Ever thought about making your own returning boomerang?
As one of the earliest man-made flying objects, there's something almost magical about the boomerang. Recently, we had champion boomerang thrower Logan Broadbent from the US Boomerang team show Jeremy how to make a DIY boomerang . This article will not only show you how to make your own DIY boomerang out of common materials but also how to throw a boomerang.
If you're wanting the more visual and less detailed version, here's the video.
Here's the in-depth step-by-step tutorial of how to make a boomerang. Let's get started!
You Will need:
- Boomerang Template (print using 'no page scaling' and use 'tile')
- Boomerang should be 12+ inches from tip to tip
- Material (see step 1 for choices)
- An electrical bandsaw, jigsaw or handsaw
- A drum sander or sandpaper and sanding block in three grits (course, medium and fine)
- Paint and Varnish (optional)
Step 1: Decide on Your Material
The first thing you'll want to do when setting out to make a DIY boomerang is to decide what material you're going to use. Boomerangs can be made from:
- Plywood - up to 3/8in (9.5mm) thick
- Use grade A or grade B for best results
- Grades BB and lower won't hold up.
- The more layers the better/stronger.
- Use grade A or grade B for best results
- Foam Board
- Glass-Infused Nylon
- Carbon Fiber
- A Wide Variety of Plastics
To start with, we recommend that you keep it simple by using plywood. Foam board will also work as it is super easy to work with but it will not last long. For foam, all you'll need is a craft knife and some sandpaper to make one. However, if you're looking to keep your boomerang for longer without it wearing out, plywood is a great option. The following techniques in this article apply to both these materials.
Step 2: Cut out your Boomerang
Cutting out a boomerang can be done a few different ways. To start with, though, you'll have to establish the shape. To do this, use a template or 'master' to trace around. Simply grab a pen and mark out the outline of your boomerang. If there is a natural bend to your material (be it foam, plastic or plywood), have the material curve upwards to create a natural dihedral to the wings.
You can find different boomerang templates online or download our own free Flite Test template here: Download Template
Take your time on this and don't worry too much about being incredibly accurate, cutting too close to the line. You can always touch up any rough edges by sanding at a later stage. If you haven't got yourself an electric saw, you can purchase a Grizzly 14" bandsaw like ours through this link. If you're just using a simple handsaw, you might want to clamp the ply to a table to keep it steady as you focus on cutting from the lines. If you're using foam, simply use a knife and cut out the shape as you would any other foam design.
Step 3: Add wing profiles
Boomerangs fly because of their airfoils. It is, therefore, quite an important step to add the airfoils.
You're going to want to sand both the leading and trailing edges of your boomerang's wings. Think of them both as airplane wings. However, you'll need to remember when sanding that the boomerang isn't symmetrical. This is because, as the object rotates, the leading edge of both wings are on opposing sides.
*above image indicates the top of a right-handed boomerang.
Also, you'll need to bear in mind that you can make the boomerang left or right-handed depending on which side of the wing your leading trailing edges are on. For right-handed boomerang throwers, you'll want the leading edge to be on the right edges of each wing as you look down from above. For left-handed throwers, you'll want them to be on the left side.
If this is a little confusing, you could note which side is which on the boomerang itself by using a pencil. You can always sand the writing off later or paint over it. To get the trailing edge airfoil shape, hold the boomerang at a shallow angle as you pass it over the bench sander. If you're using a rasp, file, or sanding block, simply clamp it to a table whilst you work. Pass the sandpaper over the edges at a shallow angle to establish an airfoil shape. Once you have the desired shape, go over the airfoil in progressively finer grits of sandpaper to give it a nice smooth finish.
Get a Grizzly Drum Sander (type FLITE10 for 10% off through Dec-2018) - http://bit.ly/2E4NbQP
Step 5 (Optional): Paint and Varnish
If you're wanting to take your new boomerang that extra mile, you can paint it. Note: It's probably a good idea to check the flight characteristics of the boomerang before you start spending time finishing it like a pro. Foam board is easy to paint - you can use rattle cans or an airbrush in much the same way you'd paint an RC plane. For the wooden version, you can add a coat of varnish over top your paint or straight onto the boomerang itself to give it a hard-wearing finish.
Here's a guide to painting foam.
How to Throw a Boomerang
Throwing a boomerang isn't as difficult as you might think. Here are steps to success that can help straight from champion boomerang thrower Logan Broadbent:
When you're finding a place to launch your boomerang, try to find the most open space you can. A nice open park or sports field would work. A boomerang can travel 25 to 30 m (27 to 32 yards) depending on size and weight. Make sure to get bystanders clear and aware that you're throwing a boomerang about. You don't want to hit someone!
Determine the wind direction. This can be done by simply throwing some grass into the air just as you would do when about to fly an RC plane. Throw about 45-90 degrees off-wind. Right handed throwers should have the wind hitting their left cheek and left handed throwers should feel the wind on their right cheek.
If the boomerang lands in front of you, throw more into the wind. If it lands behind you throw more perpendicular to the wind.
Hold the boomerang with your thumb and forefinger. Have the top side (with the top of the airfoil) facing you. It doesn't matter which wing you hold, just chuck it with the top side pointing toward your face. Simple!
Throw it vertically. Don't throw on a steep angle (layover), keep it straight and perpendicular to the ground. Different boomerang designs call for slightly different layover angle. Experiment but usually between 20 degrees and perfectly vertical is best. Also keep in mind the more wind, the closer to vertical you need. Don't throw it like a Frisbee as you will see very little success!
Also, throw the boomerang so that you are aiming to keep it about eye level. It will climb on its own because of the airfoil and dihedral.
Give it a lot of spin/rotation. This will help it to penetrate the air and come back to you. If it wants to do an extra loop, you probably threw it too hard. Harder means faster spin - it doesn't necessarily mean a longer flight.
To catch, you're going to want to 'clap' down on the boomerang as it will travel back to you horizontally. Do a sandwich catch if the boomerang has slowed enough.
Like everything, keep practicing to improve your technique!
If you find your boomerang consistently sinks soon after throwing, flex the boomerang upward to give you more dihedral (upward warp).
Throwing boomerangs is a lot of fun. It takes a little bit of practice to get the perfect balance between direction and throwing power but soon you'll get the hang of it. Keep practicing and make some memories!
Type FLITE10 for 10% off before 01/01/19:
Track Saw - http://bit.ly/2zN0ZfH
Drum Sander - http://bit.ly/2E4NbQP
Table Saw - http://bit.ly/2Rw6d5Q
Drill Press - http://bit.ly/2B3J9VN
Bandsaw (not eligible for 10% off): http://bit.ly/2SxV6dg
Links To More Flite Test Content
Article by James Whomsley
Editor of FliteTest.com
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/projectairaviation