The 'tools' and materials described below aren't quite as minimal as needed for the Skewer kites - but heck, it's a pretty close second!
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
A black permanent marker. These pens are for drawing corner points and sail outlines on light-colored plastic. Also handy for marking dowel before cutting it to length, or marking where bridle legs are to be attached.
A ruler. Any length or type will do. All MBK kites use straight lines to make things easier and quicker. What if the ruler is too short for
a long sail edge? It's simple to stretch out a length of flying line,
weighted at each end, to mark several intermediate dots. These dots can
then be connected using the small ruler. Voila! A long straight line.
A pair of scissors. These simple kite making tools are
mainly for cutting around the outline of the sail. Also handy for
cutting flying line to length for constructing bridles, trimming excess
line, and snipping off lengths of electrical tape.
A small cheap hack-saw for cutting wooden dowel to length.
A cheap medium-grade wood file for rounding spar ends and
cutting notches for securing bow-lines. Not everyone has kite making
tools like saws and files just lying around the house, but these are
very widely available in shops.
A calculator. Yes, a calculator of some sort, like on your
mobile phone (cell) or the Windows one or whatever. But there's no
heavy calculating to be done, it's just handy for those using Dowel
Length units to create a kite on a different scale to my originals.
A smooth flat area to work on. It only needs to be 2 meters (7 feet) square or so. Even if you are living in a tiny apartment, it's possible to use these kite making tools to get something impressive into the air!
50 pound or more flying line, for bridles and other lines
attached to the frame. I'm using 50 pound braided Dacron for flying line
and bridling. This has ample strength for flying the MBK Dowel kites in
light to moderate winds.
If you want something slightly cheaper, you
might use Nylon line instead.
Another option, if you can get it cheap enough, would be the heaviest grades of polyester thread.
Electrical insulation tape, available from hardware stores. This stuff stretches and therefore is perfect for capping spar ends while attaching sail plastic at the same time. Although a bit heavy, only small lengths are required so it doesn't add much weight overall.
Lightweight, clear sticky tape. Scotch tape, Sello-tape,
sticking tape, whatever you like to call it. Just make sure it is about
the width of your finger. The tape I use is 12mm (1/2 inch) in width.
This is used to reinforce the edge of the sail, since it doesn't stretch and doesn't add much weight.
Large, translucent (see-through), colored plastic bags for
making sails. Here in Australia, large orange garden bags are available
from supermarkets. These bags are ideal, and also make the finished
kite easy to see in the air! Use the lightest single-ply bags you can find for these Light-Wind kites. Color-wise, you must be able to see a black marker pen line through
the plastic. The MBK construction method relies on this. Heavier
plastic will sacrifice a little light-wind performance in return for a
more durable kite. Your choice!
Wood dowels. The one pictured is 5mm (3/16") in diameter, which
needs to be cut to length for the Dowel kites. MBK Dowel designs use
just a few dollars worth of dowel for each kite. After making and
testing the Sled, Diamond and Barn Door, I figured out that the ideal
dowel was 5mm hardwood such as the Tasmanian Oak available here. Elsewhere, red or white oak should be OK.
North America, Chinese Poplar is commonly available as dowel. This is softer than oak and other hard-woods so 1/4" diameter would be a more appropriate size.
Wood glue, such as the Aquadhere in the photo. For most of
the Dowel kites, this is only used for securing knots. Hence only very
small amounts are needed, and it dries much quicker than expected. Even
the other uses, such as box kite cross pieces, use relatively small
amounts. A 100 ml container will last a long time when just used for
making MBK kites. If you are in a hurry, you will need to spend
considerably more per 100ml on a tube of fast-setting general-purpose
Shoe-laces are used for securing spars to each other. We
found that cheap polyester laces designed for a child's shoes were ideal,
since they were adequately strong yet not too bulky or heavy.
As long as you have access to supermarkets and hardware stores you
should be able to get these kite making tools and materials together!
Many of the items are probably lying around your house somewhere
There's our Dowel Sode in the video. Charging around in a somewhat uncomfortable breeze strength. But it certainly was spectacular!
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)