How to Make a Returning Boomerang

A returning boomerang is not just a cool toy: this is a weapon useful for killing birds in flocks, and as a hawk decoy to flush waterbirds into nets.

What do you call a non-returning boomerang? A stick!… Not! Actually, although what most think of as a “boomerang” is the returning kind, most boomerangs used traditionally by Australian Aborigines were non-returning, but still specially designed to be thrown long distances in a straight line to deliver a lethal blow, as well as used for many other purposes.

See my post Boomerangs are Awesome! for background info and more about technical principles about boomerangs.

Steps to make a returning boomerang:

1) obtain a section of wood with a bend measuring 90-120 degrees. It must be from a fork, or bent root so the grain follows the bend. If you cut the proper angle into a straight piece, the boomerang will be weak and liable to break at the bend. It should be fairly straight and flat besides the bend. I chose blue gum eucalyptus wood, which is not particularly good for carving, but is very abundant around here and had that Australian authenticity to it.

2) cut it to equal lengths from the bend and cut that in half. I used a saw but for straight-grained, easily split wood, you can split it with a hatchet or axe and wedge.

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3) thin it down and carve airfoils on both ends, facing opposite directions and blending at the center bend.

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4) once you’ve finished the airfoils, round the ends. The below photo shows all the tools I used so far with the unfinished boomerang in the middle and the unworked half on the right.

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5) carve flutings along the length of the top of the airfoils using a small gauge.

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6) slightly round the bottom of the front of the airfoils, cutting off this bottom front corner with a single knife sweep.

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7) to bend the boomerang at the middle, to give it a positive dihedral shape (meaning if you put the flat bottom of one end of the boomerang on a flat surface the other end will stick up), cover it in oil or grease (I used olive oil) and slowly heat it up til it’s too hot for bare hands over a fire or stove (try not to scorch it), then bend it to the desired shape while it’s hot and hold it like that til it’s cooled. This took quite a bit of strength and using a bench to leverage against. Be careful not to crack the wood. The photo below shows the positive dihedral I put on it.

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8) throw it to test it out. Obviously you need a big field with no danger of hitting others. You should throw it with the V facing forward and the ends straight up and down. There should be a constant breeze to your front that you throw at an angle of 45-90 degrees from. Depending on the flight pattern, you may need to reduce weight, change the dihedral, or make other adjustments to get a full return. See these websites’ tips on throwing and tuning:

http://www.angelfire.com/nc/conally/manual.html

http://www.boomerangs.com/tuning.html

http://www.boomerangs.com/howtothrow.html

9) WARNING/DISCLAIMER: a wooden boomerang is a dangerous weapon. Make sure to always throw it in a manner to avoid hurting yourself and others. I take no responsibility for your safety in making or using a boomerang.

 

 

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