It's Wanderful: Part 1, Where to Begin

About 3 months ago my Sister-in-Law asked me to make her a wand to take to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. It’s not that she often requests things (though she does have a bookcase I built), it’s that she’s A) a harry potter fan and B) a follower of mine on Google Buzz.
Kenneth's awesome wand that made my Sister-in-law go "Oh."
You see, in November of 2010, my friend, Kenneth Woodruff, wrote a blog post about the fantastic Harry Potter wand he made for Halloween that year. As I was truly impressed, I of course shared it on Buzz. I happened to be visiting my Sister-in-Law at the time, and as soon as I shared it “that’s a cool wand” could be heard from her corner of the living room.

Fast forward to May of 2011 and as the movie date approaches I get asked to make wands, wands for my Wife, Sister-in-Law and her partner. Wands like Kenneth made.

Had Kenneth made a tool cabinet or a vacuum boom arm, I would have jumped right into the project. However, as Kenneth’s wand was faithful to the original (in that it is round and has carvings), it was a project well outside of my woodworking comfort zone. I’ve never worked in the round or carved before. As neither round work nor carving have held any appeal for me, I’ve never even read up on them (as I have with many other woodworking methods that I am interested in but have yet to try).
Kenneth's great carved wand handle.
My first reaction was to stall. I didn’t really think about the project for 2 or 3 weeks. When I finally did begin planning, I went right to the source and contacted Kenneth about the wands. He was nice enough to provide some details on how he made his wand and some more detailed photos. The instructions still left this carving virgin wondering how I was going to make the wands. The photos though, were a fantastic help and a full 8.5” x 11” print out on photo paper served as my plan for making my wands.

Following Kenneth’s advice, I then contacted the best and most enthusiastic carver I know, Kari Hultman. Unfortunately, my total carving naiveté was a deficit that even Kari’s detailed email instructions could not overcome.
One of 16 draws worth of carving gouges my dad has.
Frustrated, I then turned to my Dad, a rather proficient carver in his own right, for advice. He pointed me towards his vast collection of carving tools and said have at it. Unfortunately, as sharpening is a task I’m only slightly better at then carving (and his curved carving tools looked awfully hard to sharpen), I turned down his offer to lend me his carving gouges and I decided to make the wands from my own tools that I knew how to use.

What projects have your family talked you into?