Harry Potter Wand - Cub Scout Craft Project




About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

Our Cub District's Summer Camp usually has a theme to the activities (or "bases", as we call them).

When we chose "Harry Potter" as the theme, I grabbed the chance of making magic wands as a base.

There are, of course, many other excellent wand-making instructables, but they tend to assume that you will not be working in a tent, in a field, without electricity.

This is my take on the trope, biased towards basic Scouting skills.

Step 1: Preparation

The leader running base will need:

  • A ball of natural cord, string or twine.
  • Scissors (to cut the string).
  • A roll of masking tape and a pen.
  • (Optional) Sandpaper
  • (Optional) Files or sandpaper files.
  • (Optional) Enough small, sharp knives for the size of the group.
You will also need to check out the site: if there are no sources of wand-sized twigs, you will need to gather enough twigs for the Cubs at the camp, plus extras for the inevitable requests from adult helpers who would quite like a wand for themselves or their younglings.

When collecting twigs, pay careful attention to the campsite rules and be respectful of the woodland environment. Do not cut branches or twigs from trees without permission, and never rip them off. Collect them from dead trees or fallen branches.

Step 2: Gathering Wands

A wand reflects the wielder, so the first thing to do is send the Cubs off to find *their* wand.

They need a stick or twig that feels "right" to them - not too long, not too short, not too fat, not too thin. Discourage staffs, as the Cubs will end up waving them around in unsupervised excitement, and skulls may be cracked. Tell them that only senior wizards are allowed staffs (and, anyway, a magic staff actually has a wand hidden inside it).

Remember to remind your Cubs of any site rules; boundaries that must not be crossed, not to take branches from live trees etc.

Step 3: The Least Optional Step

Most steps in this instructable are optional, depending on your requirements, situation, and the nature of your Cubs, but this is the step that transforms a stick into a wand.

You are going to add a grip to the wand by whipping it.

Whipping is how rope-workers prevent natural-fibre ropes from fraying, binding the strands together with a narrower cord (you can't melt the end of a piece of hemp with your lighter). There are many kinds of whipping, but the easiest is perfect whipping. Read these instructions whilst looking at the photos.

  • Take about eight to ten feet of string, and fold over about five inches, to make a (closed) loop.
  • Lay the loop along the handle of your wand, with the bend of the loop pointing towards the tip of the wand, and the two ends hanging down. You may want to use sticky tape to hold the string in place, but it is not vital.
  • Take the longest end, and start wrapping it tightly around the wand and the short end. You must leave part of the short end sticking out, or the whipping will fail.
  • Wrap reasonably tightly and closely until you get close to the bend (loop) in the string.
  • Thread the long end through the loop, keeping the tension on it.
  • Pull the short end of the string. This will tighten the loop, trapping the longer end.
  • Trim the trapped end to about two or three inches.
  • Pull on the shorter end some more, and the trapped end will get pulled inside the coils of string. Too not pull too far, just far enough to make the cut end disappear, or the whipping will unravel. 
  • Trim off the end you were pulling.
You don't have to trim the ends off if you don't want to, you could tie them into a loop to hang the wand (as I did), or to fasten around the wrist.

Potentially, your wand is complete. Congratulations. 

Step 4: The Most Optional Step

You will be dealing with Cubs of greatly-varying ability, inclination and behaviour, probably in large groups, possibly without adult assisstance. It is your call whether you use this step, but, if you can, your Cubs will enjoy telling their friends and family about being allowed to play with sharp knives. However, if you are unsure how to instruct your Cubs to work safely with knives, I strongly recommend you leave this step for another time.

Wands can be decorated several ways, but the Scoutiest way to do it is to whittle or carve with a sharp knife.

A nice effect is to just cut through, and remove, narrow strips of bark.

Press the knife-blade into the bark at two 45 degree angles - 45º to the bark, working away from your body, and at 45º to the wand itself. Twist the wand, and the knife should cut a spiral up the wood.

Reverse the wand, press the blade in next to the first cut, and spiral back down the wood, staying close to the first cut. 

You should now be able to lift a strip of bark from between the cuts, leaving a pale-coloured spiral pattern up the wand.

Step 5: The Middlingly Optional Step

If you want your Cubs to carve wands, but sharp knives are not an option, then you can use sandpaper files.

Give your Cubs a smallish piece of sandpaper,  which they can wrap around a twig, or fold in half, and use to file away bark and wood, in whatever patterns they like.

This step can be combined with Step 4, to give a much wider range of possible finishes, but if your Cubs are young, or unfamiliar to you (at a typical District camp, 75% of the Cubs I deal with will be from other packs), then stick with this step instead if knives. 

Remember, if you are using sandpaper, sandpaper files or ordinary files, they clog easily with wet wood. You will need to collect sticks well in advance and set them somewhere warm to dry out.

Step 6: The Step You Dare Not Miss

At a District Camp, we can have 80-100 Cubs. That's 80-100 wands, many of which will be near-identical.

Fold a strip of masking tape around every wand, or around the hanging loop if they made one, and write the Cubs' names and pack on the tape. They can take the tape off when they go home, but should leave it on at camp - after all, terrible things can happen if you use another wizard's wand...



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    20 Discussions

    Crafty Dragon

    2 years ago

    This is a great instructable, I might ask my pack leaders if we can make these at summer camp. It's cool because cubs can do it, but it's not too easy or simple, so anyone(Even scouts nearly explores or explorers!)can make these and be proud of them.

    2 replies
    Crafty DragonKiteman

    Reply 1 year ago

    I think I might whittle the handle, rather than using string. If it doesn't work I'll use your method though.


    4 years ago

    Okay I'm a true Potter Head and I say that these wands are amazing! It's on my name list=)

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Since you commented on mine, I figured I'd take a peek at what you've made. You've got some creative projects, and since I used to make these myself I thought I'd share an idea. When I was in cub scouts, we would take all the bark off (unless we wanted to keep certain areas on) and then lacquer it (many many times). It is also great for walking sticks, and the stumps can be used for something clever (such as ribbons for running competitions, etc...). I ended up giving one my my walking sticks to my grandfather since he had a quadruple bypass and is supposed to walk often for his health. I have't check yet, but if you haven't done walking sticks with the cub scouts, its a ton of fun!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a more time-sensitive situation, the cubs will only have about 30-40 minutes, and we'll be in a field, on the edge of a wood, away from any workshop.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    also... I forgot to mention: we didn't use knives, we used wood planes to take the bark off (both more efficient and much safer). The walking stick is my dad's since mine is now residing in the home of a friend from Colorado, and the wand shown is before the lacquering. I usually take all the bark off of the wands except for where I want the handle to be. The lacquer makes the handle feel extremely smooth and comfortable in my opinion.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Cubs can't use knives until Bear level and after having earned their Whittling Chip. Yes, knives are a scouting tradition, but so is safety and responsibility. And paperwork. So much paperwork. You do not want to be the person filling out the insurance claim form if a Tiger hurt himself whittling.

    Otherwise love the use whittling. You could use the opportunity to show them some great knot skills too like a couple hitches or decorative knots with that rope. (fulfill some requirements or electives)


    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    We're British, the rules are different.

    The Cubs can't carry knives, but they can use them for craft zctivitiez


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't realize the rules were different! Good to know! Our 9, 10 and 11 year olds can carry to certain events only after earning the Chip, following the rules, and have to carry the card with them. Not many do except to campouts and outdoor activities because of school rules and many meetings being held at schools.


    4 years ago

    Could it also be a Boy Scout project for a Merritt badge

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you!

    I hope it will be accepted into a couple of other contests as well...