Introduction: Costume Lightsaber
We all know that there are dozens of how-to lightsabers online that can help an enthusiast get better ideas on how to make their own. I posted this in the hopes that you nerds looking for a quick and easy instructions for making your own lightsaber prop for the upcoming Star Wars movie (Episode VII). Of course the idea that there is one set pattern for a lightsaber when you are merely making it for a costume is, in my opinion, wrong. This is just one idea on how to get your project rolling and how I completed mine. The following is a list of parts and how and why I came to use them.
Floor lamp: This was used as a base for my construction. I had a junk floor lamp that was getting scrapped. It was a sectional lamp that was divided into 14" pieces and had a 1" diameter where the cord went through. I don't know where the floor lamp was from as it was a while ago, but there is certainly a way to improvise with this. I used this to give the hilt a good weight that if we were to just use a PVC pipe, it would be way too light and off balance. Caution: when removing cord, be sure it is unplugged.
PVC pipes: I used two pieces of PVC pipe for the outer cover. One for the top and as there are multiple sections that can be used, find a part that you want for the top. This should be no more than six inches. The bottom section should be no more than six inches as well and I bought mine that had a screw on cap for the pommel piece at the base of the lightsaber. These can be picked up at Walmart.
Metal Tape: I used this for the primary wrappings of the pieces to the floor lamp piece. It does wrinkle in the application, but I think that it adds a little character to the lightsaber.
Electrical Tape: I used this to compliment the grips and to give a little more purchase between the PVC pipes. I used black, but there is certainly no limit on the color that you can use.
Swivel Phone clip: I used this for the method of attaching it to my belt. These are roughly five dollars on amazon and you want to make sure that you get the clip and the circular tab that connects with the clip.
1" Sink plug: I used a rubber plug in the base and tapped it in using a hammer. I picked it up at Walmart and there is an easy
Decoration pieces: The two pieces that are visible in the picture for the grip and the silver button are a mystery to myself as I do not really know what they are. I found the strip of seven holes at a construction site and I think that they are actually for a paint gun. I can't confirm that, but I used it because it made my hilt unique and I figured out a way to attach it. The activator button I used is a simple find and I used hot glue to attach it in the center of the hole to give it a better aesthetic feel for the button.
Tools: A scissors is recommended for the tape. A hacksaw for the PVC. Hot glue gun is used for securing the PVC pieces to the metal as well as the aesthetic pieces on the hilt. A stronger glue can also be used. Contact cement is another acceptable glue as is the instant glue that can be bought for five dollars.
Step 1: Main Body
This first step is for the assembly of the main body. Grab your glue, the section of the floor lamp that you're using, and the two PVC pipe ends.
If you're going to cut anything on the pieces, this is the step to do it. I am not including this in the directions because it is dangerous and cutting PVC with the type of detail is difficult and unless you're skilled and have the right tools, or you just think that you could handle a cut on your hand, don't try it. That said, I am a part of the "if I cut my hand, I cut my hand" group and I'm glad that I was lucky enough not to cut my hand when doing this.
I did use a hacksaw on the bottom piece of the PVC and sectioned a piece from the top of the piece to the threaded portion. This was to provide a space for the decorative portion of the grip. Be careful when cutting and I would recommend using a vice to hold the PVC in place while cutting.
After carefully separating the section of the floor lamp that you're using from the rest of the lamp, take the top end of the PVC that you're using and make sure there is roughly 1/4" space between the top of the PVC and the top of the metal pipe. Apply glue and ensure that the piece is where you want it and that it is secure enough to release. Reminder: The glue is primarily to hold the pieces in place while you work.
Take the bottom section of the PVC and make sure there is between 3/4" and 1" gap between the two PVC pipe pieces. NOTE: This will depend heavily on your own personal grip. I do recommend the hot glue because if you don't get it in the right place at first, enough pressure can undo the glue and you can reset it.
The end of this piece should be enough for you to screw the end cap of this PVC pipe to the base of the hilt.
Step 2: Electrical Tape
This is the first layer for the electrical tape. It's primary purpose is to secure the placement of the PVC pieces to the main body. Wrap the tape around the empty portion of the base pipe first and build it up to the PVC. It is expected that the gap will be lower in order to help accommodate your hand, and remember to be very generous with the tape. At two bucks a roll, you can no doubt afford a second roll if you need it.
While taping, I recommend you test the grip with your own hand as you want to have it comfortable. Note that this is the first layer and if it isn't perfect, you'll be applying more after you wrap it with the metal tape.
The base of the Lightsaber does get a couple layers of the tape as well, but not as much because there will be more of the metal tape applied. Again, I used tape there for the balance of the look, and to help affix the pieces to the main tube.
Step 3: Final Step
The metal tape that I used was peel and place. I certainly used short strips of this while applying it to the lightsaber. There is no real way of trying to explain how you apply this, except don't worry if you don't apply it smoothly. If you wanted to smooth finish, then you wouldn't be trying to follow these instructions and using metal tape to give it the metallic look and instead you would be saving up for a professionally built and $300 lightsaber.
Apply any pieces that you want on the hilt for the grip and cut the metal tape into smaller pieces. Cover everything but the main part of the electrical tape.
After applying everything to the PVC and ensuring that nothing is left uncovered, test your grip on the hilt. If you feel that there needs to be more added in the tape for the grip, use more electrical tape until it is comfortable.
At the base of the lightsaber, just above where the threaded portion of the PVC is, take the circular part of the swivel clip and after securing it with hot glue, tape around it enough that will secure it more for use on and off the belt clip.
This last addition is more difficult to secure. But using a strong tape and glue combo, take the rubber stopper and push it into the base of the PVC pipe.
Completed: If you found a floor lamp that had a 1" diameter, you should be able to buy a 1" dowel rod and inserting the rod into the hilt, you can see that the rubber plug you installed will secure the blade enough for a couple basic fancy moves. It isn't enough to duel heavily with, but if you want to display any amateurish ability with your new lightsaber, it is enough to impress the non-nerds out there at the next Star Wars movie.
With all of the pieces assembled before starting the project, you should be able to make this in an hour or two. If you're using contact cement for adhesive, there will be time for the glue to dry before connecting the pieces together. Thank you for reading the basic directions I used for this project and I hope that you're able to construct something similar and found my directions helpful enough to make your own before Episode VII.
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