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From what I can tell, in both the Harry Potter books and the movies (cards on the table: I paid very little attention to the movies), wands appear to act as a conductor of magical energy rather than being magical in and of themselves. A witch or wizard can, in times of great stress, perform rudimentary magic without the use of a wand; non-magical folk cannot use wands (even a squib like Filch couldn't perform magic with a wand), and I do not recall there being an event where a wand misfired on its own (Ollivander's method of storing wands would be disastrous if wands were prone to do that).

Furthermore, the idea of wands being a conductor for magical energy makes sense in terms of the specific materials used to make the wands. I had wondered why some enterprising witch or wizard had not attempted to mass produce wands using a cheap wood composite like MDF and the most basic of wand cores, but if each wood and core has a different level of magical conductivity, then a composite wood would be highly ineffective.

With that preamble out of the way, my question is this: Is there any evidence in the books that contradict this interpretation of how a wand works? Is there any canon evidence of wands having power in and of themselves?

  • Not sure if dupe, but certainly related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/54777/… – DisturbedNeo Jul 4 '17 at 11:03
  • I like to think that my question is a duplicate, but that link does certainly affect one of my claims. But the question still remains as to weather or not the wand has it's own power, or if a wand is able to channel what little magic a muggle may have. – Magikarp Master Jul 4 '17 at 11:11
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    Do they have their own power? No. You need to plug them into a USB power cable to recharge them every day. More often if you use very energy-intensive spells. – RichS Jul 4 '17 at 14:08
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    That explains so much. I tried charging my wand in a Chinese outlet, and I did not factor in the Wattage difference. Needless to say, everything was on fire. – Magikarp Master Jul 4 '17 at 14:36
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    I hear Olliviander recently had to recall a load of wands, because they kept spontaneously blowing up... – marcellothearcane Jul 4 '17 at 20:40
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The "wand core" itself seems to hold a certain degree of power.

From Pottermore:

  • Unicorn hair cores

    Minor disadvantages of unicorn hair are that they do not make the most powerful wands [..]

  • Dragon heartstring cores

    As a rule, dragon heartstrings produce wands with the most power, and which are capable of the most flamboyant spells.

  • Phoenix feather cores

    This is the rarest core type. Phoenix feathers are capable of the greatest range of magic, though they may take longer than either unicorn or dragon cores to reveal this.

It would seem that varying wand cores produce varying amounts of "power" as magic is channeled through it. From what I understand, if a wizard has 2 wands; one with a dragon heartstring core and another with a unicorn hair core, the dragon heartstring core would seem more "powerful" to them.

Voldemort recognises the "power" of the Elder Wand:

"No," said Voldemort. "I have performed my usual magic ... I am extraordinary, but this wand ... no. It has no revealed the wonders it has promised. I feel no difference between this wand and the one I procured from Ollivander all those years ago."

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32, The Elder Wand

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    I am quite certain wand woods play a role in a wand's power as well.. but it seems ridiculous to quote the powers of a few dozen wand woods (from Pottermore). To summarise, wand woods and wand cores do play a role in determining a spell's power. – Mat Cauthon Jul 4 '17 at 11:42
  • Sorry, haven't read them for a while - what's Voldemort talking about there? The Elder wand? – marcellothearcane Jul 4 '17 at 20:43
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    @marcellothearcane Yep, he's talking to Snape about the Elder Wand – Mat Cauthon Jul 5 '17 at 9:04
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Wands don’t seem to have their own, but can hold residual power.

While wands work very well to channel and amplify magic, they don’t seem to have a lot of their own power. In his notes for Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump, Albus Dumbledore says that wands can hold residual power since they’re an instrument used to channel magic.

“While the “rogue” ability to perform magic sometimes appears in those of apparent non-magical descent (though several later studies have suggested that there will have been a witch or wizard somewhere on the family tree), Muggles cannot perform magic. The best — or worst — they could hope for are random and uncontrollable effects generated by a genuine magical wand, which, as an instrument through which magic is supposed to be channeled, sometimes holds residual power, which it may discharge at odd moments — see also the notes on wandlore for “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard

However, that doesn’t mean wands are static. Wands have their own ‘opinions’. When in the shop, they choose their wizard, and they’ll work well for some wizards but not for others, and can absorb the expertise of previous owners. Their owners have to use them for the wand to do this, however, so the ability still originated in the wizard and was transferred into the wand. Though wands (and the components used to make them) can be sometimes described as ‘powerful’, this likely means with regard to how well they channel and amplify the magic of the wizard using them.

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Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3

Harry descended the stairs, very conscious of everybody still staring at him, stowing his wand into the back pocket of his jeans as he came.

“Don’t put your wand there, boy!” roared Moody. “What if it ignited? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know!”

This passage seems to imply that it would be possible for the wand to ignite without anyone using it.

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