CosplayCrafting

Space Wizards and Wandsabers

A ridiculous plan executed to perfection

I am not the first to recognize that Jedi are basically space wizards. I am not even the first to mash together Harry Potter and Star wars. I am, to my knowledge, the first obsessively produce scaled up versions of the prop wands from the Harry Potter movies in aluminum as hilts for lightsabers.

Here’s the whole process in excruciating detail:

The base of the wands all start from the same aluminum tube: 1″ inner diameter, 1.5″ outer diameter. I turned that down on a lathe to get a gentle taper from the full 1.5″ OD to 1.2″ over the length of the tube (8-9″).

tapered aluminum tube
Wandsaber hilt. Photo by author

The first wandsaber to complete was base off of Hermione Granger’s wand. Her wand from the films has lovely vines and leaves winding their way up the hilt. I used coiled wire, off-the-shelf necklace charm leaves, and E6000 glue to apply the vines.

Hermione Grangers wand
Official Hermione Granger wand from the Harry Potter store.
Hermione granger wandsaber hilt, aluminum base with wire wrapped vines and leaves
Hermione Wandsaber – image by the author

Next up was one based on News Scamander’s wand from the Fantastic Beasts series of movies. It was the easiest to make. Again I started with a tapered aluminum base, and just wrapped two different kinds of wood veneer around it.

Newt Scamanders wand
Official Newt Scamander wand from the harry potter store
wood wrapped aluminum hilt for a lightsaber
Newt Scamander Wandsaber – photo by auther

Sirius Black’s wand presented a new challenge: it’s not round. Sirius’s wand has a square base with runes etched into it. I still started with the same aluminum tube, but I machined 3/16″ off four sides before putting it in the lathe to taper the end.

Sirius Blacks wand from the Harry Potter Store
Sirius Black wand from the Harry Potter Store
aluminum wand hilt, with sides machined flat
Serius hilt blank – Photo by author

I etched in the runes by masking the aluminum with sticky-backed vinyl and using ferric chloride as an etchant. As a note: ferric chloride, commonly used to etch circuit boards, is toxic and far too aggressive for aluminum. I would recommend finding something else.

aluminum lightsaber hilt with runes etched in.
Finished Sirius Black wandsaber hilt – photo by author

The final wandsaber was for my fellow cosplay obsessee and MAL Writer, Emily (@Seelix pretty much everywhere that matters). She wasn’t satisfied with some mundane wandsaber like the rest of us muggles. She wanted Lucius Malfoy’s walking stick wand.

Lucius malfoys walking stick wand, black with a metal snake head
Lucius Malfoy wand from the Harry Potter store

So the grip was pretty easy. Tapered aluminum base, painted with a tough spray enamel paint.

black lighsaber hilt
Lucius Malfoy Wandsaber Grip – photo by author

But that snake head… that took some doing. I decided to cast it in pewter because it would look the best, and I make poor life choices. I started by machining the base of the neck out of aluminum, and then sculpting the head in Monster Clay.

Aluminum cylinder with a studded aluminum cuff around it
image by author
rougly sculpted snake head
image by author
Snake head partly finished sculpture
image by author

 

 

I used Dragon Skin 30 to make the mold into which I would pout the pewter. I was worried about bubbles because of the undercuts and small details in the sculpt, but I was lucky enough to have someone willing to loan me a vacuum chamber to degas the mold while it cured.

The mold was all I could hope for: clean, bubble-free, and it held its shape well. I made a single piece mold, which is usually a bad idea, but I knew that I could slice open the back and pull the snake head out that way, thus having fewer parting lines.

snake head sculpture encased in silicone rubber
photo by author

I poured a the pewter and it was beautiful… it was also around five pounds and $70 worth of pewter… New plan

pewter cast of snake head
photo by author

I picked up some Smooth-Cast 325 and aluminum powder. Not cheap either, but much less per pound than pewter, and certainly less dense.

cold cast aluminum supplies: aluminum powder and smooth cast two part resin
photo by author

The raw case came out pretty well: Much lighter, not too many bubbles, and quite solid.

resin cast of a snake head sculpture
photo by author

The final version, buffed and painted, with cut glass eyes and plastic fangs makes me very happy. Totally worth the irresponsible amount of time I spent on it.

image of a lucius malfoy lighsaber hilt
photo by author

 

I only made the hilts. Once they were done, I shipped them off to Topher, one of the old writers from our sister site, Grounded Parents. He did all the blades and electronics and has been kind enough to write a post for us about that process.

Here’s a bit of a spoiler:

four lightsabers with hilts modeled on wands from the harry potter movies
Photo by Topher, used with permission

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Ryan

Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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