I originally got my idea for this lightsaber when I was reading Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter
by Michael Reaves. In the book, there is a passage that reads something along the lines of, "...the intricately wound wire hilt...very unique..." or something like that. Well, being a fencer (and having handled a rapier or two in my time), I thought, "Well, why can't I make something like that? That wiring on rapier hilts always looks very nice, and feels great to hold. I should do something like that."
So, I did. This saber hilt is constructed completely out of hardware store parts, with one exception, which we'll come to in a minute. The hilt is a 3/4" diameter double female pipe, which has a dull black matte finish. I picked up two end pieces for the emitter and pommel, both of brass, and hand-wound the brass wire grip. One can see the beginning of the winding process below - the wires are temporarily held in place with rubber bands.
Originally, the plan was just to have the wire wrapped around one way, or clockwise around the 3/4'' pipe. However, I wasn't entirely pleased with how that turned out - it certainly looked nice, but the individual wires moved around too much in my hand, and I was curious to see how the hilt would look with the wiring wrapped both ways.
Of course, the above image doesn't give a great idea of what the hilt would look like with the wire wrapped around both ways, for the same reason that it was hard to imagine what the single layer of wire would look like from the first image. It's too hard to visualize.
So, I ended up wrapping it around both clock-wise and counter-clockwise, but discovered a problem, on the third wire of the second layer. What would keep the second layer from pulling away from the first, aside from an incredible amount of pressure on the ends? I tried weaving the wires, unsuccessfully, and had to scrap an entire wire section because I bent it up so badly. I ended up with a badly bent lower layer, and a messy upper layer. So, I went back to layering the counter-clockwise layer over the clock-wise one, without the wires interacting at all.
So, finally, I got to see how the wires looked when both layers of wire were on the "hilt," which didn't look a great deal like a hilt at that point in time. The wires were spaced irregularly, and I was pretty much ready to give up. The hilt didn't look very nice at all, and I was really quite unhappy with how my efforts had turned out. I originally was gluing brass strips to the hilt to hold the wires in place, but those kept pulling away from the wires, due to the memory of the brass. Naturally, the wires came with. I reglued four or five times, but once I lost all feeling in my fingertips due to hot-glue burns (brass is an amazing heat conductor, if anyone was wondering), I gave up.
My father, however, came to the rescue. He had some extra hose clamps downstairs in the garage, and he helped me apply them. We put them on, roughly where I wanted them, and got the wires more firmly attached to the hilt. However, the wires were still having spacing issues, and I really wanted the hose clamps aligned in a straight line. Naturally, I'm cursed with sweaty hands, so I couldn't do much loosening, minute adjustment, and tightening of the hose clamps before they became to slippery to work with, and gloves weren't helping. But, I just kept coming back, and eventually, after hours and hours of work (but only about half as long as the wiring took...), I got the wires spaced properly, the hose clamps aligned, and everything tightened down so nothing was going anywhere. The above picture shows where I was at this point.
After tightening the clamps, all I had to do was polish and screw on the emitter and pommel. However, something was missing, and I didn't really think I'd do very well in the contest with such mediocre worksmanship. I did my best on the saber, and it turned out as well as I could get it, but I knew I couldn't compete with some other guys on the boards. My hollow little saber had no chance in this contest, and I really felt bad about it looking at it. The emitter unscrewed! No real lightsaber does that!
See? Look how odd that is!
Then, inspiration struck. Maybe having the emitter unscrew wasn't such a bad deal. After all, what do all the board members love, and value above all other saber-related-things? Master Yoda's elegant crystal chambers! While mine comes nowhere near the scale or beauty of Master Yoda's wonderful works of art, I did create some "guts" for my saber. I went out into the woods with my sister and my golden retriever, and went quartz crystal hunting. I wanted one with interesting facets, decent clarity, and that was sized appropriately. I didn't think I was going to find anything, but, lo and behold, I did. This quartz crystal is the only item that is a part of my saber that didn't come from the hardware store, the one exception mentioned above.
Installing this thing was another matter entirely. I had to hang it inside an interesting-looking assembly, without glue cluttering it up, prevent it from moving around, make a nice looking crystal chamber, all the while dealing with the space constraints! However, after three hours and dozens of glue burns (which my poor fingertips still haven't recovered from - what we go through for our art), I finally had a chamber that fit the bill, using the scrap brass wire and plating from the hilt, and some old electrical wire I found in the garage, for accents. Found parts are awesome! I'm pleased with this chamber, and I like how it turned out.
Here's another picture of the Jm419 Crystal Chamber
Ver. 1.0, on a dark background, to help delineate the crystal itself.
Well, maybe my humble little saber might have a chance after all.
And, so ends my presentation of my saber, which I'm christening "Elegance."
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and I suppose I can consider myself a hardware-store sabersmith now. The hilt feels good and solid in my hand, and is perfectly sized for my style of one-handed dueling. The wires don't move around anymore. The crystal chamber itself does fit inside the saber, but since the body piece of the hilt is all one piece, I can't take pictures of the crystal chamber inside the hilt itself. Oh well. If only. I got some nice presentation pictures, anyway.
I hope you enjoyed my presentation of my humble little saber hilt, and I certainly enjoyed building it. It was something to look forward to at the end of the day, something to have at the end of the day that would be fun to do, and a real challenge of both intellectual problem solving and physical problem solving, as well as burn endurance. I'll get a nice case for it, and display this one on a shelf in my room, whether it wins a prize or not. Elegance
is quite a prize in itself. Who knows? Maybe I'll even pick up a nice 3/4" blade for it, along with a LED for the blade. One thing's for sure - Elegance
will always have a special place in my saber collection, and I'll be sure to enjoy it for years to come.SABER SPECS:
Length (body tube): 8 In.
Length (crystal chamber): 3 and 1/4 In.
Length (overall): 10 and 5/16 In.
Diameter (body tube): 1 and 1/16 In.
Diameter (crystal chamber) 3/4 In.
Diameter (maximum): 1 and 9/16 In.