How to Make a Boomerang (The Robot Returns with the Dark Kite)


Step 7: Tuning, and advice from experts.

If your boomerang won't come back, something is wrong. It could be the boomerang, but it could also be you.

In the first test-flights, Robot Returns didn't actually return. After some extremely helpful advice from Adam McLaughlin of the British Boomerang Society, I rounded the ends of the arms and added an airfoil profile to the inside of the boomerang's "elbow" (Robot's stomach abdominal plating). He wanted me to round off Robot's head as well, but I drew the line there. Consequently, Robot Returns doesn't fly as well as he might, but he flies much better than he did.

Adam also pointed me towards the simply beautiful boomerangs of Jay Butters, another respected BBS member, as examples of what the ends of my boomerang arms should look like.

I am indebted to Adam (and indirectly, Jay) for their help in making RR fly.

Other Advice Culled from the web:

Are you throwing it properly? Most especially, are you using enough snap at the wrist to give the boomerang plenty of spin? Also, try leaning the boomerang out at a flatter angle, or lifting it nearer to the vertical. Are you holding it the right way round, so that the leading edge is leading, and the curved side faces you?

If the fault lies in the boomerang itself, then we move into the realm of suck-it-and-see, as well as facing the real possibility of having to start again.

  • Maybe the whole boomerang is too heavy - try shaping the wings to be narrower (and hence lighter) near the centre or elbow. You may end up narrowing the whole length of the arms. You could be (very) adventurous and drill holes in the wings, which will also give extra leading and trailing edges to shape.
  • Maybe the wing profile is wrong - try a bit more shaping, as guided by this image from Greg Courts' excellent photographic tutorial on making boomerangs..
  • Maybe you got your leading and trailing edges mixed up, in which case you will probably have to start again.

If your boomerang's flight need adjusting, there are three ways of tuning it. Unfortunately, two of them (bending and twisting) will not work with a solid wooden boomerang, and only with some kinds of plywood (you have to heat the wood to soften the glue).

However, it is possible to add weight, typically by taping small weights such as coins or washers near the tip of the arms (and at the "elbow" of a two-winged boomerang). The weight will make the boomerang fly further, but you will probably need to adjust the way you throw the boomerang as well, leaning it flatter as you throw, and aiming higher or lower depending on the exact positions of the weights you add.

I am sure boomerang enthusiasts will be able to suggest other ways of modifying your new toy, so keep an eye on the comments.
ClemensY2905 years ago
so is that on both sides of the elbow space?
Kiteman (author)  ClemensY2905 years ago
I carved a trailing edge on the right of the picture, and a leading edge on the left.