In this guide, I’ll be using my 3D printed Kylo Ren Lightsaber, and showing you the steps I took to achieve some pretty good results!
Finishing these files is actually not too complicated. There is some sanding required, but if you print the files at 0.1mm or less, it won’t take that long at-all!
Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional. I’m still a noob when it comes to this kind of thing, but I achieved some good results, and wanted to share my process. If you know a better way of doing something that I do/show in this guide, please let me know!
Here are some of the thing’s we’re gonna use for this project. Some of the paints can be transferred for cheaper alternatives to save money if needed, just use the same concepts. Some of the parts are also completely optional! I’m also going to assume you have some general tools, such as a drill, some files, Super Glue etc…
- XTC-3D – Optional
- Sandpaper – Dry and Wet – Various Grades
- Epoxy Glue
- Filler (Bondo for you American Folks, standard car body filler for everyone else)
- 8mm Steel Rod/Studding – ~24cm in length – Optional
- 5mm Aluminium Rod
- M2 Hex Screws – Optional
- Red Cable 2.5mm diameter
- Blue Cable – Blue cable from an Ethernet cable is perfect
- Primer – Normal or Filler, but be careful if using Filler Primer, as it could destroy detail
- Satin Clear Coat
- Airbrush – Optional (Doesn’t have to be fancy, wait till you see mine…)
- Alclad II Glossy Black Base or Glossy Black Alternative
- Alclad II Chrome #107 or Chrome Alternative
- Alclad II Copper #110 or Copper Alternative
- Alclad Aqua Gloss #600 or Glossy Clear Coat Alternative
- Alclad Hot Metal Red #411 – Optional
- Alclad Hot Metal Blue #413 – Optional
- Alclad Hot Metal Violet #417 – Optional
- Gold Paint
- Black Acrylic Paint – Matt and Gloss – Airbrush Suitable
- Glossy Red Acrylic Paint
If you don’t have everything on that list, or don’t want to spend a lot of money, then that’s fine! Chances are, you’ll be able to achieve similar results with alternative products, or what you have lying around. This is just the stuff I personally used, and gives you an idea of what’s needed.
Lets get started!
So yeah, pretty important step. First thing you need to do is print the 3D files. Here is a link to the files on Thingiverse. There is more information on printing the parts in the text file, and item description on Thingiverse. But generally, you should print the parts at a minimum of 0.1mm, and at either 10% or 100% infill, depending on the parts in question. Print speed also varies.
But get printing, it may take a while.
Make sure you clean up any support material left over, and test fit all of the connections. They can be a little snug, so may require some gentle persuasion, or some light sanding. First layer squishing can also affect connections, so cut or sand away any elephant footing that occurs. DO NOT GLUE THE PIECES TOGETHER! This step comes much later. It’s a lot easier to work with the individual pieces, and join them towards the end. If you printed the crossguard in two pieces, you should glue them together though.
Sanding and Filling
Sanding is the most important step for any 3D printed prop project. The work you put in sanding, will make your finished piece so much better, and will also make painting easier! For this project, sanding won’t take too long, but you know, it’s still sanding… We are going to be using XTC-3D to assists us. You can choose not to use XTC-3D, but a small amount goes a long way, and it will last across multiple projects, so is definitely worth the investment. (Around £25) Filling on this project is limited to whether you print the crossguard in one or two pieces.
If you’ve printed the crossguard in two pieces, then you should use a little filler on the seam. You won’t need much, just enough to fill the gap left from joining the two pieces together. Once it’s dried, it can be sanded flush during the sanding process.
We’ll start off with some 60 grit sand paper.
Give all of the pieces a good sand with 60 grit. It’s very rough, so should cut through the print lines well. Sand against the grain. Be careful around a few parts that are a little fragile, and use your fingers to support them. Also take care around the small parts such as the top and bottom greebles. We want to be a little lighter on these parts. If you have some sanding sticks, use these on those parts, as they are a little more gentle, but can also get into the hard to reach places.
Once everything has received a good initial sand, wipe off any excess dust from sanding, and repeat sanding, moving up through the grits. I use 100, 120, 240. You don’t have to go so high on the first round of sanding if you don’t want to, it’s up to you!
It’s also a good idea to use a file, and lightly file out a few of these detail pieces just a little. It’s easy to accidentally sand these flush, so be careful whilst sanding!
The heavy sanding is now out of the way! Next up, is to coat the pieces in XTC-3D. This will really help to smooth out the pieces, and fill any small imperfections. Mixing is pretty straight forward. All the info you need is included in the box!
Be sure to clean all of your pieces before using the XTC-3D. I wiped mine down with alcohol wipes.
Brush on a thin coat over all of the pieces. Have a stick, or something thin and pointy on hand. I cut a lolly stick to a point. This can be used to scoop out any resin that collects in places you don’t want it to. Make sure not to lay it on too thick, and keep an eye on it for the first 20-30 minutes after use, to make sure no blobs have collected anywhere. If they do, brush them off, or use the pointy stick to scoop the resin away. It will level itself back out, so don’t worry about brush marks etc…Although it will cure in a few hours, it’s probably best to leave it until the next day, just to be safe.
If you’re opting to skip the resin layer, then just take your time a little more with the initial sanding stage, and then move onto priming.
Once the pieces are dry, we’re going to start phase two of sanding. Start sanding at a higher grade than we did before, maybe 100 or 120, and sand the pieces once again, until the finish is much duller. In this pass, we’re looking to be a little more clinical with our sanding, getting in all of the nooks and crannies.
We’re almost there! The next step is to prime our pieces for the first time. This will allow us to spot any last minute pieces that need to be sanded a little more. Generally speaking, we should have pretty smooth and clean pieces now. I used a cheap filler primer from Amazon I got for around £2 a can. I’m not sure it actually does any filling, but it’s a decent primer for the money.
Once the pieces have dried (most primers recommend 24 hours), we can inspect them for any last minute pesky imperfections. The next step is, yep, you’ve guessed it, more sanding! You want to focus this time round on the imperfections you can see. For me, there were some build lines still visible, and a few parts that just needed a little more smoothing out. On the crossguard, sanding sticks were very useful to help get into the small areas that my fingers couldn’t reach.
Once you are happy, you can stop sanding! Hooray! The next step is to do a little bit of assembly. We can now glue together Top Outer, Middle Shaft and Bottom Shaft. You may want to avoid superglue for this, as we don’t want the pieces to stick as soon as they touch, because some of the connections are a little tight, and we may need a little bit of room to work with.
Using some epoxy glue (leave until a little gloopy), we’re going to place some around the base of the top piece (Top Outer). This connection on Kylos lightsaber seems to be welded, and so we’re going to fake that affect using the glue. When in place, prod and poke it with a stick, to give it some texture. We don’t want it to be smooth.
You may also notice a gap between the bottom two pieces as well (Middle shaft and Bottom shaft). You can use some left over epoxy glue to fill this gap too.
If any glue gets on other parts of the lightsaber, either wipe it away, or wait for it to dry and pick it off.
This next stage is completely optional. We’re going to wet sand all of the pieces, using various grades. It’s probably slightly overkill, but I use 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500 and 3000 grit. Why? because it’s what was in the pack I bought, and I’m slightly mad. As I mentioned, this step is optional. If you feel your pieces are ready to paint, then move on. Wet sanding will just take it to another level, and make the final surface super smooth. It will also remove any surface scratches left over from sanding. You also don’t have to sand through as many grades as I do. you could easily just do 400, 800, 1200, 2000 and 3000.
Wet sanding is pretty basic. Wet the paper, and sand in circular or criss cross motions. You don’t have to be as rough as before, and the higher the grit, the less pressure you want to apply.
We should now have a super smooth surface, free from scratches and scrapes. We’re about ready to start painting now (YES!). But first, we are going to do a little bit more gluing. We can now go ahead and glue the following pieces together.
Top Greebles can now be attached to the Crossguard. The round button at the bottom of the lightsaber can now also be attached, and finally, the lightsaber clip can be attached to the main lightsaber shaft. You should now have four pieces.
We are now ready to paint the Lightsaber! There are a couple more little things that need to be done, but this will be done between painting, whilst waiting for things to dry etc…
The first step is to prime all of our pieces. Make sure everything gets a good covering.
Wire clips + Extra Details
Whilst waiting for the primer to dry (You normally have to leave it 24 hours), we can make the wire clips. You could opt to print something (I have actually included a printable wire clip with the files), but they are pretty small, and printers may not handle things so small that well. So I’m going to make them from some 5mm Aluminium. I think I paid £1 for a 30cm rod from eBay, so it’s pretty cheap stuff.
Making them is pretty simple. First, you’re gonna drill a 3mm hole in the middle of your piece. You can cut it down a little if you wish to make the drilling easier. If you have better tools, this is probably a lot easier, but I’m just using a standard drill.
You may be able to find some pre drilled Aluminium, but I couldn’t find any that was thick enough for what I wanted.
Once the hole is drilled, we are going to cut 4 pieces, around 6mm in length each. I actually have some tape which is 6mm wide, so all I have to do is wrap it around, and cut.
The next part is pretty fiddly. You want to file one side of the clip flat (This flat part is what will be glued to the lightsaber). You then want to file the top and the bottom of the clip to an angle, going inwards.
Once the primer has fully dried, we’re gonna attach the wire clips. Use a pencil or pen to mark roughly where you want them to go. You can use my picture as a reference. You may want to loose test fit the bottom piece onto the main shaft, to make sure the bottom clip is not in the way. If it is, file a little more off the side of that clip.
Use some Epoxy glue, and dab a small piece in place. Place the wire clips, and make sure they are straight. I’ve put some tape on the lightsaber to prevent any spillage of glue getting in places we don’t want.
Once the clips are in place, dab a small bit of epoxy glue at the top and bottom of each clip. This will make a strong bond. Don’t worry about the blob of glue at the top and bottom, the red wire will cover it up. Leave to dry. On my original saber, I test fitted the wire, but I hadn’t left the glue long enough to dry and the clips fell off (it seemed dry). You can move onto the next step once they are dry enough that they are solid, but leave for 24 hours to be safe if you want to test fit the cable.
Another optional step is to add some detail screws. For this lightsaber, I test printed a more screen accurate screw for the back, and you can see that attached in the pictures below. There is another screw like this on the back of the crossguard, but it’s tiny, so I’m just gonna use a normal M3 screw rather than try and print it, which is what I used on my original saber. There are also three M2 hex screws which we are going to add.
First we are going to mark out all of our screw holes. We’ll start with the M2 hex screws. I used two strips of 10mm tape to help me mark out where I want them to go. If you don’t have 10mm tape, then mark a line around 15mm from the bottom of the top section.
There is also an M3 screw on the back of the crossguard. Mark this out, and get drilling!
Drill your holes. Be careful when drilling into the crossguard. Because of infill, it tends to want to pull the hole to the side. This may vary, depending on your infill settings..
Add a spot of superglue around the hole, and drop the screws in. Simple!
You can do this step before priming if you want, but I prefer to do it after. You shouldn’t need to prime the screws. Just give them a very quick and light sand with some left over paper to scuff them up a bit. The Alclad gloss black base will stick to them just fine.
We are actually ready to paint now! I’ll be basing my paint job off of the Prop Shop Kylo Ren lightsaber, which is a more weathered lightsaber from The Force Awakens. If you want the lightsaber to look more clean and crisp, like in The Last Jedi, then you can skip the metalic paints on the main lightsaber shaft, and just paint it black.
We’ll be using a layered paint job for this lightsaber. This is so that you can sand back through the layers, for a more authentic weathered look.
The same steps for painting can be used whether you’re using Alclad paints, or cheaper alternatives. The basic steps are the same.
My airbrush is super cheap. £25 I believe, for the airbrush, some air in a can and a couple of glass pots. A more sophisticated one is on my list of things I’d like…
Notice: I’m gonna bash this poor airbrush a lot during this, but honestly, it does the job. Poor little guy..
Before we paint, we want to put a little tape over the wire clips, as we don’t want to paint those.
Here are all of the paints I’ll be using for this project. Some are completely optional.
PLEASE USE A RESPIRATOR WHEN PAINTING!!!
NOTE: I actually ran into a problem whilst putting this guide together. When I went to paint the little red button at the bottom of the lightsaber, I had a problem getting the paint to stick due to the shiny chrome surface. Before painting, it may be worth taping that part up, so it remains flat grey primer; or give it a coat of primer before painting it red. This is probably only a problem if using Acrylic based paints. I’ve grabbed some Humbrol Enamel Ferrari Red to replace my original acrylic.
We’ll start off with a glossy black base coat. I’m using Alclad II Gloss Black Base #305. You will need an airbrush for this (If using this kind of paint). Spray a couple of good coats onto the piece.
Leave for around an hour, and then spray the chrome layer (Alclad II Chrome #107). I’ve still not mastered Alclad Chrome yet, but this time round was much better. You want to spray hardly any at-all. If your piece dulls, then you have sprayed too much. For me, it goes on a little speckled, but I think my airbrush is to blame for that, as I have no real control over how much paint comes out and at what pressure etc…It might be worth practising a little before painting your piece. Some people use plastic spoons for this.
Once your chrome layer is dry, we are going to add a layer of Alclad II Aqua Gloss #600. We won’t do this for all of the layers, but Because this layer is the base metal of the lightsaber, we want to be able to sand back to it, without going all the way through to the black base coat. Using a clear coat will just add that little bit more protection to this layer when we get round to weathering.
It will dull the shine slightly. No picture for this step, as honestly, it looks the same as the above pics!
Now that we’ve applied the clear coat, we can work on our final metal layer. We don’t want to paint the bottom greebles, and we also want to tape up the top greebles, as these need to be chrome. We also want to tape the crossguard a little to protect the chrome.
We’re now going to spray the copper layer (Alclad II Copper #110). You don’t have to cover the whole lightsaber if you don’t want to. You can focus on parts you want to be weathered back to copper, but I’ll be spraying most of it.
Once the copper layer has dried, we can move onto the next step. We are going to do a little bit of weathering on the Top Greebles and Bottom Greebles. Dilute some flat black acrylic paint to make a wash (milky consistency). Apply the black wash over the metalic parts, and leave for a few seconds. Wipe away the excess with a paper towel, and repeat until the black has collected it the corners, and details.
Once that is done, and you are happy, we can go ahead and attach the bottom parts of the lightsaber. I used superglue to attach the bottom piece, lifting the arms slightly, and putting a small blob of glue underneath. I wiped any excess superglue away with a paper towel. If you are putting some 8mm studding through the middle, make sure it fits BEFORE you glue. You can also use the studding as a guide to make sure everything is straight.
The next step is to paint the red button at the bottom of the lightsaber, and also the belt clip. Tape off these areas like so. We’ll start with the red, so use a plastic bag to cover the rest of the saber.
After the red has dried, remove the tape, and re-ajust the plastic bag, to mask off the area around the belt clip.
I’m going to use some Humbro Gold paint for the clip. Some lightsabers have a more yellow gold color, but I prefer a more standard golden finish. It’s up to you though!
Once the Lightsaber clip is dry, we can move onto the final layer of paint. I’ll be using some Vallejo Model Color Gloss Black for this, using Vallejo Airbrush Thinner thin it down to an ink like consistency. Do some testing before hand, your airbrush may prefer a more milky consistency.
But before we paint, we are going to tape off the bottom greebles, top greebles, and the red and gold pieces we just painted.
You’re ready to paint now. You want to get good coverage, but you also don’t want to put a real thick layer. My airbrush more or less sneezes out the paint so I ended up with a couple of spots on the crossguard a little thicker then I’d have liked, but the rest turned out great.
Once dried, we are going to use a satin clear coat to seal the piece. You can remove the tape from the red part at the bottom for this, and also the belt clip, depending on what kind of paint you have used (If you used a more metallic gold, then you might want to leave it covered as it will dull the shine).
I wasn’t happy with the way the crossguard looked, so I went ahead and sprayed some more black. It looks a lot better now.
The majority of the painting is now done. All we have to do now is some final finishing touches before we move onto the final step.
We’ll start with the crossguard. You may like it chrome, but I’m going to go for a more burnt metal affect, using Alclad Burnt Metal paints. Results for this part may vary, depending on what paints you use etc…My end result looks ok, but it’s not the nice gradient I’d hoped for, mainly due to my airbrush.
That’s it, painting is finished!! Woooooo
We can now do the last bit of construction before the last step.
If you are using some 8mm studding, screw it into the crossguard piece. This hole may be a little tight, so drill it out a little if possible. Make sure the stud screws right in. Place some epoxy glue at the bottom of the crossguard section, and drop it into place.
Let the epoxy glue set before moving onto the final stage.
The next step before weathering is to add the 2 wires. We have a blue wire which runs down the cut out at the top, and a red cable which runs down the entire lightsaber. We’ll start with the blue wire. I cut open an old ethernet cable for this, as the blue cable in that seems to be the perfect size. Cut two pieces, around 3-4cm in length. Layout a piece of tape, and then place the two wires next to eachother. Add a blob of superglue to the top and bottom of the two cables, and wait until dry.
Once the glue has dried, peel the cable from the tape, and glue into place on the lightsaber. If you have some tweezers, they will be pretty useful for this. The easiest way to install this wire is to add a small piece of superglue at the top, and hold it in place until dry. Then, place a small piece at the bottom, and do the same.
The red cable is next. This is just as simple. Cut a piece around 23cm in length. At the bottom of the lightsaber, where the greebles are, I modelled in a 3mm hole. You should be able to slide the cable into the hole. It will be a tight fit, so tweezers or needle nose pliers will be helpful here.
Put some superglue at the connection point, and let it dry.
All you have to do then, is feed the cable through the wire clips. When you reach the top, you want to tuck the cable down the front, This should be a tight enough fit that it doesn’t require any glue.
And that’s it, you’re done! All that’s left now, is some optional weathering.
Weathering is very simple. You take some wet and dry sand paper, make it a little damp, and lightly (very) rub the areas you want to weather. Hard edges are normally a good place to start. It all depends on the looks you are going for.
It requires some patience. Don’t be tempted to rub very hard to get through the black layer. Once a little bit of metalic paint pops through, the black will fade away quite quickly. Just be aware of where you are rubbing. If you catch an edge a little too much, and it goes down too far, then you can always touch the edges up a little later by dry brushing some copper or metallic paint.
Repeat this step over the entire lightsaber, until you’re happy with how it looks. Once done, go back and touch a few of the edges up if needed, by drybrushing some copper or metallic paint. (If you have sanded through to the plastic)
You can also use washes to add some extra dirt and grime. It’s entirely up to you!
After finishing the weathering, this is my final result!
That’s it for this guide! If you have found it helpful, then please let me know! Tweet me @MagnaProps. I’d love to see other peoples finished pieces using my 3D files.
Good luck!! 😀