Modular Practical-Effects Lightsaber


The lightsaber I will attempt to build is outlined in this Corridor Crew video: Essentially, an uneven rod of retro-reflective tape is attached to a rotary tool, and light is shined on this spinning rod to generate a shiny, lightsaber effect. When the rod spins, the amount of rod’s surface area exposed to the light changes, which causes the mechanism to appear as if it is “flickering” the way a lightsaber would.

A lightsaber as outlined in the video has advantages over the LED lightsabers often sold today. One is that there are no exposed electrical parts in this design. All the lightsabers that I’ve owned are composed of a string of LEDs within a tinted plastic shell, and one solid hit renders them completely useless, as the LEDs break and the circuit never completes. A practical lightsaber doesn’t do this, since there are no electrical components that will be subject to blunt force. Practical lightsabers also produce a shinier, more saturated glow than plastic lightsabers.

However, there are still some issues with the designs in the video. One is that it requires an external light source. Since retro-reflective tape bounces light right back to its source, the amount of reflection will vary greatly based on minute changes in viewing angles. The only way to see the most reflection would be to stand in the exact same place that the LED is shining from. An LED embedded into the lightsaber will not solve this problem, since the tape will reflect the light back into the lightsaber, and not towards our eyes. On top of this, the design is not modular, meaning that I couldn’t change the color of my lightsaber or the shape of my hilt even if I wanted to.

To solve these problems, I will:

  1. Use PLA filament to 3D-print custom attachments for the lightsaber
  2. Thread a string of LED lights through it to shine into the retro-reflective tape, and use a one-way mirror coating to ensure the light diffuses instead of reflecting into the lightsaber

I want to make this lightsaber because:

  1. The process of making a lightsaber is spiritual in nature, and something that is treasured throughout Star Wars canon. I want to experience that for myself.
  2. I like making videos of things, and this will be a cool thing to take a video of.
  3. I will brush up on CAD skills that have been left sorely unused.


  1. Design hilt with Fusion 360. This casing around the rotary tool will have space for a battery pack for the LED lights, and a slot at the top that will attach to the acrylic tube.
  2. Hollow out an acrylic tube, stick a one-way mirror coating onto the tube, and thread a series of LED lights through it.
  3. Place retro-reflective tape on 3 long strips of cardboard. These will reflect the light from the LEDs.
  4. Assembly. The battery pack and rotary tool will be embedded into the casing, the acrylic tube will be attached to the slot at the top, and the strips of taped cardboard will be glued to the sides of the tube.


1-Way Mirror Film$13.99
Acrylic Dowels$16.99
String Lights$13.99
Retro-Reflective Tape$9.97
PLA Filament$39.99
Rotary Tool$21.99
3D Printer Tools Kit$23.69
3D Printer$199.00
Shipping + Tax$5.99 + $22.38