How to make Vertical Lap joint Boomerangs
By Dave Hendricks

What are vertical lap joint boomerangs? Typical lap joint boomerangs have a half lap cut out of both pieces so that the arms fully overlap each other but this leaves a seam on one arm of the boomerang and not the other (except when you flip it over.) Vertical lap joints have a vertical seam near the center of the elbow of the boomerang thus making it look more symmetrical, The following article should help you understand how these joints are made. There are two similar methods discussed here. The first method is the method that I started to use and is the method in use by my son Vince at for dynastiX Boomerangs. The second method is closer to the one used by Dr Fredric Malmberg, and the one that I use now for hardwood boomerangs. For photos, I am going to do this with thumbnail images and you can view a larger picture by double clicking on the small one. That way you only need to view those that you require help with. For those interested in what woods were used, I will try to identify the woods used in the photos and adding the name in parentheses. For those of you looking for exact plans or dimensions, you will not find them here; I estimate the thickness for the wood and do a lot of "calibrated eyeball" measuring. I prefer to have some freedom when working and this comes from my other woodworking experience. I often build jewelry boxes without ever touching a ruler. I start with a piece for the top and use it to determine the sizes for every other cut.

Method One

Step 1: Resawing the wood. In the first photo you can see me resawing some curly maple. I use a band saw for my resawing and set the fence by using an old blank as a gauge. I usually cut several pieces so that I can make more than one boomerang at a time. Setting fences and router depths once for several pieces makes life easier. You must decide what thickness to use. I average about 1/4" thickness (5-6mm) but Vince does nice booms in thinner wood. I have also seen thinner ones from Dr Fred. (curly maple)
Step 2: Setting the angle. I usually set the saw angle by "eyeballing" it using a boomerang pattern. One advantage of cutting the pieces this way is that you achieve a straight edge without sanding.
Step 3: Cutting the angle. I cut the pieces on the table saw. Be careful of fingers! (curly maple)
Step 4: Rout the half lap. I use a large 1/2" or 3/4" (13-20mm) straight router bit to cut the lap. I make the cut all in one pass and it is an approximate 5/8 inch overlap. If you are using a smaller bit, you will have to make multiple passes. The final cut is half the thickness of the wood and will vary with the thickness that you work with. I adjust it by making several test cuts before cutting the actual laps. I do not measure the wood but prefer to guess at half the thickness and make minor adjustments until a good fit is found. Note the high tech, custom router fence. (hee, hee) Also note the use of "pushers" to protect fingers! (red oak)
Step 5: View of the laps. This is a view of the two pieces with the laps already cut. Note that you have two identical pieces! This is important because when you flip one over, it becomes the other arm of the boomerang. (curly maple)
Step 6: Glue and clamp. Use your favorite glue (I use Titebond Woodworkers II) to glue and clamp the pieces together. Note that the pieces do not completely match up by using this method. You need a wider blank to start with in order to accommodate this. . (curly maple)
Step 7: Trace your pattern. If you got the angle correct earlier, then you should be able to trace your favorite pattern right on the blank. You can see where I had to move the pattern to avoid the spot where the laps don't match. (red oak, mahogany)
Step 8: Cutting the shape. I use a band saw but you can use a scroll saw, jig saw or fret saw to cut the blank. (mahogany)
Step 9 thru end: I assume that you already know how to shape a boomerang so I will not lead you through all of that. Shaping, airfoils and finishing are up to you. I will advise that tuning these boomerangs is a little more difficult because the wood does not bend as easily as plywood.

Method Two

Step 1. Trace the pattern. I am assuming now that you have already cut your wood to the proper thickness. Begin by tracing a half pattern on the wood. Be sure that the pattern has adequate overlap at the elbow. (Curly maple, pattern is white ash)
Step 2: Cut the pieces. I stack two pieces together and hold them with masking tape. This way I can cut the both at one time. If you are really cranking these out, you can stack three, four or more together. Notice that my wood was not the same width or type. (curly maple/rosewood)
Step 3: Straighten edge. I take both halves and sand a straight edge on my disk sander. Be sure to keep equal pressure on it or you will come up with a rounded edge that does not match. (white ash)
Step 4: Rout lap. Here we go again. This is the same process as before but a much smaller area to be cut. Be care when exiting the cut to avoid tear out or chipping. Also be sure to make two identical pieces as before, so that when you flip one oner, it becomes the other half of the boomerang. Look at that router fence upgrade in 1-1/2 inch thick mahogany.! (white ash)
Step 5: Glue and clamp. This is the same as above only with a smaller joint. (English walnut)
Step 6: More blanks in process. Follow your usual processes (shape, sand, finish) with the glued up blank to produce a finished boomerang. (ash, curly maple/rosewood, English walnut, curly mahogany and white oak)


Special thanks go to Dr. Fredric Malmberg for showing me his technique with vertical lap joints. My early efforts would not have been as successful without his help.

Questions about these techniques can be addressed to Dave Hendricks at BVD'Rangs or Vince Hendricks at dynastiX or Fredric Malmberg



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Changes last made on: April 8, 2005