My First Lightsaber

23 July, 2005 Ken Martial ArtsWoodworking & Other Projects

Today I constructed my first lightsaber.

I am currently helping instruct at the local Jedi Academy (www.TheNorthRidge.com). At first I was brought in to assist with choreography, and using Tai Chi to make their movements more natural and graceful.

Anyway, no one seems to have a decent practice saber and there are too few of them to go around without using expensive props or heavier (harder) weapons. We talked about shinai (practice kendo swords) which appoximate the idea well but are a bit too hard to hit with in practice. I gave it some though, then did what any warm-blooded male would do.

I went to Home Depot.

I had sen the usually SCAdian-style dowels wrapped in foam pipe insulation, and was unimpressed by lack of durability, even with the ever-so-charming liberal grey smathering of duct tape. And they seemed fat to the eye apart from this previous easthetic consideration. AND you didn’t know where the handle was.

So I was aiming for durable yet light and thin. Thin copper piping with 1/2 inch insulation attached to a heavier pipe? A bit on the heavy and nasty side, but close.

Then I saw it.

A thin PVC drain pipe with built-on metal nipple. So I found a coupler and a pipe. Six inches was too small, and ten was a bit too big. Eight inches seemed just right. But I didn’t have my money on me, and the people holding it at the checkout lost sight of it and it was restocked by the time I returned a couple hours later.

This time some brass fittings caught my eye and I looked at some other options. I felt the handle was too thin anyway, being 3/4 inch pipe. What I found was perfect. I bought the parts, totalling $5.97 before tax. Not bad, and only a few cents more than the thinner pipe.

And unlike a balanced sword, a plasma beam shouldn’t weight anything really, so having all the weight in your hand is a lot more realistic.

Part list, instructions, and photos below.

6 Responses to “My First Lightsaber”

  • Kaith Rustaz says:

    Too bad you cut the hair n shaved….you coulda done a hell of a Qui Gon 😀

  • admin says:

    Never did this before, but always wanted to. Here’s the shot.

  • admin says:

    With a sigh (and after taking some photos for comparison), I went back to my workshop and circumcised 4 inches off the end, making it 36 inches from end to metal nipple. It STILL looks long to me, but then light saber DO look long in most scenes. So here are the pros and cons: 1 Meter / 40 Inches More difficult to weild but possibly more impressive on film. Or more silly. Maybe it works for Ewen MacGregor or Samuel jackson, but would suck for Yoda or a shorter Jedi. 36 Inches This should be fine for most people. It’s still longer than an average sword, but will require people practicing / fighting to be somewhat near each other. But it will be easier to move arouns. It should be close, if memory serves right, to the show replicas.

  • admin says:

    Now I hemmed and hawed over how long to make it in my mind since forever, knowing the time would someday come. still undecided, I researched online what the length of a tyipcal light saber is, and found many answers. Most people called 1 meter (39 inches) a “standard” for the beam and many people said 3 feet (36 inches). The handle should be about 20-24 cm, or around 8-10 inches. That sounds about right for my Graflex. But many people gave a better answer: whatever looks good on film. Shorter sabers don’t look right when weilded two-handed, and higher length is easier to see or perhaps more dramatic. But is 3 feet too short? After making it 40 inches, my wife said it looked silly — almost comical. I compared it to things on my living room sword rack, and found the blade (pipe / beam) alone to be almost as long as anything on it including handles.

  • admin says:

    Somewhat obvious, but here are the details. First, I sawed the PVC pipe at 40 inches (1 meter) from the metal nipple. (Later I reduced it to 36 inches.) Then I attached the three parts together, hand tighening the handle, but plier-tightening the tube into the coupler. Finally, I removed any stickers, and sanded the pink print off the white tube. I used fine grit and it took very little effort.

  • admin says:

    This is what I started with: (1) PVC Drain tube (it was 5 foot by 1/2 inch with a nipple on one end for 3/4 inch pipe – but it was the only one they had so it’s easy to pick it out) (1) Metal Couple-Reducer, 1 inch : 3/4 inch (from plumbing dept., cast iron?) (1) 8 Inch Metal Pipe (from plumbing dept., cast iron?)


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