Magic Wands up ↑

Grandson Noah developed an interest in the Harry Potter story, and requested a magic wand, and then another. I regret not taking photos of the first two wands.

Wand #1 was wired with a white LED at the tip, which illuminated a blue glass marble. It was intended to serve dual use, as a wand and as a flashlight for Halloween trick-or-treat. The only photo I have is a mock-up I made during construction. The handle ended up much shorter, and the final shaft was tapered and of different wood (Nandina), so it looked quite a bit different.

The handle holds the battery. The butt end has a spring-loaded brass push-contact button, that completes the circuit to the LED. The glass marble was eventually glued to a brass bushing made from a pistol (10mm) cartridge case, with one end flared to fit the marble. I did the brass parts, handle and shaft, separately, on a toy lathe (Unimat 1000 SL) given by our friend Paul Lee. Boring out the shaft was done using a sharpened piece of stainless steel wire held in a Foredom rotary flex-shaft tool. It was tricky, keeping the wire centered in the wood and avoiding whipping action.

Wand #2 is made of wild grape fine. A branching node forms a sort of hilt.

Wand #3 is shown below.

It is made of weathered live oak heart wood, roughed out with spokeshave and wood rasps, then finished with knife and sandpaper.

Each wand was fitted with a protective bamboo case, for shipping and storage. The green bamboo was flamed, to dry and harden it. The flaming also produces nice color. The one shown below is completely black. Others show nice motling. The bamboo was sealed with wax/paraffin while hot, to stabilize it. One end is closed with a wood stopper, with cord wrapping for snug fit.

Later, Noah called and asked me to make another wand, with some fairly specific details he had gotten from a Harry Potter website. I was not able to procure the exact materials he wanted, but came up with an approximation, using wild grape wood. The handle is decorated with a small "hilt" of buffalo horn, and a small turkshead of hemp twine at the pommel. This is my own favorite of the wands I've made.

Grandson Arlo also became interested in wands, so we worked together on three of them. One is made of Nandina wood, which is yellow colored; it incorporates a knot, where the pland was cut off and then sent up a new shoot. Another is made of orange wood, and is lathe-turned. The third is made of wood from a Florida Anise bush, which has a naturally hollow core. It is fitted with an LED tip and two AAA batteries. The LED can be turned on by a push-button. The LED is mounted in a socket, cut down from part of an old IDE disk cable connector. The push-button switch is fabricated from wood, copper, and sterling silver, with a cut-down spring from a ballpoint pen. The butt cap is made of hammered sterling silver, held on by two lugs that lock into notches in the cap. The negative side of the circuit runs from a spring in the butt cap, through the cap, to the ring holding the pins, through an inlaid strip of silver, and into the handle at the side of the push-button. The button is hollow and has a copper washer that bridges the two contacts. There is a small bamboo post in the center of the spring, to keep the spring in position and the button centered. This design evolved through several failures, including splitting of the handle when I bored the hole for the batteries. The silver inlay for the negative side of the circuit also serves to fill that crack. The first attempt at the butt cap was a turned wooden knob, with threads, but the iinternal threads stripped out, so I fabricated the silver cap. .

Arlo was also interested in making a "fidget spinner". We used a commercial one as a model, and a ball bearing that I happened to have around from an electric motor. The body is live oak, and the central knobs are orange wood. The weights are cut from spend 38 caliber bullets. It doesn't spin quite as well as the commercial product. I think the main problem is the bearing, which is larger and has more internal friction. By chance, the bearing I used is identical in dimensions and appearance to the three weights on the arms of the commercial spinner, though the later do not rotate. I was surprised to see that the bearing of the commercial spinner is much smaller in diameter. I guess maybe they discovered the other bearings did not work well, as I did, and converted them to weights. If I had done some research in advance I would have ordered more suitable bearings. ... Maybe on the next iteration.

Not to leave out Noah, after Arlo's wands, I made Noah another, from Mimosa wood. The wood splits easily, is fairly soft, coarse-grained, and flexible. This piece was split out of a section about 8 inches in diameter. When green, the wood had dark and light contrasting rings, one of which ran through the wand. I quick-dried that piece, after trimming down with a spokeshave, using a heat gun. As it dried it lightened to the present color. The grain is still interesting, despite the fading.