Canadian Woodworking

Magic wands

Author: Larry Marshall
Published: October November 2004
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The magic is in the making of these fanciful wooden wands.

When I was a kid, books stimulated our imaginations and kept us entertained. We imagined ourselves solving mysteries with the Hardy Boys and we helped Tom Swift with his inventions.

Today’s children have the wildly popular Harry Potter book series to stimulate their imagination. To solve their mysteries, they use a fanciful wooden device, the magic wand. I made one first for my daughter, and later, for some of her friends. These wands have made me a hero with the little magicians around here. I bet a few magic wands could do the same for you.

Mount hardwood block on lathe

Turn a rough-tapered spindle

Make depth cuts where diameter changes

Remove everything that doesn’t look like a magic wand



Wand-Making 101

This is a very simple spindle project and almost any lathe is up to the task. You can use a spindle gouge or a skew to do the cutting, and as I did, turn them on a mini lathe. I started with a 3/4″ x 15″ hardwood blank and gradually removed all the wood that didn’t look like a magic wand. I finished the wand with several coats of shellac followed by polishing with fine shavings while the wand was still on the lathe. As I said, a simple project, but there are a few things worth considering when creating “student” magic wands.

I’ve provided basic dimensions that I follow when creating a wand. You don’t have to follow these dimensions strictly; allow your creative juices to determine your wand shape. However, bear in mind that ‘typical’ handle dimensions don’t work when you’re fitting a small hand. While not critical, a handle that is too large makes it difficult to do the all-important “swish and flick” so necessary in proper spell execution.

Another thing to consider is how your design will survive the ever-present destruction testing that kids do. My early wands had nice crisp edges on the finials – for a while. But the first time these wands were dropped on the sidewalk or bounced down a flight of stairs, the wand became chipped. I’m not sure if this affects its spell-casting ability or not, but it sure detracts from wand aesthetics.

Lastly, try to keep the end of the wand rounded and not too thin. I tend to taper the wands so that they maintain much of their thickness until around halfway along their taper. This just keeps a bit more meat on the bones, which seems to help when the wands are dropped.

Besides, you need some space to insert the magic essence. If you’re replicating Harry Potter’s wand you need to find and insert the tail feather of a Phoenix. If it’s just a utilitarian student wand you’re after, unicorn hair may be easier to find. I think, however, that I’ll leave you to your own devices for the magic insertion task. I can’t give away all my secrets.


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