The OT stunt lightsaber blades research thread

Discussion in 'Star Wars Costumes and Props' started by vadermania, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    So...any new ideas about the origins of the OT stunt lightsaber blades after reading through the new STW archives book from Paul Duncan?

    I have my problems in believing that the ANH stunt blades were square from the emitter to the tip. My gut feeling is that they were round at the base and taper into a square shape towards the tip. They just do not look square to be at the base, where they go into the emitter. And there is a black stripe on them running from the base and stops a few inches before it reaches the tip.

    ESB stunt blades are round and tapered. Covered in scotchlite paint or tape? What are they made of? Wood, steel, fibreglass? I‘ve never noticed a bent blade in bts footage or photography, so that would rule out aluminum and probably mild steel, copper or iron. So I tend towards wood or fiberglass. Why are the blades showing black marks after heavy use? My gut feeling is that they were found parts. In fact, I have researched tank antennas from German WW2 tanks, and there are some very interesting points such as the taper and the „tang“ part that goes into the hilts.

    Some RoTJ blades are not tapered, such as the black shorter blades of the Yuma and at least one stunt blade on the V3 during the final duel.

    Looking forward to an intense and interesting discussion.
     
  2. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I’m sold on fiberglass golf clubs
     
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  3. ALLEY

    ALLEY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The vintage army vehicle antennas took pretty good as well...these things were designed to take a beating in the field.

    8541F355-2B09-4831-8D0E-74BE28A670A7.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  4. mugatu

    mugatu Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    These are tank antenna from WWII. Made of copper:
    5BC9EA60-1AEA-4A27-B9D7-191A5F207CCF.jpeg

    You can hear on some BTS footage the clacking of the blades and it sounds metal. I’m not saying every stunt blade was the same material that they used the same things even within a single film’s production, but you can hear in some of the footage they are metal especially when they cone out of the hilt and hit the ground.

    *the post coming out of the hilt would go up into the aluminum/silvery piece at the end.
     
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  5. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I want some of those antennas!! Where can I find them Andy!!??
     
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  6. ALLEY

    ALLEY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    There are a few military vehicle antennas on Ebay. The prices range from about $46 to $150. I have yet to find any that are specific to WWII tanks, however.
     
  7. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    I'd say if they are made out of copper, they would bend easily when used in a stunt sword fight. Plus copper is a pretty heavy metal. Could they be made out of fibreglas with a copper coating? The ESB and ROTJ stunt blades sometimes sound to me as if they were made of metal (perhaps a spring steel rod) coated with scotchlite tape. Unfortunately I don't have any images of actual WW2 german tank antennas, but of scaled model tank antennas, which look promising shapewise.
    cnjSZKA.jpg
     
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  8. dcarty

    dcarty Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  9. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yea, there must have been a decent coating on them, because they clack when hit but ring when they hit the ground.

    My recent guestimates are 17-18 mm at the butt, and they don't taper until like halfway down the blade. seems like some were different, I've looked at a few flash stunts and the butt-size changes.
     
  10. roygilsing

    roygilsing Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Would these tank antennas be tapered? I have an option on a WW2 Soviet tank antenna. It's more than 4m long, consisting of multiple parts. Tapered as a whole, but not per piece.
    Shall I buy it?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019 at 11:17 AM
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  11. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this - some very interesting information over there. I tend to believe that the blades were square wooden dowels, two sides coated with scotchlite. No idea though what they mean with the four inches higher coating on one side.
     
  12. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    If that is the case, it reminds me on my current stunt blade on my V3, which is an aluminum ski pole covered in self adhesive scotchlite tape. The ski pole tapers until halfway down the blade.
     
  13. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    The German WW2 tank antennas were tapered, and about 1,5m long. I have no idea what they were made of, my guess would be some sort of early fibreglass with a copper core or so.

    Somehow I think they had a limited supply of these stunt blades for ESB/ROTJ. As said before, I‘ve never noticed a bent or broken blade in bts footage or images, so my feeling is that those blades were pretty sturdy, although the reflective coating wore off during the fights and left dark marks on the blades. Blades flew off the hilts a few times, such as in the Dagobah cave scene (Hamill hits Vaders helmet) or the hacking scene in ROTJ, where Luke cuts off Vaders hand.
     
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  14. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I have a hard time believing they are copper or aluminum because they used aluminum for the blades in Ep1, and you can see how easy the blades were damaged

    I think carbon fiber blades were the used in ep2 and 3, but my memory escapes me
     
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  15. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  16. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    do you have any shots of your blade? Ive applied retro-reflective tape and had it peel off within a few months :(

    the taper sounds much more accurate, ski pole you said?

    I will also say this new carbon fiber rod sounds like metal when it hits the ground. Ep.3 (and maybe 2) used Texalum, a woven carbon fiber
     
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  17. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I agreed ;)
     
  18. mugatu

    mugatu Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    These taper slightly and are very tough. But I will check to see if they can take a strike or not.
     
  19. ALLEY

    ALLEY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    He he...

    Darth Maul looks like he’s being pursued by Cousin Mose...

    A365A0A1-6A2F-4149-A9AB-D8245D506C19.jpeg
    12611EDD-487B-476E-8D7C-22CAFDCF8AF2.jpeg
     
  20. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I contacted a guy on a famous auction site to see if any of his copper masts were long enough and thick enough. They were too small and short. it looks like only the 35" antenna of yours would be thick enough. Maybe not long enough or the right end/shape
     
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  21. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  22. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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  23. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Just re read that whole thing

    Forgot other members here like golf clubs as well..

    I’m amazed at people posting about carbon fiber, it’s been around since the 60s. Even bicycles in the early 80s were experimenting with it

    They also have a hard time believing they would spend that kind of money on blades..

    They build 6 aluminum r2d2’s for ANH, totaling in around 30k a piece, I believe they had the money for carbon fiber rods.. even if they made them themselves

    If not carbon fiber, fiberglass would work just as well...

    Re reading that thread, I feel real confident they used fiberglass clubs

    Tom go whack your fiber glass club up against something, it makes the same exact sound as we see BTS

    There was a comment about the v3 blade falling out and sounding like metal, I wholeheartedly agree...

    BUT I think what we are hearing is the metal rod hitting the ground. It also falls down the emperor shaft. So god only knows what it hit on it’s way down

    Listen to the blades hit each other. The luke and Vader hit the aluminum rails, 2 different sounds

    I’m sold now that the blades were fiberglass, or carbon fiber

    Can’t see them being aluminum because they would bend and dent... check out mcgregors blade in the ep1 video up above...
     
  24. jts1031

    jts1031 Well-Known Member

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    In watching Empire of Dreams last night, at one point the stunt coordinator, Peter Diamond, talks about training Prowse and Guiness to pull their strikes because they were breaking too many blades, which makes it sound like it would have been a very fragile material.
     
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  25. StevenBills

    StevenBills Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  26. thegnome

    thegnome New Member

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    so maybe it was neon lights? because the fights were very short. just a thought
     
  27. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Would you be able to share the Ski pole you used on your own build? They seem to not taper until closer to the end, and thats exactly the shape I see in ESB shots.
     
  28. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The ski poles I had at my thrift store were very thin aluminum

    I’m curious if they made them in fiberglass?

    I also think the tips are sealed on the originals, we have 1 pic of a tip that looks like it’s cut off and you can see the blade is hollow

    I wonder if the tip with the spike in the ski pole when removed exposes a solid tip on the pole?
     
  29. russellsch

    russellsch Sr Member

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    I want to say I remember the stunt coordinator for the prequels saying they switched to some kind of metal for the blades pretty quickly in filming on Ep. 1. They switched because fiberglass dust & shards were flying off in the strikes, & they were concerned that that stuff would get into the actors & stunt guys eyes.
     
  30. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    Sure, I‘ll take a pic of it when I‘m at home tomorrow.
     
  31. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    How about steel shafts for golf clubs? They look really good to me, nice taper and all.
     
  32. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks!

    Ski poles come in fiberglass composite, graphite and aluminum. Oh, they also come in the exact diameter I was saying, 18 mm.
     
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  33. vadermania

    vadermania Well-Known Member

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    Aluminum ski pole covered in self adhesive scotchlite tape. Solid piece of aluminum glued into base with a threaded hole to screw it into my emitter. Length 96cm, diameter at base 17,5mm, tip 8mm.
    XXgtanM.jpg
    yASH0OM.jpg
     
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  34. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I like that pole, you could possibly drill and tap it to screw into the nipple

    Only problem is the 17.5mm base

    I’m juggling ideas right now for a solid removable blade attachment setup for my v2..

    Gotta machine a few more adapters and try them out, but I really like this sky pole
     
  35. ALLEY

    ALLEY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Growing up in Colorado, ski pools were a plenty. We did use old ski poles for dueling, as kids. They held up pretty well through a few dueling sessions before they started bending and each strike left a pretty pronounced dent in the shaft.

    It’s possible that they used ski poles, but they would have had to have replaced them frequently.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019 at 8:35 PM
  36. thegnome

    thegnome New Member

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    carbon fiber ski poles have been around since 1975 and episode four was shot on 1977 so perhaps they used carbon fiber ski poles.
     
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  37. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    very clean set-up! the threaded insert into the blade is a good idea, it's obvious the blades themselves didn't go into the handles.

    also, 17.5 mm! I keep seeing the same measurement everywhere, I eyeballed the blades to be 18mm down there and ski poles come in 17-18mm thicknesses :)
     
  38. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I’m gonna have to find a ski pole now lol
     
  39. James Kenobi 1138

    James Kenobi 1138 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I've been thinking about this.

    For ANH, we know the stunt blades were wood because it's documented multiple times and listening to the behind the scenes footage the sound when 2 blades strike definitely sound like wood hitting wood.

    Most of the time I've heard/read that wooden 'dowles' were used for the blades.

    For most of us when we think of wood dowels we think of the round stock of dowels at our local hardware store.

    Since this was a movie production, between the prop/costume/set department I've got to think they had access to actual carpentry stock / professional carpentry stock and not just what a consumer would buy at the hardware store. Pro carpenters have commercial vendors to supply wood products not easily available to consumers.

    No matter the source, was the dowel stock used round, oval, square, hexagonal, octagonal, etc... and what type of dowel stock is available to pro carpenters?

    Another thing to think about is that I think every BTS photo I've seen of the ANH duel shows tapered blades. Did the prop dept purchase some kind of wood stock that comes tapered, or did they buy round stock and taper it themselves?

    If regular round stock was tapered, could the process of making it tapered add faceted that then made the middle/ends hexagonal/octagonal ?

    Peter Diamond has said they broke 'so many blades' during the ANH duel. No matter the process, each blade needed to have the 'movie screen' material added. Was someone modifying each round dowel with facets as it was tapered and the reflective material was added, or did they start with square stock and all that was needed was to add thew reflective material?

    In 'Empire of Dreams' you see Mark and Bob practicing on-set and off-set with the ANH stunt sabers and you can still hear the sound of wood hitting wood. I don't remember any BTS video where we're seeing the newer made EBS stunt sabers (The bladed MPP and the bladed Graflex) where the blades of these sabers strike each other and you can hear if the blades are wood or metal.

    In 'EoD' you do hear Luke lose a stunt blade in the Throne Room duel and it's definitely a metal blade sound when it hits the floor.

    I don't know, something to chew on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 6:33 PM
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  40. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks for this james! The only thing that muddied the water for me was dropping that golf club I bought. Sounded purely like metal and it wasn't. Aluminum doesn't tend to "break" but I prefer the idea of aluminum blades.

    I truly wonder if the on screen stuff in ANH ended up square but they were also grabbing anything and everything to replace a blade and it may have changed.
     
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  41. PoopaPapaPalps

    PoopaPapaPalps Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I recall seeing the fencing blades flex a bit in the EoD doc during Mark and Bob Anderson's fight in the freezing chamber in ESB. I believe at that point they were definitely carbon fiber rods/fiberglass rods by how they click and clack together. There's also a bit where during the dream sequence/Dagobah cave sequence where Mark whacks who I assume is Bob Anderson in the face with his blade during a take, and it staggers him back a bit. I don't think he'd have been standing had the fencing rod been aluminium.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 5:18 PM
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  42. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    James I’m not being a punk, but I was watching that EoD on YouTube for this v3 reason

    We don’t actually see the blade hit the floor, did it knock something over? And that is the sound we are hearing?

    Also before this listen to the strikes blade to blade, then when Luke and Vader hit the hand rail listen to those strikes

    To me it’s 2 totally different sounds

    I think fiberglass to fiberglass (or carbon) makes a wood sound then when the fiberglass/carbon hits metal, you hear a more metallic ding sound

    Again I’m not being a smart @$$

    I respect everything you’ve said, and love all the info you have shared

    As for wood dowels, I’ve been a carpenter all my life and worked on many different custom jobs. I’ve never seen a tapered dowel, this doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but my whole life I’ve never seen any, when asked they can’t be found...and we have ordered lumber from Germany and Russia. And this place can’t get my taper wooden dowels

    But you could easily make this on a wood lathe, they had all kinds of wood working tools to make the falcon, I have no doubt they had access to a wood lathe to make these blades

    Which isn’t good for us, because it’s not easy for your average joe to taper one

    I’m going to experiment this weekend with square blades, using a electric plan to try and taper it
     
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  43. dcarty

    dcarty Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That's excellent, Halliwax, looking forward to seeing your results!

    The practicality/ease of fabrication is one of the reasons I think the square dowel is the most obvious choice for the ANH blades. If you set up a Jointer you can run square dowels through them all day. Make the angle cut on one side, flip it over and cut the other side, then put the dowel into a lathe to round off the end that goes into the Saber hilt. I have a wooden stunt blade I got from another RPFer and I have no doubt this is how it was done (you could make the cuts on a table saw too).
     
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  44. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yes I agree, I have a huge jointer in the big shop, if I can pull this off with the electric plan, then the jointer is the next step
     
  45. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Alittle update tonight, I am sick again but managed to bang this out.. the v2 is fully function and can spin the blade.

    I painted the golf club white just for kicks and tonight I put a 5mm strip of electrical tape down it

    Flipped the switch and she does flicker alittle as is..

    The battery is very weak with only 2.8v

    I don’t feel comfortable charging Lipo battery’s in my parents home. I’ll charge it outside tomorrow and then show ya

    I’m very happy with it

    IMG_7662.jpg
     
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  46. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I made a quick video of my dropping my stunt blade to show how it can sound like metal



    I am using a fiberglass/carbon fiber golf club
     
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  47. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    this makes me think they fabricated any tapered square dowels, and maybe gave up and just started putting straight square dowels in there. I think I remember seeing Vaders or someones that wasn't tapered..

    oh man that looks great - electrical tape is a perfect propmakers quick fix!
     
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  48. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    When you drop your blade Tom, does it make the same sound?
     
  49. thd9791

    thd9791 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yes, it rings a bit louder/longer than that video, but that might be a loss of sound through a mic. it sounds like you're dropping a thin walled aluminum pole on concrete.
     
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  50. halliwax

    halliwax Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Exactly. It’s amazing the difference in sound, I’ll try and make a video of hitting it against another club

    I’m wicked sick, I’ve been fighting this for 3 weeks. Weird thing is I’m fine some days. No symptoms. Then I wake up, cold sweats, chills..

    I was in the shed making that blade adapter shaking

    Once it was finished I said hell with this and went back inside the house. I still need to cut up my other clubs. Once I do I’ll give them a whack
     

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