Rebel Boomerangs...Right Back At Ya

How To Make A Boomerang

Disclaimer: The use of tools, especially power tools can cause injury or even death.  If you are under the age of 18 you must have Adult Supervision before you use any tools.

How to make a boomerangs is a step by step process with detailed illustrations that show you how I make a boomerang. Making a boomerang is both fun and rewarding.  This is a project that anyone can do with just the use of hand tools.  However, I'm going to show you how to make a boomerang with the use of power tools and boomerang templates.  This will allow you to make more consistent boomerangs which can be reproduced over and over.

Tools I use to make boomerangs:   Boomerang template, circular saw, band saw, router, drum sander, sanding sponge.  

Hand tools that can be used to make a boomerang:  Coping saw, wood rasp, and sand paper.

The first thing we need to talk about is what type of material to make your boomerang out of. Boomerangs are made out of many different materials such as, plywood, hardwood, pheonelic, ABS, plexiglass, carbon fiber, and the list goes on.  I make my boomerangs out of plywood however, not just any old plywood from those big box stores.  I use Baltic Birch (also known as Russian Birch) and Finnish or Finland Birch and or Aircraft plywood.  Due to the multiple layers used to make the plywood I just mentioned this plywood is both light enough and strong enough to make high quality boomerangs.

Making your template:  The first thing you need to do is design a working boomerang.  I would suggest purchasing a boomerang from a reputable boomerang maker (such as myself) to use as a guide for your first boomerang. Now you'll want to trace that boomerang onto 3/4" plywood and carefully cut this out since this will be your boomerang template.  Next you'll want to install some jig pins or screws. Placement of the jig pins varies depending on the boomerang.  A good rule of thumb is to place one on each arm of a tri-blade boomerang or one on each arm and one at the elbow of a dual blade boomerang.  The jig pins should go complete through your template and stick out about 1/16 of an inch. These jig pins will allow you to temporally attach your template to your plywood so that you can trace your boomerang onto the plywood and later use your router and router guide bit to make a true boomerang blank.  If your using jig pins as I do you'll also want to install some pegs near your jig pins which will allow you to move your boomerang template around when needed.  Please note that if you are making a tri-blade boomerang I would recommend that you name one of the wings on your template (such as "1") and when you trace your boomerang onto your plywood make sure you mark the wing on the blank with that same name.  This will make it easier/quicker to put your template and blanks together again when you begin to shape them on your router table.

Tracing your boomerang:  Now that your template is done you'll want to trace it onto your plywood.
When I trace a dual-blade boomerang onto my plywood I like to have the grain of the wood running across the wings as opposed to with the wings. This gives the boomerang some extra strength.  You will find that most of your plywood sheets have a natural curve to them.  If you're using a template to make your boomerangs you'll want to trace your boomerang onto the convex side of the plywood.  The reason for this is that the
convex side will end up being the bottom of your working boomerang. This will ensure that your boomerang will not have negative dihedral.  If you are not using a template you will need to trace your boomerang on the concave side of the plywood. Assuming that you are using a template place your plywood on a flat surface with the convex side facing up. Now place your boomerang template onto your plywood and tap the jig pins with a hammer to set it into position and trace away. 



Rough cutting your boomerang:
  If you have traced multiple boomerangs 
onto your plywood and you are using a bandsaw to cut out your blanks,you'll want to use a circular saw to cut the blanks into more manageable sizes so that you can use your bandsaw.  Now that your are ready to rough cut your boomerang blank you'll want to cut it on the outside edge of the boomerang.  I like to leave about 1/16 of an inch extra wood since I'm going to clean it up with my router.  You don't want to leave to much extra wood because this will be hard on your router bit.  



Routing your boomerang blank:  Take your boomerang blank and your boomerang template and join them again using the jig pins and the original holes that you created in your boomerang blank when you traced it.  When cleaning up my boomerang blank with a router I like to use a 5/16" round over bit with a guide bearing. I have the bit set just below the table which gives me a nice round over.  You could also use a straight bit with a guide bearing. If you use the straight bit you'll need to manually round over the leading edge of your boomerangs. Now using your template with your blank attached
route out your boomerang blank. Now you should have a true blank with a 5/16" round over on all of your top edges.  If your planning on making a lot of boomerangs I would recommend having two router tables.  This will allow you to make the leading edge and trailing edge airfoils without having to change router bits.  For my trailing edge I use a router bit which I had tooled 
to create the trailing edge that I wanted.  If you don't have the ability to have this
done you could use a sander to create your trailing edge.  When you route or sand your trailing edge you only do this on one side of each wing depending on which throwing hand you are making your boomerang for.  Looking at a dual blade boomerang if you put your trailing edge on the left side of each wing you will have a boomerang for a Right Handed thrower.  If you put your trailing edge on the right side of each wing you will have a boomerang for a Left Handed thrower.


Sanding your boomerang:
  I like to use a drum sander to rough sand my boomerangs.  However, you could use an orbital sander or just sand paper to get the same results.  Using a drum sander certainly speeds up the process and saves you some arm strength to go out and throw your boomerang.  You may also want to put a slight undercut on the leading edge of your boomerang.  This should be done on the bottom of the boomerang starting at the tip of the boomerang arm and going towards the elbow or center of the boomerang.  This undercut should only be about 2" long.  After I have rough sanded my boomerang on my drum sander I do some fine sanding with a sanding sponge which allows me to have a nice smooth boomerang so that I can finish it with some paint.

Finishing/painting your Boomerang:  You can decorate your boomerang with endless designs.  I like to put a sealer on my rangs along with a coat of primer before I paint my design.  I use multiple techniques, such as tape, stencils, and spray paint, to finish my boomerangs.  When you have your boomerang painted don't forget to put a clear coat sealer on both sides of the boomerang to help protect it from the elements. This will also help keep your boomerang clean and it will help protect the finish that you spent so much time on.  Play around with it and see what you like best.