Make Your Own Style Of Kite
Although many different kites are described in this book, this suggestion may appeal to
the reader who is keen on experimental work. Kites can be made in many shapes, and as long
as the rules of balance, lightness and strength are kept in mind, they should fly well. On
this point J. G. Wood once wrote: 'The old theory used to be that a very slight deviation
from accurate proportions in a kite must certainly prove fatal to its powers of flight;
but of late years ... we have discovered that so long as certain rules of symmetry are
observed, that is, so long as one side fairly balances the other, there is almost no
conceivable shape that may not be made to mount up as a kite into the sky.' Obviously then
there is great opportunity for individual design; and this being so, it may be helpful to
the would-be designer to have some guidance in how to begin and how to carry the project
through. The following step-by-step instructions serve this purpose.
Finding a Kite Design
The first thing to do is to think of a suitable design.
This is not difficult. The silhouette of a bird or a plane may suggest a shape. Again,
variations of the box-kite theme may be worked out. There are also certain basic forms,
with which one might experiment - the square, the oblong, the triangle, the diamond and
the circle. The designer works on the shape or shapes which appeal to him. He arranges,
combines or alters them, and so evolves a satisfactory plan on the drawing board. As an
example of this, we select three shapes and combine them in a pleasing design (see Fig.
Drawing the Kite Design
The next step is to decide the overall size of the kite,
so that the design can be worked out to scale on paper. The reader is invited at this
point to produce his own scale plan from the full-size measurements given. The kite shown
is 2 ft. 6 in. in length, and 2 ft. 6 in. at its widest part. These measurements are
scaled down to one-sixth, and everything is drawn to this proportion. The procedure is as
follows. Draw the backbone first at the centre of the paper. This is the key piece upon
which everything else depends. Now add the lines representing the two crossbars, which
support the wing and the tail. The position of crossbars in kite design depends upon the
general shape and proportions. The largest part of this kite is the diamond-shaped wing,
which is 2 ft. 6 in. in width and half the length of the backbone. The top crossbar is
drawn across the centre of the wing. The next item is the triangular tail. In the
interests of a pleasing design it is made smaller than the wing, being 2 ft. in width and
occupying one quarter of the length of the backbone. Draw a line representing the tail
crossbar. In the diagram two vertical struts will be seen, connected to the crossbars.
They form the body supports, and on the actual kite are fixed 5 in. from each side of the
backbone. Add a small crossbar at the centre of the backbone, and the framework is
complete. Note that on the plan being made, full-size measurements relating to every part
are given. To complete the plan, draw lines representing the bracing strings. Two large
dots indicate the bridle tying points at the backbone junctions.
The kite can now be built with the plan for a guide. The
following are the materials recommended. Stripwood, 3/8 in. square for the backbone, and
£ in. square for the struts; split cane for the crossbars; paper or cloth for the cover.
To these are added binding thread, bracing string, bridle string and kite line. Cut the
backbone, and groove it at the top and bottom. Prepare the crossbars in the same way, and
then bow them by the method described in Chapters 1-6. The large one is curved to a depth
of 21/4 in.; the smaller one 2 in., and the 11 in. centre crossbar about 1/2 in. Secure
these to the backbone. Glue small blocks on either side to keep them parallel. Attach the
vertical struts. Now brace the framework and test it for firmness. Next add the cover
which may be lightweight cloth or unbleached greaseproof paper. Attach the bridle to the
backbone in the form of a loop, and to this, tie the kite line. The bridle is twice the
length of the kite. A tail, 6 ft. in length, is tied to the bottom of the
Hargrave box-kite, first made in 1893
The kite is now ready to be tested in different flying conditions.
Make any necessary adjustments to suit the occasion. Calculate the speed of the wind by
the help of the Beaufort Wind Scale. When you have done this, note whether at a given
speed the tail is just right, or has to be weighted or lightened. Take note also whether
the position of the kite line has to be altered. Such on-the-spot observations and
adjustments are vital in attaining the skill so necessary for successful kite flying. The
reader may also be interested in the style of the Hargrave box kite, seen in Plate IV. On
the basis of the illustration a scale plan could be prepared for guidance in the
construction of the kite. As will be seen, it consists of a double framework, linked
together by two main centre longerons. On the other hand, the bands could be linked
together by means of four corner longerons.
19 Great Kites to Make