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There are all sorts of kite styles which people can make, but the simplest is the classic diamond kite. You can make a diamond kite in a few minutes and get months of use out of it, as long as it is handled carefully. The project is simple enough for even young children to get involved safely. For the science-minded, you can make a kite to illustrate the basics of flight, creating an educational experience in addition to a fun afternoon.
To make a kite, you are going to need: two wooden dowels or reasonably straight sticks of unequal length; a sheet of paper such as tissue or a paper bag; string or fishing line; scissors; a marking pen; a light saw for notching the wood; and tape or glue. Start by measuring your dowels and creating notches in the ends.
Start by marking the middle of the shorter piece of wood, and pick a spot around two thirds of the way up the longer piece to make another mark. Position the pieces of the wood so that these marks come into contact and the notches are parallel to the ground, and then lash the dowels together with your string or fishing line, criss-crossing all around the pieces of wood to secure them firmly.
The next step to make a kite involves creating a framework for the skin. The easiest way to do this is to run fishing line or string through all of the notches, creating a diamond shape. You can also make a frame from lightweight pieces of wood such as long skewers, in which case the wood should be glued in place for extra stability. Before you put the paper on the kite, you may want to create the yoke which will be used to stabilize the kite as it flies. Attach three pieces of string to the frame at the ends of the dowels at the top of the kite, and tie them together to create a point where your kite string can attach. At the bottom of the kite, tie a length of string to use for the tail.
Once the basic frame and yoke have been assembled, you can cover the kite in paper or tissue. If you use tissue, several layers are a good idea to ensure that the kite does not rip. You can also use plastic as a kite cover; old plastic bags are perfect for this task. Attach the skin of the kite with glue or tape along the dowels and at the edges of the frame to ensure that it will not flap during use.
After you make a kite, set it aside to allow the glue to dry, if you used glue, while you work on the tail. A simple tail can be made by cutting rectangular scraps from the kite's skin and tying them at equal intervals along the length of string tied to the base of the kite. You can also make tails from ribbons glued to the bottom, and you may want to play around with different shapes made from paper and even wood for the tail, which will change the way the kite performs in the air.
If you want to decorate your kite, remember to think about how the weight of paint will change the balance of the kite in the sky. While thick paints such as tempura paint are easy to work with, they can create a drag on the kite which may cause it to fly unevenly. Likewise with attached scraps of paper or stickers; lightweight paints and pens are best for decorating after you make a kite.
Finally, attach your kite string or fishing line to the yoke, and wind it around a reel or stick which can be used to pay out lengths of line once the kite gets airborne. Wait for a breezy day to fly your kite, and be sure to steer clear of telephone and power lines, along with trees, which can snag your kite and damage it. If the kite does become ripped, spray-on adhesive can sometimes work as a patch, or you can remove the skin and attach a new one.
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