Vintage Box Kites

by David




I'm trying to reconstruct some vintage box kites for use in a series of photographs and wondered if you may know from what materials these are likely to have been made and where I might find more info on how to construct them.

Any ideas gratefully received.


Off the top of my head, I can offer the following snippets of info on vintage cellular kites...

  • For smaller kites, paper was often used as the sail material. Sometimes spars were pasted to the paper, before the kite was tensioned up. Otherwise panels were cut out with tabs which were then folded around spars before being pasted down to secure the panel.

  • Larger kites often used silk panels, with light oil rubbed in to reduce porosity to air.

  • The very smallest and lightest kites sometimes used balsa or bamboo strips for the spars (frames). Bamboo can be heated to achieve curvature - such as can be seen in one of your photos.

  • Larger kites used rectangular-section strips of light wood such as bass, pine or spruce. I think paper was still used on some of the smaller kites with such spars.

  • Hemp twine and/or hot glue were used to attach the wooden pieces together.

Here are 2 books by Charles Miller that have been brought back into print by Amazon. They could be very helpful for your quest, being first published in the early 20th century...

"Kitecraft and Kite Tournaments - 1919"

"The construction and flying of kites"

Also, try "Box Kites" for details on traditional materials and construction techniques.

I'm sure almost everything you need will be in there somewhere! Trying to find the same info just lying around on the Web somewhere might prove to be a long slog - I think the books are your best approach.

One final comment. Cellular kites such as the ones featured in your photos can vary enormously, limited only by the creativity and ability of the designer. They tend to attract mathematical types of people. Therefore, plans or instructions for the specific kites in the photos might not exist :-)

Best of luck with your project...

Comments for Vintage Box Kites

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Oct 27, 2011
No Problem.
by: Tim Parish

You're welcome David - by creating the page, others will be able to find it too, by using the Search Engines.

Oct 27, 2011
by: David

Thank you so much for taking the time to give these answers.

All very useful and gratefully received.

Many Thanks,

Oct 26, 2011
Kite Plans On The Web
by: Anonymous

Thought you might like this link as a helper to anyone wanting to attempt their own tetrahedral kite making?

Click here to add your own comments

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