How to make a boomerang
|Boomerangs can be made from several different
materials, but the most common boomerangs are made from marine or aircraft grade
plywood because; 1)
it is relatively easy to work with, 2) there are now better quality
plywood types available which are suitable for making boomerangs, and 3)
it just somehow seems proper to make a boomerang out of wood (but maybe that's
just the nostalgia talking.)
This method uses a Jigsaw or Bandsaw to rough-cut the blanks, a Router or shaper to shape the blank to the exact pattern, a Belt sander to smooth the airfoils, and a Finish sander to prepare the boomerang for painting or staining.
Making boomerang blanks with a Router
|First you will need to make a pattern with some 3/8 inch (9mm) material (plywood or hard-board [masonite] works well.) Cut the pattern out with a jig saw or band saw and sand the rough edge to a smooth shape. This will determine what the edges will look like on the finished product. (A good way to start is with a 100 degree elbow-shaped boomerang, about 15 inches from tip to tip with wings just under two inches wide. I have a basic drawing you can use to get started.||
|Or right-click on the link to download the pattern
to your computer. (choose "save target as..." from the pop-up menu - may be
different for your browser.)
Now that you have made your pattern, drill three 1/16 inch holes for holding screws (noted in the drawing.) Drill one hole at the elbow center and one in each wing about two inches from either end - in the center of the wing. (Each pattern will have different holding-screw positions.) Now set a 1 1/2 inch screw in each hole so that it sticks out the opposite side about 1/16 of an inch. These will hold the boomerang blank in place while it is being shaped on the router. You may opt to use longer screws to mount knobs on for easier holding of the pattern while shaping the boomerang. I have found that you can use plastic tubing with 1/8" inside diameter to slip over the screws so they are easier on the hands. Here are a few of my patterns so you can get an idea of what your pattern should look like.
Below is a drawing of my setup with a router. It is a little crude, but you should get the idea. I use a 3/8" round-over bit which isn't all the way through the table. This way, I don't have too much "round" on the front of the boomerang. You can also use a straight cutter bit to make square-edge blanks which give you more flexibility in shaping the final airfoil.
Rough drawing to show detail...
|Here are a couple pictures of the real thing. The picture on the left is a close-up of the router bit. The red line shows the depth (or possibly height, in this case) of the bit protruding through the table. The picture on the right shows the pattern up against the bit and the resultant shape it gives to the blank.|
|Creating the Trailing Edge of the Airfoil|
|You can shape the trailing
edge of the airfoil with a rasp or upright belt sander.
like to use a 1x42" upright belt sander that I purchased at Menards®
for about $100. I took off the backing plate to allow for belt deflection
so the airfoil could be slightly rounded. The generic picture to the right
is a 1x30 belt sander which can be used, but does not have the capacity of the
larger version. If you get one of these (or have one already), I recommend
you take the table and the backstop off. This will allow you to move the
boomerang around better, and also allow the belt to flex more.
This is the general airfoil you will want to achieve. The block end view will need to have the corners slightly rounded - depending on what performance you need or desire.
|Special Shaping with an airfoil bit
The drawing to the far right is a router bit which my Father-in-law shaped from a Grizzly Large Thumbnail bit. The gray bearing is a collar which is slipped over the existing bearing (blue). The blades were reshaped to create the desired slope of the airfoil. A picture of the original bit is seen with the added bearing collar before it was retooled with a green wheel.
A person with machinist skills can retool a bit for this purpose, but it is not for the faint-of-heart. Sears used to sell a bit which was made for raised panels, but they no longer seem to have them in stock. Contact me for more information about shaping the airfoil with a router bit. I may have better information than what is provided here.
This page is always under construction. If I have left something off,
contact me. I work on it as I get a chance.
Please send Questions/Comments to Kendall Davis.
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<Disclaimer> To make a boomerang, all you really need is a coping saw (to cut out the blank), a wood rasp (or similar tool) to shape the airfoil, and some sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges and surface.
This page is devoted to making boomerangs a little quicker with power tools. This process will also produce boomerangs which will have a more consistent flight than what can be achieved with hand tools - unless, of course, you spend more time doing some fine-tuning. I will not argue about which way is better - that would be a waste of time for both of us.
A very good discussion of a simpler way to make boomerangs can be seen by looking at the link below.
Flying Frog Boomerangs - Construction Page
(Please suggest other links to be added here.)