How to Build a Kite

Kites have been in use for over 2,000 years, first appearing in China. Since their invention, kites have been used as military equipment, to improve radio antenna reception, in weather forecasting and even in Benjamin Franklin’s discovery that lightning is indeed electricity.  Through the ages, kites have also become a fun recreational hobby. These flying machines can be made as simple or as complex as you want. Simple homemade kites can be created in an hour with a little know how and some basic material.

How to Make a Kite – Materials

In order to grasp the basics of how to make a kite first we need the proper materials. To make a simple diamond shaped kite the following are required:

Kite Dimensions

The first step to make a kite is to sort out all the dimensions before gluing, cutting or taping anything. Lay out whatever material you plan on using for the kite itself on a solid surface. The two wooden dowels or sticks will form the structure of the kite. A normal diamond kite consists of a spine and a spar. The spine runs length wise of the kite and the spar is the width support.

To set up a diamond shape, think about the shape of a holy cross. The spar will be off centered so the bottom half of the spine will be longer than the top half. Both of your spin and your spar should be close to the same length. Usually, it’s best to have the spar slightly less in length than the spine. For instance, a spine of 34 inches would work well with a spar of 32 or 33 inches.

For a basic diamond kite, set the spar and the spine on top of the material so sticks form a holy cross shape. Adjust them so the top half of the spine is about half of the length of the bottom half.

Drawing the Sail

How to Build a Kite

How to Build a Kite

Mark the material lines on the sail that represent your spar and spine. Connect the ends of your drawn out cross to form a classic diamond kite shape. If you are unsure about the size of your kite and would like to make it bigger, this is the step to do it. Remember that bigger kites will have a bigger sail and will fly better and in a more stable manner.

Creating the Sail

With some handy scissors, carefully cut your sail out by following the marked lines of the diamond. Don’t cut the lines that represent your spar and spine. Otherwise, you simply won’t have a kite to work with at all.

Creating the Basic Kite

A diamond shaped sail and two wooden dowels means that you are close to finally creating a proper kite. Position the spar and spine on the sail to check that the dimensions are correct. Using either glue or rope, attach the spar and spine together where they intersect.

For basic recreation kites, durable tape is usually a pretty good adhesive to connect the sail and the dowels. The tape will also provide a bit of extra stability. Tape the dowels down onto the kite material carefully and smoothly. It’s also a good idea to run tape alongside the borders of your sail fabric to gain some stability when flying. You can also experiment by not taping the borders and even using something other than tape to connect the dowels and the sail if you’d like.

Setting up The String

A kite is not complete without a tethering structure which, in this case, will be string going from the user to the kite. Locate a nice spot on the top half of the spine that is several inches above the center point. Locate another spot on the bottom half of the spin, several inches below the center point.

Create two holes on the spine big enough to pass the string through. Make sure you do this for both the top and bottom half of the spine. You may also want to first place a piece of tape and then poke two holes. Once again, this is simply if you want to add a bit more stability to that particular area.

Finishing the String Work

Pass a piece of string through both the top and the bottom half holes to create a keel. Pull on the keel at about the center of the kite – where the spine and spar intersect. This is the point on the keel where you will tie another piece of string in order to properly control the kite. Make sure the knots made with the string are all secure.

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