Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cardboard Boomerang

Somewhat different lot of posts coming up.

First up - a cardboard boomerang.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were of dad
making all sorts of toys out of wood. One of these these
were the obtuse-angled V-shaped boomerangs that
he'd file to an aerodynamic shape and throw in high lazy
arcs in grassy fields. Yes, they returned perfectly to either
drop at our feet or spin right into our waiting hands, so well
did he hone them. I never became much of a carpenter but I
did make a paper version with my students when I was
a teacher. Physics labs were usually serious affairs so when
we had the occasional opportunity to play, we played.

*This paper version is an indoor boomerang. It doesn't 
work well outdoors if there is wind - it's just too light. 

Make these out of any soft, pliable cardboard like a cereal
or pasta box - just don't use corrugated cardboard. The size
is unimportant, as is the width of the arms. *What's more
important is the symmetry - so try and keep the lengths
of the arms equal, as well as the angles between them.
The simplest form has three arms although I've also
made them with four like a cross. Greater than four
would work but might be too much work to cut out!

You start with an equilateral triangle and cut it to shape.
Or use my pattern and size it up if you want it bigger.
The bigger it is, the larger an arc it will make as it flies.

Found a more refined pattern here (with more links!) -
I haven't tried it personally but it looks wonderful!

The softness of the cardboard will allow it to curve naturally,
like so

which helps with the lift and spin. Here's how to hold it
if you are left-handed (left picture) and
if you are right-handed (right picture).

Hold it so that the convex side (usually the colored
side of the cardboard if you recycled a printed box)
faces away from you and the concave side faces you.
Tilt it diagonally (abour 45 degrees) away from the vertical
and aim towards a corner of the ceiling, snapping your
wrist to give it a spin (like a frisbee but overhand).

Of course the instructions above make no sense at all,
so here's a videoclip. It was a bit challenging to hold the
camera with my left hand while throwing with my right -
sorry if you feel like hurling after watching.

*Edited to add this.


  1. And my amazement continues. What a cool mom your girls have!

  2. P.S. In an effort to let blog reading lead to DOING versus just sitting, I just cut myself a boomerang. Sadly, the only thin cardboard nearby was a tiny pasta container. And I didn't measure, just sketched a super-rough triangle, then cut. My first two attempts at throwing were vastly unsuccessful. On the third, the thing finally did some nice spinning but then went in the wrong direction and ended up in my hibiscus.

    I will try again, when the cereal box is empty. : )

  3. Oh, I really have to try this in summer! Eversince I spent half a year in Australia I am really mad at myself because I brought back boomerangs for so many people - but NOT FOR ME! So now I can make my own. ;-) Thanks for sharing this.

  4. You're welcome! I realize on hindsight (and after reading your comment, Miss Muffin - in case you were waiting for summer to try it outside) that I failed to mention that this boomerang probably won't work very well outdoors because any wind at all will throw its flight off. Thanks for the tip - I went back to the post and added this in.

  5. I can't watch the video

  6. Aww boo!!! When I tried to watch the video, a error message appeared in the video frame. It says "An error occurred. Please try again later." I thought you'd like to know that it doesn't work. Hopefully you can fix it because I was really wanting to watch it! lol


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