How To Make A Barn Door Kite

Step-by-Step - Page 1 of 3 

The MBK Dowel Barn Door

This set of instructions on how to make a Barn Door kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required.

Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

The Dowel Barn Door is a fairly large tail-less design based on the traditional American kite. However, it will still fit into nearly all road vehicles, ready to fly. Either just in front of the rear seat, or flat in the trunk (boot).

This kite is good in light to moderate winds, and easily copes with gusty inland air. If the breeze strength is a bit too much for the Dowel Diamond or Rokkaku, it's time to pull out the Barn Door.

Setting up on the flying field is just a matter of attaching the bow-line toggle to put some curve into the horizontal spar. Then the flying line is attached to the bridle.

At this point you are ready to launch! The method of attachment is illustrated further down this page.

When you have successfully made and flown the Dowel Diamond, move up to this Barn Door for more of a challenge!

Making The MBK Dowel Barn Door Kite is a handy e-book of printable step-by-step instructions. It's a PDF file download.

I have chosen to make '1 Dowel Length' equal to 120cm for every kite in the Dowel series. If you are in North America, 48" of 3/16" dowel is close enough to 120cm of 5mm dowel. This will result in a kite with similar flying characteristics to my original.

 Like to see a video clip? Just scroll down to near the end...

How To Make A Barn Door Kite
Cutting The Sail

Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making a Dowel Barn Door, if you haven't already.

Sail template for the Dowel Barn Door kite.

The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

The Dowel Barn Door - template shape marked on plastic bag.
  • Firstly, take a large bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
  • Mark dots on the plastic which correspond to the corners of the Template. There is no need to use a T-square, or an extra-long ruler since any small errors in position will be duplicated on the other side of the sail.
  • Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots, as in the photo. For lines longer than the ruler, just add a few extra dots using one of the dowel spars as a ruler! Then it's easy to connect the dots with a ruler. It's probably best not to rule the whole line with the dowel, since it bends easily.


The Dowel Barn Door - complete sail outline marked
  • Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
  • Cut out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it out and lay it flat on the floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.


When doing the following, most of the width of the tape should be inside the kite's outline. Use a single length of tape for each line. Hold it out straight, touch it down to the plastic at one end, then at the other end, dab it down in the middle, then press down all along its length.

The Dowel Barn Door - sail cut out and edged with sticky tape.
  • Lay clear sticking tape along all the lines, letting it overlap at the corners.
  • With scissors, cut along all the black lines. This will leave most of the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline.




Try the Making The MBK Dowel Barn Door Kite PDF, if you prefer to work offline or from printouts. A little more convenient than working from live Web pages, you might find :-)


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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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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 ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
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

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