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
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.
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.
GLUE POT MADE FROM TWO EMPTY CANS AND A PIECE OF WIRE.
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.
PLAIN LAP FOR A BUILT-UP STICK
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:
A BUILT-UP STICK
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.
STICK CUT FOR LAPPING
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
Suppose one wishes to make a two-stick kite without making
numerous joints in the sticks. A little calculation will show that a kite
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
MILLER, C. M. Kitecraft and Kite Tournaments. Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Ill.
25 Kites That Fly