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Thread: How to construct an LED Blade (or, at least, how I do it)

  1. #1

    Default How to construct an LED Blade (or, at least, how I do it)

    I needed to make a blade for a saber, so I thought this time, why not snap a few pictures while I was doing for a simple tutorial! This should give custom saber buyers an idea of what goes into making up a blade, and for those that would like to try it themselves, as well!

    So, here we go:

    The first thing you'll need is a polycarbonate tube. In this case, we have a 36" long, 1" o.d. (outside diameter) thin-walled piece. (It has an inside diameter of 7/8"). We also have a 9 foot long, 30" wide roll of polypropylene (cellophane gift wrap). I use my kitchen counter, as it's about the easiest to clean surface in my house. You want to do this in as clean of a room as possible, and with out any air movement. (Try not to do it near a heat duct when your A/C or furnace is running, or you'll get a lot of dust and hair contamination in the blade.) Since the polyp film is full of static, any particle of dust or pet hair will stick to it, so clean the work surface prior to starting.

    Make sure your blade tube is clean as well, especially if you had to cut it to length. I use a 3/8 dowel rod and a small piece of tack cloth to clean the interior of the tube. The tack cloth will pick up the dust particles that might be inside. Stuff the cloth into one end of the tube, and then push it through to the other end using the dowel rod. Repeat as necessary!

    Because this roll of film is only 30" wide, we'll have to cut our film along the length of the film, rather than across the width:


    Lay the blade across the film and give yourself enough film to trim some off later if you must. I usually cut it to about the same length of the blade just for that reason. You'll see why in a few moments. Cut the film:

    I have to use a pair of fabric shears, as they are the sharpest pair we have. If you do it right, you can cut the film just like you would regular paper gift wrap....just hold down the film and shear as straight of a line through the film as possible.

    When you have it cut, get a 3/4" dowel rod. Make sure you have a straight one! Lay the dowel rod across the film like so:


    Roll the film up on the dowel rod:

    Make sure the film is fairly tight, but not so tight that it doesn't move on the dowel. It also helps to roll it as straight across the dowel as possible, to keep the ends of the film in line. You really only need to make sure that one end is straight. That end will go into the tube first, to butt up against the blade tip. When it's rolled up, it will look like this:

    It'll look a little bit like a chrome rod!

    Slide it into the blade tube:

    Repeat this step as necessary, to add more film. I used another roll, cut the exact same way, but rolled up on a slightly smaller dowel rod...I used a 5/8" for this second roll, and installed that roll inside the first one.

    With the film inside the blade, I added the blade tip to check the film:

    Your blade film on the tip end needs to be straight to properly sit against the bottom of the blade tip. If it's not, slide the film out of the blade about 3 inches, and trim the edge with the scissors. This is why you want a little bit extra length on your film roll!

    The other end of the film should be about 1/4" - 1/8"short of the end of the polyc tube. You may have to trim this as well.


    Now's a good time to test it:

    If your blade isn't evenly lit enough for you, add another roll of film. Or, if you have a wider film roll, use a longer roll. When I have a roll wide enough to roll the film across the width, I'll roll up about 6 feet of polyp film for a 32"-36" long blade.

    With the film to your liking, you can now glue the blade tip to the polyc tube:

    I use Weld-On #16, as it's an acrylic welder, not really a glue. It chemically bonds the two pieces of polyc to each other for a tight fit. This is probably the best thing for the do-it-yourselfer to use. Get it at TAP Plastics. Another option is Weld-On #3, but that is a liquid, and can make a mess if you aren't careful. Weld-On #16 is a gel, and is easier to apply.

    Apply a small bead* to the edge of the blade tip:

    *I actually put on a little too much here! :-[

    When you install the tip into the blade, give it a slight twist, to even the coverage of the cement. You might get some squeeze-out if you apply too much like I did:

    Just clean it off with your thumb nail. You can also sand some off with some 400 or better grit sand paper.


    All cleaned! Be sure to allow 24 hours for the Weld-On to fully cure.

    The next thing to do is to glue in the blade film. This is why you want to have the film be a bit shorter than the tube. We're going to use some hot-glue to keep the film from falling out when you remove your blade:


    Apply a bead large enough to cover the edge of the film rolls, and also the polyc tube.

    The final step? Install the blade in your saber, and have fun!
    Last edited by Lord Maul; 02-05-2009 at 05:22 PM. Reason: fixed a picture

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  2. #2

  3. #3

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    So, I know this has been talked about before, but I'd like your opinion Jinn. I noticed that you did not use the polyethylene diffuser from the store at all. What do you think of using the polyethylene and the cellophane together? Is it better to have the cellophane between the polycarbonate blade and the polyethylene diffuser? Or have the polyethylene between the blade and the cellophane? Or do you think it's better to use one or the other and not both? From what I've read, I'm leaning towards either putting the cellophane between the blade and the polyethylene, or only using the cellophane. But before I commit to either one, I'd like the opinion of someone else. Great tutorial BTW. I've been debating on whether or not I want to try this. But I was kind of nervous about trying to figure out how. This tutorial puts that worry at ease, though. Thank you!
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  4. #4
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    Default

    The poly"e" diffuser is actually for EL blades, not LED. It doesn't say in the Store what the thinner walled diffuser tube for the LED blades is made from.

    You don't want to use polyethylene tubing for LED blades, it's a small ID and would block much of the light transmission up the blade.

    If you mean the diffuser meant for the LED blade, I have heard of people using the cellophane wrap inside the diffuser tube to even out the light, but you can't put it between the diffuser tube and the blade. It's impossible in the thick walled polycarb tubes and would be extremely difficult to insert the same diffuser tube into the thin walled blade with cellophane inside it first.



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  5. #5

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    The other option you have is to do an "Erv-style" blade that combines the Corbin film and polyp films. You would follow the same basic procedure shown above, but you would start with the Corbin film and then add the polyp to the inside of that after you install it.

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  6. #6

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    Great tutorial! Thanks for taking time to post the pics and explain. I'm curious why the tip is darker hued than the blade?

  7. #7
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    The last batch of tips Tim got were darker.
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  8. #8

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    Great tutorial. I have one question. Where did you get the gift wrap and what is the part number of it? I can't find wrap around here that looks like it would work.
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  9. #9
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    Most craft stores should have it.

    I got mine at Michael's.

    Anywhere that has lots of gift wrap should also have it.
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    you must sometimes risk the Dark.
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  10. #10

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    Is it clear cellophane wrap, semi-clear or what exactly is it called? Thanks for your help.
    May the Force be with you.

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