We know that wizards need a wand to focus their magic (wizards can cast spells without a wand, but they are unfocused and weaker). But some wizards aren't known to carry wands. Instead they carry something that works like a wand, but isn't.

Mad-Eye Moody uses a staff as his wand. Hagrid uses his pink umbrella, which was made from pieces of his broken wand.

Are there any other examples of wizards using something other than a normal wand to cast their spells? What are these objects? Do they work like normal wands, and what gives them their power? Would it be possible to use a magical weapon as a substitute for a wand? (Like, say, used the Sword of Gryffindor to channel your spells.)

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    In the book Mad-Eye didn't use a staff, he used a wand like everyone else. – Kevin Jul 13 '12 at 2:39
  • It'd be interesting if answers could comment on items that contain wands, e.g. a sword that has a wand embedded within it. – Nat Jul 14 '18 at 22:32
  • @Nat think of Hagrid's umbrella - there are some questions about it on this site. Like this answer – Jenayah Jul 14 '18 at 22:47

A wand is merely a way to focus/concentrate your magic better. A wizard can do magic without a wand (see Harry Potter as a kid doing all sorts of magic from freeing python from glass cage to blowing up Aunt Marge).

Ergo, ANY object can be used to concentrate magic at least as well as your own fingers/mind - it's just that certain objects (wood with cores from magical animals) are better at this focusing; and special wood with special cores are a lot better at this focusing (see the last paragraph of this answer). This is analogous to the fact that you can cut someone with a dull knife - it's just a lot EASIER and requires less strength to do so with a sharp one.

As far as using the Sword: it's possible (again, it won't be any worse than your own fingers, but may possibly be better though there is no canon support for that).

But being metal it's likely to be much worse at focusing than wood (there is no direct canon support; but nobody made metal wands - and if it was feasible I'm sure at least some "metal-charmer" would have tried; to get a unique non-breakable wand. Remember that Harry's main wand broke not from some weird magic but merely from physical impact at Godric's Hollow - ditto for Ron's wand semi-destroyed by Womping Willow. So an unbreakable metal wand would have been worth the effort for wizarding world).

Actually, pre-Ollivander wands used weird not-well-focusing cores and woods (source: Pottermore). Ollivander started using these special cores and woods exclusively over any random "heirloom" materials which were popular before; this is why his wands are so highly valued.

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  • Actually, pre-Ollivander wands used weird not-well-focusing cores and woods Other than the Elder Wand of course. – Xantec Jul 12 '12 at 17:57
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    A few questions come to mind as I read your answer: 1:"ANY object can be used to concentrate magic": Do you have any evidence for this? I thought only "magical" items might be able to focus magic (wand cores come from magical beings and it's the core that helps focus the magic). 2: "...being metal it's likely to be much worse at focusing" Why would metal be bad a focusing? Is there an issue with magic being channeled through something inorganic? And what if it's magical metal (The sword of Griffendor), wouldn't the magic of the metal empower a spell? – onewho Jul 12 '12 at 18:02
  • 3: Do you know if there are any other Wizards (besides the two I mentioned in the question) who use items other than wands to cast their spells? – onewho Jul 12 '12 at 18:04
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    @onewho Ollivander tells Harry "if you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument" – Michael Mrozek Jul 13 '12 at 7:21
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    @MichaelMrozek - your comment should be a separate answer. THE answer. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 13 '12 at 13:22

I am going to disagree with DVK's answer. While it is correct that a wand is not necessary to cast spells, not any object can be used to channel magic. The object being used must have magical properties of its own.

First, confirmation wands are not needed for spell casting (from the Uagadou writing by JK Rowling on Pottermore):

The wand is a European invention, and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures.

Second, an overview of how wand materials were selected and that they needed to be a magical substance (from the Mr. Ollivander writing by JK Rowling on Pottermore):

Prior to Mr Ollivander's proprietorship of the family business, wizards used a wide variety of wand cores. A customer would often present the wandmaker with a magical substance to which they were attached, or had inherited, or by which their family swore (hinted at by the core of Fleur Delacour's wand). Mr Ollivander, however, was a purist who insisted that the best wands would never be produced merely by encasing the whiskers of a favourite Kneazle (or the stalk of a Dittany plant that once saved a wizard's father from poisoning, or the mane of a kelpie a witch had once met on holiday in Scotland) in the customer's favourite wood. The best wands, he believed, had cores of immensely powerful magical substances, which were expertly enclosed in specially selected and complementary wandwoods, the result to be matched to an owner with whom the wand itself felt the most affinity.

We also see that the wood itself could not be from any ordinary tree either (from the Wand Wood writing by JK Rowling on Pottermore):

Only a minority of trees can produce wand quality wood (just as a minority of humans can produce magic). It takes years of experience to tell which ones have the gift, although the job is made easier if Bowtruckles are found nesting in the leaves, as they never inhabit mundane trees.

IIRC, the only non-wand object we see in the books is Hagrid's umbrella, as you mentioned. However, he is only using the umbrella to hide the broken wand. The umbrella itself is not being used to focus the magic.

You also asked about the Sword of Gryffindor. While the sword was made from Goblin Silver, which does have magical properties, there would be no way for a core to enclosed inside it. Thus it would not be able to focus magical energy.

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  • "Only a minority of trees can produce wand quality wood". That doesn't seem to obviate the possibility of using inferior wood, just that it isn't considered high quality by professional wand-makers. – Valorum Jun 18 '16 at 12:53
  • If a wood is not "wand quality" I would say you cannot make a wand from it... It is not like the cores where he is telling us there are 3 superior ones. There are 38 woods listed, there seems to be an entry level quality; one tree may have and another doesn't. – Skooba Jun 18 '16 at 12:59
  • The article on wandlore is a classic example of Ollivander pouring scorn on inferior quality workmanship. It's not that you can't make a wand "merely by encasing the whiskers of a favourite Kneazle ... in the customer's favourite wood.", it's that you shouldn't. – Valorum Jun 18 '16 at 13:07
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    Actually all the woods described seem to be mundane. It's the core that needs to be magical and there's no particular indication that the core is essential, other than that all modern wands have one. – Valorum Jun 18 '16 at 14:03
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    Yes the species of trees may but common, but the actual tree providing the wand wood is not mundane, I think that last quote makes that pretty clear. Ollivander may make the best but there is still a baseline. – Skooba Jun 18 '16 at 14:13

Many wizards use staves instead of wands. All the wizards from Durmstrang have staves and wands which you can see in Goblet of Fire when they first enter Hogwarts.

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    I don't have the book right now, but was that also mentioned in the books? Because one could assume that the movie adaptation gave them staves only to look more impressive, and I don't recall them using them to do magic (sparks lighted up when they hit the ground with the staves, but that doesn't make them wands). – Jenayah Jul 14 '18 at 21:29
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    Also, Krum's wand was inspected by Ollivander, so at least one of them use a wand. – Jenayah Jul 14 '18 at 21:31

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