Introduction: How to Make a Plastic Bullet Kite
A super easy and cheap to make that also flies like a mighty eagle on a sunny day. Not to mention it's rather good at demonstrating some basics of aerodynamic theory: lift, gravity and drag.
Step 1: Things You Will Need...
In order to make your kite you will need:
-A sheet of plastic that measures 33 1/2" by 24". I used a very large plastic bag but a sturdy black bin bag is about right too
-A smaller sheet of plastic measuring 19 1/2" by 26". This is about the size of a standard carrier bag, but again bin bags or any plastic sheeting is good.
-3 balsa wood dowels 24" long. I've used 6mm dowels, but larger ones will also work. Balsa dowels are available from craft shops and hardware shops, but if neither are available, garden canes are also a good alternative (the green sticks to keep plants on the straight an narrow)
-Sticky tape, double sided sticky tape and reinforced sticky tape. I used a heavy duty cloth gaffer tape, but gaffer tape or all weather tape of any sort will work well.
-Kite line and handle. Available from specialists and some toy shops and online. In the UK, Kite Shop has a massive range or stuff. A mid weight fishing line can also be used and is a bit cheaper and re-usable.
-Hole punch, scissors, marker pen and tape measure.
Step 2: Making Your Pattern...
Fold your larger sheet or plastic in half and mark the pattern on to it. I use white board marker to mark my measurements and then permanent marker in a different colour to mark my cutting line. This comes from many years of cutting down the wrong line and having some very squint patterns.
Once you are happy with your patter cut it out. Make sure the fold stays in the same place. You might want to tape the fold together to stop any movement or rather than use a fold draw out the entire kite pattern as a whole and cut it out that way.
Do the same for the sleeve pattern using the smaller sheet of plastic. The line down the middle of this pattern is not a cutting line. It is just the marker for the middle of the sleeve, you'll see why in a bit...
Step 3: Putting the Dowels in Place
Position the 3 dowels in place as shown in the photo and sticky tape them in place. Use as much sticky tape as you feel necessary. I put 3 wide strips of it on the top, bottom and middle of the dowels.
Make sure that the sticky tape goes right round the dowel and sticks to the plastic. You don't want your dowels falling out mid flight. Loosing an eye by kite is not cool. I find a rolling motion when sticking the tape down eliminates this risk.
Step 4: Attaching the Sleeve
Put a strip of double sided sticky tape down the entire length of the centre dowel. This is were the centre line you marked on the sleeve comes in handy.
You need to match the centre line to the line of double sided sticky tape. Since the double sided sticky tape is by nature, very sticky, you only get one shot at this, particularly since the plastic is liable to stretch and tear if you try and remove it if wrongly positioned.
The easiest way to do the is to fold the sleeve in half along the centre line and place it on the double sided sticky tape, taking care to align top and bottom.
Step 5: Securing the Sleeve
The sleeve needs to be secured on both sides in order to create tunnels for the wind to pass through and give the kite lift.
The sleeve is secured with sticky tape on either side, as close to the dowels as possible.
To prevent accidentally sticking in the wrong place, Fold the kite underneath itself, out of the way and attach the length of sticky tape to the sleeve. Once the tape is in place, hold it out of the way and unfold the kite back in to place. Carefully line up the edge of the sleeve with the outside of the dowel and secure into place. Make sure the sticky tape runs from top to bottom, any spaces will allow air to escape from the tunnels and hinder your kites flight.
Step 6: Reinforce Your Kite
If your turn your kite over, you'll realise it is now looking very kitey indeed.
To make sure you don't loose your kite on it's maiden flight, you need to reinforce all the points of stress. This includes where bridle will be tied and where the spars are.
A bridle is the string or line that is permanently attached to the kite. It is this which you attach to your line in order to fly it. A kite has a bridle so that it is easy to attach and detach from a line rather than tying fiddly knots all the time.
The spars are what your doweling becomes as soon as it is attached in place. They give the kite it's structure, although not all kites have spars.
But, reinforcing. The picture shows you all the points that need to be reinforced with the reinforced sticky tape. This won't always look particularly pretty, but you won't see it once it's in the sky. If there is any overhang of tape, just trim it.
Step 7: Punching Holes
Punch the holes for your bridle to go through.
Using the hole punch, line up the corner of the kite, which you reinforced in the previous step and punch a hole. Make sure the hole isn't too close to the edges.
Step 8: What Your Kite Should Look Like by Now
You are now ready to attached the bridle line to the kite. This is the string that stays permanatly attached to the kite that allows a kite line and handle to be attached to when ready for use.
There are various methods for doing this. A length of kite line should be attached between points A and B. Tie a loop in this string, this is where you will attach your standard kite line to in order to fly your kite.
An ideal knot to attache your kite string to you kite is the larks head know, a tutorial of how to tie this knot (as well as other kite flying tips) can be found here: