How to Make a Ship Kite

By Dustin Pitan

Flying a kite is a fun activity for adults and children alike. While the young ones may be content with store-bought diamond-shaped kites, why not wow them with a kite designed to look like a ship. Luckily, you can make one at home with minimal materials and just a little time.

Making the Frame

Print out the three diagrams from the Inquiry Net website as a template for your ship. You will need these because this guide will reference different points on the ship kite, designated by letters, and the diagrams label these points clearly.

Bend your 1.75-foot elastic stick to create the bow of the ship. Tie a 3-foot-long piece of string to one end of the stick, and stretch it to the other end in a straight line, tying it off at that point as well (from point A to point B on the diagram). This will create a bow (like a bow and arrow) design. When tying the string, make sure that the distance between the curved ends of the stick is 1.25 feet.

Take the 3.5-foot-long pine stick and lay it across the bow directly in the center of both the bow and the bowstring. Make sure that 1.5 inches of the stick is exposed below the bottom of the bow. Tie the pine stick/mast into place by adding a knot of kite string to secure the bow and mast together and one that connects the bowstring and mast together.

Lay one boomstick across the mast at a diagonal, tying one end to the bow directly below point A on the diagram (where the bow and bowstring meet). Do the same with the other boomstick, tying off immediately below point B, though. Leave the rest of the sticks untied and unconnected for a moment.

Position the boomsticks so that they point inward from the bow, to cross the mast--both will go in opposite directions, and this will result in them crossing each other as well. Measure up from the bowstring on the mast/pine stick to 3 inches. At this point is where you secure and cross the boomsticks. This will result in the boomsticks and the mast being tied in a secure knot slightly above the bowstring.

Measure and mark 2 feet 1.5 inches up the mast from point C (the very bottom of the mast). At this point, make an "X" with the sprit sticks. Place the ends of the sprit sticks that point downward onto the two boomsticks so that there is no overhang. Make sure that the sprit sticks are at right angles to each other (making a perfect X), and secure them to the mast and the boomsticks.

Measure 2 feet 5 inches up the mast from point C, and lay one of the 1.25-foot cross sticks perpendicularly across the mast. Secure it with kite string exactly in its center point to the mast, making sure that it is at a 90-degree angle to the pine stick/mast.

Measure up 2 feet 11 inches from point C on the mast and secure the other 1.25-foot cross stick to the mast, making sure that it is centered and exactly 90 degrees as well.

Connect strings to further secure the sticks of the kite. Follow diagram 2 for this. Tie the open ends of the sprit sticks so that a new string hangs down and connects to the adjacent boomstick. From the same connection at the top of the sprit stick, connect the sprit stick to the top of the mast (point D). Also, connect the spot where the bow and bowstring are tied together to the top of the mast as well--use two individual strings on each side to further its security. Tie each end of the cross stick to the end of the cross stick directly below it. And finally, connect the top of the mast (point D) to a point on the sprit stick about a foot from the topmost end.

Applying the Sails and Fabric

Lay both the while cloth and the dark cloth on a flat surface so that when you lay the framework of the ship over the fabric, the white cloth will cover all the sails and the dark cloth will be able to cover the hull of the ship.

Lay the frame over the cloth, holding it in place with weights if need be to keep it from moving.

Cut out the shapes of the sails from the white cloth, according to the diagram of the sails you have previously printed out. While cutting, make sure not to cut the fabric directly along the sticks but rather leave a margin so that you can fold the fabric over and secure it. Leave about a 1- to 2-inch margin of fabric around each sail.

Cut out the fabric for the hull in the same manner, leaving a margin around the outside so that you can glue and secure it easier.

Apply wood glue to the stick frame, and place your sails over the sticks in their proper placement. Make sure to cover all sides of the stick with glue so that you can wrap the excess margin of fabric that you left intact in the last two steps around the sticks and ensure its security. Because this will require a lot of glue on all edges of the frame, do it in sections so that you don't make a mess or rub off glue with your hands while handling the frame. Allow the glue to dry before moving on to the next sail so that you don't disturb the sail and glue before it has had a chance to set.

Apply wood glue to the hull of your ship, and secure the dark fabric onto it as you did the sails in the last step.

Allow the glue and sails to set, and then flip the entire project over so that you can see the framework. Place a string 6 inches from the end of one of the sprit sticks, tie it off, and then measure out 1 foot. Loop the string back, and tie the other end to the boomstick directly below it. This will make a kind of loop. Repeat this process on the other sprit stick so that the strings/loops are about the same length.

Tie the peaks of the loops together with a smaller piece of string, and allow that string to trail off into your roll of kite string. This will be what you hold onto when you let the kite go.


The dimensions indicated here are only suggestions. You can go bigger or smaller depending on the size of the kite you want. Just make sure to cut and recalculate ALL measurements in the same way.