Make A Minimum Tetra Kite

A Paper Single-Cell Tetrahedral!

Presented here are a number of rather easy steps showing you how to make a minimum Tetra kite. That's right - a very simple, single-cell  tetrahedral. As such, the kite does require some tail but I have ensured that the tail is also very simple and easy to make from paper.

After making an initial prototype from plain paper, I went out to the side lawn of our house and let the kite catch a gust or 2 as the breeze whipped through our yard...

Making paper kites from a single sheet of Letter or  A4.So cheap and simple - but it flies!

Making paper kites from a single sheet of Letter or  A4.So cheap and simple - but it flies!

The design clearly needed a tail, so I ducked back inside and came out again with a generous amount of paper hanging off the lower corner of the sail. However, the kite still seemed rather limited in it's willingness to climb and stay up. It was time to tweak the design a little.

After lightening and lengthening the rolled-up paper cross-piece somewhat, the little kite started to behave! At a nearby grassy reserve, the tiny Tetra proved that it would indeed fly well in gusty Moderate wind.

So, the only materials required for the tiny Tetra design are

  • 2 sheets of plain copier paper. A4 or Letter size.
  • 18mm (3/4") clear sticky tape. In a dispenser preferably. Narrower tape should be OK as well, if that's all you have.
  • Any polyester sewing thread, preferably the lightest available. The lightest Dacron or Nylon flying line you can get your hands on should also do a good job.

No joke, that's it!

The tool required is anything with a sharp point, to poke a hole in paper. In fact, I got by with a ball-point pen! 

The MBK Paper Diamond, another design, could be considered the 'big brother' of the Minimum Tetra presented on this page. The Tetra actually looks very much like a Diamond when in flight!

When you've had a bit of fun with learning to make a minimum Tetra kite, try the more advanced Paper Diamond which will fly higher, longer and generally somewhat steadier, in similar wind conditions. Also, it will stay up in much lighter wind!

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

Step 1 - Make Sail

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 1aMeasured and dots marked

  • Select a sheet of copier paper in the desired color.
  • Measure and mark dots as indicated in the photo. The dots have been enhanced in yellow to make them easier to see.
  • A double-check... Measure from the dot at top-right, down to the dot below - the one on the edge of the paper. Shift the dot at top-right a little, if necessary, to make the distance between the dots exactly 20cm or 8".

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 1bLines drawn
  • Connect the dots using ruler and pen. The lines have been enhanced to make them easier to see.

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 1cSquare cut - keep the off-cuts!
  • With scissors, cut out the square of paper as shown. Sail's done!

Note: Don't throw away the off-cuts! There's enough there to make the cross-piece, which is coming up later...

Step 2 - Make Tail

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 2aMeasured and dots marked
  • Select a sheet of copier paper in the desired color.
  • Measure and mark dots as indicated in the photo. Precise measurements and squareness are not as important this time :-)

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 2bLines drawn
  • Connect the dots using ruler and pen. The lines have been enhanced in the photo to make them easier to see.

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 2cRectangles cut
  • With scissors, cut out the rectangles.

Making the Minimum Tetra kite - Step 2dRectangles taped together
  • Tape the 4 rectangles together, end-to-end and on both sides. A little overhang is OK - just fold any excess tape around to the other side. The tape position is shown in yellow, on the photo.

Step 3 - Attach And Split Tail

Attach And Split Tail - Step 3aTail aligned and taped
  • Take one end of the tail and line it up with one corner of the square sail as shown.
  • Sticky tape the tail in place. The yellow lines in the photo show where the tape goes.

Attach And Split Tail - Step 3bSail flipped
  • Flip the sail over.
  • Add another 2 short strips of sticky tape where shown. See how the overhanging corners of tape are folded around.

Attach And Split Tail - Step 3cTail split
  • With scissors, carefully snip right down the middle of the tail. Go all the way to near the corner of the sail, although that's hard to see in the photo.
  • If you want to, go a little crazy and scissor-cut a wavy or zig-zag line instead! But keep the cutting near the middle of the paper all the way.

Step 4 - Make Towing Point

Make Towing Point - Step 4aSail creased
  • Firstly, crease the sail paper sharply from the nose end corner right down to the corner where the tail attaches.

Make Towing Point - Step 4bTowing point hole and tape reinforcer
  • Measure 9cm (3 1/2") from the nose corner back along the crease and make a hole in the paper at that point. See the black dot in the photo.
  • Lay down a square of sticky tape so that the edge closest to the nose corner of the sail is right next to the hole. See the yellow lines in the photo.
  • Lay down a second square of sticky tape over the first one. One wasn't enough after some hard flying, I discovered!

Step 5 - Make Cross-Piece

Make Cross-Piece - Step 5aMeasured and dots marked
  • The off-cut from making the sail should be big enough to use for the cross-piece.
  • Measure and mark dots as indicated in the photo. Try to be reasonably accurate, as the strength and length of the cross-piece is what holds the correct sail shape in the air.

Make Cross-Piece - Step 5bLines drawn
  • Connect the dots using ruler and pen.

Make Cross-Piece - Step 5cRectangle cut
  • With scissors, cut out the rectangle.

Make Cross-Piece - Step 5dRectangle folded/rolled up and taped
  • Put a tiny fold all the way across a long edge. Then keep folding up the rectangle fairly tightly.
  • Stop the paper from un-folding by wrapping a 3cm (1") length of sticky tape around the middle.
  • Also wrap tape at 4 other places as shown by the yellow lines in the photo.
  • The piece of folded paper is probably fairly flat, so squeeze it here and there until it pops into a more circular shape. Make it like a rod rather than a ruler! Rolling it between your hands can also help the shape become circular.

Step 6 - Attach Cross-Piece

Attach Cross-Piece - Step 6aAttached at one side corner
  • Flatten the cross-piece at one end and line it up with a side-corner of the sail as shown in the photo. Skip down to the next photo for a moment, if necessary! The end of the cross-piece is highlighted in light-gray to make it easier to see.
  • Secure the cross-piece in place with a 3cm (1") strip of sticky tape. Fold the overhanging corners of the tape around to the other side. See the yellow lines in the photo.

Attach Cross-Piece - Step 6bAttached at both side corners
  • In the same way, attach the other end of the cross piece to the other side corner of the sail. See the photo.

Step 7 - Attach Flying Line

You have pretty much finished learning how to make a minimum Tetra kite at this point!

Assuming you have some polyester sewing thread wound onto something already..

Attach Flying Line - Step 7aThread poked through and taped
  • Unwind a short length of thread and poke the free end through the hole in the sail, as shown. One way to get started is to lay the thread across the hole then poke a pen or pencil tip through - taking some thread with it.
  • Pull 4cm (1 1/2") of thread over the square of sticky tape next to the hole.
  • Stick down the thread with enough sticky tape to cover the hole and all the thread. See the photo, which shows the position of the longer piece of sticky tape. The hole is on the left.

Step 8 - Flying!

That's the kite all done and ready to fly. All that remains is to go out when there's a fair amount of breeze and watch the little Tetra do it's thing! Floating steady or zipping around, depending on the strength of the wind.

Out In The Field

Diamond kite stories of my real-life flying experiences are worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

I hope you have enjoyed learning to make a minimum Tetra kite this way. Now, regarding flying...

You will need to wait for winds of between 12 and 28kph (8 to 18mph) for best results. The kite will be easiest to launch down at a beach - but don't get it wet!

You will do best if you use ordinary polyester sewing thread for the flying line.

There's a video further down of the completed kite in lurid purple paper. At least it's easy to see...

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!


Try the MBK Paper Diamond too, which will fly in wind speeds of 8 to 28kph (5 to 18mph). A useful wind range indeed!

You might like these...

FREE E-Book!

I'm referring to Simplest Dowel Kites, my popular kite-making download. It's a printable PDF file. Make a diamond, delta or sled. Each kite is capable of flying hundreds of feet up for hours on end.

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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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