On a fundamental functional level, the difference is primarily metaphysical properties my friend, because the tool will give you aspects that you do not start off with personally. The wand, staff, and athame can provide you with specific energies, and mental associations to help you, and empower your practice with their usage, depending upon which one you have, and how it has been constructed. Focusing your energy through something also allows it to be more directable, but at the end of the day it’s pretty much like all other tools my friend, You can use it, or not, and the difference is really like using a fork to eat. You don’t have to use the fork, but it might be nice, and may make your eating go more smoothly. 

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