How To Build A Sled Kite

Complete Instructions For The MBK 2-Skewer Sled Kite

This set of instructions on how to build a sled kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required. Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

The instructions on how to build a sled kite might look awfully long, but that's because they are so detailed. For those who like pictures, every detail is illustrated with photographs too. Just quickly work your way through from top to bottom, skimming over any detail that you don't need.

The MBK 2-Skewer Sled Kite is a medium-sized sled 58 cm tall, with twin tails and a shallow V cut into the leading edge. If you imagine a kite taking off from the ground, the leading edge is the top edge of the sail.

The 2-Skewer Sled is a nice light-to-moderate wind flier.

Now's the time to read up on kite materials and other things needed for building a sled kite, if you haven't already.

How To Build A Sled Kite - Frame

Build a sled kite - spars

For this sled, you need to glue skewers together to form the 2 vertical spars.

  • Snip the points off 4 skewers, then check to see that they are all exactly the same length.
  • From another skewer, snip off 2 lengths of bamboo, each 0.3 x (one skewer length) long - and mark the center-points with the marking pen if you want to be extra-precise!
  • Arrange all the bamboo as in the photo, with some paper underneath to catch excess glue - the bottom half of the photo is a close-up of the top spar.
  • Get down to table top height and look along the spars, and make sure they are as straight as possible.
  • Lay down a thick line of glue all the way down each join, as in the photo - actually, the glue is half-dry in the photo.

How To Build A Sled Kite - Sail

Build a sled kite - template

The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

Build a sled kite - corners

  • Firstly, take the large bag that you will be using for the sail, and lay it flat on the table.
  • Mark the corners of the template shape with dots, as shown in the photo - notice that marks are also made on the side edge of the bag, which is the center-line of the kite sail.
  • Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots.

Note 1: Notice how laying the 2-skewer-length spars on the plastic makes this process much easier! If the spars aren't dry yet, just use 2 other skewers, cut to exactly the right length and laid end-to-end.

Note 2: Did you find your ruler was not long enough to rule all the lines? Just mark a dot about mid-way between the 2 corner dots, using whatever straight edge you can find - maybe a piece of wood. Then, connect the 3 dots with your ruler. Problem solved, and no need to rush out and buy a 1 meter (1 yard) ruler!

Build a sled kite - sail edges 1

  • Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
  • Cut out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it out and lay it flat on the table - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.

Build a sled kite - sail edges 2

  • Lay clear sticking tape along all the lines with each line showing through the center of the tape - that's 7 pieces of tape in all, if you do the trailing edge with a single piece of tape.
  • With scissors, cut along the black lines - this will leave half the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline.

Note: Don't worry about overlapping lengths of tape at the corners, it will all look tidier after the cutting is done.

Are the spars dry yet? If so, continue...

Build a sled kite - spar taped down

  • Place the left spar over the plastic, with the edge tape facing up.
  • Cap the ends of the spar with electrical tape, as in the photo, by sticking it down over the bamboo and plastic then folding it under the plastic to stick on the other side - a bit tricky, take your time!
  • Next, lay a short length of electrical tape across the bamboo and onto the plastic, at the center - as in the photo.
  • If you want to, trim the bits of tape that stick out at the top and bottom of the spar, with scissors.

Now, tape the right hand spar in exactly the same way.

Here's how to reinforce the towing points...

Build a sled kite - towing point

  • Firstly, stick down a length of tape that goes left to right and sticks out some distance from the towing point, as in the photo.
  • Turn the sail over and stick down another piece of tape exactly the same way, so both pieces stick to the plastic at one end and to each other at the other end.
  • Wrap another piece of tape around the towing point, in a vertical direction, as in the photo.

Now go over to the left side of the sail and do exactly the same thing with another 3 pieces of tape. The pieces of tape that stick out are where you will attach the bridle line. This method is surprisingly strong and can take a lot of punishment in rough air.

How To Build A Sled Kite - Bridle

Build a sled kite - bridle knots

Cut off some flying line to a length of 12 skewers. Tie one end to one towing point tape, and the other end to the other towing point tape. The trick is to use half-hitches, then slide them down really tight onto the tape. I found my thumbnail was helpful for doing this!

With the knots nice and tight, the line should crush the tape and make a secure connection. If you do it right, it will never slip off when the kite is flying.

prussik knot

Finally, take a length of flying line about half a skewer long, and tie one end to the bridle line with a Prussik knot. Tie a small simple overhand loop into the other end, just to get a nice big knot. The black camera case in the photo is just to make the loop and Prussik knot easier to see.

How To Build A Sled Kite - Attaching Tails

Build a sled kite - tails

Have you read the page on making kite tails? Assuming you have...

  • Make up a tail from a black garbage bag, making sure it is at least 3 times as long as the sled kite itself.
  • Attach the tail by poking one end between the bottom of a spar and the sail.
  • Pull the rest of the tail through the loop, but don't over-tighten.
  • In the same way, make up and attach another tail to the other spar.

See the photo, where I have left both tails a bit loose to make it clear.

At this point, you've pretty much finished making the 2-skewer sled!

How To Build A Sled Kite - Prepare To Fly

Build a sled kite - attach line

Finally, make up a flying line and attach it to the bridle with a Lark's Head knot. See the photo above.

As a final check, suspend the kite from the flying line. Shift the Prussik knot along the bridle line until it's exactly in the middle. The sides of the sail should match, and the spars should be sitting right next to each other.

How To Build A Sled Kite - Flying!

Assuming there is some breeze outside, just dangle the kite at arm's length until the wind catches it. As long as you feel the kite pulling, let out line slowly by letting it slip through your fingers.

Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, with maybe 10 or 20 meters of line let out. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.

Build a sled kite - launching

Here's a picture of me and a small kiting assistant launching the MBK 2-Skewer Sled Kite, down at a local reserve.

Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to build a Sled kite.

All the above info, plus much more is available in a PDF eBook which covers the entire 2-skewer series of kites.

Last updated: 25 Jul 2008

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