Monster funnoodles with a glued wooden handle make excellent training tools for your next duel with Darth Andy.
Step 1: Summary
Tested in the meddle of combat, durable and hard hitting foam lightsabers have taught my padawans much in the way of the force. Costing only a few credits each, they have helped shape their bodies and minds. No blood has been spilled but a battle is well remembered by the combatants.
Not recommended for under 8 years old, anyone who decides that the sword is best used with the wooden handle end out, or going up against professional baseball players. I have not had any injuries for the past 3 years with up to a dozen teenaged boys going at it at once. Still???
Step 2: Gathering the Materials
There are three main items to buy. A monster funnoodle (3 3/4 inches in diameter, about 60 inches long and has a one inch hole in the middle) ($7), a 1 1/4 inch dowel 48" long ($3.75), and Loctite Quick set 5 minute epoxy with a dual delivery system ($3.00).
The 60 inch long Monster funnoodles are easy to obtain at Toys R Us, Sports Authority, or most pool places. Other brands of large pool noodles can be used as long as they are dense foam with a regular cylindrical shape and has a one inch hole in the middle.
The smaller, regular funnoodles (2 3/4 inch diameter with a 3/4 inch hole) can be made for smaller kids but use a 1 inch diameter dowel and a 6 inch handle.
The dowels and Loctite epoxy can be bought at Home Depot.
Epoxy is the best and does not melt the foam. I have found no other glue to hold up (Elmers, woodworking glue, etc). A friction fit will ALWAYS work loose leaving the user with a billy club instead of a sword. Drilled holes and wire ties rips the foam to shreds.
Step 3: Measuring to Cut
The 60 inch long noodle needs to be cut in half. The dowel cut into 16 inch sections with 8 inches being inserted into the hole leaving an 8 inch handle. I used a chop saw but any sort of saw will work. The dowels can be made longer (18-20 inches) but DO NOT make the handles any longer than 8 inches. Longer handles means more banged up fingers when fighting in close quarters. Less than 8 inches into the foam will lead to premature failure due to excessive flexing. Too much wood put into the foam will be hard to insert and lead to a solid hit stinging a lot!
Step 4: Rounding the Dowel Ends
The dowels can be inserted a lot easier if the end is rounded first. The handle end is safer with a rounded end. I had a belt sander but whittling or sandpaper can be used. 45 degree bevel for about 3/8 of an inch.
Step 5: Assembly and Use
Mark the dowels with a circle 8 inches from one end. Put a bead of the dual feed epoxy about 3/4 inch long into the hole in one end of the noodle. Mix with a pencil or a plastic straw for 20 seconds or so. Insert the dowel and twist it down into the foam until it is flush with the 8 inch handle mark.The mallet can help you insert the dowel if it gets stuck. Tada! Hand to nearest kids (they can make me grow old but they cannot make me grow up) and watch the fights. They can be swung really hard and connect with a loud boom without it hurting much.
Step 6: Failure Analysis
These are EXTREMELY durable swords. I have seen fights last for hours with people gasping for breath (me mostly) and no appreciable wear and tear (on the swords). Leaving them outside in NOT recommended as the handles will start to go and the UV will attack the foam. Under cover is fine to keep the rain and wind off. Do not leave too long in a pool without letting it dry out. The foam will eventually start to chip off in places but they stay straight and still have their cushioning effect. The ends will start to rat up a bit. Too short a handle will cause the foam to bend too much and it will rip at the end of the dowel. I guess you could pad the handle somehow to protect your fingers. You could also varnish the dowel but I found the dowel and the foam wear about the same so when one goes, the other is ready to go too.
Step 7: Other Weapons.
I have tried a regular funnoodle stuck on both ends of a one inch dowel to create a dual lightsaber but it is very unwieldy and hard to thwack someone. I have also created a dagger using 9 inch large foam, 6 inch dowel with a 3 inch handle. That can be used as an off hand shield to protect yourself or a nasty close in weapon.
May the force be with you!