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.
If this gets accepted in to the Toy Contest and you think I deserve it please take the time to vote for this Instructable. Thanks!
This is some scrap walnut that I had, it measures 3/4 of inch by 3/4 and is about 13 inches long.
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.
This is a short clip of the twisting while sanding method that I used. FYI this clip is sped up 4X.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!