Introduction: Fabric Stunt Kite From Scratch.. With No Sewing!

Here is an inexpensive project that I originally intended for a younger crowd (I was excited to build this with my nephew).  total cost was less than $40 including some of the tools I used to build it.

Total build time 6-8 hours.

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

My goal was to find materials that were cheap and readily available at any home improvement store.  I added the prices for reference.  If it doesn't have a price next to it, I already had it in the garage.

-Ripstop nylon ($7.99/yard).  I bought 1 yard of each color which is A LOT of fabric for this project.  If you cut out the fabric with some planning I think you can get up to 5 kites out of  the amount of fabric I purchased.

-1/4 inch round wooden dowels, 36 inch long ($0.57 each).  6 of these should be enough for a "mismeasurement" or two ;).

-1/4 inch inner diameter vinyl tubing, 24 inches($0.32/inch). This is what is going to keep the dowels together.

-Fabric glue ($4.99).  I bought the cheapest stuff I could find on the shelf at the fabric store when I bought the ripstop nylon.

-Superglue ($2.99 tube).  This is used to glue the fabric to the vinyl tubing when necessary.

-Kite string ($5.00/500 ft.).  You have to control the kite while its flying and you do that with kite string!

-Safety pins ($1.00 for a package of 25).  These are optional for holding the longer runs of fabric together while you glue.

-Scissors ($4.00).  Used for cutting the fabric and the wooden dowels if you have some patience.

-fine tip permanent marker. Used for marking your measurements on the dowels and the fabric.

-Cardboard for making a pattern.  Optional.  Measuring out the triangle for the kite once on cardboard speeds things up and helps to keep both halves of the kite symmetrical.  I used a medium sized u-haul box.

-Tape measureand 36 inch straight edge.  Used for measuring!

-Protractor.  This is the tool that will measure the angles we need for the triangles of the kite.

-Manual pencil sharpener.  This is for rounding the ends of the wooden dowels.

-handsaw and miter box.  This is optional for cutting the wooden dowels.

-A Nail.  Make sure its fairly big... it has to get a hole started that the wooden dowels will fit through.

-A space to lay out fabric while you measure and cut it out.  I used the kitchen floor.

Step 2: Building the Frame

materials and tools needed for this step:
-wooden dowels
-vinyl tubing
-A nail
-tape measure
-permanent marker

Dowel lengths needed:

-3 x 36 inch long.
-1 x 10 1/4 inch long.
-1 x 12 1/2 inch long.

The relative long length of vinyl tubing is needed for leverage when you force the dowels through the tubing.

vinyl tubing lengths needed: DO NOT CUT THESE LENGTHS OUT YET.

-1 x 3  inch long.  This is for the tip/nose of the kite.
-6 x 2 1/4 inch long. these are for the cross bar connections.
-2 x 1/2 inch long.  these two are for the outer ends of the wings to hold the fabric from ungluing/unravelling.

1. Measure out the dowel lengths needed.  3 of the dowels shouldn't even need to be trimmed.  The two shorter lengths should come from one dowel.  I used a miter box with a hand saw to cut my dowels.  Scissors can be used if you slowly cut into the dowel in a circle around the entire circumference (exercise some patience if this is the route you use).

2. use the pencil sharpener to round the ends of the dowels.  Don't sharpen to a sharp point.  It just needs to be rounded to get started through the tubing. Refer to the schematic picture to see where your tubing sections need to be on each dowel. (photos)

3. measure half an inch from the end of your vinyl tubing and make a mark.  At this mark you will push the nail through the tubing perpendicular to the length of the tubing. Do this once then move onto the next step.(photo)

4. It takes a little muscle and determination to get the dowel through the tubing.  This is why we left the long length of tubing... you can use it to get some leverage when forcing the dowel through the hole made by the nail. (photo)

5. once you have the first dowel through you can measure it to 2 1/4 inches long and cut it. 

6. repeat for all the sections needed. 

The tip/nose of the kite will have the 3 inch section of tubing on it.

two of the 36 inch dowels need to have 2 pieces of tubing on them.  One 36 inch dowel needs a piece of vinyl tubing at its center. the 10 1/4 inch long dowel needs a piece of vinyl tubing at its center as well.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Fabric

materials and tools needed:
-ripstop nylon
-tape measure
-straight edge

I used a cardboard pattern that I measured and cut out.  This makes it a little easier to get both sides symmetrical and you only have to measure once for both sides of the kite.  once you measure and cut out the cardboard you can trace it on your fabric. Now you just need to cut your fabric out.

Sparing you the pain of the trigonometry I had to brush up on, there is a picture with the dimensions I used.

Note that two sides have an extra 1 1/2 inches of fabric.  This is for gluing together the sleeves that the dowels will go in later.

Step 4: Gluing Fabric Together

materials and tools needed.
-fabric glue
-the fabric you just cut out.
-safety pins (optional)

NOTE: only glue one of the 19 inch sides into a sleeve.  The other one will be used to glue the two halves of fabric together.

On two of the edges of your fabric there is a 1 1/2" tab that will be folded over the dowels.  For starters the longest edge of the fabric will be folded over the 36 inch long dowels.  I did this by tracing a line along the edge of the tab and then running a bead of fabric glue along that line and folding it over without the dowel.  once the entire length was glued I ran a dowel into the sleeve while it dried.   One of the 19 inch length sides will also be glued into a sleeve for the dowel. (photo)

Safety pins helped when trying to glue the long lengths but they are not necessary..

Now we can glue both halves together.  Simply take the half with the 19 inch side that did not get a sleeve glued together and trim it from 1 1/2 inches to 1/2 inch.  Liberally apply glue to the 1/2 inch and set the other half into the glue (leave the dowel in the sleeve while you do this)

Find a safe place to let this dry overnight.

Step 5: Assembling the Frame and Fabric.

Now we can assemble everything!
materials and tools needed:
-tape measure
-kite parts you've assembled up to this point
-fabric glue
-extra piece of wooden dowel (for smoothing out fabric glue bead)

getting the fabric ready:
The long 36 inch edges will have two cuts made for the tubing on the dowels to stick through.  These will be at 7 1/2 and 25 1/2 inches from the tip.   Once you have marked your measurements you want a 1/2 inch trimmed out of the fabric.  Use the marks at 7 1/2 and 25 1/2 inches as the center of your holes you cut in the sleeve (measure 1/4 inch both ways from your mark to get your 1/3 inch hole).  Trim to, but NOT past, the glue that's holding the sleeve together. (photo)

getting the outside edge dowels inserted:
Now we can slide the dowel into the sleeve. Take the vinyl tubing off of the 2 dowels that will be the outside edges (they have 2 pieces of tubing on them).
1. Starting at the tip slide the dowel in the sleeve. 

2. Once you get to the first hole cut in the sleeve slide the first piece of vinyl tubing back onto the dowel. Now get the dowel back into the sleeve to continue.

3. Inch by inch slide the dowel into the sleeve while keeping the vinyl tubing in the same place (which is the hole you trimmed in the fabric just for the vinyl tubing. 

4.  repeat step 2 for the second piece of vinyl tubing once you get to the second hole.

5. once the dowel is all the way into the sleeve your done.  rinse and repeat for the other side :)

Assembling the center section:
The 19 inch long sleeve (now in the center of the kite after gluing together both halves) will also need 2 holes cut for the short center dowel to stick out of.

1. Assemble the frame now that the outside edges are in the fabric sleeves.  This is how we are going to measure for the cuts on the center sleeve.

2. Once its all together note where the vinyl tubing ends on the center dowel and measure away from the vinyl tubing a 1/4 inch and mark the fabric sleeve.  This is where you will cut slits for the center dowel (both ends of the center dowel go into vinyl tubing).  Don't cut all the way through the layers of fabric, just the top layer of the sleeve.  All we want is to get the dowel into and out of the sleeve.

3. Now just slide in the dowel and and put it back in the vinyl tubing after its in the fabric.

Note: I cut a 1/4 inch hole instead of just a slit to make it easier to get the dowel to come out of the sleeve when I was assembling the center section.

A couple more little steps to finish:
Here is where the superglue is used.
These glue steps are important!! It adds strength to the end of the sleeve so the fabric glue will hold when you fly this kite in fast/gusty winds.

1. Use the 3 inch length of tubing to get the tip back together.  Now use the superglue to glue the fabric to the vinyl tubing after the fabric is pulled up over the vinyl tubing.

2. The 1/2 inch lengths of tubing from the frame assembly step will go on the tail ends of the outside edges.  Superglue the fabric to the vinyl tubing here. 

3. run a bead of  fabric glue along the trailing edge of fabric (the only edge that doesn't have a dowel in it).  Now use an extra piece of wooden dowel to smooth the fabric glue bead down.  Now this edge won't fray when it's flapping in the wind.

Voila! a stunt kite!... now we just need to attach some lines.

Step 6: Attaching the Lines

materials and tools needed:
-kite string (200ish feet)
-your stunt kite

There are a total of 6 connection points on this kite (3 for each side).  Refer to the picture to see where they all attach.

I tied a loop in one end and made all lengths that were 24 inches long (6 total).  Connect a string to each attachment point.  To do this just run the string around the dowel and then pass the straight end through the loop and tighten. 

-The top attachment points go above the horizontal dowel
-The lower outside edge attachment points go below the longer horizontal dowel.
-The bottom center attachment points have to attach them around the horizontal dowel as well as the vinyl tubing.

Once the strings are attached pull them tight.  Here are the lengths for each section.  NO cutting yet!!

top string = 14 1/2 inches
bottom outside edge string = 13 1/2 inches
bottom inside strings = 11 1/2 inches

1. measure out each string to its appropriate length and make a mark on the string with the marker. 

2. Once you have them all marked out take the 2 left side strings and one of the bottom middle strings and line up all the marks you measured out. 

3. Once they are lined up dab some superglue on all three on the marks so they will stay together.  

4. After the superglue dries tie a knot in all three strings that lines up over the superglued marks.  I dabbed a little glue on the tied knot to keep it secure.

5. repeat for the right side.  you can trim the extra string off after the glue is dry and the knots are tied in the string. (photo).

The control lines.
You will need 2 lines that will control the kite while you're flying it.  One for your left hand and one for your right hand. These lines should be somewhere in the range of 70-100 feet long.  I think the picture will be much better at explaining how the lines attach to your shiny new stunt kite... (photo)  Start by tying a loop in one end of each line and then follow the last picture!

Step 7: Go Fly a Kite!

Materials and tools needed:
-stunt kite
-control lines
-some wind! (I was getting my build up in 6-10 mph winds, but it gets really fun at around 15 mph)
-the extra vinyl tubing

Now that you have a kite and can attach the control lines without any hardware its time to get out and find some wind!

the lengths of the 3 attachment lines on the kite are adjustable by wrapping them around the dowels.

I found that the top line of the three attachment strings makes the biggest adjustment.   Starting out the top string will probably be too long.  This causes the kite to just stand up and hop along the ground when you tug on the lines to launch it.  I ended up wrapping the top strings around the short horizontal dowel 6 times for the best control.

Experiment with the attachment string lengths to see what works best for your setup.

I used the extra vinyl tubing as handles for holding onto the control lines while flying my kite.  I tied a loop in the end of my control lines and cut my extra tubing in half.  Then the loop end of my line went through the tubing and then the entire piece of tubing went through the loop hole.  Handles that won't cut into your hands!

Go fly a kite!

To launch it, have the wind at your back and slowly stand the kite up with the control lines until its almost vertical.  A small tug on both lines will get it to hop up off the ground and start flying.

pull on the left line to make it turn left
pull on the right line to make it turn right.
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