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The Hex Kite


To make a hex kite you'll need:
  • 3 sticks(dowels, etc..) of wood, of small diameter and equal length. These will be the spokes of your kite frame. The diameter/length of these pieces will vary depending on the size of your kite. I'd recommend 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length. Use your best judgement for length/strength/weight ratios. Bamboo (split in half lengthwise) is the strongest material per ounce that I've used, and it also looks very good.
  • Several hundred yards of twine or line. Again, use your best judgement on strength to weight ratios. I've had good results with both thin twine and fishing line.
  • A sheet of tissue paper a few inches longer and wider than the diameter of your frame, to be used as the sail.
  • A very light glue (or something to hold the sail of your kite onto the frame). Glue Sticks tend to work very well with the tissue paper.
  • A long thin stip of cloth for the tail(s).
Of course, you may very well want to play around with your own substitutes for any of these. This list is just here to give you an idea of what kind of qualities you're looking for in your materials.

Once you've acquired the necessary components it's time to start building:
  1. Lay your spokes across one another so that the ends of each one are equidistant from the ends of the other two. Bind the pieces together securely at the center (I've found cotton twine works best for this). You should now have a basic frame shaped something like this:
                                              
                     #               #     
                      #             #     
                       #           #     
                        #         #       
                         #       #        
                          #     #          
                           #   #           
                            # #             
              ###############################
                            # #              
                           #   #            
                          #     #          
                         #       #        
                        #         #       
                       #           #      
                      #             #     
                     #               #      
                    
    

  2. Now to make a perimeter of twine around the frame. Cut a very thin notch at the end of each spoke. Tie the twine around the very end of one spoke, wedge the twine down into that spoke's notch, then move on to the next spoke and repeat. Keep the twine as taut as possible between spokes, and pay close attention to the overall shape of the frame as there may be some flexion of the center joint. Making a tight frame that retains a nice hexagonal shape is probably the trickiest part of this process. Your frame should now look something like this:
                                 
                     #+++++++++++++++#     
                    + #             # +      
                   +   #           #   +     
                  +     #         #     +    
                 +       #       #       +   
                +         #     #         +  
               +           #   #           +
              +             # #             +
              ###############################
              +             # #             + 
               +           #   #           + 
                +         #     #         +  
                 +       #       #       +   
                  +     #         #     +   
                   +   #           #   +     
                    + #             # +      
                     #+++++++++++++++#     
    

  3. To fit the sail to your kite, spread the tissue paper out flat, and lay the frame down in the center of it. Trim the tissue paper into tabs along the outside perimeter of the frame. They should look something like this:
    
                       +++++++++++++          
                      +             +         
                  +++#+++++++++++++++#+++     
                 +  + #             # +  +    
                +  +   #           #   +  +   
               +  +     #         #     +  +  
              +  +       #       #       +  + 
              + +         #     #         + + 
              ++           #   #           ++
              +             # #             +
              ###############################
              +             # #             + 
              ++           #   #           ++ 
              + +         #     #         + + 
              +  +       #       #       +  + 
               +  +     #         #     +  +  
                +  +   #           #   +  +   
                 +  + #             # +  +    
                  +++#+++++++++++++++#+++     
                      +             +         
                       +++++++++++++   
    
    Put a just enough glue on these tabs to affix them securely, then fold them over the twine perimeter of your frame, laying them flat against the main body of your sail. Make sure the sail is stretched tightly, and the tab is fully glued and pressed to the surface of the sail.


  4. There are several different ways to attach a functional tail or tails to the kite. The simplest way is to tie each end of a short length of string to one of the bottom two spoke ends. This will create a sort of loop on the bottom of the kite. The tail should be attached to the center of this, to provide your kite with balanced drag (which will keep it stable and help minimize the effects of chaotic wind, and make up for any design/assembly flaws that would otherwise cause the kite to spin uncontrollably).


  5. It's now time to attach the line. On one side of your kite only the sail should be visible, and on the other side the sail should be visible beneath the wooden frame. Turn your kite over to the sail-only side. Measure a length of twine just longer than the diameter of the frame. Tie one end of this twine to the end of each of the two top spokes. Poke a small hole in the very center of the sail, and thread your twine through that hole. Tie the twine around the center joint of the frame. Do not cut the twine once it's connected to the center, as this will become the kite's line. Thread the twine tied to the center under the arch of twine created at the beginning of this step. Measure that twine from the center of the frame to one of the spokes' ends (the radius of the frame). At the point on the twine that corresponds with the end of the spoke (or the radius), tie the main line to the arch of twine. This should create a sort of pyramid above the top triangle of the frame, over the sail side. You may have to adjust the lengths of each leg to find the optimal flying angle.
Once the glue dries, your kite is ready to fly. Have fun!







I can think
of few better ways
to while away a lazy day
than watching a kite made by my heart and hands
and connected to me by a slender thread
floating out on a steady breeze
to become a small bright dot
in a vast blue sky...

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