Bamboo is a grass, not a tree, and it’s grown around the world. In the United States, bamboo is grown primarily in Florida, California and Hawaii. In the United Kingdom, you’ll find bamboo mostly in the South West and South East, particularly in Devon and Somerset.
Bamboo is harvested for building kites in a variety of ways. You can harvest the bamboo yourself or buy bamboo from a nursery.
How to find good bamboo for kites
Bamboo is a renewable resource, so it’s important to harvest it responsibly. When you harvest bamboo, take only the length you need and leave the rest to grow.
The best bamboo for kite building is young bamboo. Young shoots are the most flexible and easiest to work with. They’re also the most abundant bamboo resource. They grow quickly and can be harvested in a few months.
If you want to purchase bamboo from a store or nursery, you’ll have more options. You can buy bamboo that’s been harvested and stored.
How to work with bamboo for kites
Bamboo is easy to work with. There are two different types of culms (poles) you can use, whole culms, or split culms.
Whole culms are of limited use. Generally, the ones wider than 1cm are too big for kites, and the ones that are the right size taper significantly along their length.
Split culms from large (5-10cm) bamboo is more generally useful than whole culms because they are largely symmetrical along their length and can be split down to the needed size.
Curing and drying bamboo
Ideally, you’d cure bamboo after splitting it, because it’s easiest to split when fresh.
The two most common methods of curing are merely drying, and using high-heat drying at 120 degrees farenheight (45 C).
The latter method is called Abura Nuki and can be done with fire or a heat gun.
How to make a kite with bamboo
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a simple kite using bamboo:
- 4-6 bamboo sticks (about 1 meter long each)
- Thin paper or fabric
- Start by laying out your bamboo sticks on a flat surface, making a cross shape. The horizontal stick should be about 60cm long and the vertical stick about 80cm long.
- Tie the two bamboo sticks together in the middle using string. This will form the frame of your kite.
- Next, tie the remaining two bamboo sticks to the ends of the horizontal stick to form a diamond shape. These sticks should be about 50cm long and positioned diagonally from the center of the horizontal stick.
- Once you have the frame of the kite assembled, cut your paper or fabric into a diamond shape that is about 5-10cm larger than the bamboo frame on all sides.
- Lay the paper or fabric over the bamboo frame and fold the edges over the bamboo sticks, gluing them down as you go. Make sure the paper or fabric is pulled taut over the frame.
- Cut a length of string about 1 meter long and tie one end to the center of the kite frame. This will be the bridle that holds the kite up in the air.
- Tie the other end of the bridle string to a longer piece of string, about 3-4 meters long. This will be the flying line for your kite.
- Attach a tail to the bottom of the kite using string or ribbon. The tail will help stabilize the kite and keep it flying straight in the wind.
- Finally, decorate your kite using markers or other decorations as desired.
And there you have it – a simple kite made from bamboo that you can fly on a windy day!
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