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Make some awesome Lightsabers for about $5 each!

I recently made a bunch of homemade Lightsabers for my kids and me to play with and use for Halloween costumes. As I was figuring out how to make these, my goal was to come up with a method that balanced maximum coolness with minimum cost and ease of making.

I was very happy with the results!

Read on to see how I made these, and how you can too. Enjoy!

Step 1: They Light Up!

These light up nicely in a half-dark room (1st photo) . . . but in pitch-black they look amazing, especially when viewed at an angle (as in the 2nd photo)!

Before we dig in, I will say that the one major drawback to these homemade Lightsabers is that the blades are rather flimsy. Since these were intentionally made on-the-cheap, that's just part of the deal.

So that said, these are no good for hard play battles! The blades will bend and crease if they are hit too hard.

However, they work just fine for light blade-bonking, sibling-smacking, and fancy-Jedi-swinging.

Alright, let's get to it!

Step 2: Materials

Here are the materials required to make these:

  • Clear tube guards for fluorescent bulbs (here are the ones I used). These are in found in the lighting aisles of most large home improvement stores. You need the T8 size. These make the blade portion of the lightsabers. I paid $3.57 each for these.
  • An alternate option for the blade portion would be to use colored tube guards, such as these on amazon. They cost a little more, but might look pretty good. Just be sure to get the T8 size.
  • Small 9-LED flashlight from Walmart. The kind needed are typically found on aisle-end displays and cost $1. Here's a link.
  • A cardboard tube that fits both the flashlight and the plastic tube guard. More on this in the next step.
  • Duct tape (I used black, chrome, gold, and regular grey)
  • Masking tape
  • Peel-and-stick craft foam
  • Mod Podge

The primary tools you will need:

  • Cutting mat and clear ruler (similar to the one shown in the last photo)
  • Hobby knife

All together, after adding in a small amount of cost for materials in addition to the tube guards and flashlights, I figured each Lightsaber only cost about $5 and change to make. Not bad at all!

Step 3: Cardboard Tubes

When I started gathering materials for this project I picked up a couple of rolls of colored translucent plastic "basket wrap" at Hobby Lobby, thinking I would insert some into the tube guards to create color for the Lightsaber blades.

But I didn't like the way the blades looked with this stuff, so that idea was abandoned.

However, the cardboard tubes that the plastic wrap came on were the perfect size to make the Lightsaber hilts. Both the flashlights and the tube guards fit inside the cardboard tubes with just a little wiggle room, which is easy to overcome.

I unwrapped the plastic from the tubes and re-wrapped it onto scrap pieces of PVC, you know, to not waste it. I'll use it for something at some point.

The cardboard tubes were 30 inches long, so I cut them each into four 7.5-inch pieces.

If you can't seem to find any cardboard tubes (or alternate material that will work), you can simply make your own cardboard tubes as detailed in the next step.

Step 4: Make Simple Homemade Cardboard Tubes

Before finding that the cardboard tubes from the basket wrap would work great, I had made a simple homemade cardboard tube. This is an option if needed; here's how I did it.

I began with a strip of brown craft paper that was 8" by 30". I spread glue over it as shown in the photos, and rolled it tightly onto a piece of 1" diameter pvc pipe. (Note that the area of the first wrap gets no glue, so the paper doesn't stick to the pvc pipe.)

The cardboard tube was removed from the pvc and left to dry. If you're feeling really ambitious you could make your own spiral-wound cardboard tubes, but that's overkill for this project in my opinion.

This tube is slightly larger in diameter than the ones from the plastic wrap, but still close enough to work very well with the tube guards and Walmart flashlights.

Step 5: Install Flashlights

To begin creating each lightsaber hilt, a flashlight is installed in the ends of the cardboard tubes. The removable battery caps are left exposed, so the batteries can be replaced when needed.

To make the flashlights fit snugly, I had to wrap about 24" of duct table around the front ends. They were then slid into the tubes, and a bead of hot glue was added around the back ends, just above where the batter cap screws into place.

Step 6: Cut Tube Guards

The tube guards are 48" long, which to me is just too long for a good Lightsaber blade.

I cut all of mine down to 36", three or so inches of which will be inside of the hilts.

I measured and marked them with a wrap of masking tape, which aids in cutting them fairly precisely. They can be cut easily with a hobby knife.

Step 7: Color and Sand the Blades

I'll be honest, I tried a lot of approaches to create color on the tube guards. The best way I found was to color the tubes with Sharpie markers. This is cheap and opens up a wide variety of possible colors, even though it is a little bit tedious.

To diffuse the light from the flashlights, I hand-sanded the colored tubes with a fresh sheet of 220 grit sandpaper.

In conjunction with a simple reflector on the end (covered in next step) these blades produce a nicely diffused colored light that I was very happy with.

Step 8: Add Reflectors

The tube guards come with black plastic end caps. These work well to create a simple reflector which helps light up the tubes.

These are made by stretching a piece of chrome duct tape over the inside-facing end of the cap, and trimming it cleanly so it can be inserted back into the end of the tube guard. I added a piece of chrome tape to the outside-facing end of the caps as well, just for looks.

Then to finish off the end, I wrapped a 3/4" wide strip of black duct tape around the ends. See notes in photos for more details.

Step 9: Add Bulk to Hilt-ends of Blades

To make the blades fit into the cardboard tube hilts, I had to add a little bit of bulk with duct tape.

I wanted the blades to be removable and easily replaceable, but I found that with repeatedly removing and replacing the blades, the duct tape tended to snag and get sticky. I added some masking tape over the top which provided a smoother mating surface against the inside of the cardboard tubes. Also, a sprinkle or two of baby powder into the hilts helps make the blades slide out easier.

This step was actually done after the hilts were completed, as each blade required a bit of adjusting and fiddling to make them fit perfectly snugly with their corresponding hilts. For whatever reason, each completed hilt had a slightly different finished inside diameter.

Step 10: Lightsaber #1: Qui-Gon Jinn

I made a total of 8 Lightsabers. Five were loosely patterned after characters' Lightsabers, and three were of my own design.

For the ones inspired by existing designs, I did google image searches to get an idea of the main features and then made simplified versions that tried to capture the likenesses.

This first one is patterned after Qui-Gonn Jinn's Lightsaber.

All of the hilts were decorated by simply covering them with duct tape. Some had built-up layers of tape to create ridges and rings, and all had features like buttons and grippy pads made from sticky-back craft foam.

Once each hilt was decorated as desired, I covered the entire thing with a couple of thick coats of mod podge. This creates a plasticky covering that prevents the duct tape and craft foam from peeling up or falling off. This isn't a necessary step, I but I highly recommend it. It will greatly increase durability and prolong the life of the hilt.

Each Lightsaber had some interesting features and challenges, so I've noted a variety of the techniques I used to make each one in the coming steps.

Step 11: Lightsaber #2: Mace Windu

Mace Windu has a cool purple-bladed Lightsaber with gold highlights.

This was made by wrapping a base layer of chrome duct tape, and then adding details made from gold duct tape and black craft foam.

For all of these sabers, many of the details will be in the photo notes--so be sure to read those.

Step 12: Lightsaber #3: Obi-Wan Kenobi

This is one of my favorites out of the whole set I made. I just really like the way it turned out.

I'll take this moment to point out how I was happy to not include any of the especially un-ergonomic aspects that are so prevalent on Lightsabers. What gives? Why do they always have massive buttons right in the middle of the grip area?

Step 13: Lightsaber #4: Darth Vader

The most classic Lightsaber, in my opinion.

This one was especially fun to make because of the chiseled tip. It wasn't difficult, but it provided an interesting challenge for how I wanted to interpret and simplify the design. See photo notes for details.

Step 14: Lightsaber #5 (custom): the Darksaber

I thought it would be fun to make a Lightsaber with a black blade. The blade was colored with a black sharpie, and after sanding it looks kind of grayish.

I like the clean and simple hilt, but it's probably too boring and not something the Star Wars designers would ever approve of!

Step 15: Lightsaber #6 (custom): the Yellowsaber

This saber was made with a yellow blade and a sort of ovally half-grip. The base layer of tape was black, with chrome shapes added over the top.

Gold highlights on both ends as well as on the button. I thought this was slightly more true-to-form Star-Warsy, unlike the Darksaber in the last step.

Step 16: Lightsaber #7 (custom): the Whitesaber

This Lightsaber is a little bit reminiscent of Obi-Wan's saber with the chrome rings on the blade-end of the hilt. But I mixed it up with no color on the blade, red highlight made from red packing tape, and light gray grips.

There are no rules when you make your own Lightsabers, so it's fun to experiment a little and see what you come up with.

It's easy to put too much detail or too little, and end up with either a gross and gaudy saber or a boring and plain one. Trying to come up with my own versions made me appreciate the balanced coloring and shaping of the ones the designers came up with for the movies!

Step 17: Bonus Lightsaber: the Ultra-Easy Yoda Lightsaber

Since I cut down all of the tube guards used for the blades from 48" to 36", I had a pile of small off-cuts.

I decided to make a very simple version of Yoda's saber with one of these.

This saber does not have a removable blade and was made in just about about 30 minutes. If you're pressed for time, this is a great way to make an even easier prop Lightsaber.

The blade was made just as described in earlier steps but rather than create a hilt, a flashlight was simply pressed into the end of the blade. Duct tape was used to add bulk to the middle section of the flashlight, and then decorative layers of tape were added over the top.

Easy-peasy! This won't last as long as the other versions I made, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless.

Step 18: MAKE the Force Be With You!

These were a lot of fun to make, and my kids and I now have some really cool Lightsabers to play with.

I hope you'll make some of your own. If you do, be sure to share a photo of your sabers in the comment section below.

Thanks for taking a look!

<p>Thank you for sharing how to make these! I made a bunch as party favors for SW-themed party the other day and they were a hit! I've been going to Harbor Freight for the past few weeks and using free flashlight coupons! Ha! Since the flashlights are perfectly cylindrical, they fit perfectly in the 1&quot; Sch 40 PVC pipe I used for the hilt. Unfortunately the switch was on the bottom so I had to use wires to extend the switch to the bottom of the base. Still turned out better than I had expected. Thank you for helping make my party truly galactic!</p>
<p>Awesome! And you are very much welcome! : )</p><p>You totally made my day. All those lightsabers look fantastic, and it makes me happy that you found this and were able to make some, and that you shared this photo and great comment. That's a pretty cool party favor, I have to say!</p>
<p>Well done. These are super cool. I love the simplicity and creativity. How durable is the plastic &quot;saber&quot; part? I could just see my kids breaking those really quick.</p>
<p>Thanks!</p><p>The blades are not super durable, but they don't hurt of you get smacked full-force them them either :) (But this decreases the blade's life span really quickly.)</p><p>My kids (for the most part . . . see photo) have realized this and play-battle with appropriate force so as to not destroy them. </p><p>My youngest is the exception, though. He beat his red-bladed Darth Vader saber to pieces. (Granted, this was after about 60 hours of play time, so I think it was worth it.) The blade is creased all over and cracked through, and just yesterday he broke the hilt in half.</p><p>By comparison, my older kids' sabers are in great shape despite a few scuffs and dents.</p>
<p>wow he broke the hilt in half blue one looks good</p>
<p>Gonna have to let my little nephew know that these aren't fighting sabers...</p>
<p>Teach the little one you must. He is full of anger, and impulsive. He must not give in to anger and hatred. These lead to the Dark Side. There is still time, but work you must :)</p>
lol, nice one :)
<p>lol</p>
Easy build. It cost me $10 per but I had to buy all of the supplies. I also substituted pvc for the hilt. <br>We did it with our teenaged children. We all loved it as a family project.
<p>I like it! That is super cool. :) </p>
<p>Very cool, I love the purple color! </p><p>Glad you found this and were able to make some lightsabers. Thanks for the photos!</p>
<p>Wow. I had to do a double-take because I couldn't believe those hilts were homemade! The force is strong with this one..</p>
lol. nice reference!
<p>Amazing job! i will definitely make one. I have wanted to make a lightsaber that was cheap yet cool looking but all of the others are hard and metal. Thanks for the great tutorial. </p>
<p>I was going to say something like, &quot;These look great considering what they're made of&quot; but that just sounds kind of insulting because seriously, these look great <em>regardless</em> of what they're made of. The fact that you made them out of clear tube guards and butt-loads of tape just <em>adds</em> to how cool this build is. Awesome work.</p>
<p>Hey, thank you! You can't go wrong with duct tape and craft foam :)</p>
<p>here we are! done and perfect. I did some things different but still! thanks</p>
<p>Nice! Glad you made one :)</p>
<p>Great project! Do you have any tips for making the light fill the tube more? I am getting great light at the reflector and the flashlight but the middle is a little dim. Maybe I just have a weak flashlight?</p>
<p>That might be the same as I experienced with mine, actually. From certain angles and in low light they look much brighter, but straight-on in fairly bright light they don't appear to glow much through the mid-section.</p><p>A brighter flashlight <em>could</em> help; also making sure the tube is scuffed up thoroughly to diffuse the light as well as possible might also help. Good luck! Thanks for the comment :) </p>
<p>Thank you! I appreciate your getting back to me! I'll post some photos after the event!</p>
<p>I love indestructible</p>
Very good ? Thanks for sharing
<p>Done and done. Thanks again for sharing.</p>
<p>Wooo! That looks excellent! Glad you found this tutorial and were able to make one. Thanks for the photos, that's really cool to see how yours turned out.</p>
<p>One quick tip. I used two 1.5&quot;-1.25&quot; plumbing couplings at the ends of the hilt and both the blade and the flashlight fit perfectly. Still need some tape to keep them in place, but not as much.</p>
<p>Finished the hilt (for now), need to add a few more details, but searching for ideas for now. Cut the plastic tube, added the reflective duct tape at one end, and used masking tape for the other to create a little more bulk. Also, used plumbing couplings for the blade and flashlight housing. Will add pics of the coloured blade and finished product once it is done.</p>
<p>What strength flashlight did you use? What would you recommend?</p>
<p>I used 9-LED flashlights that that ran on 3 AAA batteries. Anything similar should work though. Let me know if you make one! :)</p>
<p>Collecting the materials as we speak. Also, did you sand down the plastic tube before or after painting? Or both?</p>
<p>Color first with a sharpie marker, then sand lightly with 220 sandpaper. That mutes the color nicely and also makes the tubes diffuse the light better. </p>
<p>Thanks. Might spray paint actually at a later date.</p><p>Thank you for your help, and for sharing this tutorial.</p>
<p>How do you get to the on and off switch of the flashlight??</p>
<p>The flashlights I used have an on/off button on the bottom. </p>
Did u use a small or big flashlight?? Is the flashlight long enough to reach the bottom of the hilt?
<p>Please see step 5. Good luck, I hope you'll make one! :)</p>
<p>What color Sharpie did you use for Obiwan's Lightsaber? Thank you for making such an awesome how-to....this was the most helpful and affordable one on the Internet!!! (I will make sure to send pictures :)</p>
<p>I used a regular blue sharpie for obi wan's lightsaber.</p><p>Can't wait to see how yours turn out. Good luck!</p>
So I'm halfway done and I can't get the color to stop coming off the blades? Any ideas.
<p>Hmm. Did you use regular "Sharpie" markers, or something else? With mine, I lightly sanded, wiped off the dust with a rag and they were good to go.</p><p>Although, I do recall my hands getting all colorfully gunky, like yours! :)</p>
Sweet! I realy liked this and am sharing it on my family's cosplay page in FB, https://www.facebook.com/GanAinmCosplay/. It will be posted later today (7/18/2016).
Every time I see this instructable I love it more and more. Love your broad range of works from lightsabers to Hobbes! <br>Good luck on future projects,<br>Alex
<p>Well thank you! Glad you've enjoyed some of my projects. I just make stuff pretty much to entertain myself and my kids, but it's been so fun over the years to see other people use my instructables to duplicate what I've done. I've got no plans to ever stop sharing what I make! :)</p><p>It looks like you've made some cool stuff as well. Keep it up!!</p>
Hello, i have a few questions , did you try using acrylic paint for the tubes and also, how long did it take you to make one, for example darth vaders?
<p>I did not try using acrylic paint. However, from experience I would suspect the paint would not stick well to the plastic, and would likely chip off very easily. </p><p>I think each saber took 1 to 2 hours to make.</p><p>Good luck if you make some! I'd love to see the finished results :)</p>
Oh okay thanks you c:
<p>the flashlight is currently sold out on the walmart website are there any alternatives that you know of</p>
<p>It depends what stores you have nearby where you live. Looking through my flashlight drawer (don't we all have one of those?), I have a cheap 9-LED flashlight from Harbor Freight that would work exactly the same. The only difference I see is that it's in an aluminum housing. I've seen similar cheap flashlights at home depot as well.</p><p>So you should be able to find one that will work. The main thing to look for is the push-button on/off switch on the butt end of the flashlight, so you can still turn it on and off once it's embedded into your homemade hilt.</p><p>Let me know how it goes. Good luck! </p>
I have Walmart lowes Home Depot near me and links to where I can purchase???

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