In lieu of an Ephemeris chapter this week (next week is a big ‘un), I present my build of the crossguard lightsaber from the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer! I made this and tweeted it within 24 hours of the trailer’s release; that’s how excited I was. But I decided to take some better photos and write about the process a bit.
I’ve seen a few other builds of the crossguard lightsaber – which I’ve kept referring to as the ‘plasma claymore’, because of the side emitters and the way the blades ripple like blowtorches – but they’ve all been pretty woefully inaccurate to the visual design, aside from having three emitters. I took a screengrab and played with the levels in Photoshop until the details were visible, just like Screen Rant also did, saving me the trouble of exporting and uploading my own.
As you can see, it’s not just a bunch of tubes (like the internet?) in a cruciform; it has a different shape entirely. The side emitters taper as they join the hilt, and there’s a large bevelled cylinder which all three emitter heads slot into above the grip area. The pommel also expands outwards, like a plastic table foot thing with lines hand-carved into it. I reverse-engineered the measurements of each part by measuring my own hand across the knuckles, and using that as the measurement across the actor/actress’ hand in the screengrab. Then I calculated everything from there.
I made most of the pieces from scratch out of wood. It would have been way easier if I owned a lathe. Instead, I jury-rigged one by connecting the wooden pieces to my drill press via a long bolt and nut. If you try that yourself, just be careful the drill doesn’t vibrate the nut undone and fling your project at high speed across the workshop! I mention this for no reason. Cough.
The emitter cover was the trickiest part to make. I took a section of plastic pipe, then to make it solid I hole-sawed a cylinder of wood and tapped it in with a hammer. To get the bevelling done – and a lot of the other large-scale sanding – I put a large sanding disk into the head of a drill, which I then locked into a table vice, creating a sort of haphazard disk sander. I would not recommend this method. After bevelling it, I drilled a series of holes and cut them out to make the slice out of the front. To make the slots for the side emitters, I drilled a small hole right through to grip the smaller interior piece, then two larger holes either side to snugly fit the actual emitters. The interior piece and emitters I made out of some plumbing parts that I cut and glued.
Then, I fitted all those pieces together and glued them.
The pommel I scratch-made by hand, from a piece of wood and some aluminium sheeting that I made into a cube. The grip part was some dowelling, which I hand-carved the designs into. Since there’s a gloved hand covering the entire grip in the trailer, I just went with an intentionally milquetoast design of my own imagining. Then everything was sanded down for neatness.
To connect all three segments together, I left the dowelling long on either side of the grip, which I carved down to a narrower diameter. Then I just drilled matching holes into the pommel and emitter head, and glued it all together. Before gluing them, though, I painted each part. I sprayed the wooden parts with a satin black, and the metal and plastic parts with a matte black, though I pre-sanded the interior emitter part to get some contrast between the inner and outer parts. It doesn’t show so well in photos, but I also tried to let some of the original bronze of the side emitters show through, because I like how orange they go in the trailer when the blades light up. (I know that’s because they’re heating up, but I figured it adds a bit more tonal variety.) I probably would have done a more careful painting job, but there weren’t any other builds of the crossguard lightsaber online yet, and I wanted to get it done quickly!
Now I just need that little omniball astromech droid (R2-Bchball? P3-L3?) and I’m all set.
Honestly, sometimes the best comics come simply from Robert and I trying to make each other laugh. Neither of us ever ‘got’ the baseball sex metaphor (sidenote: best name for a band), and we discovered that’s because there’s two different sets of meaning for second and third base, which makes it kind of confusing. I still don’t understand how baseball got so inextricably caught up in describing sex. Is it something about whacking balls with a wooden shaft? Maybe I’ve been doing things wrong all this time.