HOWTO: DIY Star Wars Light Saber Lamp
I saw these Star Wars light saber lamps online recently and really wanted one for my sci-fi-themed office. Unfortunately, I couldn’t justify spending $65 on it – and even if I could, they’re not actually out yet. Every place I have looked has them sold out or not available yet. But… could I make one? I remembered a toy light saber I had seen at recently for ~$10. I saw a DIY cityscape lampshade recently online not too long ago that I could use the same concepts for the shade. My daughter has an Ikea lamp that would be perfect for this. So, I made a Star Wars lightsaber lamp for about $20. Here’s how…
Supplies to buy/obtain
Hasbro toy light saber
These can be found for $10-$12. I got mine at Toys R Us (they’re on sale right now for $6.99 with free two-day shipping!). This is the extendable, non-electronic, non-battery required model (the others may work, but they aren’t what I used). These come in different styles – Darth Vader, Anakin, and Obi-Wan. Mine is done with Vader’s (because I liked the way it looked better than the others), but the same concepts should apply to the others. Light sabers at ToysRUs
(Ikea Hemma) lamp
Ikea has a few different sizes of this lamp. I used the 14″ size but you could use the longer ones if you wanted to (but I don’t think it would look as good). I got mine off of Craigslist, but they’re only $5 new. If you don’t have an Ikea around you, you should be able to find one that will work. You just need one that is thin enough to be housed inside the light saber – if you’re looking for a deal, look on Craigslist and local thrift/Goodwill stores. Ikea Hemma lamp
My lamp from Craigslist came with a shade (and might be Ortala), and Ikea has others for about $5 that might look cool too. The Skimra looks good and comes in black. The LÖBBO might make a cool one too.
You’ll need a washer to fit on top/over the saber. I got mine for 13 cents at Lowe’s. See the picture for measurements. I can’t give you the part number or anything because I found it in a bin it didn’t belong in. Take your light saber into Lowe’s if you have to – don’t be shy!
Flat black spray paint
If your shade isn’t already black, you’ll need to paint it. A single can of $1 flat black spray paint will do.
So, if you’re adding it up:
- light saber: $10
- Ikea lamp: $5
- lamp shade: $5
- washer: $0.13
- spray paint: $1
Total: $21.13 (plus tax)
Tools needed (I had these on hand)
- Wire cutters – you’re going to have to cut the lamp’s cord
- Wire strippers – you’ll need to strip the cord to put it back together
- Soldering iron/solder – to solder the wire back together
- Heat shrink tubing – to mend/protect your patch in the cord.
- Electrical tape – to mend/protect your patch in the cord.
- Drill and 3/8 drill bit – to put a hole in the bottom of the saber
- Hack saw – to cut the tip off the saber. You could really use anything that will cut thin plastic.
- Goggles – for safety
I did this over the course of a week or two as I figured out what I needed and where to get everything. If you round up everything ahead of time, this should be doable in about 2 hours or so.
Ok, let’s get started…
Spray paint your lamp shade. If your lamp shade isn’t black already, spray paint it black now. Paint the inside too – you want it to block light. I didn’t take before and after pics of this, but just spray paint it. I used fast-drying paint so it was dry in 15 minutes or so. Once dry, mount it on the lamp and turn it on. See if there are any spots you missed. If so, paint some more.
Spray paint the washer. You don’t technically need to do this, but if you don’t, it just looks like you put a washer on the light saber. If you spray paint it, it doesn’t look like a washer any more and looks like it was supposed to be there.
Cut the tip off of the light saber. This could actually be done a few ways but I’ll tell you how I did it. You could actually remove the entire extendable saber if you wanted to. I didn’t, thinking it would help support the lamp shaft better (and it does). Extend the saber fully and hold it up to a light to see where the very farthest piece extends into the saber. Then cut it so that that entire top piece is gone. You’ll have to cut about halfway into the second joint. The reason you’re doing this is so that the lamp will have a hole in the saber to pass through. If you only cut an inch off the tip, you can look into it and see that there is no pass through hole.
Drill a hole in the bottom of the saber. This was the one I was most nervous about – not knowing if this would work, or if it was hollow or what. I did this with 4 successive drill bits. I started small and worked my way up to the 3/8, each time, widening the hole with a larger bit. The 3/8 drill bit is the perfect size. I thought I would need something to make it stick and not rattle but it wasn’t needed.
Dismantle the lamp. Basically, You have to take it apart so that you can thread it through the saber. How to dismantle an Ikea Hemma lamp: First, take the warning sticker off where the bulb goes – you need to get under there. Unscrew the small piece that goes over the threads. Look on each side of the bulb socket and you’ll see a tab – stick a small screwdriver in there and bend it outward. Now do that on the other side too. Do it a few times and pull up on the socket and eventually it will come apart.
Now ideally, you could remove the wires from the socket, thread it through the saber, and then put it back together but I could NOT figure out how to dismantle it further. So, I cut the wires. I cut them below the socket, far enough down that I had enough wire to strip it and put it back together.
Put the lamp in the saber. Put the washer on top first and make sure you put the lamp shaft through it. I did it the first time with no wires, just to see if it worked. Once you get it through, thread the wires back up it (from the bottom).
Wire it back together. If you figured out how to get the wires off without cutting them, then just put it back together. If not, (like me) you need to re-attach the wires. I soldered them back together and then put electrical tape and heatshrink on it. Make sure you keep the wires narrow – there isn’t a lot of room in the lamp shaft for a bulky wire.
Put bulb in and shade on.
So, for about $20 and a couple hours work, I now have a cool DIY Star Wars lightsaber lamp for my office. The one thing I don’t like about the saber is the red arrow on the switch that shows you which way to push it for it to extend. I thought about using some nail polish remover to get rid of it, but it didn’t bother me enough to try it.
BTW – if you’re thinking – “Wait – what about the cool logo in the lamp shade?” I haven’t done that – yet. That will be part 2 of this tutorial. In the meantime, here are a few more pictures: