NOTE: No electrical tape is used for the 1-skewer kites.
Electrical 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 as far as kite materials
go, only small lengths are required so it doesn't add much weight
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! Similar bags should be available elsewhere
too, perhaps in the form of garbage bags. However, you must be able to see a black marker pen line through the plastic. The MBK construction method relies on this.
Making Skewer Kites is a PDF file download with printable step-by-step instructions for many designs. The cover shows how I managed to find some bright solid-orange bags for sail material!
I've decided to standardize on dark garbage bags, for
tails. Despite their size, they are rather light and contrast well with
the orange garden bag sails! With a bit of imagination, there are many ways to make kite tails from plastic. Just remember, the lighter the better.
8 kg (20 pound) or more flying line, for bridles and other
lines attached to the frame. These days I'm using 20 pound Dacron for
flying line and bridling. You might use Nylon, Polyester or good old
Wood glue, such as the Aquadhere in the photo. Good for
tacking kite materials such as bamboo together, although it takes hours
to dry. A 100 ml container will last a long time when just used for
making MBK kites. If you prefer, and don't mind paying more, there are
various quick-drying wood or general-purpose glues on the market that
can also be used. The tubes for these are usually much smaller than 100 ml.
Now for a few extras you need to help with making an MBK skewer kite...
A ruler. Any length or type will do, although a meter
(yard) rule is more convenient. The shorter ones often come up short
when ruling lines for the 2-skewer kite sails! All MBK kites use
straight lines to make things easier.
A black marking pen. For drawing corner points and sail
outlines on light-colored plastic. The marks need to be easily visible
through 2 layers of the plastic.
A pair of scissors. These are mainly for cutting around the outline of the sail. They are also handy for snipping bamboo skewers to length.
A calculator. Yes, a calculator of some sort, like on your
mobile phone or the Windows one or whatever. But there's no heavy
calculating to be done! It's just handy for figuring out how long 0.3 x
(one skewer length) is, for example. In fact, right now, snip off the
point from one of your skewers and measure the skewer. This is 'one
skewer length'. Write this measurement down somewhere.
A smooth flat space to work on. If you are cutting kite
materials with a knife rather than scissors, you will need a smooth flat
surface that can be sliced into without upsetting anyone else! So
forget the 2-ton 17th Century polished oak table at your rich uncle's
The bamboo skewers pictured are 30 cm (12 inches) in length, costing just a few dollars for a packet of 100. If yours are a different length, don't worry. These instructions don't rely on absolute measurements for the spars or sail material. You will still end up with a flyable kite.
The photo shows absolutely all the kite materials needed, plus all the extras such as ruler, marker and scissors.
Including the table top!
As long as you have access to a supermarket you should be able to get these kite materials and other bits and pieces together! Half the items are probably lying around your house somewhere already.
Our very first 1-Skewer Dopero was done in black plastic. Here it is in flight, a Dopero kite that is technically a miniature... although in the very largest category, with a wing span of 30cm (1foot)!