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Brush Bristle and Nylon Spars

 paintbrush bristles

Simple and quick for making palm sized kites. Brush bristles are well known by anyone who took a  cocktail napkin kite making class from Charlie Sotich.


Brush bristles come in many colors, lengths and weights. They are easy to add dihedral to by simply bending the spar where you want the dihedral to be. While you can buy paintbrushes or other brushes with bristles from the hardware store -- the length of the bristles in finished products will limit the size of kite you can make. The ideal bristles are ones that have never been installed in a finished product.


The best-known source for brush bristles is American Scientific and Surplus in Chicago. According to Charlie Sotich, if you are passing through the windy city in person you can pick out the size you like in the store. For those of us who can’t make it to Chicago there is mail order. The only catch is the store gets to pick out the bundle of bristles for you. Bundles only cost $1.00 each and have hundreds to thousands of bristles in them. Order 5 of them and they will send you a variety of sizes to experiment with. Not all of the varieties make good spars but at $1.00 per bundle it’s not really a big deal. The supply will most likely last you many decades. Order direct from their website. The product you are wanting is called “broom bristles.” Item number is 32982.


Another source of nylon spars is fishing line that has been straightened. The basic process is to wrap it around a board and bake it in an oven. For detailed instructions see Charlie Sotich’s article covering basic miniature kite construction techniques. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated to avoid the fumes.


There are others who have taken plastic / nylon tubes, such as empty ballpoint pens and heated them over a candle until they could stretch it into “threads.” As with straightening fishing line beware of the fumes.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 02 February 2010 16:03)

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