly, since this will promptly fold up at least one of the spars!
If a spar does fold up, don't despair. Just carefully pinch the paper where it failed, to get it back into that V-shape section once again. Then try again, going a little slower or smoother this time.
The Launch Technique
This is how I like to launch, on a length of thread equal to your shoulder height...
- Lay the kite flat on the floor, with the thread on top of course and the tail end pointing at your feet.
- Lift gently straight up, while taking a couple of quick steps backwards.
- If the kite appears to be rising, turn around and walk forwards while looking back over your shoulder.
- Within seconds, you should see the kite floating behind. Walk a little faster to climb the kite, slow down to descend. It's a fine balance!
If you have the space, try letting out more thread and adjusting your speed until the kite cruises along just short of the ceiling. Look out for light fittings and so on. Look where you're going too, from time to time ;-)
If you need even more line length, just tie on more thread and wind it onto a small square of cardboard.
I hope you have enjoyed learning how to make an indoor a-frame kite this way.
Ever Made This Kite?
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!