The Making of a Wand
anyone work with Hazel before? How do you go about into making
one? I have no experience in working with wood or making a wand -
someone who is working on much the same thing (I'm working on my
first staff) I can speak from a bit of experience to help out a
beginner. First of all, if you want to carve your wand it must be
properly dry, otherwise it will split or crack as it dries while
you are carving and few things are harder than carving around a
split or a crack, especially on something as small as a wand.
Also, if you plan to do heavy carving on it, it becomes necessary
to have a branch that is quite a bit thicker than you intend your
finished wand to be. I would chose a branch that is about 30%
thicker than you want your wand to be so as to give you plenty of
room to work. I would then let that branch sit, if freshly cut, in
a dry place for a good long time... the branch wood is best when
its allowed to dry to the point that the bark naturally comes off
of the wood... this can take several months sometimes.
I would not recommend sitting down with your wand wood stick and
starting carving on it as your first experience in woodcarving. I
would recommend practicing. Often, several practice wands are
necessary to build the confidence needed to begin cutting into
your chosen wand.
Remember, wood can never go back onto the wand, it can only be
taken off. Therefore, time and thought should be spent deciding
what to do and all plans should be executed in small steps. I also
would recommend sketching in pencil any lines or rings you would
carve beforehand to give you a chance to check for straightness
and overall looks. It will also be important for you to get a good
tool to work with. I use a knife only, but many people prefer
chisels because of their different edges and angles of attack when
carving. I find though, that when working with things as small and
cylindrical as wands, a good pocketknife is often best.
But as I said practice is the most important thing.
It will also be necessary for you to ensure that whatever tool you
use has a good sharp edge. Proper sharpening can take a very long
time on a new blade, but once established, it takes little to
maintain and I can speak from experience that a good blade with a
good edge makes all the difference in the world.
So, you have your branch, you have the bark off (hopefully it came
off by itself), you have a good tool to work with, you have
practiced with it so you make fewer mistakes, and you have
sketched out your designs and checked the lines for placement to
ensure perfection... Then you are ready to carve.
The act of carving is, itself, the first magickal act of your
Carving your wand is a powerful undertaking that should be
practiced with a proper mindset. As a magickal person I feel I
need not go into that sort of thing, as its methods are very
similar to that of all magicks and spellworks.
I would advise going slowly and shaving off small pieces to
prevent mistakes, and the chipping and cracking that can happen
when you try to bite off too much at once.
Once your wand is shaped generally as you want it, you can then
sand it to get a smooth finish and hide the uneven surfaces
beginners at carving can leave on their sculptures. Sanding can
smooth over many many mistakes. Stepping down the size of the
grit, of course, can get better and better surfaces.
At this point, inscriptions could be applied with a wood burner,
with a bit of finish smoothing before finishing.
Stones can be put in by carefully hollowing out a space for the
stone, dry fitting and shaping to get a decently tight fit, and
then applying an adhesive to set the stone more permanently.
Wood finishes are many and varied, the proper one can add greatly
to the look of the finished wand, though many opt for a more
naturalistic rubdown with mineral oils.
The tool must then be consecrated, usually in fire (candle) and
air (incense), though water and earth consecrations are also
sometimes done. These should be done under the appropriate moon,
in a magickal situation as your tradition dictates.
Often after such ceremonies, the tool is wrapped in silk (a fabric
to insulate it from external magicks, and kept on the owner's
person for a certain amount of time, in contact with the owners
body for often 24 hours or so. The wand is also often kept in silk
when not used to prevent unwanted external impacts and leakages of
The tool needs then be charged for use. There are different ways
of charging the wand depending on tradition. Though a tool's power
is slowly built. Your wand's power collects little by little and
is released when doing spellwork. The most powerful wands are the
oldest or longest used wands. Your wand must also be in consistent
contact with you. Many say it should never leave your side, but
others say it need only be kept well and visited often. Either
way, your wand gains more power from the energies you expend for
it, so the more you do, the better it is.
I am assuming, of course, that you have read on wood properties
and lengths and things associated with wand shapes, there is much
information out there on different styles and forms for various
things. Type of wood is important, my staff is apple, and it is
important that you study on various magickal aptitudes of
different woods to find a complementary wood for your purposes.
I have been carving wands for a bit now and still have yet to make
the wand I first intended to make. I have honed my skill enough
that I feel confident to do it now, but I have had a hard time
finding the beginning branch to work from. I feel it best to make
wands from living trees, preferably old trees, as I think the
dryads of trees taken by lumber companies would be particularly
angered or damaged. The wood I need for my wand however is
redwood, and I live on the east coast. I think I will have a hard
time getting a suitable branch, but I continue to look. My staff
is coming along nicely, and I plan to post pictures when I get
done with a step.
I would love to see pictures of your wand when its finished as
Good luck with your work
I would recommend buying first aid supplies for cuts and wounds. I
often favor gauze and tape over band aids as often band aids are
too small. The act of carving is an act of giving your energy,
sweat, and often blood to transform something common into
something magickal. It is a rewarding experience.
Removing the Bark
piece of wood is completely dry, taking sometimes years depending
on size and drying environment, the bark will naturally begin to
seperate from the heartwood. It is the heartwood that you want to
carve as carving and including the bark can often lead to problems
if the bark starts to seperate naturally halfway through carving
causing chunks of your work to start falling off.
That being said, sometimes certain woods can hold bark better than
others. Other times, carving can be completed, and a strong finish
applied, before seperation, that can contain and seal the piece
from drying more and possibly separating.
I would highly reccomend allowing your wood to dry completely
before use, and would caution you that rushing only causes future
Sometimes, however, time is an issue and you may wish to remove
the bark yourself. If you find as you begin to carve that you are
flaking off small pieces of bark, that you have trouble
distinguishing where the bark stops and the heartwood begins, or
that the bark appears to be holding tight to the heartwood, you
may not have a piece that is dry enough to carve. When the wood is
dry enough, you should find that removing the bark with a knife is
more like peeling an orange. That is to say you should be able to
find the natural division between heartwood and bark fairly
easily, and the two should have a tendency to naturally split
apart from each other with a little encouragement.
When I remove bark from the branches I carve, I use my carving
knife. As I carve exclusively with a knife on most occasions, I am
familiar with the many different techniques and angles of attack
that serve my goals best. I usually hold the piece in my left hand
and cut with the knife in the traditional western whittling
position, starting the blade above my holding hand, and sliding it
in a shallow cut along the length of the branch and off the tip. I
then rotate the piece to remove all bark on the outer portion.
After that, I flip the piece over and hold the bare wood to remove
the remainder of the bark. I also collect woodshavings throughout
the process for use in the air consecration.
The most important thing I try to remember as far as what kind of
technique I use is that the best surfaces are derived from cuts
similar to that of a wood plane. That is to say, thin shallow
shavings are what you want to strive for... Much as an experienced
hand plane-er produces long, curly, but remarkably thin shavings
as he works.
As Ive said earlyer, I prefer a very sharp pocketknife for my
carving. I would reccomend something that isn't too thick of a
blade as that can often get in the way. I would also reccomend
something that can be pushed on without hurting your fingers.
A proper blade must be sharpened slowly and carefully on a very
shallow angle (Ive heard it reccomended that they be sharpened at
a 12degree angle). Most manufactured blades today are shipped
unsharpened, or are sharpened on a steep angle(20 or 30 degrees).
Sharpening on a steep angle will cause your blade to go dull
quickly and to require more force to be applied to cut. Proper
maintenance of the blade is important, but the establishment of
that steep angle and the extension of the gradient back into the
blade can make knives hold edges better and require sharpening
Another bit of helpful advice I could add would be to always be
aware of the wood grain. Wood is the only carving medium with
grain, and grain is important because wood is fiberous, that is to
say made of little fibers, and these fibers will often split from
each other under stress. The fibers themselves are strong, and
will take bending very well, but the interconnection of the
different fibers can often be weak. You must be careful when
carving that you do not depend on the strength between fibers to
hold on your shapes (think of a nose, and imagine the end chipping
off because the grain runs from the neck to the top of the head).
Tho if something chips and you catch it, it can be reglued.