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Satele Shan Inspired Lightsaber
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rogue9607 (Nick)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:45 pm    Post subject: Satele Shan Inspired Lightsaber Reply with quote

This thread is being stickied because it is an incredible tutorial on how to build a lightsaber with detailed etching techniques.

-Roger "SithariRog" Allen, DCO, KJO
I've been on the board here for a while as I worked on a couple of projects and finally have one nearly-complete that I wanted to share. This project has kept me from putting the final touches on my Jedi costume, and now that it's mostly out of the way, I hope to be officially joining you soon!

Late last year when SW:TOR launched, my wife saw Satele Shan's lightsaber in the Hope trailer and immediately said "I want her saber, but with a Tiffany Blue blade!" Having never built a saber before, or worked with metal, I initially brushed it off as something crazy I'd never be able to do. However, like many things that sound crazy at first, it planted a seed and soon I found myself researching what went into building a saber. To my amazement, I found myself thinking I could actually do it!

I started with an order of aluminum tubing and sheet aluminum, and after many challenging hours, I managed to assemble a nearly-final product five hours before Celebration VI began. (a deadline I'd been telling myself I would make after having the project slip past my wife's birthday)

My wife has named this saber "Holly" (after "Holly Golightly" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"). So, I'm proud to present... Holly!







Some of the color options: Tiffany Blue, Red, Green, and Blue





Thanks for looking!
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miralys51 (Jackie)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice! Congrats on a sharp-looking design Very Happy

I'd love to learn more about the build process for something like this.
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rogue9607 (Nick)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have quite a few pictures from the process. I'll try to cover it all without going too far overboard... Please let me know if you have any questions.

First, I needed to get a good reference shot to design from, so I broke the Hope trailer into frame-by-frame screenshots. This one was the best I could find and used it as the base for my Sketchup model.


I started with a 2D view to visualize how the different pieces fit together and eventually made a 3D version.


I never got a shot of the materials as the came out of the box, but this was just after I got things cut to rough length.


I should mention that I don't really have any metal-working tools, just woodworking tools. So, I got creative with a lot of my setups/jigs. This was my jig for cutting the tubes to length.


I used a disc sander and a guide block to generally square up/finish the cuts.


Since I lack both a lathe and a mill, I put the radial arm saw to use. I do not recommend this setup, but it ultimately worked. I used a dremel bit along with a series of very thin shims so that I could make *very* small passes.


Eventually I had the grooves all done and dry fit things together to see the general proportion.


The angles on the end were also done on the RAS with lots of small passes.


I rough cut the fin pieces on the band saw and then finished them up with a lot of time filing and sanding.


For the switch bodies, I first cut blocks to the right length/width and then hollowed out the back so they'd sit on the hilt. After that I cut away as much as I could on the bandsaw before finishing them with the belt sander, files, dremel, and grinder.


For the acid etching, I did a ton of testing with different mixtures, resists, etc. This was the results of the last test.


For the resist, I ended up drawing the patterns for the hilt and emitter in illustrator and then printed them out on PNP Blue transfer sheets.


I wrapped each piece with the PNP Blue sheets as tightly as I could and secured with clear packing tape.


It was then time to bake the piece for 15 minutes at 325 degrees.


This is what the piece looked like after baking. The sections of toner get much darker when they transfer to the aluminum.


Removing the transfer sheets shows a decent, but far from perfect transfer.



To fill in the missing sections, I used some Testors model enamel. I also taped off the ends so that acid could not get inside the tubes. I painted the seams between tape and aluminum so the acid would not leak through (something that had been a problem in testing).


This was my etching setup. Water, root kill, salt, and another bottle used as a measuring cup. After etching, I removed the toner/paint resist with acetone.


For the switch buttons, I needed 3/8" discs. I made a scrap piece of aluminum look like swiss cheese and used that as a mask for a spray paint resist.


I went back to the acid to etch around the discs to give myself something to cut/grind/file to.


After some fine tuning, I got everything to sit flush.


I used a series of polishing wheels on a bench grinder (my only power tool purchase for this project) to clean up the pieces before assembly.


I don't have a good writeup for the electronics portion yet, but mostly because that part had some issues and is likely only temporary until I can gather the parts to completely rework it.
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jungilizt (Eddie)
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey hey! I saw you at CVI with this and it was awesome!
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is VERY nice!!!

I'd be interested in knowing (more specifically) how you did the angles and such and how the tubes all fit together.

I've got a wood turning lathe, and am assuming (from what I've read) that I can turn aluminum on it. I can't wait to try it...been wanting to start a lightsaber making project for...wow, two years now.

Any thoughts on me using a wood turning lathe with aluminum...please let me know!
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Padawan_Lucie (Lucie Peake)
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Omg! I love this! I wish I had one!!


-is sooooo jealous!!!!-
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Lora Skywalker ()
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is one really good looking lightsaber! Very Happy Love it! Mr. Green
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rogue9607 (Nick)
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone.

I did the angles with a dremel bit in the chuck of the radial arm saw. I set the appropriate angle and then positioned a stop block so that the emitter barely fit between the bit and the block. I then used some thin metal pieces (1/32" I think) to control the depth of each pass. I'll see if I have some more pics of that part.

For the tubes, there are five pieces (two emitters, two hilt sections, and a connector) that slide together and are held with set screws.

I've read some about using a wood lathe for aluminum, but I've also read some horror stories. I'm a bit hesitant to try it since the wood lathe wouldn't have the precision for perfectly fitting pieces or threading. I'll probably try to mount a dremel as a make shift mill for my next project.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good
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Tag Aldeggon ()
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the most beautiful lightsabers I have ever seen. Stupendous work!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Allow me to add to the chorus here and say that this is a gorgeous piece of work. I'd be proud to to own something even remotely similar!

-Alex
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Schph Gochi (Phyllis Schulte)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

all I can say is


WOW

Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked
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Mara Skywalker (Anna)
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that is soooooo beautiful! Shocked
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rogue9607,

Would you be willing to help me out with some etching on my lightsabers? I have some ideas that I want to do; on two of the sabers that I am building. NO pressure just asking.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been back and forth on this thread a few times tonight jsut to look at the this saber it is stunning!
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