Author Topic: A guide for new sabersmiths. Taking those first steps!  (Read 20475 times)

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Offline darthmorbius

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A guide for new sabersmiths. Taking those first steps!
« on: August 01, 2007, 12:50:47 AM »
There are a lot of people that would love to begin modifying, customizing, or even scratch building their own sabers, but I have noticed one thing.

There is a lack of a good beginner's guide for the budding sabersmith in all of us. Since we here at FX-Sabers support ingenuity, creativity, and the shared love of all things saber. It is time that one be written. This will be a work in progress guide that will outline the essential tools and practices of some of the best sabersmiths on the planet.

I am still new to this myself, so if any of you have comments or suggestions. Please, feel free to add them! I do however ask that all comments and questions be kept on topic! All off topic posts will be deleted.  Have fun, be safe, and May the Force be with You!


Safety, it is THE most important factor in working with ANY tools, chemicals, and ESPECIALLY electricity. Please keep this in mind, as there are many materials that can be considered dangerous when working on your saber.

1. ALWAYS wear eye protection when working with power tools, chemicals, or other dangerous items. This CANNOT be stressed enough! A $5.00 pair of safety glasses is a VERY intelligent purchase. Think of it this way; $5.00 now can save you THOUSANDS of dollars worth of ocular surgery, or even blindness later!  :)

2. If you are using power tools, don't wear loose clothing or jewelry. That's just plain wrecklessness, and can get you injured VERY quickly.

3. Soldering irons are HOT. Now I know that some of you are scoffing at this (DUH!) but, I am including this because a soldering iron is a HIGHLY recommended, and sometimes absolutely necessary tool. Keep these off of flammable objects, and don't touch the tip, or let anyone else come in contact with it.

4. NEVER work when you are tired, medicated, or under the influence of alcohol. Sloppy mistakes are easier to make in these conditions. It ups the percentage of injury, and destruction of valuable materials, tools, and your project.

5. Make sure to keep your work area free of clutter, debris, or precariously stacked items that may fall. It may sound a little OCD, but "A Place for Everything, and Everything in it's place." is a good practice. It helps move the project along much more smoothly, plus it cuts down on the possibility of accident or injury. Take a tour of an Automotive manufacting plant sometime. There's not a lot of clutter laying around. Ever wonder why?

6. If you get frustrated, take a break. It is of no use trying to work in that condition. Go for a walk, play a game, post here on the FORUMS! You might just find the solution to the problem when you least expect it. This keeps you from getting "punchy" and possibly injuring yourself.

7. Chemicals. This is where you need to take great care in your prevenatative measures. There are many chemicals that can be used when you are modifying or building your project. Make sure you read the instructions for use provided by the manufacturer. Store Caustic or flammable chemicals in a secure, non flammable cabinet.

8. Try to find a secure area to work in. You don't want pets, children, friends, or other family members getting hurt. Make sure you have adequate electrical service in your work area, and make sure that all outlets are grounded properly.

9. ELECTRICITY- It CAN injure or KILL you if you do not take proper precautions. Most of the voltages, wattage, and Amperages you will be working with are relatively safe. HOWEVER, It's always good practice to make sure you are adequately insulated JUST IN CASE. Wear rubber soled shoes. Make sure all of your power cables for your tools and equipment are in good condition, and make sure they are properly shielded.

10. Keep a fire extingushier in your work area. All homes should have at least one anyway. Make sure it is the proper rating, and keep it in good working order.

11. Have someone check on you periodically while working. Just in case of injury or accident. It would be unfortunate if something were to happen, and no one were around to help if you needed assitance.

Recommended Tools And Materials

You will be working with several different types of tools when creating your saber. Below, I have listed some basic and recommended tools that will be quite beneficial in your ventures. Consider it a BASIC Sabersmithing toolkit.

  • Shatter resistant Safety glasses (I use 3M)
  • Bench or Tabletop Vise and clamps
  • Dremeltm or similar rotary tool with flex shaft and accessories. This is a very handy thing to have!
  • Screwdrivers, Phillips head, Standard bladed, and security (optional)
  • Precision or Jeweller's screwdriver set
  • Allen (hex) wrenches
  • Hammer and punch set
  • Long-nosed pliers (various sizes)
  • Strap wreches
  • Drill or drill press
  • Tap and dies: 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-32, 12-24
  • Tubing or pipe cutter
  • Coping saw or hacksaw
  • Digital Voltage or Multi-Meter
  • Soldering Iron w/heatsink, solder and flux
  • De-soldering tool or copper wicking for solder removal
  • Wire cutters, or side cuts
  • Wire Stripping tool
  • Heat shrink tubing (preferred) or electrician's tape (not recommended)
  • Pick and probe set
  • Anti-Static Wrist Strap (optional but highly recommended)
  • A few spools of hook-up wire, 18-24 AWG. Stranded or single conductor is fine
  • Metal polish of your choosing (will discuss this later)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Heat gun or hair dryer

The previous list is the BASIC stuff. Not all of it is required, but it's all recommended. As you get more advanced, you can move into the realms of Lathes, Mill tables, Bandsaws, CNC, etc. For now I am sticking to the basics.

Layout and Design

Okay, NOW we're talking!  8) This is one of, if not THE most time consuming and important steps of your build. This is where you use your creative energies, inspiration, and ideas to give life to the saber that lives in your head! Take some time on this, the more you work in this area, the better your end result will be.

Think of what you want the saber to look like. Go ahead...Close your eyes and imagine what character would carry this elegant weapon of a more civilised (or uncivilised if you so choose) age. Watch Star Wars! How do you want your saber to convey it's owner's personality. Not only is the saber a weapon, but an extension of the wielder's body and spirit.

Grab a sheet of paper (Or a REAM) and your favorite method or conveyance of artistic thought (pen, pencil, crayon, stick in the sand, paint, whatever you feel comfortable with). You don't have to be DaVinci here, so rough sketches are the best idea. Just get the "feel" of your design, let it flow through you. USE the FORCE! It's there, just feel it. (This is encouragement for those that have trouble with drawing.

Some of you might use Drafting techniques (I prefer this after initial sketches), others might go a little easier and use graph paper (I recommend 10X10 to the inch grid). Using graph paper helps you get a feel for scale and dimension.

Think of how your saber will be assembled. What materials do you want to start with? Are you using an MR Force-FX and just converting it? MHS parts? Or is building the most AWESOME sinktube Saber you've ever had the priveledge to witness, more your speed? Are you using EL, LED strips, or Luxeons? Will your saber be a dueler, or a wall hanger, or BOTH? Will you be using a Vintage or replica Graflex, Heiland, MPP, or Kobold flash? Special considerations must be taken for vintage stuff, so be aware of this! More on that later!

If the saber is to have sound; what board will you use? MR? Hasbro? UltraSound? Plecterlabs Crystal Focus? Or will you be building a stunt saber without sound?

What type od LED and battery setup do you plan on using? Will you go with a rechargeable setup with an in hilt charging system?

After you have worked these thoughts through. It's time to make your choices of electronics, materials, and how much time and money you want to put into this saber.

That's all I have for today. Feel free to add your comments, concerns, ideas in topic! :)

~Lord Tyrannus

« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 02:42:11 AM by DARTH TYRANUS »

Offline darthmorbius

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Re: A guide for new sabersmiths. Taking those first steps!
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 02:39:59 AM »
MR FX...To Convert or Not to Convert?

One method of custom saber building is the conversion of an existing saber. A lot of people enjoy doing this as a living, or hobby. In the past, this was a very viable option, and still is to some extent. However, due to the fact that Master Replicas and Lucas could not come to an agreement for the licensing, Force-FX Lightsabers will definitely become more scarce.

There are collectors that will keep their MR sabers in stock condition for value later on, and this is a good idea, but some of us have too much inclination to "Make it better" than to leave them alone. If this is the route you are willing to take. You're in luck my friends!

You have the option of a few places that will suit your needs nicely. These saber enthusiasts, and artisans are the first places you should look!

Ultra Sabers: This is the place to go if you are in need of a conversion or conversion kit for your saber. Alex and Todd are some great fellows who will always do you right. They offer custom sabers, as well as "Do It Yourself" conversion kits and service for all current LED models of the MR line. They also offer parts, Their awesome UltraBlades, a new sound module, kids sabers, stunt sabers, and many other future developments are in the works!  All of their DIY kits come with detailed step by step instructions on CD-ROM, and can be done in your own time! Definitely check them out!

The Custom Saber Shop (TCSS): This is the place to go for HEAVY dueling MR Conversion kits, MHS supplies, Electronics, Sinktube supplies, Corbin's LED driver and blades/bladefilm, tools, you name it, they can get it to you. They also have Forums and tutorials attached to the Store, that has a plethora of saber related knowledge for your perusal!

MR conversions offer a removable blade, even, bright lighting, and duel worthiness that you just don't get with a stock FX. Most of the conversions are rather easy, save for some mechanical aptitude, basic soldering skills, and steady hands, and should pose little problem to the casual Initiate.

There are also lots of members right here at FX-Sabers that are very knowledgeable in the workings of the MR line that are willing to help. Just read around, and ask! ;)

A Long Time Ago....There was Graflex!

What about "vintage"? You may ask. Well, let's take a step back in time to the late 70's! The year was 1977, and a certain "Space Opera" we unleashed upon us. It carried with it a very special thing called the "Lightsaber". People immediately saw this as an Icon of Star Wars, and ever since that day in May 1977, people have wanted that laser sword!

Now you too can have your very own... If you work for it!

Finding a decent vintage 1940's Graflex 3-Cell to work with is becoming quite the treasure hunt these days. Shutterbugs are not coming off these flashes cheaply to say the least. Yes, they can be found on ebay from time to time, all in varied stages of condition, but the prices can become very wallet-destroyingly high very quickly for one in good condition.

One option is the replica flashes made by Parks. They are very nice pieces, and can suit your needs nicely for a very convincing replica.

If you are looking at converting one of these yourself look no further than right here at FX-Sabers. Our very own Master YODA can offer up a kit for you in the near future. Or you can have him convert your vintage or replica graflex into a MASTERPIECE.

Conversion kits and supplies for Graflex, Heiland, and MPP Flashes can also be found at the following sites:

The Graflex Shop

If you are having trouble with a certain part of your graflex conversion, just ask Yoda! He knows his stuff! ;)