How To Make A Sled Kite
For this Sled, you need 2 lengths of 5mm wooden dowel. For a light-wind Sled, the dowel doesn't have to be very stiff.
Make sure the dowels are exactly the same length. Trim one a little if necessary, with the hack-saw.
Round off the 4 tips with your wood file.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
Firstly, take a large bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
Measure and mark the corners of the template shape with dots.
Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots. For lines longer than the ruler, just add a few extra dots using one of the dowel spars as a ruler! Then it's easy to connect the dots. It's probably best not to rule the whole line with the dowel, since it bends easily. All the lines are visible in the photo.
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 floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.
Lay clear sticking tape along all the lines, except the diamond-shaped vent holes. Most of the width of the tape should be inside the kite's outline. Use a single length of tape for each line.
Hold it out straight, touch it down to the plastic at one end, then at the other end, dab it down in the middle, then press down all along its length.
With scissors, cut along all the black lines, including the vents - this will leave most of the width of the sticking tape inside the sail outline.
Place 9 short lengths of tape down as reinforcers, in the positions shown by the small yellow rectangles in the photo.
Note: Don't worry about overlapping lengths of tape at the corners, it will all look tidier after the cutting is done.
Firstly, pull a length of flying line tight across the plastic, over the corners where the left spar will go. Tape the line down to the floor (not the plastic!) at each end. Mark the plastic on either side of the line with dots, near the center of the kite.
Remove the thread, and place the left spar onto the plastic.
Prepare 6 lengths of electrical insulation tape, each one about 3 times longer than it is wide. Stick them by a corner onto something handy like a table edge. You can remove them one at a time as needed.
Cap the ends of the spar with tape, as in the photo, by sticking it down over the dowel 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 dowel and onto the plastic, at the center. Use those dots on the plastic to position the center of the dowel, which will ensure that it is perfectly straight. See the photo.
Now, tape down the right hand spar in exactly the same way.
The Towing Points
Here's how to reinforce the towing points...
Prepare another 3 lengths of electrical insulation tape, 2 of them 0.08DL (9.6cm, 3 3/4") long, the other 0.05DL (6cm, 2 1/2").
Firstly, stick down one of the longer pieces of tape from left to right. Let it stick out from the plastic a distance of about twice the tape's width. See the photo.
Turn the sail over and stick down the other longer 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.
Lay down the remaining shorter piece of tape across the towing point in a nearly vertical direction, then fold the ends under the plastic. The photo shows how the corner of the sail should be covered in tape.
Now go over to the right 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 of creating Sled towing points is surprisingly strong and can take a lot of punishment in gusty air.
All the construction details for the bridle are contained in the large photo below. Look and read carefully, and you can't go wrong on this rather important bit!
Once your kite + bridle looks like the photo up there...
Fold the kite so it looks like the Template diagram at the top of this page. The 2 spars should be touching each other along their entire length. Stretch out the bridle loop across the floor in a straight line. If the Prusik knot is not right at the end, adjust it so it is.
At this point, you've pretty much finished making the Dowel Sled!
Prepare To Fly
Finally, make up a flying line and attach it to the bridle with a Lark's Head Knot.
See the photo over there, where the Lark's Head has been left loose.
Firstly, if it's very windy outside, stay home! This is a big light-wind kite and it can be a handful in fresh wind. 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 taking loop after loop off the winder.
Be very cautious about letting line slip through your fingers, since this kite can easily give you line-burn!
Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, on the end of maybe 10 or 20 meters of line. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.
The launch picture up there shows the Sled on its way up, in a light and gusty breeze.
Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Sled kite!