The Small Fish Kite
Here is a kite of unusual design, which looks very attractive in flight. The time and care needed in the construction will be amply repaid by its performance. Being a multi-frame type, it is important to maintain the correct proportions of every part. The first stage is to make the framework. The backbone A, in 1/4 in. square stripwood, is 1 ft. 6 in. in length. The crossbars, B, C, and D are formed from thin split cane. B is 1 ft. 3 in. in length, and C and D are 1 ft. Groove them at the ends. The crossbars must now be formed in a bow shape. This is achieved by applying dry heat to the bars whilst the shaping is being done. The curve is retained by means of bowstrings, tied to each end of the bars. The depth of the curve for the largest crossbar is 1 1/2 in. at the centre, and the curves on the other two must correspond to this. Check that this is so by laying the smaller bars in turn on the larger one. The curves on all the canes should match. Fix the crossbars to the backbone. The larger one is lashed to the centre of the backbone. The two smaller ones are attached at points 3 in. from the top and the bottom of the backbone. Glue 1/2 in. blocks of stripwood to the latter on either side of the crossbars, to help to hold them in place. Smear the binding string with glue to stiffen it, and treat all further bindings in the same way.
Centre cane, such as is used in basketry and cane furniture, is used for the shaped framework, because it is easy to form in sharp curves. Use cane which is 3 mm. in diameter, and before shaping it, soak it in water for an hour. The outer curve, E, requires a piece which is 4 ft. in length. Lash it at its centre to a point which is near to the top of the backbone. Glue a small strip-wood block to the backbone just below and touching the joint, which will act as a buffer for the cane. Cover the joint with a glued strip of cloth, and treat all the ends of the framework in the same way, as shown in Fig. 13. Now with a pencil mark a position which is 21/4 in. from each end of the centre crossbar. Glue small blocks to the bar, on the inside of the pencil marks. Bend the cane round, so that it rests against the blocks, and lash it securely in place. Next, bring the cane down to a position which is 3 in. from each end of the bottom crossbar, and tie securely. Complete the shaping by bringing the cane to the bottom of the backbone, bind round and tie. In order to make a neat bottom joint, score the cane with a sharp knife, 1/2 in. from its ends, and with the knife, shave the ends of the cane flat to a length of 1/2 in. The ends will now quite easily bend to a sharp angle, to fit flush with the backbone (see Fig. 13). Now secure the cane to the top crossbar with strong thread.
Next mark on the backbone a position which is 3 1/2 in. from the top. Place the ruler on this position so that it lies across the framework, parallel to the crossbars, and mark corresponding positions on the outer curved cane. These marks indicate where the inner curves, F and G, are fixed. The two canes required for this measure 2 ft. in length. Flatten the ends of these to a length of 1/2 in. with a sharp knife and flatten slightly the curved cane, E, on the inside by the pencil marks. Begin the shaping with the cane, F. Glue and bind one end to the outer curve, E. Bring the cane in a curve across the backbone at the point which is marked off in pencil. Flatten the cane slightly where it rests on the backbone. Glue it down and further hold it in place with one or two turns of thread. Glue small blocks to the backbone on each side of the cane. Now bring the other cane, G, to the same position and lash the two canes securely to the backbone with strong thread. Take the cane, F, in a continuing curve to a point on the centre crossbar, which is 1 in. from the backbone. Place a small block under the cane at this point. The end of the cane is brought to the right-hand end of the bottom crossbar, to which it is securely bound. Repeat the procedure for the other cane. Note that where this cane crosses the centre crossbar, a small block is inserted to fill the gap.
Two other curved parts, H and I, are needed to complete the framework. They are each 10 in. in length and are flattened at both their ends. Bind them to the outer curve, 2 in. below the centre crossbar, and also to the backbone, 2 in. from the bottom. Check all the joints to make sure they are firm, and make sure that all the curves correspond on each side of the backbone. The framework is now ready to be braced. Tie a length of fine string to the end of the top crossbar. Take it over the end of the centre bar, and tie at the joint below it. Repeat the procedure for the other side. Next tie a length of string to the end of the bottom crossbar and tie to the backbone where the inner canes are joined. From there, take it to the other end of the crossbar, and tie. Make the bracing strings taut. At this stage, prepare the cover. Lay the framework on a sheet of unbleached greaseproof paper, and draw the shape as at J. Add a margin of 1 in. all round for overlapping and cut out. It is a matter of choice whether or not the small curved centre-piece is cut out. Slit the margin at intervals to make the work of wrapping it round the framework easier.
The cover may now be decorated. Eyes, scales, and fin marks may be painted in blue on a background of aluminium paint. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly and then glue the cover to the framework and bracing strings. The bridle is formed of thin strong string, which is 3 ft. 6 in. in length. Secure it to the backbone in the form of a loop at the positions shown at K (Fig. 13). The kite line is attached to the bridle by means of a bowline knot and a reef knot. See 'Knots' in Chapter 7. This kite requires a tail which is 4 ft. 6 in. in length. Small fish, 5 in. long by 2 1/2 in. wide, cut from thin cardboard and having four small holes punched down the centre, are used for the tail pieces. They are spaced 5 in. or 6 in. apart, and are threaded on to the string by means of the holes. Tie a bow at the bottom of the string. The tail fish match the general colour scheme, for example, one blue, the next aluminium and so on. J and K (Fig. 13) show additional decoration to the kite. This is in the form of strips of paper attached to strings, which are fastened to the top curve of E, and to the top curves of F and G. A large fish kite may be made by doubling all the measurements given. In this case | in. square stripwood and 5 mm. centre cane would be used, and stronger string would be needed for the bridle and kite line. One could also use lightweight cloth instead of paper for the cover.