Made a Lightsaber!

Posted on December 13, 2015

So, I built my friend a Lightsaber, and display stand for Christmas! It’s his combination christmas present and 30th birthday present.

And technically, I didn’t built it, I bought it from ultrasaber, but I HEAVILY customized it for him. Let’s get right into it!

Here it is straight from Ultrasabers:

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If you want to ignore my ramblings, feel free to click any of the below images and use your (keyboard’s) left and right arrow keys to navigate the images.

Here’s what the finish looks like, good quality brushed aluminum finish. I wanted to go with a two tone appearance, make it a little more “traditional” graflex looking.

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Here’s the first mockup of what I’ve got planned:


So, first things first, let’s get masking!

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I tried this thing called Aluminum Blackener. At first, it worked perfectly, but the stuff started to flake off and left this pitted surface. Long story short, do NOT use aluminum blackener for something like this, or if you do, make certain that you can keep it perfectly clean while it cures and be ready to clear coat it and seal everything in.

I ended up resurfacing the whole shabang and starting over with good old fashioned paint.

I will however share what the aluminum blackener version looked like right after curing:

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In a few days it ended up looking like this:

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(I took the button out and broke all the connections so I could truly fully clean the thing without risking damage to the electronics)

I’ll skip past a lot of my mistakes, and there were a LOT. I ended up having to bring this back to bare aluminum (including the blackener experiment) a total of FOUR times. If you’re interested in doing this, please feel free to contact me to hear about all the mistakes I made to hopefully avoid them yourself.

Superglue arbor on a slow motor to assist mostly with sanding and polishing, but it helped with painting too. Priming:

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Primer removed for areas that will be polished:

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80 grit:

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Not shown, but performed: 120, 220, 320, 400, 800, 1500 and 2000 grit sanding.

After white diamond polishing:
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Final polishing for the main hilt:
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Used our CNC Vinyl Cutter (a Cricut with Sure Cuts A Lot) to create a template mask for the pommel. These are his initials:

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Primed and painted:

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Did some minor touchups but this is pretty much what it looks like:

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Reassembled all the electricals and put it all back together. Just want to say while stripping everything, the folks at Ultrasabers did a good job. Good quality soldering and heat shrinking.
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Yay, it still works! Phew!!
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Time to move on to the display stand. My goal is to make it look like someone drilled out a core of charcoal / lava rock and cracked it in half, and found this lightsaber. Weird idea, I know, but stick with me here. I think it came out pretty okay!

Here’s the “core” half shell:
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Because there was epoxy involved, I had to work fast and didn’t take any process pictures, but basically I laid down some wood chips with hot glue and added some filler material, poured in some liquid epoxy and let it dry at about 30% full. I then put in some fiberglass mesh stuff, saran wrapped the lightsaber carefully, placed it in position and filled with accelerated resin, and shoved wood chips around the edges for the textured appearance. Here’s the result of all that:

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Carefully extracted the saber, and black spray painted the whole thing:

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Then dry brushed a white (with a tiny bit of yellow and brown mixed in) coating over the whole thing. I went a little too heavy on the top, but such is life.

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Now it was time to get on the wood part of it:
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Step one, draw a circle, step two, draw an owl. A lot of careful measuring and remeasuring went into this, but here’s the almost end result:
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Had some gorgeous wood in my garage for whatever reason, this is the face plate / saber rest piece:
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Dangerous drilling can be made a lot safer with careful preparation and a bench vise! If this picture confuses you, the next one will hopefully add clarity.
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Getting close!!!
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The angles are all okay, everything is resting in place! I did lots of testing and careful prep; but you never know. This was a relief!
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Stained and polyurethaned:

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For anyone curious, it was Golden Pecan stain from min wax (his desk actually uses this stain, and that’s why I chose it)

I did about five coats of clear satin poly mixed 50/50 with mineral spirits, and then a coat of pure poly after an hour of drying (20 minutes in between coats of the 50/50 blend). The next day I lightly sanded everything with 320 and put one more coat of pure poly on it all.

After everything was all done, it’s got a nice matte finish that simultaneously showcases the nice grain, as well as muting it from taking away from the real center of attention, the lightsaber!

Here’s a couple glamour shots:

Final 2

  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Camera: NIKON D90
  • Taken: 7 December, 2015
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/3000s

Final 3

  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Camera: NIKON D90
  • Taken: 7 December, 2015
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/3000s

and the cover photo:

Final 1

  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Camera: NIKON D90
  • Taken: 7 December, 2015
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/3000s