This Halloween, I turned a giant cabbage, an LED flashlight and a Christmas ornament into a gnarled wizard's staff that shines with an eerie moonish glow. My kids are going trick-or-treating as Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger (and Commander Rex, clone trooper, but that`s another story), so I made some of KaptinScarlet's brilliant magic wands for them. While doing so, I was inspired to make this much larger version.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
6' long dried cabbage stem
Clear plastic spherical Christmas ornament
LED flashlight or similar (I used this little 9 LED one from DealExtreme)
Wire, solder, paint, polyurethane, strip of cloth/leather
Drill with a variety of bits
Hot glue gun
Step 2: 6' #%&*! Cabbage Stem?!!
Er, yes. The staff is made from the dried stem of a walking stick cabbage. They take about a year to grow to 8 ft long. They are one crazy vegetable, and I recommend growing some just for the hell of it (I bought mine here). Let it go to seed, and they'll produce many thousands of viable seeds - they`ll grow in your lawn, under the deck, in cracks in the pavement. The stems dry hard, super light and amazingly strong. Just trim off the roots and leaves and dry in your airing cupboard for, oh, six months or so...
Step 3: Protect the End
I used the base of the cabbage stem as the top of my staff. The other end was not woody all the way through - instead, it has a fibrous center (see pictures). I protected it by making a shoe out of sugru, the hackers silicone of choice. It cures firm and grippy and sticks to just about anything. I wanted it to look organic, like it had been dipped in tar or something, so I smeared the sugru up the sides and left it to cure for a day.
Step 4: Prepare the Cabbage
Trim the cabbage stem to length, and bore a hole with a spade bit in one end, the same size and depth as the head of your flashlight. Cut out a hole partway down the stem with a chisel, large enough to accommodate the battery pack. Just below that, bore a hole large enough to hold the push button switch. Bore a long hole from the end down to the battery pack hole. The pictures will guide you through the process.
Step 5: Add the Flashlight Head
Take your flashlight apart. Discard the tubular aluminum body and lanyard. Drill a hole through the side at the end with the LEDs. Solder one wire to the spring and one wire to itself, after threading it through the hole. Thread both wires down through the long hole to the battery pack. Add a big glob of hot glue to the hole at the end of the staff and stick the flashlight head into it.
Step 6: Add the Battery Pack
Carve out a cavity for the battery pack at the end of the hole you drilled down through the top. You want a reasonably snug fit.
Step 7: Add the Switch
Drill a hole below the battery pack cavity, just large enough for the pushbutton switch. It should overlap slightly - there will be a friction contact with the switch casing and the battery pack. Solder one of the wires to the spring - I cut the spring down first. Then hot glue the whole thing into the hole.
Solder the remaining wire to the top of the battery pack (check your polarities first), then push the battery pack in so the other end is pushed firmly against the aluminium body of the switch. You should be good to go - fire it up! If the fit isn't tight enough, add layers of tape to the wire end until it is.
Step 8: Make Orb
I just cut a hole of the right size in a clear plastic spherical Christmas ornament (I`m sure a knife would work; I used a ridiculously overpowered power tool). To make the orb glow, rather than just have the light shine straight through, I filled the orb with upholstery stuffing from a cushion. Glue the ornament in place with lots of hot glue, make sure it`s straight, and leave to dry. The stuffing does a great job of diffusing the light and giving the staff a nice glow.
Step 9: Finish
Use hot glue to decorate the top of the staff and the orb, then dress it up with metallic paint. The staff can be sanded - we`ve made other staves that end up silky smooth - but this one I wanted warts and all. I polyurethaned it for protection from the elements. To hide the battery pack and switch, I just wrapped that part of the staff - it`s where you grip it, anyway - with a strip of cloth. It`s tied with a knot so it can be undone and the batteries replaced.
Step 10: Brandish at Halloween
Give the staff to your favorite wizard or witch, so they can trick or treat armed and illuminated...
Thanks to Caitlinsdad, who had the excellent idea of adding the plastic bugs!
Step 11: Another Prop - Same Idea, Different Application
I found on the day of Halloween that the flashlight hack works well for other props, too. At 1 pm, my smallest son decided he needed a blaster for his Captain Rex costume (of Star Wars the Clone Wars fame). We found this page and he wanted a DC-17 that lit up, just like the one in the picture...
Anyway, given what I'd learned from making the staff, it was an easy build, and by 3 pm, it was done and spray painted. I'm not inclined to write a whole instructable, but I've gotten into the habit of snapping photos as I go, and attached to this step are lots of photos. Basically, the blaster was made from scraps, the same kind of flashlight as the staff uses, and some PVC fittings as a scope. The pushbutton switch has been repurposed as a trigger. My son thought it was awesome, and despite the rushed job, the blaster looked great out trick or treating - and of course served as a handy flashlight.
Participated in the