Make a Boomerang

Staff enthusiasm has prompted MOTHER EARTH NEWS' researchers to compile a few tips on how to make a boomerang.

| September/October 1981

A good many folks (including a number of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' staffers) found that the article "Making and Throwing a Boomerang" really sparked an enthusiasm for the traditional Australian sporting implements. (As you may know, return boomerangs are not—except in the most unusual instances—used as weapons. The heavier nonreturning hunting stick—or
kylie—serves that purpose.)

Well, as a result of your (and our) curiosity, we set out to find a good, reliable, do-it-yourself plans to make a boomerang. And, after turning out a number of fliers based on the "Gem" design (without a failure yet), we think that—when good quality, 1/4" five-ply plywood is used—it is about as foolproof as a boomerang pattern can be. (In the interest of economy, our readers may want to reproduce the returner in 1/4" masonite before making one from the more expensive material. The less costly boomerang should fly almost as well, but will be a good bit less sturdy.)

The Homing Instinct

To begin, draw a pattern—full size—on a sheet of stiff cardboard. (This design described here will produce a right-handed boomerang. Southpaws can simply make a mirror image of the plan, shifting the leading and trailing edges accordingly.) Once you're satisfied that the template is reasonably symmetrical and pleasing, check your wood for warps and—if any exist—lay out the pattern in such a way that the finished boomerang's top (rounded) surface will be formed by the concave warp of the wood (that is, the wings of the finished flier should either be absolutely level or turn up slightly at the tips).

With your boomerang-to-be traced on the board, you can cut out the pattern, using a jigsaw or scroll saw (a "finish" blade will leave much smoother edges). Then use coarse sandpaper to remove a small wedge-shaped portion from the bottom of the leading edge of each wing (this is the only shaping that will be done to the underside
of the boomerang).

Once that's done, take your wooden blank and—with a pencil—mark the to-be-shaved-away areas, on the top of the boomerang, as follows: The leading edges should extend 1/4" into the upper surface of the wood. The trailing edges should be smoothed back 1/2".  Both should be worked to a thinness of no less than 1/8" (which is, of course, halfway down the edge of the 1/4" plywood). Now, use a fine-toothed wood rasp (or a Surform tool) to gradually remove the extra material—as indicated by your penciled guidelines—letting the wood's plies, as each is revealed in turn, help you produce a uniform bevel.

At this point your boomerang will be in its final shape, and you can smooth it first with medium, then fine, sandpaper. Be sure to round off all sharp edges! The finished projectile may be decorated in any way you wish, but do waterproof the wood with a couple of coats of clear lacquer (our favorite) or polyurethane.

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