Now that the dust has settled in my life a bit, it’s time to make more dust…. sawdust! Saturday I focused on tracing and cutting out blanks from both plywood and polycarbonate. I have a few orders to fill and want to try to get my stock in better shape for future orders. I got 24 blanks cut out, then proceeded to set up the router and cut a 45 degree bevel on all of them. That should be enough to keep me busy for a while.
Sunday I decided to work with some hardwood. I had just purchased a new 3/4 inch cut flat router bit. It’s great for cutting laps to glue up booms. I had wood I previously sanded to thickness along with some from Chris K. I set things up and ended up with 9 sets of boards ready to glue. I glued these up Sunday to dry for Monday.
Monday I took the wood out from the clamps and traced the final shapes on them. I ended up with a nice assortment. I headed to the scroll saw and cut them all out. After that I set up the router table again and cut a 45 degree bevels on the fresh cut blanks. The weekend yielded me 32 boomerangs that are begging to have airfoils sanded on them. Memorial day weekend is rapidly approaching and I have plenty of boomerangs to shape.
May 16th was our final Australia Class with the students from Sacred Heart School. I am sure some of the students didn’t like it because we had a test. I’d rather not have a test but we actually have to grade the students so we split the grading into class participation, projects and the test. The students get to grade each other’s papers. They also got to fill out a survey rating the class and the teachers. We make sure it works both ways.
We then watched a video of Kendall Davis making modern boomerangs with power tools. His video most approached how I make boomerangs and showed a big difference from the video of Aborigines making them with “tommyhawks and files”.
Next was our Aussie tasting. We had Vegemite and crackers on hand. The students were brave and tasted it, but didn’t like it. They were rewarded for their efforts by getting ANZAC biscuits, a cookie made with flour, coconut, raisins, oatmeal and butter. I think they had seconds and thirds. ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps.
During the tasting session we had special guests. Sacred Heart School is part of the Catholic Diocese of Allentown which serves five counties in eastern Pennsylvania: Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuykill. Bishop John Barres, along with a some priests and principals from other schools in the Diocese had come to work to check out the Exploratory Class Program. We ended up with three groups of visitors to our class. hey asked the students and teachers about the classes and the program. One of the students told then that this class was the best! The students also presented the Bishop with a boomerang they had painted as a class.
One last thing was to view some actual “bush tucker”. Bush tucker is food found in the Australian bush country. One of my coworkers is from Australia and brought in witchetty grub, which is a rather large (4 inch?) white larva of a moth. this one is in a small wine bottle and he received it as a gag gift. He was pleased to be able to provide it for the class to see. Some of the students thought it was pretty gross.
Since this was the last class of the year, I need to thank a few people. First off, I want to thank Hasse Lindberg for supplying the boomerang blanks the class used. Thanks to David Fantone for getting those blanks to me. Thanks to Gary Broadbent for supplying Roomerangs for the class to decorate. Thanks to my employer for supporting this program and giving us a chance to do something in the community. And a very special thank you goes to my partner in this class, Hector Vazquez. Hector is a great guy and really works well with the students. Without Hector’s help, this class wouldn’t happen. He’s the best!
Thursday was our weekly Australia class. I had promised the students that if the weather was nice, we would get to throw boomerangs outside. When they arrived the temperature was near 70 degrees and the sun was shining. I couldn’t go back on my promise. However there were some other things scheduled too. We started out class by making didgeridoos from PVC pipe. We used 1-1/4 inch pipe for class but I had brought one made from 3 inch pipe and my large bloodwood one I bought in Australia. The students were interested in the different sound each one had. after making the didges they got the chance to attempt to play them. After a few minutes they were all managing to get some sound out of them. Most of the time they were trying too hard and I had to get them to relax more. A few of them were doing well enough that they asked to try the bloodwood one. Now that was funny!
Having spent half of class on didges we headed outside to throw boomerangs. After a refresher course on the proper technique, we let them throw (one person at a time). They held back at first but after gaining some confidence put a bit more effort into it. They were getting some really great throws. One student had trouble because he would often throw sidearm. When he threw correctly he was doing great but he really had to work at it. We did have our mishaps along the way. The area we use has a klot of small trees. Also there is a treeline complete with a swampy area in it. Well one errant throw is way up in a tree on the treeline. A second one was swallowed by the swamp monster. We finally had to stop as we expected the bus to be back soon. As they waited the last few minutes for the bus, they showed off their new boomerangs and their didgeridoo playing skills to the other students. What fun that was to watch.
Wednesday I snuck out to the field at lunch to test some new boomerangs. I had a stack of Hydra triblades made from 1/8 inch polycarbonate that weren’t flying the way I wanted so I reshaped them. They work great now. The last boomerang I tried was a beautiful curly maple lap joint boomerang shaped like the Colorado Aspen but with a 90 degree elbow. I am alway worried boomerangs like thata won’t fly correctly. Boy was I wrong. I threw it one time. It made a beautiful circle and I caught it without taking a single step. Bulls-eye! That boomerang is destined for the Gary Broadbent collection but I already have an order for another. Fortunately I have more curly maple.