Lightsaber Project

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So at least one person requested a mini-journal on this. Its not woodworking though, so of course mods please move it if deemed inappropriate.

A year ago while searching for Christmas presents I came across a whole other hobby of folks who build lightsabers. There are subsets of this hobby with folks dueling with lightsabers etc, but I am only interested in the building part of it. This is properly called "Saber Smithing." No, I am not making this up.

There are many different ways to build a lightsaber but the basics involve using some kind of light source, a poly carbonate "blade" and most use a sound card as well. There are several makers of the sound cards but they pretty much all use an accelerometer to tell when the blade is moving or when it hits something and then they play a sound. Many sound cards also support adding one or more accent LEDs to make your lightsaber look all spiffy and futuristic. 

I have to date made 2 lightsabers. The first one actually did involve some wood. Infact I used walnut rings I turned down on the lathe to cap either end of my leather wrap. My second lightsaber used no wood and instead has copper as an accent. Both lightsabers use rechargeable lithium 18650 batteries to power the LEDs. The design I chose to go with is just a trio of very powerful LEDs at the base of the poly-carbonate tube. Here are some pictures of me making my second lightsaber:

The basic body of the lightsaber is steel tube originally designed to be used a bicycle seat post. Using a dremel with a cut-off wheel and some hand files I shaped one end. Also using the dremel and a vise I bent some 1" copper tubing so that it formed shrouds for my main body. This is what that looked like:


I wanted to have a window into the inside of my lightsaber where a bright light could shine out. I used some more pipe fittings and JB weld to create an indent into my shroud. In that indent I mounted a peephole from a door:


Using a similar process I created a bezel for my switch that would activate the lightsaber


I knew I wanted something on top of my lightsaber to give it more character. I expiremented with lots of things that would make it look more futuristic. Bits and pieces that don't actually do anything but make a lightsaber look cool are called "greebies." No idea why.

Here is one option:


I eventually settled on this one:


The bottom of the lightsaber went through a similar process:



As I progressed I added some more of the functionality needed to make the saber actually work. Here you can see the recharge port installed, this is how the batteries are maintained. 


And a brass blade screw. This tightens against the polycarbonate blade and keeps it from falling out.

For the bottom of the saber I settled on an idea of cutting out a section to make a window. The idea is that since the light source is further inside the hilt the window would be lit. Unfortunately since I am doing this all by hand I made the window a little too big:


I then added some screws to actually hold the copper bits in place (before they were just resting there or taped on for design purposes), and I also added a leather wrap with artificial senew thread (you can buy this stuff at a craft store).


I decided on using a piece of aluminum tubing I cut apart and shaped to cover up the window a little bit. Still will get some shine through but less then the original:


At this point the saber is done on the outside but the inside still needs to be wired. I had essentially no history of soldering or doing any kind of electrical work prior to building my first saber. And while the instructions on building these things are not as easy as say putting together a lego or some such, it is possible to figure it out by watching some videos and reading up on forums. 

This gives you an idea what it looks like to solder one of these together:



The blade for the lightsaber is 1" poly-carbonate tube filled with "blade diffuser" material which is just clear plastic gift wrap from the store. This stuff redirects the light from the LEDs in the base to the sides instead of all just shooting straight up.

Here is a picture of the lightsaber without the blade but with a "Blade Plug" which is basically just some greeby stuck in there to block most of the light (each of the 3 LEDs puts out aruond 300-400 lumens so staring at the light directly is a bad idea) but look like it could be a real lightsaber:


And here is a quick video so you get an idea as to the sounds and lights involved:




In case folks are interested here are some links that may prove useful (not affiliated with these of course):

The Custom Saber Shop Store http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/

The Custom Saber Shop Forum http://forums.thecustomsabershop.com/forum.php

FX Sabers Forum https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/



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I can so picture that living in a cradle on my nightstand. Hear something in the middle of the night, grab the light saber and go investigate!

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5 hours ago, Mark J said:

That's awesome.  A lot of work.

Ya took about 3 months spending a few hours every few days. It can be done easier by buying the outside pre-milled instead of building it by scratch.

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