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Author Topic: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log  (Read 2703 times)

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Offline Fruktodlaren

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Edit again and again: I got the first couple of replies to this thread and I must say, it made me very happy to see that others appreciated and liked the build log. That's the encouragement I need to keep posting when I make some new progress. Thank you for reading. /Tony

Good evening, FX-sabers patrons. My name is Tony and I'm a scavenger that likes to build stuff, nice to meet you.
I'm documenting my first saber build so others might learn from the mistakes I make, and I have made quite a few of them.
Long story short, my son Moyu wants to become a Jedi when he grows up. So instead of telling him that you can't be a Jedi in our time and age, I am making him a lightsaber, as any respectable scoundrel would have done. This is the build log thread for that saber.

As I am a handful of months into the build process already, this first post will be a total overload with pictures, some of which will be in focus and some that looks like the camera was handled by a mortally wounded person during an earthquake. I will let the photos speak for themselves with some clarification in text below on what has been done or explaining the weird materials, tools or methods I might have used.
The first two photos actually dates back to 2006, which was 4 years before Moyu was even born. All other photos are taken more recently. Click on the photos to get to the full size ones in my photobucket album.

In short:
  • Saber built from scrap and junk parts
  • Inside will be a generic 3W RGB power LED colour mixed by a homemade mixing circuit (designed by Skottsaber from thecustomsabershop forums)
  • The PCB is from a broken Hasbro 2010 saber. (flea market find)


This totally unsuspecting chair was assaulted and mutilated with a hacksaw in the year of the (sith) lord 2006. It was standing beside a dumpster, so it was more or less asking to be scavenged for parts, wouldn't you agree? Outside diameter 32mm and inside diameter 29mm. Since it's steel it weighs quite much for its size.


Here the deed has been done and I ended up with some chromed steel pipe. Little did I know then that this particular pipe would actually end up as an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Fast forward to 2015 and there was a boy named Moyu who was going to turn 5 years old, wanting to become a Jedi when he's older. By then that chromed steel pipe had been in the good-to-save-box for many years, unused. So I set out to turn that pipe into a new housing for that Hasbro board I took from a non working toy lightsaber,flea market find. Then, I still didn't know that my first mistake was to use a pipe with a slightly smaller diameter than most Graflex replicas. When I chose this smaller diameter pipe I only had my son's smaller hands in mind and not a thought on the size of things that I later would want to cram inside this pipe in a nice and aesthetically pleasing way...


I work as a workshop machinist and CNC operator/programmer and the boss at my job lets me use the workshop after work hours to make my own things. Beside choosing the chromed steel pipe as the raw material for the lightsaber chassis, the first thing I actually manufactured myself for the saber was a hybrid parabolic blade tip in PMMA plastic, more commonly referred to as clear acrylic.
I would like to send out a big thank you to Zenkai for the inspiration to the blade tip. After seeing their blade tips, I took my big calculus book from the bookcase and calculated my own hybrid parabolic blade tip in the right size for the acrylic tubes I bought from Slöjd-detaljer dot se.


I used this paper template to trace and cut out the emitter shape with a Dremel diamond cut off wheel and a lot of patience. The bunny ears were made from the stainless mud flap from my bicycle that broke and fell off on its own in a timely fashion to get picked up into this project. (I had to resize the template to fit the outside diameter of my steel pipe. I did so by first printing one template in the "right" print size for the template itself. I then measured the circumference of my steel pipe and compared to the template. Then I could calculate a scale factor to input when printing it a second time in the right size for my steel pipe)


And that was as far as I had time to get before Moyu's fifth birthday came. So he got the WIP saber as it was then. You can see from the smirk of happiness on his face that he wasn't totally miss pleased with the idea of getting his own lightsaber.


I asked Moyu what colour blade he wanted on his saber. He wasn't sure yet, so I bought a generic 3W RGB power led from Kjell dot com. I ordered a matching 5 degree lens from Aliexpress seller Yajiamei Optics Co.,Ltd. for $2.90 including shipping. I scavenged an aluminium heat-sink from an older graphics card sitting in a junk computer in the electronics junk room near my apartment building. I milled the heat-sink to the same diameter as the blade holder I had started on earlier before Moyu's birthday, but not finished. I measured the power LEDs star shaped base and made a counter sunk hole in that shape in the centre of the heat-sink and secured it with nylon M3 screws. I then measured the 5 degree lens and milled a matching counter sunk cavity in the bottom of the blade holder. So the LED is counter sunk into the heat-sink and the lens is counter sunk into the blade holder and gets sandwiched between the two when the heat-sink is screwed down to the blade holder. The Lens will be flush with the same surface the blade tube stands on down in the blade holder. It was the most compact design I could think of without needing to buy a lens holder (which I actually just forgot to order together with the lens).


Here is a view down into the bladeholder from the top opening. You can see that the lens is flush with the flange the blade will rest on.


Here you can see the all too shallow counter sunk pocket that will be the mock-up graflex recharge ports with tabs. It's with details like that you really discover how little "meat" you have to work with when still using a 1" (25,4mm) blade when the inside diameter of the steel chassis is 29mm. That pocket is so shallow that you can't really see it's there at all from certain angles in low lighting.


The cables from the 3W power LED comes out of the back for the bladeholder and through the heat-sink.


A Graflex replica calls for a red button? The problem for me was that I didn't have any red button. So I made my own from one of those shopping cart coins. I used double sided tape to stick it to the top of the vise so I could mill out the button part of the shopping cart coin.


The bottom part of the button assembly is my beer tab substitute from aluminium. The "lid" is taken from a big coax style cable connector (similar to those used on CB radio cables). It was threaded so I measured and milled the matching external thread on the chimney where the red button will sit. When the button is placed in the adapter and that lid is screwed on and the whole assembly is put on the saber, it looks adequately low profile and blends in OK in colour with the rest.


Because the inner diameter of the steel pipe don't allow for any large components being used, I had to think long and hard on how to get the red button to actually work as a button with the electrical circuit. An ultra tiny surface mounted PCB switch soldered directly to the tiniest shielded wire I could find got its own routed trench on the outside of the bladeholder. Hopefully I can slide it all into place without crushing the switch in the process. If not, then time for plan B (if I had one).


The red button assembly test fitted on the steel pipe. It's starting to look "lightsaberishy" in it's appearance now.

To be continued.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 11:44:50 AM by Fruktodlaren »

Offline Fruktodlaren

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This next chapter in the build log will be all about the clamp. A good Graflex replica (from now on referred to as only "Graflica") needs a clamp to get that distinct silhouette that most SW-geeks can spot from a mile away in the dark. I was a bit over optimistic about it at first and thought it would be as easy as folding a paper in to a predefined shape. It was NOT as easy as folding paper.

Right from the start I want to thank to following sources of inspiration:
  • Lez Cook "culttvman" inspired me through the whole process, with his old (1999) but still very much valid post about scratch building a graflica.
  • The RPF user Serafino for his work in this thread regarding the Graflex logo text on the clamp. I ended up using his "Graflex" substitute more or less unaltered
  • Design and Motion's article about Sheet Metal K-factor that can be found here
  • Knac Solutions most handy k-Factor tool saved me from a lot of headache in the end
  • Reserved space in the list for when I find the link to the guy who showed on his blog how to bend sheet metal using loose puzzle piece bend jigs


This is what I would regard as the first of many "prototypes" of my clamp. This one, although retaining a somewhat circular shape in the bend, was made from a much too thick sheet of aluminium. It was impossible to bend the smaller intricate bends on the ends that would form the bubble strip holder "claws". It wouldn't let itself be bent like that, so it had to be scrapped. But it served a great testing bed for Serafino's graflex engraving, and was the reason to why I choose to stick with that logo though all clamp versions to come.


I'm not sure if the clamp in this picture is #2 or #3. It doesn't matter because both those clamps are gone now. Again, it looks nice and round in the big bend around the lightsaber body, but the smaller more complicated bends were uneven in thickness after I did the bends (it was one and the same thickness before) One side was much more thick than the other. The force applied to the material to get it to bend also stretched the material so it got longer and thinner at those places. In one of the 180 degree "bubble strip claw" bends the material got so stretched that it snapped at the bend line.


This is clamp #4 and #5. you can see the part that snapped in the bend line. The one that holds together slid out of the vise as I was applying force to make it bend, so the actual bend happened several mm from the bed line. You can clearly see that that one has no bubble strip claws.


Good thing that I took so many photos during the process, because now I have very detailed photos of how I did all the bends when the clamp ended up just as I wanted it to be. It took 5 failed tries before I got it right. I switched material type to a more tough type of aluminium found in marine flooring with anti slip pattern. I bought some at the junk yard and paid a weight based price. I also settled on the same material thickness as Lez Cook used in his clamp adventures (even though he used stainless steel for all parts and I use aluminium in my clamp). With the material thickness set, I could proceed to use the K-factor calculator and compensate for material-shrinkage and -expanding when bending. So I started with a slightly longer piece of sheet material than before that took into account all the bends that needed to be made.


Before I had the full bend lines engraved into the material. I figured that was just a way to say "break along this line please", so I shortened the bend line markings to just a few mm on the opposing outer edges.


Time for the first bend. To make things complicated, you need to start with the second bend line from the outer end. Why? I'll show you in just a few pictures. I aligned the bend marks so they were barely visible over the clamping edge in the machinists vise (because it has flat jaws and a straight upper edge)



Bend gently (if it's aluminium you can bend the first part by hand) and straighten the bend along the bend line with the plastic hammer.


Finished first bend looks like this.


Do the same thing to the other end of the part.


The second bend to do is along the first bend line from the outside edge. The bubble strip I will be using is ~2mm thick at the edges that will be held in the claws. So I took some piece of 2mm scrap and clamped the part against it in the vise (with soft rubber jaws) so the first bend line is in line with the hopefully straight edge of the scrap peice. I then started to pound on the overhanging part so it folded down and formed the "claw" with a 180 degree bend.


Like this. 180 degree bend that forms the claw


Turn the part around and repeat on the other side as well.


Now I left the 2mm scrap piece sitting in the newly folded "claw" but took the part out and clamped it on the claw instead with the scrap in between, making sure that I align the bend line to the edge of the vise like before and bended everything all the way down to the surface of the vise.


It should look like this after the bend is made.


Do on both sides.


Now the puzzle piece bend molds came in handy. After those first 5 failures, I found on some blog I can't remember the name of, that you can increase your chances of preserving straight edges of your already made bends in the upcoming bends by securing the existing ones with puzzle piece clamps that hold everything steady and straight.


When clamped in the vise I could even use an edge of one puzzle piece clamp to fold along.


Repeat on the other side as well. If you got this far, you have only little way more to go before it's ready to be used.


The last bend is around the lightsaber body itself to ensure a good fit. Here I'm using two puzzle pieces (and one small 2mm peice to simulate the bubble strip) to preserve the already bent shapes throughout the bend operation.


Very good and mostly gapless fit to most surfaces the parts touches.


Still using Serafino's graflex logo. I did however change the "L"-representing character from "|" to one that looks like a mirrored "1". I also changed caps mode for the "X"-representing character so it leaned the other direction.


Here are some examples on variations on the Graflex text logo. All credit has to go to the persons who contributed to  that thread on the PRF forums. Username Serafino in particular.

« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 10:40:50 AM by Fruktodlaren »

Offline Fruktodlaren

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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.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 04:00:23 AM by QUI-GON JINN »

Offline Fruktodlaren

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Perhaps I need just three empty posts for now...
Oh... Feel free to post comments and curses below this post.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2016, 12:58:11 PM by Fruktodlaren »

Offline Fabian 71

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Hi, I´m Fabián from Argentina I´ve been in the rpf and a couple more sites graflex related and made my own replica when I was working in the aircraft industry in my country Ill show pics of my build.
This is an incredible thread and amazing one full of really valuable information for the people who wants to build their owns replica instead of just buying it from a vendor.
Sir , I ask you permission to share your information by linking to this thread, I wish I had this info in the time I made my build .

Offline Kappy79

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2016, 12:03:21 AM »
Amazing work. I cant believe I just found this post.  Glad it got revived.

Offline Oldroof

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2016, 12:27:30 AM »
unbelievable works!!

Offline Sethski

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2016, 03:16:11 AM »
This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

I'm especially loving the shoulder-pulling goodness - possibly the make or break thing where some otherwise really decent, home made Graflex style sabers don't quite cut the mustard...

Offline Fruktodlaren

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2016, 11:36:02 AM »
Sir , I ask you permission to share your information by linking to this thread, I wish I had this info in the time I made my build .
Fabián, I'm glad you liked the build log. You have my permission to share and link to my thread as mush as you want.

Offline Fruktodlaren

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2016, 11:41:05 AM »
I'm especially loving the shoulder-pulling goodness - possibly the make or break thing where some otherwise really decent, home made Graflex style sabers don't quite cut the mustard...
Yeah, but I didn't found out about it in time to do it on both sides. I had already made the "beer tab" substitute part from aluminium to simulate a pulled button shoulder for the red button. However, I would recommend anyone who wants to build a graflica to try to source a better main tube than I did. This saber is smaller outside diameter than most other builds and its wall thickness is a little bit too thick for comfort when trying to cut through it or just fit things inside it.

Offline Fabian 71

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2016, 04:28:05 AM »
Thanks!!! I made a replica myself some years ago, I used brass, same thicknes and Diameter of original Graflex then Nickel plated.
I used a shoulder puller that I designed myself (I was anaware of "the" shoulder puller that looks to be a bit more simple and effective way to do it.
I want to make a graflex replica with Aluminum tube or stainless steele to avoid the Plating process,I`ve seen real good ones made with these materials.
This is the link to a thread where I show my work I don`t know if it is correct to post link to other site, but I don`t know how to upload the pics. Greetings from Buenos Aires!!!

Luke ANH Lightsaber replica

Offline Fruktodlaren

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Re: Darth Moyu's saber from scavenged parts, built by a scoundrel - Build log
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2016, 03:04:48 PM »
This is the link to a thread where I show my work I don`t know if it is correct to post link to other site, but I don`t know how to upload the pics. Greetings from Buenos Aires!!!
Luke ANH Lightsaber replica
The link worked and it is still there in your post so I guess it was OK to post off site links.
Your graflica looks way more professional than the one I build. On mine you can see tool marks and all kinds of damages all over, but yours seem to be very clean as far as I can see from the pictures. I admire those who do their own surface treatment. The only kind of surface treatment I have done myself is bluing by fire-torching and that is a stretch to fit the term "surface treatment". I especially like the over all contour of your saber. Very clean and sharp edges with no visible tool marks. Good job.