Introduction: Build a Lightsaber From the Plumbing Aisle
Build a Star Wars inspired lightsaber with a visit to the plumbing aisle of a home improvement or hardware store. There are various options when assembling the parts. Test fit to determine your preference. While I added vinyl tube to the blade to protect the paint, I would recommend against it. It ruined the balance of the lightsaber. While you can get a metal pop-up assembly, the plastic one I used is cheaper and lighter.
• 1-1/4" sink drain pop-up assembly for the hilt
• 1-1/2" extension tube, 6" length or 12" length, for the hilt
• 1-1/2" faucet hole cover for the hole in the extension tube
• 1-1/4" polywasher or 1-1/4" slip joint to create a tension connection between the pop-up assembly and extension tube
• Packaging tape to increase tension fit as needed
• 1/2" PVC pipe for the blade
• Spray paint to color the blade
• 1" vinyl tube (optional) to protect the paint on the blade
• 1-1/2" rubber washers (optional), hilt decoration
• Felt roll (optional), hilt decoration
• Drawer liner (optional), hilt decoration
• Craft foam (optional), hilt decoration
• Split loom conduit (optional), hilt decoration
• Worm gear (optional)
• Table saw for cutting PVC pipe, a hack saw would also work
• Electric finishing sander or sandpaper to remove the lettering from the PVC pipe and vinyl tube
• Heat gun (optional) to reshape the vinyl tube
• Scrap wood and nail to make a jig for painting the PVC blade
• Pneumatic saw (optional) for cutting the extension tube. A dremel would also work.
• A table saw can remove fingers very quickly if you don't pay attention. Proceed with caution when using a hack saw, don't cut near or on your favorite antique.
• Hobby and utility knives are very sharp. Always cut away from your hands and body. Cut precisely, slow and steady, and use a cutting mat so that you don't cut through anything you shouldn't. A straight edge will help guide the cuts.
• A heat gun gets very hot and can burn you. The plastic you heat up
will get very hot. You will need to wear thick gloves when working with hot plastic. You want to heat the plastic, but not melt it.
• Spray paint must be used outdoors in a well ventilated area. A respirator or mask is recommended. Allow time to dry fully.
• Wear old clothes for painting. Chances are paint will find a way to get on your clothes. Be careful where you paint, and where you place your brushes.
Step 1: The Hilt
Take the pop-up assembly. You don't need the lever, rod or drain plug. Place them aside.
Slide the 1-1/4" polywashers over the unthreaded end. I used two to prevent wiggle between the pop-up assembly and extension tube.
Slide the unthreaded end of the extension tube over the unthreaded end of the pop up washer. This should be a tight fit, if not, use tape to increase the tension fit. With two of my lightsabers the fit was perfect, with the other I used packaging tape wrapped around the polywasher for a tight fit.
Also, you could slide the slip joint over the unthreaded end to catch the top of extension tube. This is optional, and I did not do that. With this method you would have a band at the top and bottom of the extension tube.
The rubber flange, drain flange, and plastic nut can be positioned differently on the threaded end, or not used.
Place the faucet hole cover in the threaded end of the extension tube on top of the accompanying washer. Then screw the slip nut into place.
To wrap the hilt, I used felt strips positioned vertically on one and craft foam to wrap the hilt of the other. You could use rubber washers, horizontal felt strips, or a draw liner.
The next step will show an alternate construction method.
Step 2: Alternate Hilt
There are various options for assembly. For the 12" extension tube, I cut it, rounding the top and slitting it down the side, placing it over the threaded end of the pop-up assembly. I left the smooth end of the pop-up assembly exposed at the top, and used a file to smooth the cut edges of the extension tube. A worm gear over a polywasher keeps the tube from opening up and moving.
Split loom is in the opening of the extension tube from the top of the pop up rod opening to the worm gear.
The faucet cover was screwed onto the bottom of the hilt, just like in the previous step. You can also wrap and decorate the hilt by adding foam or felt.
A few details like screws or a D ring hanger could be added. You can make the hilt as simple or as complicated as you wish.
If you are content for just a hilt, you're set. If you need a fully functioning light saber, we need the 'blade' portion of the sword.
Step 3: The Blade
Cut 1/2" PVC to length. I used 30" on the shorter sabers and 42" on the
longer saber. Sand the lettering off so it won't bleed through the paint (it will if you don't sand it off), and lightly sand the entire tube, 220 grit or even 400 will be fine. Clean it by wiping it down. A nail in a board is enough to make a jig for painting. Start with a light mist coat, wait five to ten minutes and then add another mist coat, slowly building up the paint. This will ensure a better finished product. The third or fourth coat should be sufficient.
I wanted to protect the paint and used 1" vinyl tube. I could not get it to stretch enough to insert the entire PVC tube into, and ended up splitting it down one side. To save money, you could wrap the PVC in packing tape for paint protection. The vinyl tube did add quite a bit of weight. While it ruins the balance, this isn't necessarily bad as it slows the speed of the swing down.
I sanded the lettering off the tube and taped at the base, middle, and tip to retain the vinyl tube shape.
You could use a 1.25" clear vinyl tube, but this will not fit inside the pop-up assembly and is a bit too large for the PVC tube. I wrapped packaging tape around the bottom of the PVC tube for a tension fit inside the pop-up assembly.
Step 4: Conclusion
The light sabers I made are tension fit- no glue involved. They hold together well, even through a few light saber battles. If any part feels loose, use packaging tape to increase the tension. While I did use the vinyl tube to protect the paint, I would not include it again. It added a lot of weight to the lightsaber. On the other hand, if safety is a concern, a heavier lightsaber is hard to swing and reduces the pain of impact.