How to make Boomerangs with a Router
By Dave Hendricks, BVD'Rangs

Typical boomerang building techniques utilize either files, rasps and sandpaper, or the use of power belt sanders and drums. One other techniques is to use a router or shaper to do most of the hard work and then finish the boomerang by sanding. Two people I know use the router alot when making boomerangs and they use them in different ways. Gary Broadbent uses a 45 degree camfering bit to cut the leading edges. He has this bit modified to get the bearing closer to the cutter, and eliminate the chance of the blank getting under the bearing. Kendall Davis uses templates with the router and uses a roundover bit for the leading edge and a special profile for the trailing edge.

The following pictures illustrate a method I am using. I only use this for 6mm thick boomerangs. It does not require any customised bits or templates. It has its pitfalls and I'll point them out as we go. I am, by no means, an expert on this technique, I'm just presenting it so that you can decide if it may work for you. All I know is that it helps me get boomerangs done a bit faster than before.

All of the photos below are thumbnail images, click on them to see a much larger view.

The information on how Kendall uses a router was published in the USBA publication "Many Happy Returns", Issue #90. Contact the USBA for a copy at www.usba.org. He also has some of the information at this link.



Before I can use the router, I need some shapes to work with. Here I have stacked some plywood and traced the boomerangs shape. I cut the stack on the bandsaw, which saves time by ing me three of four of the same shape each time I cut. I use duct tape to keep the sheets together. I try to watch which way the plywood warps and place that side down. I then trace my shapes reversed, on the back, so that any fuzz or splintering of the wood, will be on the top when I flip them over. This will be routed off on the initial pass.
Here are the two bits I use. On the left is the 45 degree bit and on the right the bevel bit from the stile and rail set. In the middle is a brand new bevel stile and rail set, which I am saving for future use. The new bit has two cutters, one which is removed when I use the bit. The ne bit is also encased in a protective covering.
Here I have installed a 45 degree camfering bit in my router table. Using a 6mm thick blank, or a piece of scrap plywood, set the height so the the bearing is running on the last 1mm or so of the blank. This should allow the cutter to cut about 50% of the thickness. Use a scrap piece of plwood to test the cutting height.
Once you are happy with the depth of cut, rout completely around the face of the boomerang. Remember that the blank goes face down on the router table. Remember to keep those fingers clear!
If you have set the bearing too high in the table, there is a chance that the blank can slip under the bearing and the cutter will go to deep in the wood. Here you can see what happened when I had the bearing a bit to high, and pushed down a bit too hard on the blank.
If all went well, you should have a blank that has a 45 degree leading edge completely around the face of the boomerang.
Ok, now it's time to switch bits. I use a bevel bit from a bevel stile and rail set. This bit was made by Sears but is no longer available. I know of other companies who produce simialr bits so there must be a substitute available. You want to set up the bearing height the same way you did for the initial leading edge cut. Test cuts on scrap plywood are recommended.
Start by cutting a trailing edge on the dingle arm, begining near the elbow.
Continue this cut to the tip of the wing. Switch to the inside curve of the boomerang and cut a trailing edge on the lead arm. Router bit travel requires you to start at the tip and finish near the elbow for this cut.
You should now have a boomerang with leading and trailing edges. It should fly at this point but it will look a bit rough.
Here is one of those pitfalls I mentioned. If you do not have a firm grip on the blank, it can raise up and slip, causing chatter and often grabbing and gouging the blank. Here is one that got away from me. I managed to rescue it from the scrap pile by sanding, but it isn't a nice as I'd like.
Another time that the bearing was set wrong and the trailing edge cut too deep. Compare the blank in the foreground with the good one in the back. I almost cut all the way through the blank on this one.
I now switch to my sanding drum mounted in a drill press. I use this to round all the edges and to smooth the transition from leading to trailing edge. The latex gloves protect my hands from the sanding dust. I have problems with the dust drawing moisture from my hands especially when the weather is cooler. The gloves help to prevent that and don't interfere with working.
After sanding, you should have a boomerang that is ready to finish or paint. Compare the unsanded blank in the rear with the sanded one in the front. A little bit of sanding goes a long way.



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Changes last made on: April 20, 2005