Make a Boomerang That Actually Comes Back!

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About: I teach shop. I love the fact that this website is all about people doing this on their own. Most people today are too materialistic, it has to be new, when its old cast it aside. Make something yoursel...

Intro: Make a Boomerang That Actually Comes Back!

Make a working boomerang!

Step 1: Does It Actually Work?-Yes!

In order for you to be willing to build your own, you probably want some assurance that it will/can work.
I teacher engineering in high school and this is a project I do with my classes. If a ninth grader can build a working boomerang so can you. Still don't believe me, take a look at the video proof. (Note the plans are for a righty, the student in the video is a lefty he reversed the plans so it would work for a lefty.)


Step 2: UPDATE! the Plans and the Material

First step is to download the plans or the pics on this page and print them out full size. Cut out the plans/template on the page, tape the 2 sizes together. Adhere the template to your material using rubber cement.
UPDATE: I have saved the plans as a PDF File this should correct the printing issues. You will still need to select print full size or 1:1.

Material-the plans call for 1/4" 7 layer marine grade plywood, this plywood is hard to find. Baltic birch plywood has 5 layers and it will work great for this project. It can be found at craft stores, lumber yards, or ordered online. My students have had good results with other types of 1/4" plywood but baltic birch works the best.

Step 3: What Tools Will I Need?

I recommend a jigsaw and anything that can be used for sanding. Hand sander, palm sander, orbital sander, disk and belt sander, drum or pad sander mounted on a drill, etc.
You could also carve your boomerang, but I do not have the patience for that.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Blank

Carefully make relief cuts around your pattern and cut it out. I used a jig saw for this but a scroll saw and band saw work well also. If you are skill with any of these tools you can cut some of the bevels for the edges.

Step 5: Sanding the Edges and Contours

After cutting the edges will be rough, you will want to sand these smooth.
The leading/trailing edges are what makes the boomerang return. However the template gives you an easy guide to follow. The template directly shows you where to sand the 45 and 30 degree angles.
On the ends and middle you will have to blend the two edges together. No special technique for doing this just sand everything smooth.

Step 6: How Do I Shape the Edges?

You will shape the edges with lots of sanding. Palm sanders and orbital sanders work well for this, however it can take some time. A belt/disk sander makes sanding easier and faster. The machine in the picture is my favorite machine to use for this. It has a gage for the angles and takes material of quickly but not so fast that you take off to much.
Follow any power sanding with hand sanding.
Round the front edge just slightly, it will make it easier to throw.

Step 7: Check Your Work Frequently

Check your work using a t-bevel, square, or triangle.

Step 8: Almost Ready to Fly

After sanding your edges to the proper angles your are ready to throw your boomerang. In the picture you can see several boomerangs in various stats of completion.
It is not necessary to paint or stain your boomerang. However I have had students that create great looking boomerangs for display.
Do not paint, stain, or seal your boomerang until you have thrown/tested it. It needs to be unfinished so you can make adjustments. Also paint and stain may decrease your boomerangs performance.

Step 9: Throwing Your Boomerang

Find a wide open area like a soccer or football field. I recommend stand at the corner of the field. If there is wind you want to be throwing into it.

Hold the boomerang in the palm of your hand, flat side on your palm. Thumb on top fingers wrapped on the front edge. See the picture.

Throw it like a baseball with a little side arm. Aim the boomerang up and down the sideline of the field.
Practice and repetition help you find the proper throw to improve performance.

Step 10: Watch Out When It Comes Back!

Heads up! Hopefully yours will fly nicely and come back. If not you have a really cool flying stick.

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59 Discussions

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arpruss

2 years ago

I made one. Admittedly, mine was scaled to 3/4 of the full size in the plans, because I only had 3/16" plywood rather than 1/4" plywood. However, it doesn't return to me.

Typically, it comes back to a position about 15 feet to the left of a bit forward of me. (I tried a variety of angles for throwing, ranging from vertically to 45 degrees tilted to the right and I once managed to get it to come back far overhead and land about 20 feet in back of me.)

I don't know if the problem is with my throwing technique or with the boomerang. Does anybody know if my problem sounds like a problem of too much lift or too little lift?

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mpikasarpruss

Reply 2 years ago

1- I'm going to assume that you're right handed, if you're left handed you need to reverse the direction you're throwing, the hand you throw it with and the boomerang airfoil.

2- face into the wind or a little to the right of into the wind, so the wind is coming from your front or left (how much depends on your throw, how much space you have and how well built your boomerang is), having it come from the left helps it return further to your right, having it come from the front makes it go further back

3- Most boomerangs want to be thrown about 45* to the ground. More upright makes it return faster but also makes it drop faster so you need to throw it harder and higher

4- The harder you flick your wrist the faster it spins and the more the airfoil works causing it to turn faster.

Experiment with 2, 3 and 4 till it's returning, a small change in any of them can make a significant change in how your boomerang flies. You already have some idea of what you were doing and your results so you could start from there. Since I don't know that I would probably start with the wind coming from about 45* to my left, throw the boomerang 45-50* to the ground and flick it pretty hard with my wrist (most boomerangs have a fairly high wing loading so they do not return fast, you need more room than you think to make it work, although I used to make very light ones from yard sticks when i was a kid that would return in the space of a lot of suburban yards with a hard flick and a good throw). Once you adjust 2, 3 and 4 so it's coming back at you then adjust how high and hard you throw it so it actually makes it back at a reasonable height.

Simple.

Really, unless you have a lot of space, practice and a very repeatable throwing arm you're likely to spend a lot of time chasing it. My best advice is to find some small kids that like to chase flying things. My twins will go and bring back small airplanes for an hour or more while I tweak wings and tailfeathers till it's flying like I want it ;-) (dogs don't work..., my 100# rescue will try to eat most "sticks" small enough for me to throw ;-) )

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arprussmpikas

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks! Most of the online information suggested less of a tilt to the right, more like 15 degrees rather than 45.

I take it that there is no way to get a return in windless conditions?

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mpikasarpruss

Reply 2 years ago

The tilt changes how much they will try to turn before they flatten out in their flight, the closer to vertical the more they will turn, the rounder the flight path is, the closer to 45* you get the tighter (less circular) the trajectory becomes on a boomerang with a lot of lift to weight, and the longer overall the path becomes on one with less lift to weight. Throw it too flat without a ton of lift and it will not likely make it back no matter what you do.

Most will return find in windless conditions, the point was more how to use the wind to your advantage.

You know, the funny thing is that I made 2 boomerangs of a design that I came up with when I was a kid (well before you could find everything on the internet,,, well before the www) and went throwing with my 4y/o twins yesterday afternoon. I realized how much better my understanding of aerodynamics is now as well as my ability to build things. The end result is that these had much more lift and were very much lighter than what I build as a kid, which in a way was better: I could get them to return in a roughly 20-30' space, even made of wood and having tip to tip wingspan of 21" (yea, they're big compared to most), or I could throw them harder and make them go out to about 50' or so, but at that point they were so light compared to the available lift that they were hard to make return as consistently (with the smaller loop after about a dozen throws I got it down to where I or one of the kids would catch it almost every throw). What I realized was that my original instructions were more centered around something that has lower lift to weight ratio. When you have something with more lift relative to it's weight and more self righting as you go less vertical/closer to 45 it will climb quickly, going almost straight up at it's furthest point from you changing the flight path dramatically.

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Beatleball

5 years ago on Introduction

If you're just interested in buying one, this is a very good website to browse http://www.boomerangsbyvic.com/products/?ap_id=Beatleball#sthash.auRJGuMt.dpuf
the owner has a youtube channel where he showcases the products to http://www.youtube.com/user/supergooddeal?feature=watch

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Dsslazar

5 years ago

Um incase you haven't noticed other boomerangs do come back you just have to throw it right

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Dsslazar

5 years ago

Um incase you haven't noticed other boomerangs do come back you just have to throw it right

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vincent7520

7 years ago on Introduction

Great Work …
As the video shows this boomerang will definitely come back.
But and essential question remains : when ?…
For instance is it able to catch the 7.45pm train to Newark transfer at Columbus and get there on time for dinner ?…
This is an important question as you all know that respect of schedules and rituals such as family evening meals are the bond of a civilized society.
No ?
Why no ?…
Cheers all !…

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burnerjack01

7 years ago on Introduction

I'll just bet that you are an excellent teacher. If I had a teacher like you I think my life may have been signifigantly different. Keep up the good work. And yes, it does make a difference.

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burnerjack01BlackPaw

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

What makes a difference? Being a great teacher. One that not only teaches but also engages the minds of the young, providing an environment that fosters a love of learning.

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hjjusa

7 years ago on Introduction

I built this boomerang when the magazine first came out. I live in a place where you can't get that fancy plywood unless you order it, so I built it out of ordinary plywood. When I was finishished my son and I took it down to the football field. Since he's younger than me and can move faster I let him throw it. When it came back he didn't see it soon enough to get completely out of the way and it made a big gash across his shin and broke the 'rang in two. this things are mean if your'e not careful.

today at p.e. i found this random piece of what i think was table wood and started to throw it around.....didn't come back but u just had to go about 10-30 feet to get it back...