Introduction: Magic Wand - How to Splice Two Dowels
A traditional magician’s wand has two ends that are a lighter color than the center piece. This Instructable shows you how to make a beautiful natural wood magic wand from two different wood dowels. The wand will be 14 inches long (overall), with two ends at 2 inches each and a center piece at 10 inches.
The joint shown is useful anytime you need to splice two dowels together.
1/2 “ diameter dowels, two different species like oak, maple, cherry, walnut, poplar, or birch
Two short pieces of 2 by 4 lumber for the jigs
A very small piece of hardwood for the spline (tenon)
Step 1: Make Two Simple Jigs
To begin with, let’s build a couple of very simple jigs to facilitate the project.
First, to cut a groove for the spline in the end of the dowels on a table saw you need to make a simple cutting jig. Cut a piece of a 2 by 4 lumber to 6” long. Trim the long sides flush. Using a drill press drill a 1/2” hole thru the wood 1-1/2 inches from the long edge. To complete the jig set the table saw fence to 1-1/2 inches minus half the width (kerf) of your blade. In my case that is 1-1/2” minus 1/16” equals 1-7/16”. You want to make a shallow (about 1/16” blade height) trial cut thru the center of the hole in the jig. Make the cut, and check it out; make adjustments as necessary to get the groove centered on the hole. Take your time to get it right. Once you have the perfect cut through the center of the hole note the fence setting and mark the side of the block that goes against the fence. Your cutting jig is ready.
Second, to glue the three dowel pieces for the wand together you need to make another jig.
Take a 13” long 2 by 4 piece of lumber and cut out a 45 degree v-groove on the table saw as shown in the pictures. Line the groove with wax paper, aluminum foil, or painters tape. This jig will keep the dowel joints straight during gluing. Your gluing jig is ready.
Step 2: Cutting the Dowels
This example uses maple and oak dowels to make a magic wand. Cut two 2” long pieces of the maple dowel, and a 10” long piece from the oak dowel. The cuts should be clean and square. Insert the longer dowel into the hole of your cutting jig so it is flush at the bottom. Set the blade height to 1/4”, and the fence to your setting from the prior step. Make a cut with the dowel sitting in the jig. Your dowel now has a 1/4” deep groove through the center, about 1/8” wide (most common blades have a kerf of around 1/8”). Repeat the cut on the other end of the dowel. Line up the two cuts to be parallel.
Now repeat the cuts for the two short dowel pieces, but only on one end each.
Step 3: Assemble and Glue
Prepare a small piece of wood 1/8” thick and 1/2” long by 1/2” wide. This is the spline (or tenon) to join the short dowels to the long piece. The spline should fit snugly into the cuts you made earlier, and be just proud of the dowel perimeter. Do a dry fit before applying any glue. You can use sand paper and a chisel or knife to shape the spline. For the spline use a hardwood with a nice color contrast to the dowels like the walnut in my pictures.
Apply wood glue to the spline pieces and the dowel grooves and faces, assemble, and clean off excess glue. Then lay the dowel into the v-groove of your gluing jig, and hold it down with spring clamps on all three pieces. Apply an F-clamp along the length of the dowel to close the two joints. Check that the dowel assembly is straight and well aligned. Let it dry.
Step 4: Finish Your Magic Wand
After the glue dries clean the joints with a light sanding; the alignment should be pretty good. Sand the wand with 100, 150, 220 grit sand paper. Leave unfinished or apply a finish of your choice.
The splines will show, of course; it is a feature to show off your woodworking skills!
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