Introduction: How to Make a Wand Without a Lathe

About: I'm not an expert in anything. I just enjoy making things sometimes for the process sometimes for the end product.

My son started reading the Harry Potter books recently and as one would expect upon completion he wanted a wand. I originally tried to make him one out of brass and wood but that didn't work out. After letting that failure marinate for a while this idea popped in to my head. I could use my 1 x 30 belt sander to make an ornate, all be it rustic but somewhat ornate handle for the wand if I used smaller/thinner belts. I have used this method in the past to sand small metal pieces or really tight spots before but I just never tried or thought about contouring wood with a thin sanding belt.

While this may not be anything new to some of you I do have to admit I feel very clever for thinking this up. I hope this is helpful to anyone who wants to make a wand without a lathe.

Build video:

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Step 1:

This is some scrap walnut that I had, it measures 3/4 of inch by 3/4 and is about 13 inches long.

Step 2:

I used my 1x30 belt sander fitted with a 120 grit sanding belt to round off all the edges. First I sand off the corners then I start to twist the wood as I pull the piece through the sander which achieves the twisted look. I start sanding from the top to the bottom and try to match up the same entrance of the twist each time I take another pass. The key here is to keep the piece moving as you twist this will give a more uniform result.

Step 3:

This is a short clip of the twisting while sanding method that I used. FYI this clip is sped up 4X.

Step 4:

Once I was happy with the twist I hand sanded the wand with 220 grit and then 400 grit sand paper. I also prepared another wand in the same fashion except I terminated the twist at a handle. You can see the second pic shows the wand with the twist but a rounded handle. I will use this wand to show how I contoured the handle using my belt sander.

Step 5:

In order to do the contouring on the handle I take an old 120 grit sanding belt and cut it in to smaller strips. So a 1 inch belt can become a 1/2 inch belt or a 1/4 inch belt. First I use a razor blade to make a 1-2 inch vertical cut through the section where the belt is spliced together, this is the diagonal line that goes across the sanding belt. Then I pull the two pieces apart creating two smaller belts or rather thinner belts.

Sometimes when you pull the belt apart it starts to wander and you end up with a not so uniform belt so just take your time when pulling the belts apart.

Step 6:

Next I put the thinner belt in my sander making sure to center it over the guide wheels and started working on the handle. I did not make any marks or reference lines I was just free handing it and started making different shapes as I went along.

Step 7:

Here you can see how I shape the handle. The thinner belt bends and flexes more easily allowing me to make the shapes. I switch between sides of the belt as well to get both sides of the shape I am after.

Step 8:

In this gif you can see how I used the edge of the belt to make a spiral effect on the end of the wand. The edge of the belt sort of acts like a knife and cuts in to the wood.

Step 9:

After sanding all the wands up to 400 grit I apply 3-4 coats of Danish oil and once that dries I spray two coats of shellac for protection.

Step 10:

Here are some close up shots of the wands. I made a third wand off camera that was Walnut glued to a piece of curly Maple.

Step 11:

This is not a replacement for a lathe but it is quite effective considering just the lathe alone will cost you $200+ and that doesn't even include the cost of the tools. The end result is somewhat rustic, which I personally like, but I do think that with some practice I could get much finer results.

More importantly my son and my daughter (who was not in to Harry Potter) both really liked the wands there was a lot "Wingardium Leviosa" spells cast that day.

Hope you all find this helpful! Don't forget to vote! Thanks!

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