Mainly I am going to talk about wands, and just briefly talk about staffs. I don't actually have a staff, though I have plans in the works to carve one. It won't be what some think about when they think staff, more like what I would call a rod, but much more substantial than a wand. One of the books I read a long while back modeled their staffs this way, instead of being an "almost as tall as you walking stick type" it was "thick enough to circle your fingers around and about three feet long". I kind of like the idea of an inbetween tool, because really a full sized staff is quite unwieldy in most places I would do magic. Someday I would like to have one, just because I think it would be fun to decorate, but then I would probably do it up like a ladder between the worlds more than a traditional staff.
But wands. I have two right now. One is the very first wand I ever had, and I made it in college. I have always liked working with wood, for me sanding is an experience all in it's own. So I was walking around my college campus (University of Hawaii), and they were trimming trees. I don't know what kind of tree it was even. There was just this pile of tree trimmings, and there was a stick in it that called to me, so I nabbed it and took it back to my dorm room. The one thing I do remember is there were large seed pods also (but I just looked at a photo file of seed pods of Hawaii and none jumped out at me so that isn't going to be much help). After a period of drying, I peeled off the bark, rounded off the ends and gave it a sand. Voila, my wand. It is simple to the extreme, no oil, no finish, just sanded wood.
Around the same time, I was wandering through another part of the campus and they were trimming the bamboo. I found a piece of bamboo trimmings that were just about the diameter of my pinky finger, with the sections about a foot or so long. If you've never worked with bamboo, it has sections that are sealed off and hollow inside. I had been thinking of making something for a friend of mine (who was also Pagan), and this I thought would make the perfect base. I cut it off just outside of two of the section joints, so I had a full sealed section in the middle. He was born in the month of May (as am I), and I had a bag full of non-gem quality emeralds, so I used some string to fix one to one end. There was a lovely American Indian store near where my Great-grandmother lived, and I had previously picked up some leather lacing and mock eagle feathers (they were turkey actually, but quite large and fluffy and white). I also had a pair of earrings with little wood tubes and stones dangling on wires. I wrapped the whole length with the leather, fixed the feathers on the end opposite the emerald and added the dangley bits from one of the earrings with the feathers (I kept the other earring, intending to make a matching wand for myself). It came out spectacular looking and was well received. For some reason I never found another piece of bamboo that I liked to make it's pair.
Then last year, I was wandering one of the parks around here looking for wood pieces for some carving work I want to do (and still want to do but haven't gotten beyond the sketching phase). I had some pieces drying and was sort of working on trimming them up to prep for working them. One of them had a neat little bend part way down, almost like a handle (not a severe angle, maybe about ten degrees or so, just a little bend). But I thought it would be a neat feature for a wand and decided to finally get around to making my own fancier wand.
I carved a little depression into the tip of the wand to hold the emerald bit I wanted to use. Using leather lacing, I strapped it in as tight as I could. That is one of the things I like about the leather, you can stretch it and get quite a good tie on things, and it molds around indents in stones and the like. I was still using leather lacing I had gotten over 15 years prior, and ended up with less lacing than I would have liked. The first one I had made used all tan lacing, but this time I had a bit of white suede lacing I ended up using to weave a latice like pattern, so you can see the bark through in places. It was finished with the feathers and dangles, which gives it a bit of a rattle on the back end, which I like.
Ultimately though, I'm just not a wand person. I've rarely used my wands, much preferring to work with my Athame. It takes a conscious decision for me to work with my wands, no matter how lovely I think they are. I don't know if it is a weight thing, they feel like air in the hand. One thing I do like about the wand though, is it is a very public friendly tool.
Actually I will mention one other tool I use in a wand like manner (though not exclusively). I have a rosewood fan, the kind that opens and closes and is made of various slats of wood. I have found it makes a pretty good wand, and I like the double association with the fan and air. I read of using a fan magically in a book on Chinese dragon magic, and the fan was used as a tool in a shielding exercise, fanning the air around the body for purification, so my fan doubles as a kind of pentacle (in the pentacle=shield sense..will talk about that when I talk about pentacles!). I also like the fact that it is scented. Air for me is strongly associated with scent (fire-sight, water-taste, earth-touch, spirit-sound).
In some ways, I think about tools in a somewhat backward sense. I don't think of a wand as it's own specific tool, separate in function from the staff or blade, but rather that the wand is a tool of air where for me the blade is a tool of fire. The wand isn't the only tool of air, my fan is also a tool of air, so even though I use them in different ways, they are blended in my head as versions of the same tool: the air tool. I consider smudging feathers another version of the air tool. Actually, when I really think about it I sometimes consider my incense burner a tool of air, but I think I'll talk about that in it's own post, as incense is a big enough topic I can talk about it separately.
Strangely, I don't have a magical broom yet, though I do sweep magically with my regular broom. I definitely consider the broom to be a tool of air. My air tools work differently than fire tools. No matter how little it weighs, a blade has a weight in my hand. Even the completely non-sharp ones have a focus on them of capacity for harm that just isn't there with my air tools. I'd say it was that they are just so light in the hand, but the broom isn't, in fact it is definitely heavier than some of my blades, and yet it moves in a different way. My air tools dance in my hand, they follow those capricious wind motions, like when you try to ride the currents of air that pass by your window when you are in a car. Out of all my tools, my air tools have the most movement to them.