Introduction: Harry Potter Wand
Hello everybody, I am back yet again with another Harry Potter project. That was inspired by the same person from my last project, "Harry Potter Amortentia Necklace". This time around, it is a gift for her birthday. So I decided to take on the challenge of making her very own Wizards Wand. Mind you, that I started this project about a week and a half before her birthday. So that meant spending hours after work and my days off. To learn and execute the necessary skills for wood and leather working. A rough total of about 80 hours to do so. No pressure right? Because looking back after finishing the project, though the final product came out great. That this is a project to be taken on over a course of about 2 - 3 weeks. A month tops.
A heads up to all who attempts this project without power tools like I did. Take periodical breaks every 30 minutes to an hour. To stretch and relax your hands. As there will be a fair amount of strain on your hands.
I would also like to apologize ahead of time for the poor photo documentation. As when I started this project, the idea of documenting for an Instructable didn't come to mind till a day after I started the project. Not to mention that because I was under a short timeline. Taking photographs along the way had slipped my mind once in a while. But I am sure that we all have experienced getting lost into a project, where we forget things here and there. Thankfully I took enough photos to fill out this Instructable pretty well I think.
Lets get started!!!
Step 1: Research and Development
"Research!? It's just a wand, why research?", some of you may say. Mind you, I am in no way a Harry Potter fan beyond finding the movies entertaining and fun. But my friend, who this gift is intended for, is a FAN. So snapping a twig off a tree and calling it a wand is a slap in the face. That is why some R&D is required for a successful gift like this.
The first thing I looked for was a Wiki page, because you know, everything has a Wiki page now a days. There it was, a Harry Potter Wiki. There, I was able to learn that a wizard wands are anywhere from 9 to 14 inches in length. Along with the types of woods and materials used for wands.
For the length, I decided to make the wand a nice 13 inches. Figured it was a nice mysterious number to use. Plus it's my favorite lucky number.
Apparently wands have cores (Link to Cores). Cores of Phoenix Feather, Unicorn hair, etc. Since the materials use for cores are mythical. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to skip the core portion of the wand. Because unless I get high off of acid, LSD or something. I'm never going to find a Phoenix or Unicorn.
The wood type of the wand was pretty easy to choose (Link to Wand Wood). I figured like in RPG's, I would have to read through tons of documentation of the different wood type properties, abilities, HP, MP, etc. Then decide from there. Thank goodness that I didn't have to. Apparently a persons wand wood type is related to their birthday based off the Celtic calendar. So Birch wood was the type to use since my friend is born in early January.
Now that I am educated on wand crafting, it was time to design. In a vector graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator or InkScape (OpenSource/Free). I design the wand's shape. Both programs as well as the internet have great tutorials to teach you the beginner skills needed to use said programs. Also I wont post the design file that I created, because that goes against the "Potter Lore" about each wand is different for every person...sorry :) Be sure when working in these programs, to change the Measurement settings. If you don't, your entire project will have incorrect scaling and dimensions. Use whatever measurement that you feel comfortable in. I used inches.
Overall Length: 13 inches
Hilt: 4 - 5 inches
Blade: 9 inches
Hilt Diameter: ~1 inch
Blade Point Diameter: ~.25 inches
On the Hilt, you want the start and end points to be about an inch in diameter. In between, you can do your own personal designs or not. From the base of the blade, you want the diameter to be roughly .75 inches. Having the blade end at the point at roughly .25 inches.
|------4 in. Hilt------||--------------------9 in. Blade------------------|
^ 1 in..........1 in. ^.^ 0.75 in...............................................^ 0.25 in.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
- Wood Carving Knife - $10 @ Michaels
- Single Hand Trimming Plane - $10 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Hobby File Set - $20 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Sanding Sponges (120, 180 & 220 Grit) - $3 to $5 ea. @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Good Wood Staining Brush - $10 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Coping Saw - $10 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Good Work Gloves - $10 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- Leather Weaving Needle 10 pk - $6 @ Michaels
- Waxed Leather Thread - $4 @ Michaels
- Leather Lace (Color of Choice)- $6 @ Michaels
- 8 oz Wood Stain/Finish (Your choice of color) - $5 @ Lowe's/Home Depot
- 1 x 2 in. Birch Wood, 3 ft. long - $5 @ Home Depot
Again, this entire project was done with hand tools that can be easily obtain cheaply and easily. Granted that you have a Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc near by.
My personal brands that I choose are mainly Kobalt and Husky. However I've been leaning towards the Husky brand lately, even outside of this project, because of the lifetime warranty and the quality of materials used to make their tools. Not to say that Husky is without some faults here and there. But Kobalt has been 50/50 and frustrating frequently recently...
The oddest thing is that the Wood Carving Knife can only be found at a hobby & crafts shop. Weird.
For the leather weaving needle, its a different kind of needle. As it is rounded off and doesn't have a sharp point. Because it is made for weaving/threading, not sewing. So be mindful of that when purchasing it.
You don't have to use any leather anything if you don't want to. You can instead do a nice carved/burned handle design. The reason for the waxed leather, is when braided around the hilt. It gives the user a nice firm grip. Plus, since there is no glue being used. The waxed coating allows the leather to hold tightly to the wood. As for the leather lace, you can use any width of lacing that you want. But keep in mind that the wider the width, the more difficult it is to weaving. Also make sure that the lace isn't to thick. Because it will also make it harder to weave along with adding to much bulk to the wand.
For the wood, most types can be found at the local lumber yard or hardware store. Most lumber yards are cool with parting with scrap wood for free. But if the wood you are looking for isn't that easily common to come by. You're probably looking at getting it online at a price. In either case, you want to get a cut of wood, if possible, that is 1 inch by 1 inch. But I've noticed that the smallest cut that can be found is 1 inch by 2 inch. Which is fine. Gives a little wiggle room for error. But you do want to get a piece of wood that is twice the length of your wand. Just in case you mess up and need to start over.
Step 3: Shaping the Wand
First thing you want to do is cut your piece of wood down to size. Measure out and mark a solid 13 inches, or whatever length you want. With the Coping saw, saw at the mark you made.
By now you should have a nice and simple wand design that you made in one of the vector graphics program. You could draw out your pattern by hand. But that makes things a little non-symmetrical. Once you have your design printed out. Cut the shape and trace the pattern onto the piece of wood you just cut.
Next, you want to take the Coping saw again and trim off the excess wood that you don't need. Sawing off this excess wood helps cut down on the time spent whittling. Be sure to not saw on the pattern line itself. You want to saw somewhat close to it. Doing this gives you a bit of wiggle room for cutting errors.
In the photo above. You are able to see that I have traced my wand pattern onto my cut of wood. Along with sawing off the excess wood as near to the pattern lines as comfortably possible.
NOTE: You will have to adjust the angle of the saw blade during the sawing process.
Step 4: Whittling the Wand
Now it is time to start carving away. Whittling is a...time consuming process. One that takes patience and dedication.
Fair warning, whittling has it's dangers. Because it involves both your hands being in very close proximity to a very very very sharp knife/blade. Hence the need for work gloves. As the gloves gives that extra layer of protection to prevent cuts and slits happening to your hand. Now I do not recommend getting bulky gloves. As that will make whittling and handling quite cumbersome. Instead I recommend getting work gloves that are better form fitting and made with a fairly thick material. I cannot tell you on how many times, where the blade would accidentally slip and hit my hand. If it wasn't for the gloves, I'd be making frequent trips to the hospital.
Now I won't go over the in's and out's of how to whittle. In fact I will point you to this Instructable. It was very helpful in giving me an idea on how to whittle. And really, that is all you need is an idea on how to whittle. Because whittling is like shaving. Very simple to learn.
Now the first thing you want to do is to round off your piece of wood. You do this by shaving a few slivers off, rotate the wood a little and repeat. Until your blocky piece of wood starts looking like a dowel. Again I apologize about the lack of photo examples. As taking pictures slipped my mind here and there. I tend to get lost easily in projects.
Once your piece is roughly rounded. You want to begin shaving it down to a point. So at the end of your piece, you want to shave it down to about .25 inches in diameter. More or less. The point of the want should be where the grain of the wood ends. With the point roughly carved out. You now want to whittle the remaining blade part of the wand. Giving it a nice slope. After you have a good blade roughed out, it'll be time to use the planer.
The planer is used to give the blade of the wand its refined form. As it is able to run along the full length of the blade, shaving off more slivers than whittling does. I highly recommend practicing planeing on a scrap piece of wood. But the end result is to have a nice blade with a good slope and taper. To better help with planeing, I provided a video above that goes over planers and planeing quite well.
You can also use the planer to refine the handle of the wand as well. But remember that you don't want the handle portion to slope into the blade. The handle should be more or less 4 inches long and relatively level.
For the final steps of whittling the wand is to carve in details and the designs. What I did was to give the handle a nice coke bottle shape. Then on the blade, I carved out a nice spiral cut. Mind you, I did all this with a wood carving blade. All of which took me about a week to get the wand to its final shape.
Step 5: Sanding and Prepping for Staining
Now it is time to sand the wand to your liking. This is where you will use the 3 different types of sanding sponges. The 120, 180, and 220 grit.
With the 120 grit sponge, start sanding the wand in the direction of the grain. Sanding with a low grit sponge/paper will quickly smooth out any rough features and edges. The reason I am starting off with 120 and not a 60 or 80 grit. Is because I like the aesthetics and feel that the carved marks gives the wand. So I don't want to completely removed those characteristics. But if you much prefer your wand to be completely smooth without marks. Use a 60 or 80 paper to start off with.
From the low grit, we now head into using the medium grit sponge. Which will be the 180. If you started with a 60 or 80 grit. You would want to transition to the 120, then to the 180. The medium grit sponge is used to smooth out the rough surface that the coarse grit sponge made. It's not really meant to smooth out any actual features of the wand. That is what the coarse grit sponge is for.
Lastly, it is time for the fine sanding with the 220 grit sponge. This is to really buff out the remaining roughness and bring the wand to nice smooth, silky texture. The reason you want the wands surface to be as smooth as possible. Is because the stain will bring out any surface imperfections noticeably. Once sanding with the fine grit is complete. Take a microfiber cloth or very very soft towel, and wipe the wand of any remaining wood dust particles.
All together, the sanding process will take about a few hours by hand. More if you want your wand smoothed to perfection of any defects or blemishes. Or, you can use a power sander that will speed up the process tremendously. But then again, that takes away from it being truely hand crafted.
Step 6: Staining
Next up is staining. There are quite a bit of fumes. So having good ventilation is a must.
Prep your area by laying down some newspaper on a work bench. I do not advise doing this on a nice table, as some of the stain may leak through.
For the stain, do not shake the can. What you want to do is stir it. A gentle stir of about a few minutes would be good enough in thoroughly mixing the stain.
Now when it comes to staining, be sure that you have a pair of powder-free latex gloves. These gloves can be found in any hardware store, in the paint section.
With one hand holding the wand at an end. Dip the brush in the stain, dabbing off any extra with the other hand. Paint the wand in long strokes, going along with the grain. While rotating the wand, to get a nice even coverage. When majority of the wand has been stained. Carefully grab the other end, with finger tips, and stain the remaining portions of the wand. During the last step, try not to hold the wand with too much pressure. As you don't want to leave any marks/blemishes in the stain.
After staining the first coat. Carefully lay the wand down on a clean piece of newspaper. In a place that is room temperature, and fairly dust free. It will take the stain about 8 hours to fully cure. Once it has cured. Inspect the wand and make sure there aren't any blemishes, bubbles, particles, etc. If you do happen to find defects. Take a very fine piece of steel wool, or very very fine grit sanding sponge, and gently rub off any defects. Then continue to lightly re-stain it again. Now if there aren't any defects, then you are done. But if you want to make the wand a darker stain. You can stain the wand again with a second coat. The more darker you want, the more coats of stain is needed.
For myself, I was really pleased with just a single coat. As well as being lucky in having no defects in the first pass.
Step 7: Braiding (Plaiting) the Hilt
In this step, we will braid the handle. Or what it is commonly known as plaiting. The material we will be using here is thin leather strands, coated in wax. The reason I chose to use wax coated leather strands, is because it offers a nice non-slip grip in the user's hands. As well as allowing the leather to grip the wood firmly during plaiting. You can use any leather strands of any type and size. Or can even use strands of a different material.
Plaiting is quite simple to learn in a short amount of time. For women, it'll probably come as second nature. As braiding hair is very similar to plaiting. For me, I was able to learn it within an hour. After which, it took me about a couple hours to plait the handle thereafter.
The videos included above did an excellent job in explaining, teaching, and showing how to plait.
Unfortunately there aren't any Instructables that I could find, that shows and explains on how to plait (braid). When I can get more materials. I'll make an Instructable about plaiting (braiding).
Now you can plait the hilt of your wand with as many or as few strands as you like. However, I do not recommend using anything less than 4 strands. For me, I used 6 pieces of strand, that when folded in half, equals to 12 strands in total. 6 on the left, and 6 on the right.
If you have been following along. You should have a hilt that is about 4 inches or so. I found that for every inch, a foot or so of strand should be used. So since the hilt is 4 inches, each piece of leather strand will be 4 feet long. At first it sounds like a lot. But when you start to plait, all that length of leather seems to go quick.
When you have gotten to the point in plaiting, where you're at the end of the hilt (handle). The strands will need to be tied off and snipped. There are a couple of ways to do this. Either you can take the excess strands and weave them back into the braid. Snipping off any extra. Or, you can glue the strands at the end of the braid. Using super glue, liquid nails, or E6000. Then snip off the extra.
Step 8: Turks Head Knot
The end is near. By adding a couple of Turks Head Knots. This type of knot serves as 2 functions. The first, is that it makes for a lovely accent piece on the hilt. The second, is that the Turks Head Knot secures the ends of the braided hilt. To prevent the braid from possibly sliding around or off the hilt. As well as preventing any loose strands from coming undone.
Must be honest. This part of the project, I hated so much! It pissed me off to the point where I had to walk away a couple times to cool off. What made the situation even more frustrating is that there are no information online, to really learn how to make these knots with leather. There are tutorials out there to learn the turks head. But it's for paracord and not leather. Different methods. Literally, it took me 2 whole days to fully learn it...almost. But I learned enough to weave the knot. Hopefully you guys will fare better. Again, when I get more materials. I will make an Instructable showing how to make a Turks Head Knot with leather.
But for now, I have provided images and videos above. That I felt to be the most helpful in learning the Turks Head Knot. Also, this LINK leads to another good source for learning the knot.
To weave the 2 Turks Head Knots. You'll be using the leather weaving needle and leather lace. Hopefully you got the right needle. As it is different to a standard needle. A weaving needle doesn't have a sharp point. Instead it has a rounded and dull point. Also it looks similar to a bobby pin. Where the needle is split down the middle, allowing you to clamp a piece of the leather lace.
As for the amount of leather lace to use is dependant on you wands diameter. I recommend 1 yard (3 feet) of lace, for a 1 inch diameter wand, to make a 1 inch or so long knot.
The first Turks Head Knot I attempted, was the End Knot. Also known as a Crown Knot. The end knot is exactly what it sounds like. This knot is weaved on the butt part of the hilt. By far the easiest one to learn and weave. Thanks to NicksWhipShop's video (See video above). He, by far, was really helpful in teaching the knot. This part took me about 30 min to an hour to learn and weave.
The last Turks Head Knot to weave, is for the Rain Gaurd part of the wand. This is opposite to the butt of the wand. View the images above to see what I'm talking about. For this knot, you want to center it so that the knot is half on the braids and half on the wood. This is the part of the project that I hated, because it took me about to days to learn and complete. For what reason, I don't know. Could be contributed to the fact that the lack of sleep at this point was catching up to me.
Once the knots are completed. Before trimming of any excess strands. You want to go back over the knot with a pick or small precision flat head screwdriver, to pull up on the laces to tighten down the knot. After you have completed this, the excess lace can now be trimmed off. No glue is required after trimming the laces. Because the friction between all the weaves prevents the leather knot from coming undone. This is explained in the provided videos above.
Step 9: Conclusion
THE HARRY POTTER WIZARDS WAND IS NOW COMPLETE!
Now you can be the envy of your Harry Potter group and the internet. While most phonies and die hard fans will make/buy really cheap imitations, or spend a couple hundred dollars buying an "Authentic" one off the net. You would have hand crafted one in a couple weeks, from quality materials. All without breaking the bank.
Again I do apologize for the lack of detailed photo documentation, and/or if my write up isn't well done. As I was easily lost and completely focused in finishing the project. That the thought of proper documentation had slipped my mind.
Though I finished this project in about a week and a half. In time for my friends birthday. I realized that a project such as this, should have been spread over a course of about a month. But because my friends birthday was a couple weeks away at the time. I was under the gun to finish before then.
In the end though. I am glad to say that my friend beyond loved it and flipped out. To which she apparently spent the rest of the day binge watching Harry Potter.
Other additions that would have been cool to have. Granted that I had the funds for the tools. Is to either CNC or laser engrave detailed designs. To make it even more personalized. But those kind of machines cost a pretty penny. However, I am pleased on how the wand turned out so far. For those of you who decide to make one. This would make a very excellent birthday, Valentines, Christmas, etc gift for that Harry Potter fan in your life.