How to Make a Kite: the Tabloid Sled.




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Knock up a decent kite in less time than it took to clear my workbench.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

@ A newspaper,
@ Sticky tape,
@ Light string,
@ Scissors
@ Long straight edge.

Step 2: Making the Sail

Carefully fold one sheet of your newspaper in half.

Mark points approximately half-way along the top and bottom edges, and about one thrird of the way down the side.

Join the points. (The dotted line is not essential - it is just to show where the longerons are going to be later.)

Cut along the lines and discard the triangular pieces.

Step 3: Longerons

Longerons are the spars of any kite that go front-to-back.

Take another double page of your newspaper. Roll it up tight from one vertical edge and tape together.

Make another roll of paper.

Decide which side of your sail will be facing you in flight, and place that side up. Tape one longeron on each side of the sail, where the dotted lines were in the previous step.

Notice that the end of the pice of tape folds over the edge of the sail and is stuck behind - a simple trick, but it makes the kite a lot stronger.

Step 4: The Bridle

Cut a piece of string about four times as long as the kite is wide (corner to corner).

Turn the kite longerons-down, and attach the string from corner to corner, using tape at each corner.

Tie the ends of the bridle together to make a loop. A reef knot (I think US readers may call it a square knot) is fine for this. The bulk of the loop should be in front of the kite.

Note that I have attached the string waaaay off-centre. This prevents the knot from obstructing the flying line when we attach it later.

Step 5: The Tail

Fold another sheet of the newspaper in half, three times. This makes eight layers.

Cut along the creases to make eight strips of paper, about two inches wide.

Tape four strips together, end-to-end. That's one tail.

Tape the other four together. That's a second tail.

Tape one tail to each lower corner of the sail.

Your kite is basically complete.

Step 6: The Flying Line

Tie the rest of your string to the mid-point of the bridle.

The best way to this is with a simple over-hand knot around the bridle, pulled very tight, and repeated several times.

If you can slide the knot along the bridle, but with some effort, then the knot is right.

Step 7: Flying the Kite

Check one of my other Instructables for how to launch and land your kite, and for general kite safety tips.

Be warned, though, this kite will not survive even a light shower of rain if it is in the air.

You may find that your kite tends to lean or fly over to one side in the air.

If the kite leans to the left, slide the knot along the bridle to the right. If it leans to the right, slide the knot to the left.

If sliding the knot does not cure the tilt, adjust the tails - cut or tear pieces of the tail. If the kite is going left, trim the left tail, and vice versa.

If you over-do it with the tail, you can trim the other side to match, but don't get carried away, just in case you run out of tail.

Emergency Kit

The kite has no financial value, but it's a pain if something goes wrong before you get a chance to enjoy it properly.

Take along a roll of tape and a pair of scissors when you fly it. Small rips can then be patched quickly, and tails can be re-attached without fuss (especially if you got carried away with the adjustments). You may want to take along a spare page or two as well, just in case.

If you are planning to fly the kite again, and you get is just right, wrap a piece of tape around the knot on the bridle to hold it in place, to save you needing to re-adjust it next time you fly.

Storage and transport

Assuming you want to fly the kite somewhere other than where you made it, you will need to make it more convenient to carry.

Gently roll the sail up around the longerons, then wrap the tails around the sail, then wrap the bridle around the whole thing. Lay it gently (complete with string) in the bottom of a carrier bag and roll up the carrier bag. Done.

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    22 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made this kite about a year ago, with some personal modifications to use glue instead of tape.

    The tails, I spiral cut out of two full broadsheets of newspaper laid over top of each other so they'd be even.

    Using cotton line, I ended up with a kite that I wouldn't feel too badly about if it got away from me and crashed into the bay.

    I flew it in a fresh breeze though and it never did get away from me. Amazing how strong dry newspaper can be. Great, steady flyer. In fact, the steadiest sled I've ever made. Going to use it in a kite making class in a couple months if that's alright.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Of course it's all right!

    Post some pictures of your class' kites flying when you're done.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    You look quite different then what I had expected. Nice kite anyway, but I'm interested in war kites, and overly fancy, big kites.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    So, random question that I'm sure I've seen answered before.

    What kind of science do you teach? lol

    Another nice recycling job. Good kite. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    At the moment, I teach all branches - I will probably end up specialising more in the next year or so, though.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thankyou, my small-cake-based friend, but most flat light materials will nake a kite, as long as you choose a design that allows for their strengths or weaknesses. I once saw a kite made of an old cotton shirt, and I've made kites from sweet-wrappers and brush-bristles. I feel a theme coming on.

    Welllllllllllll, he finally posted it! XD

    Yes that is a shameless bump

    For once I was not stalking...I just was revisiting old favorites! All concidence, I swear...


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    When I was in college the aerospace engineering department sponsored a kite flying contest. The winning kite was made by a couple of Chinese students. Five minutes before the contest started they made their kite out of napkins and straws from the cafeteria.

    omnibotLithium Rain

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    In Britain people can't go where they like but there are "commons", publicly available places.

    omnibotLithium Rain

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Not sure, only been to britain a few times. It's quite some way from Sweden. I think it has to do with most of their land beeing privatly owned and landowners beeing very territorial about it. Something like that anyway. I was quite shocked when my mate told me we couldn't climb a fence because the farmer would shoot at us.

    KitemanLithium Rain

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    In days of yore, almost the whole country was open access. The only bits you were banned from were forests - not necessarily heavily wooded, they were royal hunting grounds.

    Later, there were the acts of enclosure. Rich folk put fences around huge lumps of land and said "Mine, get off, poor people!". The bits left over were common land - owned by nobody in particular, used by anybody.

    The term is also used in some of the older universities - the commons is an indoor area where anybody (rather than just professors etc) is allowed to hang around and socialise.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Eeewww! That's like some twisted form of apartheid. Mind you, we've probably got somethings similar in our history. Just goes to prove things were'nt always better before.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    It's a large part of what makes us British - the origins of the class system.