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"The wand chooses the wizard... it's not always clear why."
Ollivander talking to Harry Potter[src]

A wand is a quasi-sentient magical instrument through which a witch or wizard channels his or her magical powers, and thereby centralising the effects for more complex results. Most spells are done with the aid of wands, but it is possible to do spells without the use of wands. Wandless magic is, however, very difficult and requires much concentration and incredible skill; only truly advanced wizards are known to perform such magic. [1]

In addition, magic with a wand is mostly performed with an incantation, but nonverbal spells are also possible for more experienced wizards, and are a great deal more helpful in duelling, as the opponent has no way of knowing what spell one is planning to cast, and thus might not be able to adequately protect him- or herself in time. Wands are referred to as "quasi-sentient" because they are as close to animate as an inanimate object can get. This is because they are imbued with a great deal of magic.[2]

Wands are manufactured and sold by wandmakers, the most famous of these in Great Britain being Ollivander and Gregorovitch. Each wand is made of a specific type of wood with a magical substance making up the core. Although the wand cores may come from the same creature, or the wood may come from the same tree, no two existing wands are exactly alike. The study of the history and the magical properties of wands is called wandlore.

Acquiring a wand

Most witches and wizards go to buy their first wand when they are eleven, just before starting their magical education. Most English wizards and witches get their wands at Ollivanders Wand Shop in Diagon Alley, where they may try out multiple wands until they find the one that suits them, or rather, the wand finds the wizard that suits it. It would appear, however, that some witches and wizards, especially those from poorer backgrounds, are left to use wands that did not choose them, but chose a member of their family, such as Ron Weasley using his brother Charlie's old wand, when he begins his first year at Hogwarts.

Wands and wandlore

Wandlore is a specific class of magic that refers to the history and magical properties of wands. Mr. Ollivander claims that it is a "complex and mysterious branch of magic."[3] The idea that a wand chooses the wizard is a part of wandlore, as is the idea that wands can switch allegiance.


Generally, wands are long, thin rods of wood with a magical substance embedded into their core. Some of the woods used include holly, sycamore, ebony, hawthorn, hazel, pear, oak, cherry, vine, rowan, cedar, ivy, rosewood, blackthorn, willow, elm, ash, mahogany, yew, birch, aspen, and elder. The cores that have been documented are phoenix feather, dragon heartstring, Veela hair, unicorn hair, Thestral tail hair, Kneazle whiskers, Troll whisker, and Kelpie hair[4]. The wandmaker Garrick Ollivander mentioned that he did not use Veela hair, as it made for "temperamental" wands. It is possible that other magical substances may be used for cores, but none have yet been specified.


The blackthorn wand

Other important characteristics of a wand are its length and its rigidity, ranging from "unyielding" to "springy." All of these different factors have some effect on the overall use of the wand itself, but it is currently unknown what they actually indeed do. The characteristics of a wand also seem to have some influence over which kinds of magic the wand is particularly suited for. For example, James Potter's wand was excellent at Transfiguration, and Lily Evans' wand was described as being nice for Charms work.

The exact process of making a wand is not known. Likely, it is as difficult and complex as wandlore itself.

General wand properties


The wands of Dumbledore's Army.

"Wands are only as powerful as the wizards who use them...."
Hermione explaining to Harry Potter[src]

In almost all documented cases, the wand chooses the wizard. This is due to the unique character of each wand, which must match that of the wizard, as the wizard may be impeded or not be able to perform magic if his or her wand's characters conflict, or the magic may be sub-par to magic performed with the wizard's own wand.[3] Though according to Ollivander, wizardkind can channel their powers through almost anything, but optimum results can only be achieved with those they have a natural affinity for. When trying out different wands, a wand that is not suited to its wielder will usually not do anything at all. However, a warm feeling is an indication of when the wizard or witch chooses the right wand, and the wand sometimes emits a few sparks or does some similar small sign of magic.[5]

Since numbers have known magical properties, it's also possible that the wand's length have some symbolic meaning related to their owners, much like their core. For example, the wand of Tom Riddle, a reputed Dark wizard, measures 13½ inches, and thirteen is commonly an omen of misfortune or evil in the folklore and religion of various cultures around the world. Wands that are unusually short, anything less than 9", tend to belong to people "lacking" in personalities.[6]


Ron Weasley with a broken wand.

Wands are capable of changing masters. When a wand's master is disarmed, stunned, or killed, the wand may accept the old master's attacker as its new master, swaying its allegiance over to the wizard who won it from its preceding owner. This is mostly observed in the Elder Wand, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, only respects power. The Elder Wand will transfer its allegiance even if its defeated master is not in possession of it at the time. It is unknown if other wands share this trait.[3] Most wands share an affinity with their masters and will not easily discontinue their allegiance with the previous master, if at all. Indeed it seems unlikely the original bond is severed; if it were, a defeated witch or wizard would be better served to acquire a new wand rather than continue using it, as it would no longer perform at its peak for them, yet this is not noted to happen. Furthermore, wands forcibly taken in circumstances of purely competitive or friendly nature, or are stolen without attacking the previous master will not change allegiance.[6]

Wands can be broken by spells or by physical damage. Wands in this condition will have greatly reduced magical abilities. Even when repaired, the wand's magic will not improve and the wand may break again while performing magic; if held together by something like Spellotape, then attempts to use the wand could even cause backfires. The Elder Wand is able to completely repair broken wands, although this ability may be lost if the current master (Harry Potter) dies undefeated, as most of the wand's power would disappear with him.[3]

Wands are quasi-sentient, meaning that while they cannot think or communicate like a human, they can perform certain actions through their own will. This could be how they choose their wizard/witch, and also explains how Harry's wand was able to act on its own against Voldemort.[3]

Rights of usage

Non-human beings, such as goblins and house-elves, are prohibited from owning or using wands. For goblins in particular, this has been a point of contention with the wizarding community, and has been the cause of some outbreaks of violence. It is unknown if any formal prohibition exists against Muggles possessing a wand, as they would be unable to use them anyway, although it could be considered a breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy.

During the last year of the Second Wizarding War, the British Ministry of Magic was overthrown by the Death Eaters, and new laws were put into effect. Muggle-born witches and wizards were regarded as having "stolen" their magic from "real" witches and wizards, and their wands were confiscated. Those who were not imprisoned were usually left destitute.


Main article: Wandmaker




Antioch sketch

Antioch Peverell (speculated a wandmaker by Albus Dumbledore), but not proven or fact.


Jimmy Kiddell.

There are many makers of wands, but the best known, and most experienced in Britain is Ollivander. The wandmaking establishment has been making wands since 382 BC and is located in Diagon Alley, London. Mr. Ollivander went missing in the summer of 1996[1], until he was discovered by Harry, Ron and Hermione and rescued by the house-elf Dobby in 1998. He had been kidnapped by Death Eaters on Voldemort's orders. After their rescue, Ollivander provided Harry with information about the Elder Wand and about how a wand passes ownership.

There were more British wandmakers, such as Jimmy Kiddell, but their wands were stated to be not as good as Ollivander's.

Another notable wand maker was Gregorovitch, who had made the wand of Viktor Krum, and once wielded the Elder Wand. In 1997 he was tracked down and questioned by Voldemort in Voldemort's quest to find the Elder Wand. Once Voldemort finished questioning Gregorovitch, he murdered him.[3]

According to legend, Death created the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in existence, from the branch of an elder tree. Albus Dumbledore, however, believed it was more likely that the wand had been created by Antioch Peverell himself.

Known wands

Owner Wood Length Core Flexibility Notes
Albus Dumbledore (wand #1) unknown unknown unknown unknown As Dumbledore won the Elder Wand after a duel, it can be assumed that he started with a different wand.
Albus Dumbledore (wand #2) Elder 15" Thestral tail hair unknown The Elder Wand, one of the Deathly Hallows. Also known as the Deathstick and the Wand of Destiny.
Bellatrix Lestrange Walnut 12¾" Dragon heartstring Unyielding This wand is described as "unyielding;" passed into the possession of Hermione Granger after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998.
Cedric Diggory Ash 12¼" Unicorn hair unknown This wand was "pleasantly springy;" hair from particularly fine male unicorn (seventeen hands high), which nearly gored Mr. Ollivander with its horn after he plucked its tail hair.
Dolores Umbridge unknown

"unusually short"

unknown unknown This wand is described as "unusually short;" broken by a centaur's hoof in June 1996 in the Forbidden Forest.
Draco Malfoy Hawthorn 10" Unicorn hair Reasonably springy This wand passed into the possession of Harry Potter after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998 until Harry came into possession of the Elder Wand and mended his first wand.
Fleur Delacour Rosewood 9½" Veela hair inflexible In this wand the core is a hair from Fleur's grandmother, who was a Veela.
Filius Flitwick unknown unknown unknown unknown Used to a hover a feather; may be used as a baton.
Garrick Ollivander Hornbeam 12¾" Dragon heartstring slightly bendy
Gellert Grindelwald Elder 15" Thestral tail hair unknown The Elder Wand. Taken from him by Albus Dumbledore after a legendary duel in 1945.
Harry Potter's wand #1) Holly 11" Phoenix feather Nice and supple "Brother" to Voldemort's wand - the core tail feathers are both from Fawkes; broken in December 1997 while fleeing from Godric's Hollow; repaired with the Elder Wand in May 1998.
Harry Potter (wand #2) Blackthorn 10" unknown unknown This wand was taken from a Snatcher by Ron Weasley in 1997, and used by Harry until 1998, when he took Draco Malfoy's wand.
Harry Potter (wand #3) Hawthorn 10" Unicorn hair reasonably springy This was Draco Malfoy's wand and was passed into the possession of Harry Potter after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998 until Harry came into possession of the Elder Wand and mended his first wand.
Harry Potter (wand #4) Elder 15" Thestral tail hair unknown After disarming Draco Malfoy of his wand in 1998, Harry also gained control of the Elder Wand. He used the wand only once, in May of 1998 in order to repair his phoenix wand, after which he returned it to Albus Dumbledore's grave.
Hermione Granger (wand #1) Vine 10¾" Dragon heartstring unknown This wand was confiscated when the trio was captured by Snatchers in 1998.
Hermione Granger (wand #2) Walnut 12¾" Dragon heartstring Unyielding This was Bellatrix Lestrange's wand. It was taken from her during the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, and used by Hermione Granger afterwards.
James Potter Mahogany 11" unknown pliable This wand was "excellent for transfiguration."
Lily Evans Willow 10¼" unknown swishy This wand was "nice for Charm work."
Lucius Malfoy Elm 18" Dragon heartstring unyielding This wand was kept in a snake-headed walking stick that Lucius carried; "borrowed" by Lord Voldemort and destroyed by Harry Potter's wand during the Battle of the Seven Potters in 1997.
Luna Lovegood (wand #1) unknown unknown unknown unknown This wand was taken from Luna when she was captured by Death Eaters and imprisoned in Malfoy Manor in 1997.
Luna Lovegood (wand #2) unknown unknown unknown unknown This wand was made for Luna by Garrick Ollivander in 1998.
Mary Cattermole Cherry 8¾" Unicorn hair unknown This wand was confiscated by the Muggle-Born Registration Commission in 1997.
Minerva McGonagall Fir 9½" Dragon heartstring stiff This wand was most likely purchased from Ollivanders in 1937 when she was eleven.
Narcissa Malfoy unknown unknown unknown unknown Narcissa lent her wand to her son Draco following the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, when his wand was taken by Harry Potter. Draco subsequently lost it in the Room of Requirement.
Neville Longbottom (wand #1) unknown unknown unknown unknown Belonged to Neville's father Frank; broken by Antonin Dolohov in June 1996 during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
Neville Longbottom (wand #2) Cherry 13" Unicorn hair unknown May have been one of the last wands Mr. Ollivander sold before he disappeared in 1996.
Peter Pettigrew Chestnut 9¼" Dragon heartstring brittle This wand was owned by Pettigrew only since Ollivander had been kidnapped of 1996; passed into the possession of Ron Weasley after the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor in 1998.
Quirinus Quirrell Alder 9" Unicorn hair bendy
Ron Weasley (wand #1) Ash 12" Unicorn hair unknown Ron's brother Charlie's old wand; severely damaged in September 1992 after a run-in with the Whomping Willow.
Ron Weasley (wand #2) Willow 14" Unicorn hair unknown Purchased with his father's winnings from a Daily Prophet draw. Taken from him by Snatchers and replaced with Peter Pettigrew's wand.
Ron Weasley (wand #3) Chestnut 9¼" Dragon heartstring brittle This was Peter Pettigrew's wand. During the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Ron took this wand from Pettigrew and used from then on as his own wand was taken by Snatchers.
Rubeus Hagrid Oak 16" unknown rather bendy This wand was snapped in half when Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts during his third year - the pieces are certainly hidden in Hagrid's pink umbrella.
Seamus Finnigan unknown unknown unknown unknown Used this wand to set fire to a feather in his first year.
Selwyn unknown unknown unknown unknown This wand was taken by Lord Voldemort during the Battle of the Seven Potters after the wand he was using was destroyed.
Sybill Trelawney unknown unknown unkownn unknown Professor Trelawney used her wand during the Battle of Hogwarts to drop a crystal ball on Fenrir Greyback's head as he attempted to attack Lavender Brown. This most likely saved her life. She also used her wand to continue throwing crystal balls onto the heads of Death Eaters with a "tennis-like serve."
Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort) Yew 13½" Phoenix feather unknown This wand is "brother" to Harry Potter's wand - the core tail feathers are both from Fawkes.
Viktor Krum Hornbeam 10¼" Dragon heartstring quite rigid This wand is thicker than usual, and made by Gregorovitch.

Behind the scenes

Wand 1

Wands drawn on the covers of the American version of the books by Mary GrandPré are shown as extremely long and thin.

  • Wands used in the Harry Potter films are shown to have clear handles for wizards to hold onto them such as the bone handle of Voldemort's yew wand. The books however do not describe such handles. In fact all the pictures by Mary GrandPré in the American editions depict all wands as thin rods. However this is only supported by Harry's feeling that his wand is a "strip of wood" compared to a dragon. (This is contradicted in the US hardcover edition of Deathly Hallows on page 343, during Voldemort's flashback of the night he murdered Lily and James. ..."he fingered the handle of his wand.") This may be however a reference to the end he uses to hold the wand.
  • Also, in the films, the wands are shown a couple of inches longer than they are shown in the books. The films seem to include more gestures when using a wand, not just waving it and pointing it. The different styles were shown properly in the film version of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
  • It is theorised that the wand's length is proportional to the wizard's height: the longer the wand, the taller the wizard, and the shorter the wand, the shorter the wizard. Although this pattern is generally supported (eg, Dolores Umbridge's short wand, Rubeus Hagrid's long wand) this may not always be the case. For example, Draco Malfoy, despite being tall, had a relatively short wand. However, J.K. Rowling stated that wands are generally shorter when witches or wizards are lacking in personality, rather than size.
  • J. K. Rowling used a Celtic calendar to assign certain types of woods to Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter based on their birthdates.[7]
Pottermore wands

A variety of wands from Pottermore.

  • In the first and second films, wands look quite plain. The appearance of wands drastically change in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in which the wands are given distinctive shapes and carvings, reflecting the owner's personality.
  • Devon Murray, who plays Seamus Finnigan in the Harry Potter films, has the record for breaking the most prop wands. He broke eighty of them. [8]
  • J.K. Rowling has said that Muggles cannot use a magic wand, yet residual power stored in a wand may discharge at odd moments, having potentially disastrous effects for a non-wizard.[9]
  • Wands are often buried or burned when the owner dies.[10]
  • The right to carry a wand at all times was established by the International Confederation of Wizards in 1692, when Muggle persecution was at its height and the wizards were planning their retreat into hiding.[11]
  • Although Harry's wand is known to be made of holly (an extremely light wood), his prop wand is significantly darker, suggesting a different wood. However, other wands appear to be varnished or coloured, so this isn't necessarily a break in continuity. Wood is a matte material so most if not all wands in the movies have some kind of colour treatment.
  • It is interesting to note that Viktor Krum's wand and Hermione Granger's first wand have the same length and the same core.
  • In the LEGO Harry Potter releases, wands were created using a repurpose of the lightsaber piece used for LEGO Star Wars. The wands are thick, long and almost bigger than a character.
  • There was at least one known business that specialised in tuning wands to improve their performance. Repair services were also available.


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