Introduction: DIY Darth Vader Style Lightsaber Tutorial
This lightsaber is styled after Darth Vader's using only parts from an Ace Hardware. *Not that I forgot to include the D ring in mine but add instructions for its inclusion. Depending on your location in the world and your available tools, this can be made from around $20-$30.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Tools used include a rotary tool, pipe cutter, pop riveter, drill press, hot glue gun, hack saw, miter box. For a greater challenge or for those of use with less available tools, this could be built alternatively with just a power drill, hack saw, hot glue gun, and box knife.
I highly recommend eye protection as well as a dust mask or respirator.
All of the materials were bought at an Ace Hardware for approximately $25-$30
12" 1 1/4" metal tube (threaded on both ends)
12" of 1" thin wall PVC (sold by the foot)
12" of 1 1/4" SCH40 PVC (sold by the foot)
*the amount of PVC is more than is used in the build but is easier to handle and cut from longer lengths and it never hurts to have extra. Not to mention it's dirt cheap.
large black zip ties about 3/8" diameter and about 18" long (I can't recall exactly)
1/8" pop rivets (no fewer than 12 SUCCESSFUL needed)
3/4" knockout seal
flat black spray paint
self adhesive transparent round rubber feet (smallest size comes in pack of 16, 4-5 needed)
two small black socket/hex cap screws
small D ring
toggle bolt and equal diameter machine screw with 1 1/4" length
small plastic box or cube about 1" wide, 2" long, and 3/4" tall
and hot glue
Step 2: Sizing the Pipes
Start by trimming the end of the 1" thin wall PVC with a pipe cutter or hack saw and miter box. This helps ensure a clean horizontal cut. Next, measure two inches down from the clean cut and mark with a sharpie. Now take the pipe and make a 45 degree cut from the end you've just measure from using the hack saw and miter box. Finally, cut the pipe horizontally at the two inch mark previously made.
Cut two inches off of the 1 1/4" metal pipe. Both ends are threaded but only one has the logo/writing, cut the end with text off. Grab your SCH40 1 1/4" PVC and cut off a 2 3/4" segment. This part will require you to make you own template as mine didn't make it to the end of the build.
I took pictures, measured out, and labeled everything for the emitter collar. Let me know if it's too confusing and need more specific instructions. Once everything is cut, line up the 45 degree angle thin wall PVC with the SCH40 piece. Glue the thin wall piece 1/2" down into the SCH40 piece.
Next, cut another segment of SCH40 1 1/4" PVC 2" inches in length. Finally, sand them all smooth, surface and edges then paint flat black with clear sealer.
Step 3: Mark and Drill
Take your metal tube and make a paper template that wraps around the pipe. Mark where the circumference overlaps and trim so the template wraps around the circumference of the pipe and down 4". Next lay the template flat, divide evenly by 5 across the horizontal circumference. Be sure to mark the horizontal divide all the way up and down the template. Along the 4" vertical lines, mark 3/8" from each end of the pipe. Wrap and tape the template around the metal tube, be sure to affix it to the end of the tube that still has threading at the end.
Grab your large zip ties and cut five equal lengths, be sure to sand down the rough edges. Tape the zip ties down using transparent tape over the vertical lines perfectly marked (make sure all zip ties are aligned in the same direction. Next drill out 10 holes through both the pipe and zip ties using a 1/8" drill bit. Each zip tie will have two holes, one on each end. Take 10 pop rivets and your pop riveter to attach the zip grips to your pipe. Be sure to attach each zip tie on it's coordinating spot since drills bits tend to walk more easily on round surfaces. All zip tie grips should attach lining up from the bottom of the lightsaber hilt.
Step 4: Control Box
The control box is the term often referred to in the original trilogy lightsaber's activation button. For your prop, try to find a box or cube in the dimensions of 1" x 2" x 3/4". I used a plastic drill bit pack and used my rotary tool to trim the box down to the right thickness of 3/4". Also use a rotary sanding drum on the control box to give the front and back a curve to sit flush on the PVC pipe. The box should be glued down to the two inch length of 1 1/4" SCH40 PVC pipe. Paint the whole piece flat black. Next, evenly place 4 clear bumper feet (there's really no good name for them slang or official) on the top of the control box. Drill a 1/8" hole through the side of the control box. Remove half of your toggle bolt, preferably the side with text on it. Take a the 1 1/4" machine screw and washer and install in it on the control box from left going to the right.
Step 5: Final Steps
Last, use athletic wrap around the metal pipe to give the PVC sections a snug fit. The athletic tape is 1 1/2" wide and should be wrapped around the metal pipe between the 4 1/2" and 6 1/2" segments as well as the last 1/2" segment of the pipe or where the emitter will end up. Since the tape is wider than the end segment of pipe, the excess will have to be cut down at the end. The thickness of the athletic tape wrap can be added to or taken from to make sure the PVC parts fit snug.
Once, the control box and emitter are lined up in place, drill the holes. The control box hold should be drilled in the middle of the 2" length on the opposite side of the control box. Four holes should be drilled on the back side of the emitter. The middle two holes will receive pop rivets along with the back side segment of the control box. The top and bottom holes on the emitter will receive hexnut cap screws. *Mine has one hexnut cap and a rando screw after losing the other. Finally, use the 3/4" knockout seal to plug the bottom of the pommel/hilt.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.
Very cool! Made with easily acquired parts. The original movie prop was made with a hard to find, vintage camera flash (the side camera mount kind) and the black stripe pieces of the handle were just pieces of a windshield wiper sliced up. It wouldn't be too hard to use windshield wipers in your project.