An 18-inch square piece of plywood and a few common shop tools are all you'll need to craft a real, working boomerang like those used to hunt game in the Australian outback. In Australia, the Aborigines made boomerangs from wood carved from the joint between a tree trunk and a large branch, or root. Boomerangs depend on an aerofoil design to whirl toward a target and return to the thrower. Traditional boomerangs have a V-shape design with aerofoils along the wing line.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 18-by-18 inch plywood (5-ply thickness)
- Safety goggles
- Spray shellac
- Hobby paint and brushes
Draw a boomerang pattern on a piece of 5-ply plywood. The V-shape should be symmetrical, with each side separated at a 100-degree angle. Cut out the boomerang with a jigsaw. Wear safety goggles.
File the leading edge on one wing and the back edge on the opposite wing using a coarse file or rasp. Move the file away from the boomerang toward the edge in a consistent motion. This forms the aerofoil that enables the boomerang to fly and return. File down the edge so it is about half the thickness of the original plywood. Sand the aerofoils with a piece of coarse (100-grit) sandpaper to smooth out rough edges that can affect flight performance.
Test the boomerang's dihedral flex by setting the boomerang on a flat surface like a table. The wing edges must curve up about ¼ inch from the table surface. Create the flex by warping the wood over a steaming tea kettle. Work with one wing at a time, moving it over the steam until the wingtip flexes, which should take less than 20 seconds. Clamp or hold the boomerang in position for about five minutes, until the wood cools and retains its new wing curvature. Repeat the procedure for the other wing.
Finish the boomerang surface with 250-grit sandpaper, taking care to smooth the edges along the wings. Apply wood stain or paint and decorate, as desired. Allow the boomerang to dry. Sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper between coats. Apply two coats of spray shellac to seal the paint and give the boomerang a smooth, shiny appearance.
Throw the boomerang overhead as you would a baseball, gripping one wingtip between your thumb and forefinger. Face into the wind and turn 60 to 75 degrees to the right. Throw the boomerang in the direction you are facing so the aerofoils catch the wind at the correct angle and cause the boomerang to return.