- Ive chopped this page into two pieces to
improve the load times.
- Suggestions from visitors are printed in italics
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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 therethe short version is
that I was misdiagnosed at birth as retarded, and my Dad said, Well, if hes
not going to be able to use his head, well 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 simpleyou can probably
make do with merely the parts list and photos. Only three parts require significant
- the PVC end capit gets cut in half to form
the bottom cap and the ring at the top of the grip;
- the PVC couplerwhich 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. Ive 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
Ive been collecting since my early teens. Be prepared to improvise.
- Check out other build-your-own-saber or prop
replica sites. (Ive documented many on my links pageand
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.
This drawing is also available for
download in Windows Metafile (WMF) format, and CorelDRAW! 5.0 (CDR) format.
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 isnt vital.
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. Ive gotten a lot of suggestions for this part.
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
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
has some other very good ideas, available here.
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,
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.
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.
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
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), Ill 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
cuttingbecause 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 handI 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 youll 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
Next you probably want to get the machining done.
(It will be slightly easier to do the machining before attaching the grips, although it
doesnt matter very much.) Note also that the machining is somewhat optionalI
have a close friend who is a machinist and was willing to do a few minor things for me on
his lunch houryou 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 LEDs leads through. This served the
purpose of holding the LED in place, and keeping the leads for it insulated. (More on this
If you need to cut a slot and dont 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.
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.
To make the D-ring (belt clip) assembly,
youll be putting together quite a few parts, unless youre able to find a
D-ring with a mounting bolt already attached. You might try a shop that specializes in
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.
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
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 its 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 couldnt a D-ring with an attachment that
I liked, so Ill 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 cant really complain.
Ive prepared two drawings that will make
your assembly easier, and to prove why I didnt choose a career of technical
Youll 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, youll remove the D-ring
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 otherit 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
grandfathers adviceNever force anything; just get a bigger
hammer.) If pliers wont 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. Youll 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. Theyre 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
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 wont lose them.
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