How to Make a Kite

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About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

Intro: How to Make a Kite


A quick and easy box-kite with only a single spar. Most of the materials you need can be recycled from your local supermarket or burger joint. My local supermarket sells fresh pies in flat-bottomed bags, takeaway bags also work well, but this version uses two of the brown grocery bags given out by American supermarkets.



Note: I originally wrote this Instructable in 2007, and only used black-and-white diagrams.  I decided to update it in 2012, when in San Francisco, and all our shopping came in paper bags instead of plastic carriers.  For the sake of history, I have attached a PDF of the original version, but don't feel obliged to read it.

Step 1: You Will Need...

For this version, I used:

Two clean, flat-bottomed grocery bags, quarter-inch dowel, sewing thread, and glue.  The only tool I used was my Leatherman multitool.

You can substitute your own materials wherever you like (for instance, you could use the bag your burger came in, and the straw from your drink instead of the grocery sack and dowel).

(Irony: I used sewing thread to fly this version, but as we walked on from our test-flight, we found an abandoned reel of kite-line.)

Step 2: Make the Sail.


Open the bag out, carefully, into a sort of box shape.

Cut round the two short sides of the base, and one long side.

Lay the dowel inside the last, uncut, long side, sticking out at both ends.

Trim the dowel so that about an inch is sticking out at each side (remember symmetry).

Fold the base of the bag into the bag (over the dowel) and stick it down, trapping the dowel firmly in the crease.

Step 3: Make the Winder

You should have cut the handles off the bag.  If you haven't, do so now.

Cut another piece of dowel, slightly longer than the width of the handle.

Fold the ends of the handle over the dowel, and glue in place.

Cut a length of sewing thread, and double it up (if you are making a small kite, one thickness is fine, but this is a larger kite and I wasn't sure how hard it would pull).  Tie one end of the doubled thread to one end of the dowel, then wrap it around the dowel in a back-and-forth figure-of-eight fashion (look at the photo).

When you get to the other end of your thread, tie on a simple paperclip.

Step 4: The Bridle and Clutch

The bridle is the "harness" that connects the kite to the flying line.

For this kite, the best length of bridle is about three times as long as the width of the kite.

File a small notch in the end of the dowel, tie on the end of the bridle, and add a drop of glue to lock it on.

At the middle of the bridle, I usually fit a device I call (for no reason I can think of) a "clutch".  As far as I am aware, I am the only kiter that uses devices like this, in spite of their startling simplicity.

The clutch is designed to stop the end of the flying line sliding uncontrollably along the bridle, whilst allowing easy adjustment in the field.  For this kite, it is simply a short piece of one of the handles.  I cut two short slots in the piece of handle, then threaded the middle of the bridle through the holes.  This provides enough friction to stop the flying line sliding up and down, whilst being easy enough to adjust in just a few moments without any tools or having to take the kite apart.

Step 5: The Tails.

Most single-line kites need tails to keep them stable.

Many long floppy things will work as tails - pieces of ribbon, scraps of left-over tinsel, or even lengths of video cassette tape - but for this kite I used the second grocery sack.

I laid the bag out flat, and then cut across the bag to cut it into eight loops.

I opened each loop out into a strip, then glued pairs of strips together to make four tails.

I glued the tails inside the back of the kite (one in each corner), and the kite was ready to go.

Step 6: Flight

This kite is middling-portable.  It won't stuff into a pocket, but it does fold flat enough, with tail and winder inside, to slide it into the back of your back-pack.  It's only a paper bag, after all, so it adds practically nothing to your load.

The whole family went to test the kite - Roger-X helped fly it, Conker-X took photos, and Kitewife took some "me time" in the sun.

Technically, we used a high launch to get the kite airborne, but it wasn't a very high launch, because we were keeping the kite low enough to be photographed.

It flew quite well, until I trimmed the tails by about a foot, then it flew really well.

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This is a great kite to make with kids - easy to make, and easy to fly, and so cheap it's not a massive stress if it gets eaten by a tree

Enjoy.

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    27 Discussions

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    PKM

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Aha- finally a use for the brown paper bags we get from the sandwich shop. I've even got the dowel to hand, the challenge will be flying it and taking photos at the same time :)

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    zozzen

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Easy to follow and the kite seems to fly efficiently. Congratulations for the interesting work which will certainly make my day!

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    iceng

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Those bags are recycled, bio-degradable made by X-men...
    What else could you ask for :-)

    A

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    rimar2000

    7 years ago on Introduction

    40 years ago (or so) I did a "flying cylinder". It flew awesomely, I suppose this your is equally efficient, and a lot easier.

    But here are a serious epidemic of a disease that causes children and young people prefer watching football on TV to fly a kite...

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    Hetzau

    9 years ago on Introduction

    When you say cut four metre-long tails, do you mean cut 4 tails that are 1 metre long or cut tails that are 4 metres long? I'm a bit confused about that part. I need one of those bags now...

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    KitemanHetzau

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    It's 4x1m. Sorry, should have made that clearer. If you use very light tails (like video cassette tape) you can make them much longer if you want.

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    Kaiven

    10 years ago on Introduction

    OH SNAP. KITE MAN MADE A KITE. LOL anyway, this is cool, and i have some ideas for mine, if i make one. do you really need 4metre long tails? they always seem too long for me. on my last kite, it needed 6 foot tails, and i used like 3 feet. so, can i use smaller tails on my kite? or is it best to have a long length?

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    KitemanKaiven

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I used very light, smooth tails, so they needed to be longer. It also depends on wind conditions, and what sort of look you're going for. This is a small, anonymous kite, so it needed long tails to show up.

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    macrumpton

    10 years ago on Introduction

    You can even make these without the stick by rolling the bottom front edge of the bag 2 or 3 times around a pencil, then tape (or glue) the tube you have made and remove the pencil. You will have to trim the other front edges flush with your "tube"

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    fingers

    10 years ago on Step 2

    step by step photos would help me out a lot..thanks