This post is all about the L-slots and the glass eye.
My inspiration sources were:Lez Cook
- for his button shoulder pulling tool.Mike Rogers Pix
's photostream on flickr, where this
picture among others, can be found.Cryptolithusblog
for detailed instructions on how to grind your own glass lenses from found so called street glass.
After the clamp was done, I had to make sure it would fit the lightsaber. With the detailed photos of the Graflex L-slots found on Mike Rogers Pix's flickr account, it was easy to scale them down to my build size. When making the first L-slot I used the mounting hole for the beer-tab to align the saber for the cut. The first L-slot (or the centre of gravity in the whole L-shape) is more or less exactly opposite of the main switch and bunny ears (not sitting opposite but shifted to sit down at the bottom edge). Have in mind I am talking about a theoretical point "marking" the centre of the L-slot as a single unit and not a corner point or start point. I machined the whole L-shape from above in one setup, so the inside walls of the slot all are parallel and doesn't point towards the centre of the hilt. So I had to do some file work on the newly cut L-slot to make the individual walls all point to the centre of the saber. Think of it as a wheel where the spokes weren't going to the hub but passed beside it, and had to be realigned.
When the first L-slot was done it was easier to make the next one. I just made a V-block with a pin sitting in the bottom of the V-shape, that the finished L-slot could slide on to. That way, I could be sure that the next L-slot was cut exactly 180 degrees from the first one. If my explanation in text isn't enough for you to visualize how it was done, let me know and I'll gladly take some more photos of how I did the clamping setup. I work as a CNC machinist afterall and I love to talk machine talk with people who show interest and ask questions.
Here are the upper and lower chassis and the clamp. Have in mind that the lower chassis is just a tube with L-slots still. It has no bottom as I have yet to figure out what to make there. I have a few scavenged PC-speakers that might be small enough to fit there, but we'll see.
Beauty shots. Have in mind that the clamp is missing the clamp lever still and that there is no bubble strip yet. But you can clearly see it is a Graflica now. I am very proud of making it so far and Moyu is the young very proud soon to be jedi owning it.
A friend of mine asked for a shot of the lit lightsaber. I guess he didn't know that this is one of those going-and-going projects of mine that simply isn't done yet, and any time soon for that matter. However, since I had finished the blade earlier I could just put some bright flash-light into the hilt for a lit shot. The blade isn't really represented in any if the earlier pictures since I didn't do much with it. It's just an acrylic tube with that hybrid parabolic tip I made at the top. I bought a roll of clear book plastic and made diffuser film out of it. I didn't have to glue it or anything as the static electricity is holding it firmly in place once inserted. I cut a reflecting disc out of the antistatic bag the power LED came in. The plastic in that bag has a reflective surface that doesn't reflect all incomming light but also lets through some of it. Perfect to have under the tip to make it light up evenly. Cost me nothing too, which was an unexpected bonus.
Even though the picture is blurry you can clearly see that the blade lights up nice and evenly with no dark spots. Not bad for a first try I would say.
That last thing left to be done on the lightsaber exterior except weathering and damaging is the glass eye holder. Again, big thanks to Lez Cook
for writing about his button-shoulder-pulling-tool
. I made my own tool (Note to self: Take picture of the button shoulder pulling tool
) and pulled a button shoulder for the glass eye. I had already made the red button/beer tab without a button shoulder, so I didn't feel like redoing it by putting a button shoulder there too. The glass eye turned out to be a tough nut to crack. Not only because of the down scaled size of this build, but also for the fact that I wanted it to be a real glass lens acting like a window in to the lit blade. I tried various parts from coax and antennae cable connectors, but most of them were too big, even though they would be the right size for a regular sized Graflica. It must have been scoundrels luck or something, because I happened to break my soldering iron when I clumsily managed to drop the whole thing so the soldering pen broke in half. A new one was only 150 SEK at Kjell & Co
, so that wasn't a big issue. The lucky thing was that a part from the now broken in half soldering pen was a perfect fit for a good enough scale glass eye holder. Now I will grind my own glass eye from some broken street glass according to Cryptolithusblog's instructions
and put it in the holder.
Here are four photos of my take on Lez Cook's Button Shoulder Pulling Tool
. The big gray aluminium block has a partial circular cut out from the side that matches the lightsabers outer diameter in radius. I then made a hole through the block exiting in the middle of the radius cut, large enough for a M10 screw to pass through unhindered. I then turned the block upside down and made a counter sink to that hole from the side with the radius cut out, to a depth of 2mm below the deepest part of the big radius cut. That counter sunk hole is where the button shoulder will be formed. I then took a M10 nut and turned it round in the lathe (but you could also do it with a dremel and a lot of time) It's this round nut that will pull the material up into the 2mm counter sunk hole. To be sure that the nut wouldn't move I drilled and tapped a M3 hole through the nut and M10 screw together. That way I can secure it from moving when pulling button shoulders (not sure if it was necessary though). To use the tool you place it over a pre-drilled 10mm hole, put an unaltered M10 nut on the screw (I also added a big washer, but I don't think it's needed at all) and insert it through the tool and into the lightsaber. Then I screwed on the round nut from the inside of the lightsaber and secured it from rotating with the small M3 set screw. Then I clamped the whole assembly in the vise with soft rubber jaws and tightened the M10 nut on the outside as much as I could manage. This pulled the round nut on the inside up into the 2mm counter sunk pocket. Since my pipe was chromed steel, I had to be careful to not over-tighten the tool as the chrome surface would crack then.
With a little inspiration from various sources I tried to make a blade plug. Thanks go out to user ARKM (maybe I misspelled your nickname) for coming up with the razor blade plug long ago and to the now vanished for good Mr.Goodman for his work on the Rhaabdos saber which has been a huge inspiration to me. So... The blade plug I set out to do is a hybrid between a normal graflex style plug, vaders emitter with the radiator spring thingy and Goodman's Rhaabdos emitter. I took a piece of scrap brass and sweep-milled (when you use a ballnose endmill and sweep the entire surface in tiny tiny steps) a funnel with arced sides (the inner sides look like a 1/4 ellipse if you would cut the funnel in half and view if from the cut side). Then I took a T-slot mill/slitting saw and made a kind of a o-ring groove inside the arced funnel. That's where the spring will sit later. With measurements taken from the circular shaver blade I had found, I bored a countersunk hole in that size from the bottom of the brass part to insert the shaver blade from the bottom. The thought is to have it sandwiched between the brass top and the acrylic tube bottom and not need to glue it in. The acrylic bottom is just a piece of the blade that was cut earlier. The spring is something I salvaged from a dead inkjet printer long before this project started.
The spring is neither a pulling nor pushing spring. It's keeps its stick shape and returns to it if bent. I want to make it a round circle and make it keep that shape. I stuffed the spring with a little wire taken from a wire-bound pocket calender, to stiffen it and make it keep the ringshape I was bending it into. I cut the spring to the length of the inside circumference of the o-ring groove I had made in the brass funnel.
It was harder that I thought from the beginning to get that darned spring inside that groove. Of course with the spring being more or less the diameter of the groove and also stiffened by the wire I put inside it, it didn't want to be misshapen that easily when sliding through the slightly more narrow opening in the the brass funnel. But with enough time and dedication resulting in various stab wounds from the screwdriver in my right hand, I managed to get it inside the groove. It won't just fall out from there, I can assure you. Then I turned a neck on the cut blade tube to match the bottom opening on the brass plug.
With a delicate balance between caution and violence I forced the round shaver blade into the brass plug from below and then sandwiched it inside with the cut blade tube. Even just mounted like that it is very hard to take it apart again. I might not need to glue the parts together.
View from above. The central brass stem was made from a small piece of brass scrap. It was so small that when I turned it in the lathe, it slipped and the surface was destroyed a bit. But I think that goes well together with the overall worn look of the rest of the saber.
If holding it up against the light you can see where the light will pour through the razor.
EDIT: Since I took those photos of the blade plug, it has broken. It seems the bored hole in the brass collar was a little too tight for the razor blade to be crammed into. After all, I hammered it in there with blunt force. It snapped on its own just like that. I had left it on the bench in the workshop at work and when I got back to work after the weekend it had broken. Good thing that those razors comes in packs of three. So I can fail at least two more times before I'm completely out of them.