I've been making wands for a "Kids Area" project at our local Pagan Pride Festival (cores and all). They have been crafted from a variety of woods, each with their own specific "powers" (according to Pottermore), and will one day be part of a wand selection ceremony at the event.
While working on the wands, I thought it might be fun to try and make a wand that would light up. With that in mind, I ordered an extra long 1/8" drill bit, collected a pile of parts from various electronic bit's and pieces that I had around, and I set out to make such a wand a reality.
Step 1: Materials...100% Found and Upcycled
For the build, I used the following...
(Please keep in mind all of these parts are salvaged from things I had laying around)
1 - Stick - 3/4" in diameter (roughly) - I used a Sweet Gum branch.
1 - Momentary Switch - This was harvested from an old mouse.
2 - Equal Lengths of Flexible Wire - These came from an old phone cord, split down the center.
1 - LED - I used a Blue LED from an old set of Christmas lights.
1 - Battery Holder - Battery holders this small are commonly found in finger sized led lights. Mine came from an old broken light that one of my daughters got from a gum ball machine.
3 - LR626 1.5v Batteries - Recycled from the same light.
***Update: I found a great way to build a battery holder that works fantastic from very common parts. See the last step for more info and a photo.
Step 2: Tools and Additional Tools...
Now that we have our building supplies, it's time to collect the tools.
For the main body of the wand, I used the the following...
1 - Drill
1 - 1/8" Drill Bit
1 - 3/16 Drill Bit
1 - 3/8" Wood Drill Bit
Pocket Knife or knives
Multiple Grits of Sandpaper
Additionally I used the following tools to help shape the wand and test/build the electronics.
1 - Electric Belt Sander (Optional)
1 - Dremel with 1/4" and 1/2" sanding bits and a 1/8" Routing Bit (Optional)
1 Pair - Alligator Clips (Optional but helpful)
1 - Soldering Iron
Helping Hands with Magnifying Glass (Optional but really helpful)
Not Shown (until later):
Super Glue Gel
Clear RTV Silicone
Step 3: Drilling Your Future Wand
Ok, now on to the making of the wand. First and foremost, I can not stress how important it is to drill out the core of your wand before you do anything else to it (and please be careful doing so!!). There's nothing worse than spending hours forming the perfect wand, to then drill a hole through the side of it by mistake. Also, take the drilling process slowly. Pull the bit out periodically to clear the hole and alleviate stressing the wood and the bit.
Now, step one, drill a pilot hole the same diameter as your extended drill bit, in this case, my bit is 1/8". This helps to establish a trajectory for the longer drill bit.
Next, insert your extended bit into the pilot hole and start drilling. Be careful how much pressure you apply, as it can cause the bit to break or could possibly cause it to go off course inside the wand.
Depending on the length of your wand, the extended bit may or may not reach the other end. In this case, the wand is 15 3/4 inches, so I was 3 3/4" away from the end.
Using a 3/8 wood drill bit, I drilled in from the opposite end of the wand, to create a battery chamber and to connect the two holes.
Lastly, I used a the 3/16" bit to open the tip enough to accommodate the LED.
Once you've finished drilling the wand, from both ends and you are confident that the holes have met, run an open coat hanger (or any long ridged object) through the wand several times to clear the passage.
Step 4: Peeling , Shaping, and Preparing Your Wand
Now that the wand has been drilled, checked, and cleared, you can now begin shaping the wand. Be mindful of the internal chamber that now exists in side your creation. You want to remove enough wood to give the wand shape, but not enough to breach the center of the wand.
I first started by peeling the bark away. Sweet Gum, much like Hickory and Poplar, has a bark that peels away very easily. From there, you can use a knife to whittle the wand into your desired shape. Sandpaper is also a fantastic tool when it comes to the wand making process, I started with a 40 grit and worked my way up to 180 grit as the wand took shape.
If you have one available to use, a belt sander is also a huge help. Mine was fitted with a 120 grit belt and was used to fine tune the handle and tip.
Once you have your basic shape, it's time to create a small opening where the momentary switch will go. I chose to use a 1/8" drill bit to start a pilot hole and then used a 1/8 router bit in my Dremel to carve an opening roughly the same shape as the switch (but a bit larger).
Lastly, double check the spacing to make sure the switch fit.
Step 5: Adding the Details
With all of the major woodworking done, the last thing to do prior to installing the electronics is to give your wand a handle.
I wanted to do something unique, but I also really wanted something that looked organic. So, using a 1/4" sanding bit I free handed a twisted pattern around both sides of the wand, that meet at the top and bottom of the handle. I also added a small ring to accentuate the base. I then went back over the design with the larger 1/2" bit to flush the pattern out a bit more.
*** I will note, now would be the time to add any stain or finish you would like to have on your wand. I had planned on adding a light natural stain to this one, however the wands owner, my daughter, requested that it stay natural (despite all of my begging).
Step 6: Building and Installing the Electronics
Ok, this is where things get a little complicated (well sort of). Building the electronics was actually pretty simple, however getting it all to fit into the wand was a different story. This is where the flexible wire was super handy.
Start by wrapping one wire (red in my case) around the + leg of the LED and secure it with a bit of solder. Repeat this step with the - leg and the other wire (green). To help isolate the legs, I wrapped electrical tape around one leg and then around both wires.
Next feed the wire into the body of the wand and gently insert the led into the tip. Once the wire has passed all the way through, pull the wire that you have soldered to the - leg of the LED (green) out of the wand via the opening you made for the switch.
The switch I had, came from a recycled mouse so it has 3 legs and can act as an on/on or an on/off switch. As to not get confused while soldering, prior to starting I cut the on/on leg off. That said, solder a lead from the - leg of the LED to the first leg on the switch. Then solder an additional bit of wire of the same color (green) to the center leg on the switch. To help isolate them, I applied a generous amount of silicone to the connection and wrapped electrical tape around the unit. Feed the wire coming from the center leg back into the hole and out of the wands handle. Finally insert the switch into the wand.
With the switch installed, the last thing to do is wire up the battery pack and run a test. To do this I cut a few notches on the top and bottom of the battery pack. I then ran the wires through the pack and brought them back around and wrapped each wire around it self. I then added small amount of super glue to hold the wires in place and added some silicone to insulate them. Lastly, I inserted 3 LR626 1.5v batteries and...there was light!!!
Step 7: The Last Few Finishing Touches
With the wand tested and working the last thing to do was to glue the Switch and the LED into place with bit of wood glue, tuck the battery pack into the handle and create a plug to finish it off.
For this, I ran back outside and from the same branch that gave me the wood for the wand, I cut a small section (about 3/4 of an inch) off that was just slightly larger than the hole in the handle. I peeled it and sand it down just to smooth out a rough spot on the end. Then it was into the pencil sharpener to give it a little more shape and taa-daa...we have a plug.
Insert the plug into the handle and you're done...
Step 8: Lumos!!!!
With the wand done, all that's left to do, is marvel at your creation.
The owner of this wand was so excited, she immediately ran to her closet, grabbed her Hogwarts robes, and then ran out of the door. In fact, she spent the rest of the night in her robes, with wand in hand.
Upon seeing how cool her wand turned out, my other two daughters both asked for one. It looks like I know what I'll be doing this weekend :-)
I really hope you've enjoyed this Instructable and I wish you luck on creating your own "real wood" light up wand!
Step 9: Lumos ~ Updated!
As I said at the end of this Instructable, my eldest (12) and youngest (5) daughters also requested wands, once they saw their sisters. So, over the last couple of weeks I have been working on them. I personally think they turned out great and they love them. My eldest picked a white LED, while my youngest picked a green LED...which after a discussion about killing curses, decided on blue (like her sister Lucy).
***The biggest hurdle in building these, was finding battery holders for the wands. They had to be small enough to hold the 3 LR626 1.5v batteries and still fit into the handle of the wand. After hours of playing around, I finally was able to design one. I used a 3/4" section of a Bic Pen, 2 end caps from Bic Pens, 6 tiny bolts (salvaged from a dvd drive), and 2 tiny screws (also salvaged from the same dvd drive). This gave me an adjustable contact for both the + and - terminals, that I could also simply secure the wires to. It worked fantastic and I will be using this design moving forward on any additional light up wands that I build.