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Issue 11 (Sep/Oct 1999): BORK - Building

archive rec.kites kite making

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#1 Mike Gillard (RIP)

Mike Gillard (RIP)


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Posted 01 October 1999 - 04:00 AM

The dog days of summer have seen the cessation of the previous month's [June... (c8] flame wars. We do enjoy the positive contributions that so many make. Keep up the good work!

Once again I'm indebted to the faithful BORK staff:
  • Craig Rodgerson
  • Peter C. Hugger Editor
This page is a summary of postings on the rec.kites Usenet news group that our editors believe to be interesting and useful. Opinions expressed in these postings are not those of KiteLife Magazine or its staff.

Building Contents
  • Ozone Reframe
  • Feathers
  • Curved LEs
  • Bungee
  • Couplings
  • Kitebuilding
  • Edo
  • Seam Tape
Ozone Reframe

Before we go into a discussion of what is the best light wind kite is, Let me say that my mind is made up already... So, how do you improve on a good kite? REFRAME!!!! does anyone have info on reframing the Ozone to a Super-ultra light kite and the Vapor to a just plain light wind kite? I have heard of people converting thier Vapor to a sturdier frame and also the Ozone to lighter frame. If this is true, what kind of spars were used? etc etc. Many thanks!!!


I redid my ozone in all skinnies, and for the most part I really liked the added stiffness and reduced weight. Made it alot less floppy, and lighter. Indoor it really helped and I could get off some fountains and fades indoor. Unfortunately that big curve really stresses the skinny and if you stab, or even like axel landing or catch the tip hard in anyway, it will break the lle right below the ls connector. I broke 2 that way and decided that it was too fragile even though it felt really really good. The other thing is that the lle is a bit narrow so getting a skinny in there is kind tough and a pretty tight fit. If you want to reframe, I would suggest skyshark 2pt's or maybe the semi-mythical 1.5pt that is rumored to exist in a few people's lucky hands. the skyshark seem a bit more durable on the light side I think because they are thinner diametered but thicker walled keeping the crush down. They weigh close enough to the skinnies that I am pretty sure it would still rock. I may give that a go soon with a 2pt frame. Anyway, just thought I'd my 2 cents.

Walt Peace and Good Winds.


I started sewing on a 16' wind feather without doing my homework. I started with a 5'x16' piece of black and hot cut holes in it I then layed "rectangular" pieces over the holes and sewed them down with a "ric-rac" stitch (three stitches to the left followed by three to the right - repeat forever). I then (foolishly) cut the rectangle down to within 1/8" of the edge of the stitching. Now I am getting worried (I am about 60% done).. will the cut edges of the "rectangles" fray? If so what should/can I do to stop it. It would seem quite hard to hot cut the rectangles without damaging the black background. The flags I have seem to zigzag this edge down. Is that sufficient? Any help is much appreciated.

-- I fly, therefore I am, ...... happy :^) ! John Biggs


Hans de Jong wrote:

Very dear fellow kiters (always start nice if you want something), I'm planning to build a "feather banner", the ones you use to mark your territory, to help people find you on a crowded festival, that helps your kid to find you back on a crowded beach (mine has the age of -3 months, so the banner could be ready in time) or just something that keeps you in touch with your hobby when building it on a "not possible to fly today"-day.

I'm need some good tips/plans on some questions e.g.:
- Should I pre-curve it, or let the wind do its work
- Should I use a tunnel to slide it over a fishing rod, or will loops be sufficient.
- What is a save length/ area ratio
- Does the "leading edge" needs extra reinforcement to protect it against flapping

Thanks in advance, Hans de Jong


It realy depends on what kind of material you are using...some will fray more than others....

You can go to your neighborhood sewing center and buy a product called fray check... put this on the edges and hope for the best...... once applied you can not see the fray check on the material.

Good Luck :-) Dick Bell


This is a great site for learning how to make banners. You might start here.



Curved LEs

Hi all,

Is there a key to sewing a nice, smoothly curved Dacron leading edge on kites? I've done quite a few, but it's always a struggle. I usually end up with a small pucker in the Dacron.

What I do is use 1/4" seam stick tape and fit the LE to the sail, taking care to align everything. It seems tho', that in spite of my best efforts, about 3/4 down the LE, the Dacron is starting to pucker a bit.

I don't have a Pfaff <YET>, just a home machine.

Any tips?

much appreciated,


suggestion #1, don't use seamstick tape. you need to allow the LE tape to crimp very slightly between stitches to form the curve. see also #2

Suggestion # 2, use a zig'zag stitch. this will allow a very slight gather between each stitch for a smooth curve.

Suggestion # 3, use as narrow a LE tape as possible, while still allowing for the width of the stitches and the spars. since the real problem here is that the inside edge of the LE tape is scribing to a curve which is shorter than the outside edge, reducing the width of the tape minimizes this difference.

Suggestion #4, sew fast. this will reduce your tendency to overcorrect after each stitch, and will produce smoother curves and more consistant stitching.

Suggestion #5, design your "curved" LE as a series of straight lines, and sew these as straight lines with short transitions between each segment. With the LE spar in place and under tension, the resultant LE will have an effective curve, and arguably the same effective fkying characteristics.

These same tips also apply to hemming "inside" curves on the trailing edge. There are practical limits to how severe a curve you can use and still keep a smooth, flat appearance.

Stan Swanson


yes, you need to prestretch the outside edge of the Dacron so, fold the Dacron over, and draw the folded edge over a sharp corner, like the edge of a table, so just the folded side stretches.

now, if you lie the folded dacron on the floor, it should take on a curve. no need to match the leading edge curve exactly though, approx is near enuf.

now, you can glue or tape it to the kite, and when sewing it will be more likely to fit the curve without puckering


Although I am quite the novice at sewing and building, I'll give my experience on this. I find that keeping the LE very straight and bending the sail material into the LE works better for me. The first time I tried, I bent the Dacron and ended up with a very ugly looking LE. I also use the seam tape and that works for me. Also make sure you use a sharp needle, if it makes a popping sound it is dull. That is about the extent of my knowledge so good luck.

Krazy Kat


Can someone please tell me the recommended way of sealing the cut end of a piece of bugee core to prevent it fraying? I hesitate to put it in a flame 'cos if I make a burning rubber smell in the kitchen my wife might object.

And how do you tie it? On my Fizz BoT, the wingtip bungees seem to be made into a loop just with a running knot - not sure whether it simply relies on the elastic properties of rubber to prevent it "running" or whether it has a drop of adhesive on the knot to hold it.

Ta - Philip


I melt the end slightly. I burn it outside as not to offend my family's noses.

I have found that the elastic properties work fine in keeping the knot in place on the bungee depending on the amount of weight/force it will be under.


A flame is in fact, a bad idea... ;-), but some glue (or super glue) helps. A drip of super glue on a fresh cut prevents the bungee from fraying.

Usualy the running knot holds, but the "big" knot is sometime not desired because it may catch the line during flatspins. A simple hair bungee is better solution. If the length does not fit you may glue the ends together. A few wraps sewing yarn helps to fix the ends.



Hi Philip, I usually use the flame but only enough to melt the nylon covering. I usually use a reef not as I find it easy to adjust the tension, especially on kites with alot of camber in the L/E. I then apply a drop of super glue to the knot and pull it tight to work the glue well into the knot. Always place the knot on the inside/front of the kite at the eyelet as it won't catch your lines. Ialso use the reef knot because it sits very flat and is less likely to catch line. Another alternative is to tape around the bungee and then cut it through the tape. Hope this helps

Goodwinds Steve McCormack


Hello all,

I have a construction question. What is the propper method of coupling spars? When an external coupling is used, is it simply glued to one of the spar sections, and if so, what kind of glue is best? Are there any important points that I might not consider as a newbie to kite construction? Thanks in advance.



The glue to use is Cyanoacrylate aka 'Krazy Glue', 'Zap-A-Gap', etc. Use the gap-filling type, the better brands come in different viscosities. You don't want the really thin stuff, it'll run down the inside of an 32 1/2" cm spar and glue the spar to your elbow. (voice of experience)

The thicker glues do not set as quickly, but it gives you time to position the ferrule on the spar. Also time to unstick your finger from the spar. (V.O.E.)

I use P.M.Hansen's Insta-Cure+. I get it at a hobby store. It's just as good as Zap_A-Gap, my previous glue of choice, but 1/3 cheaper.

Don't buy huge quantities, the glue seems to go bad over time. If you're a keen builder, 1/2 oz is enough to keep you going for awhile.

If you can get a small bottle brush, such as used to clean test tubes, a quick brush on the inside of the spar to be glued to clean the dust from the interior will help bonding.

I mark on the spar where I want the ferrule to be, usually 1 1/2". I cut the ferrules at 3" for most kites. This is so I can place the ferrule accurately on the spar _before_ the glue sets. (V.O.E.)

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

happy building!


The simple method is just to wrap some PVC tape around the coupling and the spar - no strength is needed, you just want to keep the coupling positioned so the join is in the middle. If you break a spar you can easily peel off the tape and salvage the coupling.

- Philip (P.S. The in-crowd refer to external couplings as ferrules.)


What are you doing with the kite? If you enter it into any builder’s competition, the tape method will cost you points. I use Epoxy on all of my joints, but whatever adhesive you use you should clean the contact areas of the spar and ferrule before applying glue. You won’t believe how much release agent is on the insides of a ferrule until you brush it out.

I get my epoxy from a custom fishing rod building supply house. It remains slightly flexible when it sets up. Clean up is easy with a little rubbing alcohol.

If you want it to be beautiful, try thread wrapping. Any rod builder or old-fashioned tackle shop can help you out. I am going to do my first one this week. To see some fantastic work, look at Glen or Tana Haynes' kites. WOW!!!!!!!

I find that Cyanoacrlate gives up the ghost in about 1 year, so I only use it for emergency repairs.

Keep it Breezy, Kitesquid


Hi all! I'm a newbie kitebuilder and have run into a couple of things I wanted to ask:

What do you use to trim applique? I've been using a seam ripper with mostly poor results. It worked fine for about three projects, but I suspect its dulled now - I'm getting fuzzy edges. It's also difficult to "steer" accurately and I'm not getting a consistent margin. Are applique scissors a better choice? Can they be re-sharpened? Are there any particular brands, models, that you would recommend?

Do you use a sewing table? Does the size/shape of the table matter? I built my own work table - it's roughly 4x8 with a laminate surface. I put a cut-out for my machine (Pfaff 760 Artist) in one corner that sets the machine flush with the surface of the table and use a table insert I purchased from the local sewing store to fill the opening. It looks real good, but I'm wondering if its the best approach. What I notice is that as I sew, the material is pushed out onto the table and this causes some drag, particularly if there's static, and that this can mess up the stitch. I also notice that it sometimes won't feed straight and suspect that drag between the outer edge of the material and the table surface might be "pulling" the material off-line. I can usually "steer" the piece to compensate, but I'm not always happy with the result. Would using a more typical sewing table be better? It seems like allowing gravity to take the material as it goes through might eliminate some of this... Someone locally suggested that my feed dogs might be worn, but I really don't think that's it as they seem plenty sharp. What do you think?

I'm new to this stuff and the above might just be "pilot error" on my part. I'd appreciate any insight or advice you experienced kitemakers might have to offer. Thanks!



You know these what we would call "nail scissors"? A small bent (to the left for the right handed ) scissor. Cause of the curved blades it's very easy to slide along the stitches. Good quality is a must: it has to stay very sharp to allow you to simply slide throug the ripstop instead of cutting.

>Do you use a sewing table?

I do: see my page for some sewing tips...

Regards, Peter


Hiya Philbert,

I'm a rank amateur too, and I mean way down on the beginning side of the learning curve. Let's compare notes and see if us newbies can learn a thang or two together.

Scissors are my choice for cutting away panels in applique. I have a pair of inexpensive Fiskers (they can be refreshed but not sharpened, so don't expect them to last a really long time) and a pair of Mundials (a little more spendy but they can be sharpened and last a long long time).

To get the initial cut into the panel, I pick at the waste fabric with the tip of a razor until I have enough of an opening to put the scissor tip into it and snip it to start cutting away. I've heard a tip about pre-cutting the panels before sewing, but I am afraid I would never find them later...lol.

Here's what I've learned so far with only a few projects under my belt.

1) Use the dull side of the scissor point "down" right to the table surface so it will glide effortlessly. If the bottom blade of the scissor is too pointy and sharp it can nick the table and give you problems.

2) Make your "cuts" on the left side of the stitching, meaning the stitching is along the right side of your scissors.

3) Angle your scissors about hmmmm, I guess 30 degrees or so from the table surface. I find that angle doesn't grab the cloth as much as slices thru it.

4) Only open the scissors enough to get a clean glide. Practice on scraps until you feel really comfie with the angle and sharpness of your scissors. Remember, the blunt or duller side of the scissor is on the table surface and gives alot of stability while you're cutting.

5) It's really important to keep the cloth smooth on a clean work surface. Remember too that you will be turning the applique around and around while you're cutting so be sure you have nothing inhibiting it on any of the sides. It goes much faster that way.

6) As you approach a corner, glide up close but do a quick snip about a 16th of an inch away from the seam. Oh yeah, I prefer a 16th inch border around the stitching when I'm not screwing up...lol. It looks nice and clean that way and also doesn't run the risk of snipping the stitching inadvertantly.

7) When you are in a corner and want to start a new cut, angle your scissors sideways, towards the stitching to pick up the same width, again, a 16th of an inch. Once you've got a nice clean corner, straighten your scissors up and glide away.

8) Listen to your cutting. There will be a different sound if you hit too close to the stitching...it will chatter a little bit. Don't panic just ease over a bit. ACK...easier said than done but you can correct it quickly.

9) On outside corners I think it looks nice if you cut it to points rather than try to curve them. It accentuates the line too.

Wow...I have gone on and on here. I hope I didn't confuse you too much. I'm learning too, but once you feel comfie with your angles, you will find cutting away to be really fast. In fact, in my first banner I noticed a decided difference between the first side and the second side. I can't wait to start a new project!!!

I think a sewing table stand works best for me. I lay the cloth in my lap, smooth it over the sewing stand on the left side and allow the feed to do the work for me while I simply keep the cloth smooth with my left hand and with the other guide it.

The machine I use is wonderful in that it holds the line beautifully. I have the sewing machine/table positioned about a foot away from the wall so the cloth can simply drape over allowing gravity to help me control it. I don't think I would like it if it were bunching up on an equal height surface.

I also tried something on my first project. I did applique panels which were really manageable and then sewed them onto the finished kite and cutaway the kite fabric. Did that on a Rok. But it was my first project and I was afraid to ruin a perfectly good kite if I messed up. It's a good way to learn but get away from that as soon as possible. :ani_wallbash: No Risk, No Rewards!!! LOL

As for the size of your work table, 4 x 8 is superb. It is big enough to allow a roll to be laid out and put into place for cutting. We have a sticky surface made of Borco that allows me to lay different components out for razor cutting and placement without the slippery fabric giving me a hard time. When I'm doing cleanup and cutaway I lay a clean piece of masonite over the sticky table.

Oh, I'm also a big time fan of double sided tape...1/4 inch. You can razor or hot slit your fabric, fold over to make your seam allowance, securing it with the tape and voila, you're ready to sew!

I do use a fine spray of 3M spray glue to affix the panels of cloth to the project. It really helps keep it all in place while sewing it, but I've heard of some other methods using hot tack. I haven't learned that yet.

Well, Philbert....there it is. I love working with applique. It's sooo rewarding!

ps....okay you old hands at this thing, don't be tooo critical. I'm painfully new at this, but love it nonetheless....lol. There's no stopping me now!!!! :big_bangin:

Color My Sky, Ellen


I made a 2.4mtr x 1.4 mtr Edo according to the plans used by the NKG for the sky gallery. However I am fed up with the numerous miles of bridle. Does anyone out there know of a way to fly this on a single line. I suppose I would have to group the original bridle into two lots (top & bottom) and then from two lines to one line. Anybody done this before? Please help }:-(

Martin Attwater


If I could reveal an easy way to deal with the bridle of your Edo, would you rethink modifying it? The Edo has survived hundreds of years of kite history as one of the most elegant flying kites ever conceived, and the key to this success, is its remarkable bridle. The multitude of thick sagging lines that make up the bridle of a flying Edo do much more than just support the network of fragile sticks that make up it's frame. A kite with it's stabilizing tail out in front is the legacy of the classic Edo.

That said, here is how to tame Rapunsel's locks. Sew a tube of cloth as long as your bridal and just big enough in diameter to easily hold all the bundled lines (say 36 mm, for a kite your size) sew one end shut, and with a rather large clip or safety pin attached to that closed end on the outside, and a piece of line also attached, running down the inside of the tube and out the other end. Knot this free end or attach a bead. Now comes the fun part. Clip to the line attachment point of the bridle of the kite. Now holding on to the line coming out of the tube, slide the tube inside out over the bridle lines toward the kite. The bridle lines will be drawn into the tube and kept tangle free. The open end of the tube is now at or near the sail of the kite with all the bridle lines coming from there attachment points at the sail, and going right into the tube. The open end of the tube may be held in place here with another small clip or safety pin to a loop on the face of the kite. Reversing the process deploys the bridle and up she goes. No muss no fuss and best of all we won't have to rename your kit from an Edo to a noodle. rjh.


Martin, I have yet to make a Edo. I have seen a number of them including one from Shorne, Japan. If you start eliminating bridle lines, the spines and cross spars will not be able to withstand the force's of the wind. In a strong wind all of the pressure on the sail will concentrate at one or two points on the frame and that's where it will break. With that said, I seam to recall a article in one of the kite magazines about Eiji Ohashi of Japan using a single line on what appeared to be a Edo. I don't know how large it is, and it seems to me it was not a traditional frame. He may also have used his famous balancers on it. From The Land of 10,000 Kite Flying Fields, (I can't wait until they freeze again, I have allergies) Jerry Houk


What's more important: you'll not be building an Edo. The bridle is an intricate part of the design and adds greatly to the stability of the kite.

Without it it would just be another rectangular kite.

Regards, Peter

Seam Tape

can anybody please tell me where to get the good 3M seam stick tape? all I can find is a Very small amount of some kind of stuff that washes out in the laundry. it seems to work, however nobody in town stocks enough of that to build that Pizzazz kit - Is there any suggestions of other places to look other than sewing stores, and craft stores, and my local Phaff dealer?

I really Hate starting a project without all the stuff I need to finish it.

Mikey luvs ya!


'Mikey' - Hang-em-high has it <www.citystar.com/hang-em-high> I have a Pizazz kit also - haven't started it yet - small world. Art Gotta fly!


And if you are on the West Coast, I got a lotta the stuff too. Goodwinds Kites
Mike Gillard

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