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Dragon*Con: Lightsaber

This year I will be going to my very first Dragon*Con, and I feel compelled to go in costume. I should be able to get plenty of mileage out of SCA clothes, but I figured I should do at least one non-historical costume. Given the time I have available and what I would look plausible in, I decided on a generic Jedi costume. I have yet to start on any of the actual clothes, but I have now put together the essential accessory: a lightsaber.

The vast majority of this project came from stuff I already had, or found in my parents' garage. The core components are a decommissioned toilet fill tube and a cut-down extension wand from a 30+ year old vacuum. The two halves of the fill tube screw together quite snugly, and fit inside the vacuum tube perfectly. When I first test-fit the pieces, I couldn't help playing with it, which resulted in dropping it on a hardwood floor and breaking the top of the fill tube. I was able to put it back together with model glue, though I had to sacrifice the four flanges at the very top, as one of them had broken off completely and disappeared.

Here you can see the initial painting stages. Most pieces were painted with Krylon silver or gold spray paint. The wooden dowel in the center would be used later on the pommel. At the bottom of this picture you can see the body of the activation switch, which was cut down from the body of a windshield wiper. I re-sprayed it black to cover up the cut edges.

Once the base coat of paint was applied, I assembled the two main sections. You can see where the dowel was cut into pieces and attached to the pommel. These were attached with E-6000 glue, as were all the rest of the bits that were glued on in this project. Before assembling the main body section, each part was given the Magic Dip treatment. I dipped each piece into a can of tinted polyurethane, then let most of it drip off. I then shook off what I could and wiped the rest off the raised surfaces, leaving some in the cracks and crevices. I'm not sure if it was because of the weather or the base coat of paint, but the polyurethane remained sticky for a long time (maybe I was just impatient), so I later added a coat of spray matte varnish.

Here's a detail shot of the inside of the emitter, showing the shading effect of the varnish.

I needed a way to attach a D-ring to the pommel, and had trouble figuring out the best way to do it. In the end, I cut a piece of dowel, wrapped it in duct tape until it fit very snugly inside the tube, then drilled through the tube and plug and inserted a cut down finishing nail as a retaining pin (this is covered by the silver ring). I glued a washer on top of the plug, but later decided to cover it further before attaching the D-ring assembly.

This part gave me the most trouble. I couldn't lay my hands on a gold bus connector for the activator switch (let alone a bubble strip), so I ended up just cutting down a plain sheet of brass. It looks okay, I suppose, but it's not ideal. To bulk up the switch I added a piece of black-dyed leather, then screwed the whole thing to the body of the hilt. I pre-drilled the holes, but perhaps didn't go far enough, as a heard an ominous crack as I tightened each screw. Hopefully whatever broke was not structurally significant. The brass plate is simply glued in place.

Here's another shot of the emitter, with the adjuster knob installed. This was one of the few pieces I actually had to buy (the total budget for the whole project was $1.80). I had cut down the nipple at the top of the fill tube early on, then whittled it down further until I could screw the acorn nut on. It's very secure, even without glue.

The D-ring assembly is where the rest of the money went. I added a cut-down screw top from a dried up bottle of Gorilla Glue before attaching the ring. I drilled a hole in the wooden plug just big enough that the machine threads on the screw would bite. The hex screw, washer, and D-ring I had to buy; the sheet brass that actually holds the ring I already had.

The grips are made from two different windshield wiper blades. I cut the blade bits off and just used the blocky rubber base of each, then alternated different styles when attaching them.

So there it is. It was a fun project, and hopefully it will hold up well enough to get through Dragon*Con.

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It was an awful lot of fun. :)

Most impressive! I hope to see you there. I believe I will be spending the weekend in my highly recognizable "Con Mom' costume.

DUDE! I love it! Nice job. :)

I will be mostly in SW costume so yay! I will be using my phone but rarely, but will be trying to pay for some data on my phone so will be able to Facebook, twitter and tumblr easily :) But I'll email you my mobile soon anyway to make sure we do catch up :)

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