There’s always that one guy who brings a knife to a gunfight! But what if, just once, you could harness the power of the force with a lightsaber?
Isn’t every Star Wars fan’s dream to wield the legendary lightsaber to blast through enemies and doors alike? And even though we don’t currently have the required technology to build a real one, you will have a lot of fun creating your own lightsaber toy using our DIY infographic below.
What Is A Lightsaber?
Of course, if you’re a Star Wars fanatic, then you already know all about this infamous weapon, but let’s take a few moments to discuss what it is for those who are unfamiliar. A lightsaber, ren, or laser sword, is a fictional weapon that’s shown throughout the Star Wars franchise. Typical versions of them feature luminescent plasma blades and are the signature weapon for the Knights of Ren, Jedi Order, and the Sith Order. While Jedi tend to use lightsabers that are yellow, green, or blue, the Sith use red sabers, so there are many variations of this weapon.
According to surveys, the lightsaber is the most recognizable element from the Star Wars franchise, with many fans believing it’s the most popular weapon in all of film history. In films, lightsabers have the ability to burn, melt, and cut through most substances with little to no resistance. It can also be used to battle enemies, in which the weapon leaves behind cauterized wounds on flesh. However, the lasers can be deflected by energy shields and other blades.
How To Make A Lightsaber At Home
Now that we all know precisely what a lightsaber is, let’s go over how to build your own replica at home. Below you’ll find everything you need to complete this project, from required materials to the step-by-step process.
What Materials Do I Need?
Before you build your own lightsaber, there are some materials you’ll need to obtain. Here’s what you’ll need to create the blade and handle:
- 1 Battery pack that holds between two and four “AA” batteries.
- 8-12 inches of PVC that’s 1.25″ diameter or more. Just be sure that the diameter you choose is comfortable in your hand; in other words, if you have a small hand, go for the smaller size and vice versa.
- 2-position Switch or push-button for on/off controls.
- Bike Inner Tubes (Optional)
- Spray paint if you want to personalize your color pattern. (Optional)
- 10-ohm resistor and small motor (Optional for those who want to wield a noise-making lightsaber).
- 1 Piece polycarbonate tube – Ensure that the outer diameter is at least 0.75″ but smaller than the diameter of the tube used for the handle. The length should be around two and a half feet but should vary depending on the user.
- 25 to 35 LED lights – Just be sure to check that they’ll fit inside the tube for your blade.
- 2 Matches or cable ties
- A solid wire that is 0.5 up to 1 mm in diameter with a gauge of 20 to 22. The length of your wire needs to be equal to that of the blade plus the length of the handle, plus three additional inches.
- Aluminum foil – Every great invention uses tin foil!
It’s important to note that the materials we’ve listed above are just suggestions; if you’re a crafty person and want to substitute other materials, that’s perfectly fine! The only thing you must make sure of is that the inner diameter of the handle is more than that of the blade’s diameter. So, in theory, you could use anything from a tennis racket to some other form of tubing.
When it comes to the blade, it’s better to use opaque tubing rather than a straight transparent variety. This will help the appearance of your LED lights, as you want them to have a more “cloudy” appearance. If you have no other option than to use clear tubing, you can always use some sandpaper to rough up the surface.
What Tools Do I Need?
Along with the appropriate materials, there are also a host of tools you should round up before starting. To make things easier, we’ve compiled them into a list below:
- Soldering Iron
- Plastic Bonding Glue
- PVC Cutter
- Small Wire Cutters
- Sharp Knife
- A Positive and Willing Attitude
Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make A Custom Lightsaber
So, by now, you have all of the materials and tools required to make your own lightsaber, and it’s time for the fun part! Just don’t forget to improvise where you can and add your own personal touches to show everyone just how creative you are!
Let’s get right into the step-by-step guide to build your own lightsaber:
Building Your Own Lightsaber Handle
The handle is extremely easy to make out of PVC pipe. Once you have your chosen type, simply use your hacksaw or PVC cutter to make your handle the appropriate size. The standard size for a lightsaber blade is 10″, but it can be more or less, depending on your height.
***The next two steps are for cosmetic purposes only, so you can move on if you must, but extra kudos for those who try these steps!
Lay down a piece of cardboard and paper, and use your chosen spray paint color to coat the handle. This step can be done later but is best when done at the start and outdoors.
Next, decide how long you want the inner tubes and cut them down to size. Once they are the right size, slip them over the handle to serve as grips.
Now, it’s time to decide where your button will be placed. It’s suggested that you put it somewhere that’s accessible by your thumb while holding the lightsaber. For this step, you’ll need a correctly-sized drill bit to form a hole in which the button fits snugly.
Then, you’ll need to cut a slit in the bottom of the handle where you can place the battery pack if you plan to use one. To achieve a nice hole, use either the PVC cutter or hacksaw, but don’t forget to sand down the edges, so they’re not rough.
Finally, go ahead and randomly swing your handle around to get a feel for just how cool you’re going to look when it’s done. Then, set the handle to the side and start creating the blade.
Building Your Own Lightsaber Blade
Now that your handle is done, it’s time to move on to the blade portion of your lightsaber. Here are the steps required to build it:
The first step of creating a lightsaber blade is to cut your tubing down to your desired length. This cut can be made using a hacksaw or PVC cutter, but all rough edges will require sanding or deburring. As a general rule of thumb, two and a half feet is a good starting point, but be sure to measure the length with the Jedi, who will yield it for best results.
And don’t forget, if your tube is clear, this is the time to rough it up with sandpaper in a lengthwise manner; do so until it turns white.
Now, determine which end of the blade will serve as the tip and which will act as the base. Then, cut and shape the cable ties so that they cover the diameter of the tip but don’t leave any sharp edges. You will then need to glue the ties to either end, creating a bridge. This is important because it will be used to attach the LED lights, aka “the force,” when you are finished.
Hold the tube so that you are looking at the base. Use a measuring tape to go up about 5 or 6 millimeters, where you’ll use a writing utensil to mark around the blade. Next, use this mark to begin wrapping the blade with PVC or duct tape, creating a wedge that fits into the handle. Just be sure that the fit is tight enough that your blade won’t fly out of the handle!
Creating “The Force”
During this phase, you’ll focus on bringing “The Force” to your blade.
Take the two wires that you cut down previously and strip them of all insulation.
Take hold of one stripped wire and attach the positive side of the LED to the top of the wire. Please note that each LED features two legs; the longer of the two is the positive side.
Now continue adding LEDs down the length of your stripped wire using the positive side. Each LED should sit where its neighbor’s tail ends.
After you’ve achieved your desired length, work your way back up by attaching the negative sides. Just be sure not to mix up the positive and negative wires because you don’t want to go over to the dark side!
If necessary, use pliers to crimp the wire ends, or you could also solder them.
Take a look back through each of your LEDs to ensure they’re attached correctly. Keep in mind that just one short circuit is enough to prevent your lightsaber from having “The Force.”
Next, carefully lower the string of LEDs into the blade, going over the bridge and attaching them to the bottom. We should also note that using a reflective bottom helps better keep the light inside the blade. The bridge helps keep the string of lights in place and ensures that they travel throughout the blade.
Take aluminum foil to the tip as carefully as you can – this helps reflect the light back down the blade.
It’s time to make sure your button fits in the hole that you created. If everything looks good, go ahead and feed the wires into the handle. Try not to squash the wires on the opposite wall when installing the button.
Solder your wires to the switch/button and thread them through the hole until they come out the other end.
Wedge your handle into place, and be sure to hold the wires so that they protrude from the bottom of your handle.
If you decided that your lightsaber couldn’t live without a noise-making motor – let’s go ahead and install it now. Glue a nut or wrap a piece of wire onto the motor shaft to keep it balanced. This helps ensure that it vibrates more and creates more realistic sound effects.
Solder off all of your wires in parallel so that your battery pack is in the middle.
Finally, all that’s left is carefully inserting everything into the handle and making sure your motor does not get obstructed.
In the end, the lightsaber is one of the most sought-after weapons from the Sci-Fi genre. Rather than waiting for the real technology to come out, go ahead and have fun designing your very own lightsaber! And the best part is – you don’t have to be a Jedi to do it!
Original infographic via Herbertpocket, content updated June 2022.