Home Plans Kite Plans: Single-Surface Making a Mylar kite

Making a Mylar kite

You will need to develop some skills far different from those used in making medium-size or even large kites.  This is because the physical characteristics of the materials are unusual and the pieces are so small.


The steps outlined below can be followed in making a variety of small two-dimensional kites.  Read the instructions through a few times before you begin the actual construction.


Materials and Tools

Gather your materials and tools.  For this sample project, I recommend the following:

   1. Good lighting.
   2. A magnifying glass.
   3. Plain white paper.
   4. Sharp pencil.
   5. A pattern or design to trace for decorating the kite.
   6. A piece of thin, stiff cardboard, larger than the final kite size.
   7. Mylar film for sail.
   8. Rubber cement (full strength)
   9. Permanent ink marker.
  10. Colored permanent ink markers.
  11. Bamboo or nylon bristles for spars.
  12. Good tweezers.
  13. Very sharp, double-edged razor blade of the old carbon steel type (that snaps when it breaks instead of bending like the stainless steel type) is best for cutting Mylar.
  14. Flying line.
  15. Piece of frosted tape (about 1/16 x 3/16 in.)
  16. Reel.
  17. Storage box.


Prepare the kite plan:

   1. Draw your full-size plan for the kite outline and spar locations on plain white paper with a sharp pencil.  Have in readiness a pattern to trace for decorating the kite.

Make a frame to hold the Mylar in place:

   1. On a piece of thin stiff cardboard, cut out an opening 1/4-in. larger than the kite.
   2. For the sail, cut a piece of Mylar slightly larger than the opening in the cardboard.
   3. Put several small drops of rubber cement (full strength) around the cut edge of the opening in the cardboard.
   4. Place the film over the opening and touch it lightly to the cement drops.
   5. Remove the wrinkles from the film by lifting edges one at a time and tacking them down again, applying light tension to the film.

Trace the kite plan onto the sail and decorate the sail:

   1. Trace the outline of the kite from the paper plan onto the Mylar sail with permanent ink marker.
   2. Position the Mylar kite sail outline over the decoration pattern.  Trace and color the design on the Mylar sail with colored permanent ink markers.

Cutting and gluing the spars:

   1. Turn the cardboard over so the sail is face down and again center the Mylar sail over the paper kite plan.  You will put the spars on the backside of the Mylar sail because rubber cement can dissolve marker inks.
   2. Cut the spars to length, being as accurate as possible
   3. Lightly bend the cross spar to create a dihedral angle in the center. Try gently scraping your thumbnail over the center, the way you would to curl ribbon.
   4. Glue the spars to the sail by applying very thin rubber or contact cement to the spars, then placing the spars with tweezers in position on the sail.
   5. Cut out the Mylar sail by using a very sharp razor blade guided by a ruler to cut the film along the outline.  Be careful because a dull razor blade will snag the film and develop a tear.


Prepare the flying line:

   1. Tie a simple knot near the end of the flying line.
   2. Prior to attaching the line to the kite, stick a piece of frosted tape (about 1/16 x 3/16 in.) across the line next to the knot on the long side of the line.
   3. With a pair of tweezers, place the tape (with the line) at the bridle point on the face of the kite.  Use minimum pressure on the tape.
   4. Test fly the kite on about two feet of line by moving your arm back and forth.  Move the bridle point down if the kite oscillates from side to side.  Move the bridle point up if the kite dives to one side.
   5. Repeat step 17 until the kite flies properly, then tack down the tape securely to the line on the sail.
   6. Measure off about three to six feet of flying line, then wind it on a reel.


Flying your small kite:

   1. Hold the reel in your hand and your hand off to the side of your body so the kite will be moving in a clear air stream.
   2. These kites require less than one mile-per-hour air speed, so begin walking forward slowly and watch to see if the kite rises.
   3. Move faster until the kite rises over your hand.  Slightly faster or slower movement will make the kite rise or fall and give you a feel for how much wind speed is necessary to keep the kite flying.  With more practice, you can fly a small kite while you are standing still or sitting down just by moving your arm back and forth.
   4. To turn the kite, you have to speed up your arm at mid-stroke and drop your hand, causing the kite to over-fly your hand.  Give the kite some slack and do a quick 180-degree turn so the kite is ready to start moving back in the opposite direction.
   5. It may be easier if you mount the reel and line on a three- or four-ft. dowel.  Then you can fly your kite just by moving your wrist.  

Storing your small kite:

   1. Keep the kite and reel in a suitable box for storage.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 02 February 2010 17:32)

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