I receive questions every now and again about what tools I use to carve wands, where I get the wood, and where I get the boxes (I make those by hand too). I thought I'd answer them all at once. Please note that I'm based in the United States, so what is available in your area might vary. If you have recommendations for your part of the world, post a comment and I'll add it to the resources below.
Disclaimer: I'm not compensated in any way by any of the brands listed here. It just happens to be what I use.
I use a combination of whittling knives, gouges, and spokeshaves.
- Sandpaper: 100 grit, 150 grit, 320 grit, 600 grit, 1000 grit
- Stain: Minwax oil stain (various colors)
- Varnish: Formby's Tung Oil Finish
This will vary the most depending on what is available locally in your area. The following info will be most applicable for folks in the United States. I have included only those sources from whom I have ordered in the past.
Dowels are my starting wood of choice for wandmaking. If you carve mostly by hand (as I do) these will be the easiest to work with.
- You can get 3/4" diameter dowels from brick-and-mortar hobby or hardware stores (e.g. Michaels and Home Depot). This will usually be domestic species like poplar, alder, oak, and pine. Michaels dowels are unlabeled, but once you have some experience you might be able to guess the species. Home Depot store associates are more likely to be able to help you identify wood.
- Rockler.com and Woodcraft have physical stores that carry a couple of the uncommon dowel options: cherry, walnut, dowels, and birch among others, all in various diameters. If there's no store near you, online works as well. I also get my willow from woodcraft (search for "diamond willow walking stick").
- hardwooddowel.com is a site based in New Jersey that sells all sorts of domestic dowels. As of this journal, they have: ash, birch, black locust, black walnut, butternut, cherry, fir, hemlock, hickory, maple, poplar, cedar, pine, red oak, and white oak. (Minimum order $35, plus $10 shipping)
Turning Blanks and Lumber
Turning blanks come in many shapes and dimensions. You'll want to limit your search to "spindle blanks." 1"x 1" may be good for a single wand, especially if you're using a lathe, but if you buy 1.5"x 1.5" you can quarter it (if you have a table saw or something similar) and get four 3/4"x 3/4" pieces from one blank. The obvious downside for hand-carvers is that blanks will have a square cross section, meaning extra work getting rid of unwanted wood, while dowels are already round.
- Rockler.com and Woodcraft have a huge selection of domestic and exotic woods. Cocobolo, purpleheart, ebony, holly, you name it, they probably have it.
- Gilmer Wood Co. has a GIANT selection of really cool species, some of which are figured. Each individual piece they sell is pictured, so you can choose the exact piece with the grain and number of knots you want instead of getting something at random. I got my pear, hornbeam, apple, spruce, and acacia from them.
- Don't forget about your local lumberyard. These will mostly be softwoods like cedar, pine, fir, redwood, etc.
There are many wand woods that aren't available commercially, usually because the plants themselves are shrubs rather than trees - that is - too small for most projects. This would be things like rowan, hazel, elder, hawthorn, etc. However there is a niche market for everything, and with the internet to connect buyers and sellers, you can get almost anything nowadays. Keep in mind natural branches usually come "green," and may need to be dried before they can be carved.
- Option 1 is collecting branches yourself. The most sustainable way is to collect branches that have fallen off the parent tree by natural means. Obviously, don't go cutting live branches from other people's plants
- Option 2 is to check Ebay and Etsy. You can narrow down results by searching for keywords like "wand," "wicca," "pagan," etc.
I make all my wand boxes by hand, from scratch. Below is a list of the kind of materials I use, and a list of tutorials that can help if you choose to do the same. I haven't yet made a wandbox tutorial of my own.
- Box core: Chipboard, 24 pt (400 gsm). 11" x 17" or A3 size.
- Colored paper (to cover the core): Strathmore textured sheets, 80 lb (216 gsm). Size: 19" x 25.5"
- Labels: custom-printed by Vistaprint
- Wand bed base: corrugated cardboard or foam
- Wand bed fabric: satin, crushed velvet, or velvet
If you have suggestions of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments!