Build Your Own Light Saber

Assembly Instructions:

  • I’ve chopped this page into two pieces to improve the load times.
  • Suggestions from visitors are printed in italics and indented.

(Hyperspace Jump to Part 2)

Everything is here, including a few diagrams I scanned. If you find anything in these particularly difficult to understand, please let me know.

I would like to take a moment to thank my Dad, Paul Wilcox, Jr., for teaching me how to use tools and build things when I was growing up. I actually got my first real toolbox and real tools (not toys) when I was 3 years old, and still have the toolbox and  many of the tools today. (Long story there—the short version is that I was misdiagnosed at birth as retarded, and my Dad said, “Well, if he’s not going to be able to use his head, we’ll teach him to work with his hands.”) Both my parents put up with my taking the screws out of the kitchen chairs and cabinet handles before I had the strength to screw them back in tightly, and my mother often would reach to open a cabinet and the handle would come off in her hand.

The assembly is very simple—you can probably make do with merely the parts list and photos. Only three parts require significant alteration:

  • the PVC end cap—it gets cut in half to form the bottom cap and the ring at the top of the grip;
  • the PVC coupler—which just gets cut off at an angle; and, of course,
  • the chrome tube, which gets cut to match the angle of the coupler (or vice versa).

That being said, these instructions will make your assembly easier, as well as avoiding some of the mistakes I made. I’ve also included, where appropriate, suggestions and comments from other visiting Jedi. You may also want to look at the Miscellaneous page.

A Few General Tips:

  • Read through the parts and tools list, and these instructions, before starting.
  • Be flexible and innovative. Spend some time looking through your cellar, attic, or lumber room (for you U.K. builders), seeing what you might already have available. Some of the things which worked best on my saber were dug up from a few boxes of “cool” (but useless in the real world) things I’ve been collecting since my early teens. Be prepared to improvise.
  • Check out other build-your-own-saber or prop replica sites. (I’ve documented many on my links page—and I add more all the time.) You will find them to be a good source of ideas.
  • After you have gathered your materials, try to think through what you want to build before you start.
  • Take your time to do the job right. (It took me 25 years to learn this.) If you are building your saber “in your spare time,” plan to spend about a week with an hour or so per day.

External View

External Diagram

This drawing is also available for download in Windows Metafile (WMF) format, and CorelDRAW! 5.0 (CDR) format.

Chrome Tube Preparation

The first part of your construction will be the chrome tube (see the parts list for alternative materials), which is the main part of the saber. Using a hack saw (or band saw if you are fortunate enough to own one), cut a length somewhere between 12" and 14"—whatever you are most comfortable with.

Note: You might want to do the machining steps at this time (before working on the grip), although it isn’t vital.

The Grip

Note: This is probably the “weakest” part of my design. It does work rather well, but I found after a full day of use the foam strips had repositioned slightly. I will be looking for something about equally easy to replace them at some point, although there are several advantages of using the foam. I’ve gotten a lot of suggestions for this part.

Doug Vernon offers this alternative suggestion:

“As for the grip, I ould drill a hole just beneath the edge of the end cap, wrap the handle with black leather cord (gives the appearance of twisted wire grips) and secure it at the top of the handle with another hold and a couple of knots.”

Darth Head” offers another possibility:

“I found an alternative to the weather stripping on the handle, Instead of weather stripping I used two handle bar grips off of a bicycle. It made an excellent hand grip and I believe it works better than weather stripping.”

Keven Tipping had this idea:

“Do you know the foamy stuff people put around hot pipes, or just plain old pipes, to protect them? You can usally buy it really cheap at Home Depot, or Revy for only 79 cents. You can carve that stuff real easy, to make it look cool, in any way you want, then use it for a nice grip on the light saber.”

Keven has some other very good ideas, available here.

GWarble suggests these yet-untried possibilities:

“I was thinking of instead of gluing down the strips, taking a bike handgrip and CUTTING out strips to reveal the chrome, this may leave the strips to move back and forth in the middle, but they would not come off, (hopefully).”

“Another suggestion, I think better, is to cut lines down the chrome tube and install rubber pieces shaped like a T mixed with a T, see the picture[s and drawings on the new Miscellaneous page], putting the rubber (if it can be found in that shape) inside the cut holes would eliminate the need for glue and hopefully keep them in place.”

Brian Brousseau used handlebar tape for the grip:

“I had a particular texture in mind for my grip. I wanted it to be rubbery and cushiony.  Rubber was too hard.  Foam rubber (like the weatherstripping you suggested) was too soft and foamy. I found exactly what I was looking for in a bicycle shop. Handlebar tape. The type I used was made by Pyramid Accessories and is marked ‘Cork Mix’ and ‘Cushioned’ and had the number 31172 on the package. It cost about $11 for a package containing two rolls but each roll is long enough to wrap two lightsaber hilts. I spiral-wound a section of the tape around the grip of my lightsaber and secured one end with the PVC ring. The other end held itself in place because it was wrapped around itself.”

Brett “BJ” Powers suggested this:

“For my grip I used bike handlebar grips. I cut off the top and bottom until it was just around the design. It wasn't large enough to cover the crome pipe so I cut a straight line down the middle. The set came with two so I then took the other one and cut two strips out of it that were each about .5 of an inch wide. I glued it on with a very strong adhesive called E6000. You can find it at a craft store, if not ask if they have something else. Space them as you want and simply glue. I think that it turns out very good.”

Eric Cajiuat (Jedi Baritone) did this:

For my saber, I used an inverted mouse pad, cut to fit, then epoxied directly to a chrome tube. Home Depot sells something called metal epoxy which holds like nothing I've ever seen before. The edges of the mouse pad, where they met, were kind of ragged, but I kept them as close as I could together, then covered the line with Velcro tape, also epoxied underneath. I did this because I thought I could put some Velcro on my belt so I could just slap it on, but it ended up not working that way. Still, the Velcro tape covers the seam nicely. Perhaps you could use my idea and adapt it to your design. When I get pics scanned of my saber (and hopefully my costume), I’ll email it along. Great site!

Starting at about 1/4" away from the bottom of the saber, place strips of the foam self-sticking insulation to form the grip. Place them carefully, and reposition them as necessary. I used the narrow side of my file to space mine more or less evenly around the circumference of the tube. Leave both the top and bottom edges a little long.

The adhesive on the foam will be somewhat loose for about 24 hours, but after a day, it will bond more firmly with the tube, although it will always be fairly easy to peel off.

Using a razor knife, trim the bottom portions of the foam evenly to leave about 1/4" gap between the end of the foam and the end of the tube. This space will be filled in by the end cap. You need not be super-accurate in cutting—because the foam compresses slightly any minor differences in length will be visually corrected by the end cap.

Also using a razor knife, trim the other end of the foam neatly around the circumference of the tube. My grip area is 5" in length, but you will want to size yours to your own hand. The length of mine is about 1.5 times the width of my hand—I assumed that for two-handed gripping, one hand would be on the grip, and the other (at least partly) wrapped around the upper saber assembly.

Next you’ll need to cut the PVC end cap in half, to provide a ring about 1/2" wide and and end cap about 5/8" wide. If you are using a hack saw, be careful to cut it straight, although minor imperfections will be shielded by the foam.

Put the end cap on the bottom of the saber, and drill four holes around the circumference, going right through both the PVC and the chrome tube. These holes will be for the machine screws that hold the end cap in place.

Position the ring on the upper end of the grip, and drill at least two holes through the PVC and the chrome to keep it in place. I drilled two holes completely through, and two other holes just through the PVC. Machine screws through the double holes will keep this ring in place. On the other two, cut the machine screws short so they will only go through the PVC. This ring does not need very much to hold it in place, unlike the end cap which must bear the weight of the entire saber via the D-ring.


Next you probably want to get the machining done. (It will be slightly easier to do the machining before attaching the grips, although it doesn’t matter very much.) Note also that the machining is somewhat optional—I have a close friend who is a machinist and was willing to do a few minor things for me on his lunch hour—you could do everything I did with a drill, small file, hack saw, and a good dose of patience.

I needed some help with three things: Cutting a slot in the tube the length of the magnifying bubbles, and drilling two holes for the threaded rod that would hold the nickel-plated caps which serve as knobs on the saber.

One note if this is being machined: Because putting too much pressure on the chrome tube will distort its shape, my friend used a lathe to make a 4"-long plastic cylinder whose diameter matched the inside diameter of the chrome tube exactly. This cylinder was inserted into the chrome tube to keep the tube from flattening out during machining. I later cut a 1/2" piece of the cylinder off and drilled tiny holes through it to run the LED’s leads through. This served the purpose of holding the LED in place, and keeping the leads for it insulated. (More on this later.)

If you need to cut a slot and don’t have access to the right equipment, you could drill a series of holes in a line instead. If the holes overlap slightly, you could then file between them to produce the slot desired.

Cutting the Angled Saber Tip and Upper PVC Coupler

Since it was easier, I had my friend also cut the larger PVC coupler and the end of the saber to an identical angle. He was even nice enough to de-burr the tube ends, which, after cutting on a band saw, were rather sharp in spots. The cutting could be done with a hack saw, and the de-burring with a hand file.

Once you have angled the chrome tube and the PVC coupler, work the coupler down over the top of the saber. In the center of a coupler is a small ridge of PVC plastic; doing this now will use the saber end itself to shave off this slightly for a better fit.

Brian Brousseau offered this advice about preparing the PVC pieces:

“A lot of PVC plumbing pieces have embossed words/numbers/letters on them which can make the lightsaber look less like a lightsaber and more like a collection of Earthly hardware. These can and should be filed off smoothly before painting. The PVC may look rough and scratched up after filing but the scratches will be covered up by a couple coats of paint and the finished product will look smooth and glossy.”

D-Ring Assembly

To make the D-ring (belt clip) assembly, you’ll be putting together quite a few parts, unless you’re able to find a D-ring with a mounting bolt already attached. You might try a shop that specializes in marine hardware.

Doug Vernon recommends the following:

“[Y]ou may want to check with a horse supplies store (tack store) and see if they have some type of smooth snaffle d-ring. It should be a single bolt, with a totally enclosed d-ring on a swivel post.”

Mujeeb Rawoof e-mailed this alternative for a D-Ring:

“I was at Builders’ Square a couple of days ago looking for parts to my light saber. I noticed that isntead of using the D-ring and eye bolts to make a belt clip you could use a special type of picture hanger. They are available for about 50 cents. They are decorative as well. It has one screw attached on it instead of two, though. The company that made mine is called ‘Crown Bolt.’”

Jason Becker offered this suggestion:

“Here's another way to make a d-ring ‘sleeve’: Take about 3 inches of flat, alluminum bar, that's about 3/4-inch wide, put it in a vice, and bend it in half so it’s at 90 degrees. Insert the D-ring as far back as it will go, and crush the alluminum in the vice. You will then have a 1.5 inch bar of metal with a D-ring in it. Drill the holes in it, and you are done.”

I couldn’t a D-ring with an attachment that I liked, so I’ll explain what I used. Despite all the parts I had to get, the total was only $1.57 plus about half an hour of hunting, so I can’t really complain.

I’ve prepared two drawings that will make your assembly easier, and to prove why I didn’t choose a career of technical illustration.

Drawing - D-Ring Parts.gif (9993 bytes)

D-ring parts.

Drawing - D-Ring Assembly.gif (6688 bytes)

D-ring assembly.

You’ll want to pre-assemble the D-ring parts before painting the PVC end caps. This will let you get everything in place without having to worry about wrecking the finish. Before painting, you’ll remove the D-ring assembly.

The first step is to get the eye bolts onto the D-ring. Many D-rings come through with a tiny weld holding the two “ends” together. This will need to be overcome with a pair of pliers or two. I used Vice Grips on one side, and ChannelLocks on the other—it was easy to break the weld and spread the D-ring seam just enough to get the bolts on. (At this point it is prudent to heed my grandfather’s advice—“Never force anything; just get a bigger hammer.”) If pliers won’t work, use a hack saw. After the eye bolts are on, the D-ring will tend to close up again just about completely.

Drill two holes in the end-cap. You’ll need to make them fairly close to the sides, but far enough in that there is room for the washers and nuts underneath. In this case, because the washers and nuts will secure everything, drill the holes just slightly larger than the threads on the eye bolts, so the bolts slide through easily. They’re also going to be coated with paint, so they will end up being tight nonetheless. If you decide to include a fender washer (optional) to line the inside of the end cap (making it virtually indestructible), put it inside the end cap while you drill the holes, and start by drilling through it and into and through the end cap.

D-Ring Assembly Detail

Close-up of the completed D-ring assembly.

Screw the locking nuts onto the eye bolts to the top of the eyes, then thread the bolts through the holes in the end cap and the fender washer (if you are going to use one). Then simply put the washers, lock washers, and hex nuts on the eye bolts. Once you have tightened it up, remove everything and put the washer and nuts back onto the eye bolts so you won’t lose them.

(Hyperspace Jump to Part 2)