Make Your Own Homemade Kite!
- Wednesday, March 23, 2005
For as far back as I can remember, my brother and I have always enjoyed spending time with our grandparents. From the time we were just babies, they always loved to have us come visit them, and we loved to go. Before I could even talk, I would often go to our front door, squeeze my little fingers into the crack, and look imploringly at Mom and Dad, while making "Whoo-whoo" sounds—indicating that I wanted to go over to Grandma and Grandpa's house and play with the electric train!
Over the years, "going to Grandma and Grandpa's house" was always a special weekly treat. As we grew up, the electric train was replaced with other special projects and activities, of which Grandma and Grandpa seemed to have an endless supply. Grandpa is the "handiest" man I've ever known, so, in addition to visiting historical sites, going on hikes, and the occasional fishing trips, we often built and made things of our own. We built toolboxes, fixed bikes, forged screwdrivers - and made kites.
The latter project is one that will always stand out in my mind. Somewhere over at Grandma and Grandpa's house, there are still two homemade kites—childishly decorated, patched and repatched, well-used, and full of fond memories.
Today, it's rare to find a homemade kite. With the plastic store models so prevalent, the homemade kite has just about gone the way of tin soldiers and rag dolls. But, a homemade kite can provide special memories and experiences that a store-bought kite can't. So, in this week's resources project, we'll go through instructions for making homemade kites!
Tools and Supplies
· Large sheets of colorful tissue paper
· Some old rags, preferably brightly-colored. Old sheets and pillow-cases work well.
· Roll of kite string (one for each kite you want to make)
· Measuring tape or yardstick
You'll also need two sticks for each kite you want to make. One stick should be about 36 inches long, and the other should be about 24 inches long. If you have a table-saw and "fence," it works well to cut pieces of pine one-by-two's into strips about 3/8" wide and 1/8" thick. Try to avoid using sticks with knots in them - these tend to break under stress. If you don't have a table-saw, the lumberyard where you buy your boards may be able to cut the wood for you Otherwise, you could use dowels about 1/8" diameter, or even strips cut from a stiff yardstick.
To begin, lay your two sticks down on the floor so they make a cross. The center of the short stick should be positioned about one third of the way down from one end of the long stick. You may want to use a razorblade to notch the sticks just enough to help keep them in place. (Kids, get help from your parents for this step.) If you notch the sticks, don't do it too deeply or they may break under stress.
Cut a piece of your kite string, and use it to tie the two sticks together. Use a criss-cross pattern with the string to prevent slipping or "tilting" of the sticks. Wrap the string as tightly as you can, and be sure to tie a good knot when you're finished. Use enough string so that the sticks are tied together securely, but not so much that the fastening gets bulky.
Now, using a saw or razorblade, cut a notch in each end of both sticks. (Adults should supervise this step.) Make the notches about 1/8" deep, and just wide enough so a piece of kite string will slip in.
When you're done cutting the notches, take one end of your kite string and tie it tightly around the end of the top stick, just below the bottom of the notch. Run the string through that notch, then through the other three notches. At each notch, wrap the string around the stick once or twice. When you get back to the top notch, wrap the string tightly around the stick again and tie it securely. Cut off the excess string.
Now, cut another piece of string about 24 inches long. Tie one end of this string tightly around one end of the short stick. In the other end of the string, tie a loop. Slightly flex the short stick and slip the loop into the notch at the other end. The string should hold the short stick in a gentle arc. There should be about two inches of space between the string and the cross-section of the sticks. If you don't have that much space, you will need to shorten the string a little bit. Leave this string attached for now. You'll normally want to unfasten this string when you're not flying your kite, but attaching the paper (explained below) without this string fastened will probably result in tearing your kite before it ever gets off the ground!
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