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DIY Lightsabers

Make Your Own Star Wars Lightsaber

Every once and awhile a TPI sales trends will reveal a new trend in popular culture.

A few years ago we noticed an increase in quote requests from individuals looking to make their own aquarium, which corresponded with multiple new television shows about custom aquarium manufactures.

Do-it-yourself LED projects became popular many years ago, such as under-mounts in kitchen cabinetry. In response, we noticed an increase in requests from DIYers for backlit, frosted acrylic. In fact, whenever a popular HGTV star incorporates a new material into their design, we tend to see an immediate response. Another example was home-built greenhouses incorporating mutli-wall (or twin-wall) polycarbonate.

Jewelry, signage, picture framing, custom cases or displays, counter and table tops, laser cut wall partitions, artwork, boat repair … so many popular DIY projects incorporate material we commonly stock. It never makes up a huge portion of our overall business, but it does result in some of the most interesting finished pieces and we love seeing them.

Which brings us to today and the latest trend. Never in our 40-plus year history has polycarbonate tubing been a big seller, until recently. Suddenly, it’s flying out the door and it made us wonder, why?

The answer, DIY lightsabers! Yes, hundreds of feet of polycarbonate tubing are being used by Star Wars enthusiasts worldwide to recreate the iconic lightsaber. And based on what we’re seeing online, these aren’t cheap children’s toy. The DIY lightsabers that are being made are movie-set quality.

From the DIY posts, most are using about 1-inch diameter clear polycarbonate tubing. Why polycarbonate? Well, it’s virtually unbreakable. As opposed to acrylic, and of course glass, polycarbonate will not shatter. Polycarbonate will scratch and my eventually “buckle” in a weakened area, but it will not crack or shatter when struck by another object. As a clear material, it’s also perfect for LED lights to give the lightsaber its distinctive glow.

As far as blade length, well, that could depend on the size of the Jedi who’s wielding it. A short, green Jedi, for instance, had a blade of 24 inches. However, common lengths for the polycarbonate tube “blade” will be 32-40 inches, with an inch or two extra in the hilt for stability. To mimic a newer model lightsaber, polycabonate is also being used as a cross guard in the hilt.

From the DIY lightsaber posts that we’re seeing, the polycarbonate tube is one of the less expensive components to the DIY lightsaber. Intricate hilt designs, some original and some replicating actual lightsabers from the franchise, make up a bulk of the cost and labor. The hilts, often made from aluminum, often house a sound board and LED control component.

A simple Google search for DIY lightsabers will reveal a lot of options. For the “high-end” lightsabers, costs appear to vary between $70-$250.

Here are a few online resources:

Check out the comments section on the “Amazon Polycarbonate Tubing product page for more resources and suggestions

We applaud the creativity of Star Wars fans and their ability to recreate the iconic weapon. We love seeing the finished work and, moreover, we love seeing our common materials turned into uncommon works. From ordinary to extraordinary!

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