Copyrighted 2000 - All Rights Reserved - JEFF MacINNIS

Setting Glued Spines

   O.K.   so I'm a geek for glued and taped kites.    All I can say is, they've been working for me.   The built in obsolescents ( more or less ) for most kites made in the world is set at uhh... one tangle.   I read a book once that told of an Indian gentleman who managed to hold on to his favorite paper kite for seventeen years.   He had a reward out for this particular kite in the event of a downing.   All the children in the neighborhood promptly returned it when found.

   The kite happy flock in my neck of the woods most often return home with their war birds.   Most of their fighters are taped and glued.   Like an Indian kite they are made to fly.    Less attention is payed to longevity of a kite made with love than a kite made to last.   Just plain talkin':   I ain't too crazy about ripstop fighters.   "Hey fat kid, maybe it don't fly as good as yours but I've flown it for four years!" "I see.    That is interesting." Taped and glued kites can easily last a season and much longer.   Less of my kites burn out than get stepped on or slammed in car doors.   Car doors work pretty good on ripstop fighters too though.   Enough, let's build.

   Alright, the sail is stretched out on the working surface with a spine at the ready.   If you are using a bamboo spine like your beloved fat kid, cut to length and straighten it out.   It takes me as long to straighten a bamboo spine as it does to make one.    About twenty minutes.   Three things are required:    Nimble wrists, clever fingers and patience.   To avoid ascension to the heights of mediocrity, get it perfect.   Check the straightness by laying the spine on a flat surface.   Both on it's back and on it's side.   If you are not using bamboo adjust accordingly.

   The spine is already cut to length, check it by laying it on the sail.   Remove.   With a straight edge mark the building surface beyond the nose and tail of the sail directly down the center line.   The hard outside shell portion of the bamboo spine will contact the sail.   The grain side is up.   Mark the ends of the grain side dead center.   Use a pencil for this for later erasure.   ( Just in case you are building a museum piece ) Check your work.   Lay the spine on the sail with the lines and marks set.   Perfect, now here's the trick.   Lay a straight edge on the sail ( nose to tail ) up to and touching the spine.   Re-adjust so the lines and marks are set.   Remove the spine without disturbing the straight edge.   If your spine is made with a taper the straight edge will be off set so it is farther away from one end of the center line from nose to tail.   If your spine does not have a taper the straight edge will be off set from the center line at equal distance nose to tail.   Apply water based flexible drying glue to the hard outside shell of the spine.   Carefully set it aside for maybe ten minutes.   * ( More on this later ) Now, with the glue beginning to get tacky, hold the straight edge down with one hand insuring it does not move.   Install the spine up to and touching the straight edge.   Run your fingers up and down the length of the spine forcing it into the straight edge.   Remove the straight edge.   Yes! Gnat's ass.

   * I like to let the glue get tacky before installation for a number of reasons.   Firstly, it has less tendency to ooze out from under the edges of the spine when "squeezing in".   Also there is another thing that can happen when using paper.   High fiber papers like Feather Paper or Mulberry are porous.   Even glaced gift wrap leaks a little.   If the glue is wet when setting the spine, its pretty easy to glue the kite sail to the working surface.    OH NO! Silk, Glasseen and other materials begin to ripple up into a frightful mess when coming in contact with water.   That's why its a good idea to let some of the water evaporate from the glue before installation.   Of course there are options when selecting adhesives.   Always experiment with scraps before execution.    Yeah yeah I know, you could always experiment with glued and taped ripstop too.   It might be fun watching the fat kid have a seizure!

the fat kid