This year's Halloween theme is Star Wars. We considered reusing the fence from last year but decided it just didn't go. After throwing around different ideas we agreed that lightsabers would be awesome fence posts so I set about making some to see if they would work. The whole fence was not setup for the picture since it does not all need to be up until halloween, but I did want to show more than just the individual sabers. Please remember to vote if you like our project.
I will add more pictures after Halloween so you can see how the fence works with the rest of the decorations. Thanks and Enjoy.
Step 1: Trying to Stay Within Budget
I needed to find materials that were not going to cost an absurd amount. The Custom Saber Shop's cheapest tubing for the blades is $5.99, not bad, but I needed 15-20 of them and over $100 just for the tubes is more than I could justify. Home depot has fluorescent light tube guards the I thought would work but were still more than I wanted to spend, so I went to amazon and found the same tubes for $1.18/tube (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0054PNS14/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
These are not for combat lightsabers and will be a stationary prop so I was ok with the very light plastic. If you are going to be swinging your sabers around I would use a heavier tube.
The handles were made out of 1.25" PVC pipe cut down to around 8". I needed to make quite a few, so fancy aluminum handles were not going to happen.
Fortunately, I had all the LEDs (used super brights in red, green and blue) and batteries already so I did not have to purchase them.
Step 2: Handles
After the PVC handles were cut, they needed a bit of sanding on the cut edges before priming. first coat was grey primer and a second coat was cheap black. After the black was fully dry (I gave it a full day since it was wet outside) painter's tape was used to create designs for the handles so they had some depth. Nothing fancy, just basic strips and patterns. After the painter's tape was added the handles were sprayed with a metallic silver paint. The PVC end caps were also painted black.
Step 3: Diffusing the LEDs
The light from the LEDs needs some kind of diffuser to help spread the light. You can get nice foam diffusers for the tubes but they are more expensive and I wanted something I could try and change my mind about and not break the bank. I tried a couple of things including window film and some sheets of packing foam but I settled on regular cellophane from the craft store. The cellophane was cut into sections about 5ft wide and rolled around a dowel to help get them into the tubes. using the window film on the outside of the tubes did produce a nice brightness when combined with the cellophane but was a pain to apply to the tubes. They looked fine with just the cellophane so I stuck with that.
Step 4: Inserts to Hold the LEDs
I needed a cheap way to hold the LEDs in place once they were added to the tubes. I had some foam blocks from the packaging of our coffee machine and decided to try that. At first I was going to use a door knob drill bit to cut out the circles but I found that the foam was soft enough that I could use one of the light tubes to cut them out like a cookie cutter (with a little more effort than cookies).
Step 5: Stringing the LEDs
I poked holes in the foam cores to string the wires for the LEDs. A little bit of solder and some shrink tubing and the LEDs were set. I chose to go with red, green and blue (original trilogy saber colors). For easy power access I decided to wire in a slide switch so I would be able to turn them on and off easier than having to open them up and pull batteries every time I needed to turn them on or off. I wanted them to be as simple as possible so the power source is just a 3v button cell with some electrical tape, no resistors or battery holders to worry about.
Step 6: Attaching the Handles
I drilled a couple of holes in the PVC and secured the switch inside the handle with some silicone. I also added velcro to the battery and inside the PVC tube to hold it in place but still be easy to access by taking off the end cap. A piece of velcro was also added to the end cap of the PVC to mount the rope or el wire fence.
The blade tubes did not fit snugly into the PVC so a layer of reflective tape was added to the end followed by some plain masking tape to make it fit nicely in the PVC.
Before attaching the blades to the handles I used some silicone to secure the foam cores inside the blade tubes. I used the silicone so that if I needed to get them out again I could peal the silicone away from the plastic without too much trouble.
Step 7: End Caps Just in Case
Even though I didn't actually need them I decided to make end caps for the lightsabers just in case we needed to use them for something other than a fence. I found wooden balls at the craft store that fit almost perfectly (required very little sanding) inside the 1.25" light tubes. I cut about an inch off the end of one of the tubes, placed the ball on one end and filled it with silicone. Once dry I used it to make a mold using a 2 part pourable silicone mold. Acrylic resin was used to cast the end caps and they have reflective tape on the flat side to reflect the light of the LEDs.
When the lightsabers are in fence mode they do not need the end caps.
Step 8: Gotta Love Rebar
We spaced the rebar about 2.5-3ft apart to mount the lightsabers, the part of the rebar that was not in the ground was wrapped with reflective tape. The picture has EL wire mounted to create the fence but I am not sure I like it. Since this is for Halloween, I think I will also try some glow-in-the-dark rope and see which I like better. I will add some photos of the fence in action when we do a final setup for Halloween, It's a bit too early.
Added some pictures from Halloween. We ended up using plain rope that we had from the previous year instead of the El-Wire. The fence looked awesome once the sun went down. More pictures will be available at http://mapleavehalloween.weebly.com soon.