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25 Kites That Fly
2 Stick Frames
3 Stick Kite Frames
Broom-Straw Frames
Bear Dancing
Boat Sail
Box, Pyramidal
Box, Rectangular
Box, Square
Box, Square with Wings
Box, Tri,  Wings
Triangular Box Kite
Loose Kites
Butterfly 1
Butterfly 2
Butterfly Chinese
Kite Clubs
Dragon Chinese
Dragons & Fish
Kite Flying
Flying Machine
Frog 1
Frog 2
Japanese Square
Keeled Buoy
King Crab
Knives & Cutters
Luna Kite
Kite Making
Maley or Bow
Maly Triple
Moving Star
Neptune Notes
Owl 1
Owl 2
Pulley Weight
Shield 1
Shield 2
Star, 5 Point
Star, 6 Point
Star, Belly-Band
String 1
String 2
Tailless R Best
Useful Info
Where to Fly
Winding In

Scout Books

Site Contents

By Leslie Hunt

Many things will occur to the amateur kite maker that will be worth writing down for future use.  In this chapter are given a few useful recipes and directions.


A good paste may be made of flour.  Sift a heaping tablespoonful of flour into a cup of lukewarm water.  Beat thoroughly in order to remove all lumps.  Add a scant teaspoonful of sugar and pour into a saucepan or other convenient utensil.  Into the flour mixture pour a cup of vigorously boiling water stirring constantly.  Keep at a boiling temperature, and stir until the color becomes opalescent.  Then stir in a half teaspoonful of ground cloves or cinnamon and transfer to a jar or can.  Let the paste cool before using, thinning if necessary with warm water.

The manufacturers of minute tapioca describe a paste that is unsurpassed: One cup boiling water; 2 level tablespoonfuls minute tapioca; 3 level tablespoonfuls sugar; 1 teaspoonful lemon juice; 1 pinch salt; 1 large pinch cinnamon.

Stir the ingredients into the boiling water and cook in a double boiler until very thick.  A little salt added to the water in the outer vessel raises the boiling point and lessens the time required for cooking.  Let the paste cool before using.  Keep covered when not in use, and the paste will keep a long time.


Various kinds of liquid glue are to be had, the standard brands being very satisfactory.  Prepared glue is costly, but only a little is required. Too much glue is almost as bad as none at all.  When gluing kite sticks, a thin even coat on clean, dry wood is much better than a heavy daub on a damp or dirty stick.  After gluing, the sticks should be held together with a clamp or by wrapping with string, but the sticks should not be clamped too tightly or they may break at the joint.

Liquid glue should be thinned with warm water when it is to be used on paper. The regular strength is thicker than need be, and it adds extra weight.

FIG. 65. 
The inner can is kept above the outer can to prevent burning the glue.

If you prefer to make your own glue, select clean sticks or flakes of glue and beat them into fine pieces.  This may be done by putting the glue into a cloth, covering the cloth with several thicknesses of newspaper and breaking with a hammer.  Avoid ground glue, since much of the stuff sold for glue is really calciminers' sizing and is unfit for joining.  After the glue is beaten to bits, select one large and one small tin can, beat down the rough edges, and wash the cans carefully.  Punch two holes opposite each other near the top of the large can and two holes opposite each other about an inch from the top of the smaller can.  Arrange a bail as shown in Figure 65.  A cheap brush completes the outfit.

Place about an inch of broken glue in the inner can and cover with cold water. Let it stand several hours in a moderately warm room. Then fill the outer can half full of clean water and heat to just below the boiling point until the glue in the inner can melts. The glue is then ready for use, and

should be applied hot. Do not boil vigorously lest the pot boil over. Do not leave the brush in the glue, but clean it out when you have finished using it. The water in the outer can must be kept clean, so it should be drained out and the glue outfit put in a clean, dry place when not in use.

It is a good plan to make up only a small amount of glue at a time, since mixed glue decomposes rapidly in warm weather.  If care is taken to keep the remaining glue in a cool dry place, it may be reheated and used without special attention.  If the glue is dry, a little water will have to be added before heating, but if the glue is gummy, or gives easily under the pressure of a stick, try reheating without adding water.

Fig. 66. 
Not so desirable as Fig. 67.


In making large kites, it often happens that no suitable sticks may be had. One must either have the sticks planed out of heavier stock, or build up a stick or sticks from light material.  I prefer the built-up stick, since the extra material may be put where it is needed.  If we make a kite stick by gluing sticks together as shown in Figure 66, and another like that shown in Figure 67, the latter will be the more satisfactory.  The rib may be flared out to secure the advantage of a flat stick at intersections.  The principal part of the stick and the rib should be made separately, gluing together after they are dry and strong.  Where more than one stick of a kind is required, they should be made from the same kind of material, the identical parts being cut from the same board or one nearly like it.  Sticks of unequal weight, stiffness, and tendency to warp will result if built-up sticks are made in a haphazard way. A stick built up from orange crate boards, and shaped like the one shown in Figure 67, will be found very satisfactory for all-round work.  To make such a stick, proceed as follows:

FIG. 67. 
Notice the joints of the two members do not lie directly over each other.

 Select two or three boards having a straight edge grain showing both white and pink wood.  Cut sticks enough from the pink side of the boards to give sufficient length when lapped about three inches. Mark the board so you can tell one side from the other, and so you can keep the grain running in the same direction.  Keep the same side of the strips uppermost when joining.  Split out the sticks rather than cut them out, allowing plenty of width for final dressing and bringing to size.  Mark and cut as shown in Figure 68.

FIG. 68. 

A little practice with a sharp knife will enable you to cut the bevels for the joint with a single stroke.  A plane may be used if needed.  Lay the sticks out on a solid board placing a paper under the joints so the glue will not stick them fast to the board.  Line them up carefully and glue firmly together by applying hot glue and nailing a block over the joint taking care that the nails do not injure the stick.  Clamps may be used if obtainable.

Build up another stick in the same manner, using the white part of the wood.

Allow the two members to dry 24 hours in a warm, dry room, then carefully remove the blocks.

Plane each member down to the desired width, using a tight string or a straight board to gauge their straightness.  Finish the flat edges with very light planing. Use the pink stick for the principal part and the white stick for the rib.  The joints or the two members should not come directly together, but should be at least five inches apart.

Having shaped the rib to suit, blocks should be prepared so the two members may be clamped every four inches.  Apply hot glue and block or clamp without delay.  Wipe off the excess glue and let dry at least 24 hours before using.  Sandpaper lightly, using a block of wood with the sandpaper bent over the corner so you may get into the angle between the two members.  If a flare of the rib is desired, it should be added last and wrapped in place with string.  A light coat of shellac or varnish keeps out moisture and preserves the wood.

Sometimes a little glue or a shaving glued in place will stiffen a flimsy stick or will correct a built-up stick that will not behave like the others.


You will not have great success in making very large kites without special materials, although a kite two or three times the size of the ones described herein can be made with a little care using built-up sticks made from orange-crate boards. 

Suppose one wishes to make a two-stick kite without making numerous joints in the sticks.  A little calculation will show that a kite 2 1/2 times as large each way may be made with very little more effort than one twice as large, while a kite three times as large will require an extra splice in the sticks.  Multiplying each dimension by 2 1/2, we have, length 65 inches, width 55 inches.  If the weight goes above 3 1/2 ounces, we are losing flying performance for the sake of size.

Since the kite will be but very little thicker than the small one from which it is copied, the sticks need not be made 1 by 3/4 inch as one might at first think.  Using boards of the thickness of orange-crate material, a built-up stick 3/4 inch wide for the principal member and with a rib 1/2 inch high will be found ample.  The cross stick may be made a little lighter.  Lay the flat sides of the sticks together, the spine next to the paper; frame and paper as usual.

Thin paper will have to be reinforced in large kites.  The gummed paper tape used for sealing boxes and packages is excellent for reinforcing.  Small amounts may often be had from merchants for a few cents.  If the tape is not easy to obtain, cut strips of heavy paper 2 inches wide and long enough to reach a few inches beyond the kite in each direction.  Paste evenly, transfer to a clean table, pasted side up, and butt the thin paper together on the pasted strip.  Let the paper dry before moving.  String dipped in glue and laid across the crepe of crepe paper makes a good reinforcement.  The paper must first be drawn to the tension desired and objectionable wrinkles removed.

For a large kite, it. is better to use a wide tail rather than to increase the length of the tail.  Four-inch festoon may be had, which if increased by a narrow festoon on each side, brings the width of the tail to seven inches.  The area of the Two-Stick Kite is 268 square inches and the area of the tail is 1 1/2 X 15 X 12 = 270 square inches. 

The area of a festoon tail should be about the area of the kite. Then for a 7-inch tail, a little figuring will give the proper length.  Area of kite inside the framing string = 1/2 of 64 X 54 inches = 1,728 square inches.  The tail should be 1,728 divided by 7 = 247 inches long which is a bit under 21 feet.  Of course, other kinds of tails will have to be worked out by experiment.

While paper festooning is recommended for tails, it is not always at hand.  A piece of paper folded a number of times into long pleats and cut here and there with the scissors as our grandmothers used to cut shelf paper gives a light fancy design that offers considerable resistance to the air.  A string should be glued down the center line and bits of gay colored paper pasted along the edge.  When dry, the tail may be shaped up with the scissors.

Many kite makers cling to the string tail with twists of paper tied in at regular intervals, with a bright-colored cloth at the end.  There is no objection to such a tail, if it is kept fluffy, but if hurriedly made, it is likely to be heavy and stiff in its motion.

Suggestions have been given for special tails, such as the string of fish for the Fisherman, the skipping rope for the Girl, and the ladder for the Balloon.  In the case of the Imp, the kite was made to serve the tail instead of the tail to serve the kite. Since imps are supposed to have tails, the tail was made and the appropriate figure attached.

A comet kite made with a five-point or six-point star as a head and with appropriate streamers for a tail should not be difficult to construct, and should have great possibilities for decoration.

If one can get the round festooning, a little color, a little trimming, and a little patience will develop an excellent tail shaped like a snake.  Change the lines of the Frog Kite a trifle and add a limber tail and an alligator may be had with little trouble.  The tail of a kite is not a nuisance--it is a possibility.


Keep a record of your kites and how they perform.  Every kite should have a distinguishing mark and should bear your name and address on the frame.  Almost anyone will return a kite or kite frame to its owner.  Select a blank book and enter the name, rating, dates of flying, and flying ability of each kite you make.  Tell its good points, its bad points, and how the latter were corrected.  You will soon have a valuable handbook that will assist you in building almost any kind of kite desired.


MILLER, C. M. Construction and Flying of Kites. Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Ill.

MILLER, C. M. Kitecraft and Kite Tournaments. Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Ill.


25 Kites That Fly






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.