With The Force Awakens coming out at Christmastime, it was a perfect opportunity to build lightsabers with my nephews. If you are a longtime reader, you know my love for these chrome tubes and I knew that they would love making and having their own too.
First I did a little planning on my own. I knew that the bulk of the design would be a piece of chrome plumbing pipe. There is no substitute for a real metal tube with real metal plating to make your saber look authentic. Besides, that part is quite cheap so don’t mess around with spray painting PVC pipe silver. Poking around online I found one dad had the great idea of inserting a machine screw through the hilt to secure a piece of PVC for a removable blade. We would be using that idea.
After a brainstorming session with the boys and a trip to Home Depot and Lowe’s, we were ready to build. I saw this as an opportunity for my nephews to learn how to use some tools and bolster their self esteem. Wherever possible they did the work themselves. From design to completion, it took a full day and at various times they took breaks to go do other stuff. At eight years old, they have very short attention spans and they are not quite ready to do all steps themselves, but they both surprised me with how much they could do. I think spray painting may have been their favorite thing, but it could have been sawing.
Hopefully the images below will help you with your little Jedi’s saber or, if you don’t feel particularly handy, it may inspire you to give it a try for yourself knowing that kids were able to build what you see below.
STEP ONE – DESIGN IT
First we drew up our ideas. As you can see, one boy really likes Darth Vader’s lightsaber.
Next we wrapped a tube of the correct diameter with paper and roughly laid out where the grip should be, button placement, etc.
STEP TWO – GATHER THE PARTS
Here are some of the more specific parts. We got almost everything except the brass knurled nuts at Home Depot. The knurled nuts came from Lowe’s. Also, that specific flat black paint worked very well for us.
After wandering the isles of the hardware stores, testing fitting parts, and letting our imaginations run wild, this is what we thought we’d build. Both boys settled on a nearly identical design. It was very important to have a place to rest their thumb on the top of the hilt for some reason and the hose clamp was their perfect solution.
STEP THREE – BUILD IT
- Most of the design is explained in the image above.
- The zip ties hold the craft foam grip in place while the epoxy dries and add some visual interest.
- As mentioned above, the machine screw passes through both the extension tube and the PVC pipe blade to secure the blade in place. To remove it, simply unscrew the brass knurled nut, slide the screw out, and pull out the blade.
- To prevent the blade from rattling around, we got two PVC slip joints, used a Dremel with a sanding disk to grind out the center section so the slip joint could slide completely on the tube, and used PVC glue to fix two of them on the blade. Because the back end of the extension tube flares, it would be wise to put a few wraps of tape around the inside of the tube here to make the internal diameter the same as the rest of the tube. We ran out of time for this on our sabers and they still work fine without it.
- Our blades ended up being the length of the hilt (about 11″) plus another 30″. We stuck a 4′ section into each hilt and the boys marked where they wanted them cut.
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