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Star Wars Prequels Entertainment Build

How To Make Authentic Lightsabers 128

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-that's-a-hobby dept.
IQpierce writes "My good friend Bradley W. Lewis has set up a site for his hobby: building replica lightsabers at home. These aren't your average cheap pieces of plastic, in fact they're more authentic than the Master Replica sabers: Brad tracks down the pieces of equipment actually used to build the original props — or, when they're unavailable, very close replicas, that he further customizes with a metal lathe in his garage — and puts them together with loving attention. My favorite part is the embellishments he does add, on the inside of the saber — his replica of Luke's saber from ANH can be opened to see authentic-looking internals such as a glowing crystal (as well as another surprise — an autograph from Luke himself, Mark Hamill). Each project is documented step-by-step with hundreds of photos — whether you're a hobbyist, or just a big Star Wars geek like me, you'll find it interesting."
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How To Make Authentic Lightsabers

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  • Truly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:42PM (#33417280) Journal
    Truly, news for nerds.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If this "light saber" is incapable of amputating Jedis or other humanoids then it is just an expensive toy.

    Why is this on slashdot? /. is serious business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:43PM (#33417296)

    They're not authentic until I can cut my neighbor's car in half with it.

    A sonic screwdriver, on the other hand, is pretty easy to make if you have access to a ceramic resonator and a quantum power source.

    • by Tetsujin (103070) on Monday August 30, 2010 @03:03PM (#33418234) Homepage Journal

      They're not authentic until I can cut my neighbor's car in half with it.

      A sonic screwdriver, on the other hand, is pretty easy to make if you have access to a ceramic resonator and a quantum power source.

      I made a sonic screwdriver that can turn off TVs...

      Of course, what that really means is that I took TV-B-Gone code that someone else wrote, and a sonic screwdriver toy that someone else made, and built the TV-B-Gone circuit inside the Sonic Screwdriver... Still, it was an interesting (and sometimes frustrating) challenge... The worst of it was when the circuit would fail after the toy had been reassembled and repainted.

    • Psychic posts are easy too...this one is actually blank for example.
      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        You mean you're not really offering to have identical busty triplets with blond, brunette and red hair come over and help me build cool lego ships?

    • by dkf (304284)

      A sonic screwdriver, on the other hand, is pretty easy to make if you have access to a ceramic resonator and a quantum power source.

      Like a silicon solar cell? Those have existed for years, yet I still don't see (or hear) sonic screwdrivers all over the place.

  • Just be careful, those things are dangerous around kids. Look what one of the little rugrats did to me this weekend! http://john.keimel.com/images/saber-1.jpg [keimel.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was expecting fancy lasers, but this is just a neon light tube attached to a metal cylinder.
    • by Again (1351325)

      I was expecting fancy lasers, but this is just a neon light tube attached to a metal cylinder.

      You might want to take a closer look at some of the pictures. The details on the "metal cylinder" are phenomenal.

  • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:49PM (#33417390)
    Cease and Desist [slashdot.org] in 3...2...1...
    • Re:And Lucas says... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:00PM (#33417534) Journal

      This has been my hobby for quite some time now as well. Less with lightsabers and more with many other Star Wars props. You pretty much can not buy official licensed replicas that are more than about 75% accurate. I've always been shooting for 99-100% accurate. I have rebuilt the stormtrooper E-11 blaster from an original demilitarized sterling SMG, the tank scope, industrial counter, slide rails and other original parts used to make the original prop. I've also done the same thing for Boba Fetts blaster made from an antique British flare gun, 2 cell graflex tube, parts from the Rivel visible V-8 engine, and many other parts.

      It's a hobby as much as anything else. Geeky in the scifi/fantasy realm as well as gives me a chance to build things.

  • Hobbies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:50PM (#33417398)

    I know it's good to have a hobby. I guess I'm just more inclined to hobbies with real world applications like building cars or furniture.

    Of course this is beyond cool!

  • There are a lot of expensive tools at work in those articles. A lathe, drill press, a gas torch for soldering, plus a lot of junk for spare parts. I think the equipment list would put this safely outside the hobbyist category.

    Now if someone came up with a kit that you could use to convert an old flash gun, that would put in the hobbyist realm.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:13PM (#33417668)

      I think the equipment list would put this safely outside the hobbyist category.

      All the tools listed are multi-use and frankly not very impressive. Buying a two to three figure drill press hardly makes you a "professional". Even my metal lathe and associated gear is probably barely over three figures.

      Also, the computer hobbyist industry is oriented around zero resale value and extremely fast obsolesce, whereas all the tools you listed are pretty much "buy once per lifetime" (assuming you don't buy chicom garbage). A 30 year old PC-XT clone motherboard is probably not as cutting edge and useful as my fathers 30 year old dremel tool... My decade old metal cutting bandsaw is much less obsolete than a decade old graphics card.

      My computer hobby mostly results in full landfills, whereas a hobby like metalworking is a bit more like a real capital investment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Also, the computer hobbyist industry is oriented around zero resale value and extremely fast obsolesce, whereas all the tools you listed are pretty much "buy once per lifetime"

        Or in some cases buy once per several lifetimes. I fully expect to inherit several of my father's tools, just as he still uses some of his father's tools. Granted they do wear down, but a lot of these items can even be rebuilt/repaired as a hobby in itself. In a pinch, I can still call him up and have him work with me on some of t

        • and for those that don't want or need such tools can probably get most (all?) of what they need relatively cheaply from say emachineshop or the like. also a good idea if you are bad with power tools unless you like having 3 1/2 fingers.
          • and for those that don't want or need such tools can probably get most (all?) of what they need relatively cheaply from say emachineshop or the like.

            Huh. I didn't know about them. I've always had my dad as he works in a machine shop, but as I was just about to set about designing a small heat engine, that might be a bit more time efficient. Cool site, I love the internet! Wouldn't have imagined this 15 years ago.

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          When I was younger, my dad tried to get me to listen to Harry Chapin. I didn't have the time.

      • by Lost Race (681080)

        lathe, drill press, a gas torch for soldering, plus a lot of junk for spare parts

        all the tools you listed are pretty much "buy once per lifetime"

        All those tools would definitely be "once per lifetime" for me, in the sense that I would only use them once (or less) in my lifetime.

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      There are a lot of expensive tools at work in those articles. A lathe, drill press, a gas torch for soldering, plus a lot of junk for spare parts. I think the equipment list would put this safely outside the hobbyist category.

      Nonsense. It's just a matter of what sort of hobbyist you are... How committed you are and what kind of budget you have to play with.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      All of that can be had for less than the price of a single camera body that hobbyist photographers use. What about hobbyist revheads hotting up their cars? For the cost of a car you could buy several of these complete metalworking setups. Like fishing? Know how much it costs to buy a boat?

      Metalworking and electronics is actually one of the cheaper hobbies in the grand scheme of things.
  • Originals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:54PM (#33417462)
    I saw some of the original props at the Children's Muesum in Indianapolis several months ago, and close up, to be honest, they look like crap. You might not want to use the original movie props as your standard to aim for.
    • by proxima (165692)

      I saw some of the original props at the Children's Muesum in Indianapolis several months ago, and close up, to be honest, they look like crap. You might not want to use the original movie props as your standard to aim for.

      That doesn't surprise me. Yet there are some movie props which should have really intricate detail. I'd love to see some of the miniatures used in Lord of the Rings; perhaps without the camera effects they'd still seem underwhelming, but given the budget involved I think they have a bet

    • Re:Originals (Score:5, Informative)

      by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:27PM (#33417816) Journal

      There are different grades of original prop. Just like you have main actors/heroes and stunt men, props get the same designations as either hero or stunt. The hero props are finished to a higher quality in order to get closeup shots, while the stunt ones are used for background and stunts that may damage it. Many of the museums and travailing prop displays end up with the stunt versions.

      All that being said, still most movie props are not typically of high quality. They are meant to serve a visible purpose for what is sometimes only a few seconds of screen time. There are two camps within the prop enthusiast community much like the vi vs. Emacs debates you'll find the 100% authentic warts and all vs the imagined version as it would really be if it rolled off a manufacturing line.

  • Authentic (Score:4, Informative)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday August 30, 2010 @01:56PM (#33417488) Homepage Journal

    authentic - 2: not counterfeit or copied

    Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but unless Lucas has given some sort of formal approval, building your own lightsaber is the opposite of authentic.

    If I build a Porsche 911 in my garage out of parts from other cars and parts I made myself, it wouldn't be considered an authentic Porsche. Even if I (miraculously) made it faster, lighter, or otherwise better than the real one.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but unless Lucas has given some sort of formal approval, building your own lightsaber is the opposite of authentic.

      If I build a Porsche 911 in my garage out of parts from other cars and parts I made myself, it wouldn't be considered an authentic Porsche. Even if I (miraculously) made it faster, lighter, or otherwise better than the real one.

      But if you made your car shoot out a stable, contained bolt of blaster plasma in sword-shape, I'd buy two.

    • by vlm (69642)

      authentic - 2: not counterfeit or copied

      Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but unless Lucas has given some sort of formal approval, building your own lightsaber is the opposite of authentic.

      Unless Lucas built "real" operational lightsabers and death stars, I don't think hes capable of giving "formal approval". Now talking about trademark violations, maybe.

      Its like talking about "authentic" religious trinkets and miracles.

    • Re:Authentic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:37PM (#33417942) Journal

      But, if you made it out of mostly original found Porshe parts by salvaging though junk yards, reconditioning them, and then machining the few parts that you weren't able to find it would be mostly authentic. It may not be an authorized reproduction though.

    • You're using the wrong definition. Try this one:

      "Made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original" (source [google.com])

      The wording was "more authentic" as these were compared to sold items which are said to be farther removed from the original design/intent. And given the original props are not commercial items, the definition you used loses all meaning- you can't counterfeit a fictional item.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        The original props are not fictional items. They are really truly real items in most cases(*). They are, though, meant to resemble fictional items.

        (*) Some fully CGI made props are not real items.

    • by eth1 (94901)

      Well, is it a Porche 911 because it came out of a Porche 911 factory, or because it's a car made out of parts that match the specs to build a Porche 911?

      If the former, then no, you can't build a Porche 911 in your garage, even if you use "real" Porche parts. If the latter, yes, you could.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Not to split hairs, but George Lucas is no longer qualified to approve items as being authentic. There was a time where he was, but then he decided to change what authentic meant several times and re-imagine large swaths of the series, at which point he legitimately lost all claim to authority on the subject.
      • Could you cite the section and paragraph that makes your claim legitimate? Or is this just your emotional response to Lucas taking a huge shit all over his own art?

  • Please don't do this (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phoenix Dreamscape (205064) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:00PM (#33417528) Homepage

    The price of Graflex synchronizers has gone through the roof because of Star Wars nerds who want their own authentic-looking light sabers. This is a real nightmare for those of us who love flash bulb photography, since new Graflexes aren't being made anymore (except replicas without the electronics, specifically for building light sabers). Please, if you want to make a light saber, buy a Graflex replica instead of an original. They're cheaper, in better condition, and don't deprive anyone of a now-rare useful tool.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:03PM (#33417572)

    to get hold of a Speed Graphic/MPP flashgun nowadays thanks to these damn buffoons who need an "authentic" lightsabre. They're almost as criminally culpable as hotrod builders who take increasingly rare classic vehicles and prostitute them into something only a deranged magpie would love.

    Once the Chilean miners have been rescued, I would like to post lightsabre makers and their customers DOWN the rescue shaft.

    Bah!
     

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)

      So, you're one of those antique flash photography enthusiasts. You damn luddites are the ones that drive the prices up from what should be a standard low demand original styled lightsaber replica. Upgrade to a modern camera flash or go jump down the rescue shaft your self.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by men0s (1413347)
      So you, as one type of artist, are complaining that a different group of artists should not be able to use the same medium as you, because it raises prices. What makes your camera-toting artists more deserving of these MPPs than the lightsabre makers? Moreover, don't you think this also raises prices for the lightsabre makers and buyers, not just the picture-takers?
    • Anybody with money can do whatever they want with stuff they purchase. Picasso's 1959 Trois Femmes was purchased with intent to cut it up into 500 one-inch squares and sold as individual Picasso paintings. I was unable to verify if this actually happened, but you get the point.
    • to get hold of a Speed Graphic/MPP flashgun nowadays thanks to these damn photography buffoons who need to take photos using flash bulbs.
  • Authentic... (Score:5, Informative)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:03PM (#33417574) Journal

    I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by general_ka.os (1844822) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:12PM (#33417660)
    A TRUE Jedi builds his own lightsaber.
    • Fucking lightsabers: how do they work?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        Fucking lightsabers: how do they work?

        You've managed to Rule 34 a lightsaber

        Nice work, bozo.

        • not his fault. someone must've beat him to it as there was already a scene (sort of) in Drawn Together a couple years back.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        I'm guessing not very well. I mean the first time you try, you end up with a gaping hole in places where one typically prefers to be unholed.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 30, 2010 @02:14PM (#33417682) Homepage

    Big deal. Until someone makes one that actually has a useful blade, it's just a handle.

    Those lightsaber guys never fought very well. See Hit Girl's first fight, in "Kick-Ass" for someone who can handle a double-ended weapon. Chloe Grace-Moretz spent a few months at the Toronto Circus School, plus martial arts training, to prepare for that fight, and it shows.

    • The kind of blade that goes through steel and concrete like a hot knife through butter? Not likely at all. It's a fantasy. Can't we just leave it at that and move on?

      • It's a fantasy. Can't we just leave it at that and move on?

        You must be new here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Animats (122034)

        The kind of blade that goes through steel and concrete like a hot knife through butter? Not likely at all. It's a fantasy.

        Well, no. [hypertherm.com]

      • by gknoy (899301)

        Regardless of it's cutting ability, the lightsaber shares something in common with more mundane bladed instruments: You really don't want to get hit by it. I imagine that would lead to more commonality in fighting style than you might expect.

      • by syousef (465911)

        The kind of blade that goes through steel and concrete like a hot knife through butter? Not likely at all. It's a fantasy. Can't we just leave it at that and move on?

        These guys are buying industrial equipment to mill a replica. Does that not answer your question for you?

    • by srothroc (733160) on Monday August 30, 2010 @07:30PM (#33421322) Homepage
      Yes, they never fought well at all... Chloe Grace-Moretz's few months at a circus school and martial arts training easily trumps Ray Park's decades of kung fu and wushu experience.
  • I should be able to cut through blast-doors, and deflect shots from droid-decals.

  • by Rary (566291) *

    Hokey religions and ancient relics are no match for a good blaster at your side.

    Wake me when he builds one of these [partsofsw.com].

  • Even Rachel Maddow knows how to make a lightsaber. All you need is two highlighters. Look: http://www.mediaite.com/online/this-exists-rachel-maddow-reveals-her-secret-lightsaber/ [mediaite.com]
    • Sorry to follow up to my own posting. But Rachel's lightsaber is not authentic. Hers require a cap at the tip to close it down. What does she think it is? Some broken BP oil well? To contain it with some kind of cap? For a weapon to be elegant in a civilized age, it needs a button at the base which turns the beam on or off. So much for her nerdiness.
  • We're going to make a functioning Hellraiser's Puzzle Box, a TRON light cycle out of real light, and with this box of dehydrated air I'm going to make a bucket of water.
  • Ain't a real lightsaber until you can take off an arm with it.

  • As someone who was recently doing large-format photography with vintage Graflex photographic equipment, I was wondering why the eBay prices for vintage Graflex flash accessories seemed so high! Arghh....Star Wars Nerds!!
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      As someone who was recently doing light saber prop replica building with vintage Graflex photographic equipment, I was wondering why the eBay prices for vintage Graflex flash accessories seemed so high! Arghh....Camera Nerds!!

  • Cool, I'm from Rochester, so that makes a mention of Graflex a local story.

    Also, those who insist upon old cameras seem as stuck in the past as those who insist upon old music-recording media. :P

  • In 3... 2... 1.

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