How Lightsabers Work

It's All In the Handle

Never bring a tire iron to a lightsaber fight.

Lightsaber design is a very personal choice. Your average soccer mom or wandering Jedi outcast tends to carry a classic, single-bladed weapon. Stroll into a trendy New York nightclub, however, and you'll glimpse socialites and Sith Lords with curved, forked and double-bladed lightsabers.

Despite the bells and whistles, all lightsabers share the same general characteristics.


A typical saber hilt is roughly 12 inches (30 centimeters) long, about the size of a large flashlight. Yours may be a little longer or even a hair shorter, but don't let that concern you. The full length of the weapon won't be obvious until it's turned on -- and even then, it's all about how you use it.

One end of the hilt goes in your hand, and the other emits a deadly column of energy. Do make sure you know which end is which. The "safe" end of the hilt features a handgrip, belt ring and an on/off switch -- also known as an Activation Matrix if you want to sound fancy. And then there's the "business" end of the hilt, complete with blade arc tip and magnetic stabilizing ring.

Now turn on your lightsaber and the blade should rapidly extend to its set length. If it doesn't, this may be due to a drained battery, overuse or stress. If you're not satisfied with the length or intensity of your blade, the hilt features one or two adjusting knobs to alter power and length. These options come in handy for melting through armored doors, caramelizing the top of a crème brûlée or cleaning hard-to-reach stains.

Is your lightsaber fully extended now? Trying waving it around a bit. The blade will make a distinctive crackling sound typical of an arc wave energy field. You should also feel a gyroscopic effect in the handle, which again is a distinctive characteristic of the arc wave blade. This gyroscopic effect can take some getting used to, so be sure to handle any active lightsaber with extreme care until you are completely familiar with its feel and handling.

Now take the hilt in both hands and let's see what you can do with it.