Ask any kid to reenact their favorite scene from a Star Wars movie and they’ll promptly ignite their imagination lightsabers and make the appropriate swooshing and clashing sounds. Ask any adult Star Wars fan what their favorite scene is and they’ll likely do the same thing!

Lightsabers are probably the single most recognizable and classic aspect of Star Wars lore. They’re a part of every single one of the films to date (including the blaster-heavy Rogue One) and are among the most collected props in fan collections.

But what exactly makes a lightsaber operate? Fans have speculated about it for years, with dozens upon dozens of articles and videos attempting to explain their mechanics. After all, there are so many various types and styles, with about a half-dozen colors.

Every Lightsaber Contains A Core Crystal

Every lightsaber contain a crystal – called a kyber – which can be mined on only certain planets, such as Rogue One’s Jedha. These crystals are attuned with the Force and helps to focus the energy into a blade.

Those Who Are Force-Sensitive Are Especially Proficient At Making Them

While anyone can technically wield one (remember when Han Solo used it to slice open his Taun Taun?), those who are especially in tune with the Force are the most capable of assembling one.

While Rogue One showed the Empire digging up kyber crystals in Jedha like the Nazis digging in the desert in Raiders of the Lost Ark, other non-movie canon has established that special crystal caves test those sensitive with the Force and reward them with a crystal at the end of their trial. The Force then helps them in the intricately-detailed process of building their Jedi weapon.

More Crystals = Larger Blade

We’re all well aware of a guy’s desire to be bigger, but in the Star Wars universe a bigger lightsaber might mean the same thing as a guy having an enormous, jacked-up truck.

While most lightsabers are generally built with one crystal, making the blade about a meter in length, some people who desire an edge over their opponent insert more crystals into their saber hilt. Think of Ned Stark’s sword in Game of Thrones, but as a lightsaber.

The Quality Of The Crystal Dictates The Blade’s Appearance

You ever wonder why Kylo Ren’s lightsaber looks so different from all the others we’re used to seeing? That’s due to the fact that his kyber crystal is cracked, which gives the blade that crackled, unstable appearance.

While this means that the weapon is more powerful than the average lightsaber, it also means that it could short out in the wielder’s hand (which would be most advantageous in the midst of a duel). The two vents protruding on each side of the saber act as a sort of exhaust port for excess energy, allowing for more stability.

Power Cells Are Critical

You may have just assumed that lightsabers ran on AA batteries, but they actually use something far more reliable that can conduce FAR more power. While a smaller power cell from something like a blaster will do in a pinch, Jedi typically choose Diatium cells to power up their weapons. Some clever Jedi even construct compartments in their hilt to store spare cells for longer journeys.

Lightsabers Were Originally Attached to Power Packs

In the Old Republic, thousands of years before Luke Skywalker ever touched a lightsaber, the Jedi weapons were powered by power packs worn on belts due to the power cells being too small to fit inside a hilt (think about how large cell phones used to be compared to how small and convenient they are now). This method of lightsaber fighting was far more risky in nature, due to the fact that they ran the constant risk of having the cables sliced in half by their opponents.

A Durable Material Is Key For The Hilt

While the hilts of some lightsabers in Star Wars canon have been constructed with primitive materials like wood or bike parts, high-quality material ensures the most durable of lightsabers. Darth Sideous, for instance, constructed his lightsaber with phrik, one of the sturdiest known metals that could withstand lightsaber blades.

The Power Cell Needs To Be Insulated

The activation of a lightsaber means a very high amount of energy being emitted into a small space. If the construction of the hilt isn’t done correctly, it can render some serious complications. Proper insulation of the power cell is key to ensuring that no energy discharge occurs that could fatally harm the user.   

The Power Cell Focuses Energy Into The Crystal

The power generated from the cell is channeled through several lenses which convert it into raw plasma. This fourth state is very dangerous, which is why a kyber crystal is needed to focus the energy and imbue it with mystical properties that inhabits the kybers.

The Plasma Forms Into A Beam

Once the plasma is focused by the kyber crystal, it passes through several various circuits and stabilizers in the assembly at the top of the hilt. This final step in the emission process renders all that energy into a blade, with a containment field preventing it from forming into anything but a smooth blade. This field is what solidifies the blade and prevents them from passing through each other when they clash.

Reversing The Emitter Component Could Be Fatal

Like an electrical panel, a lightsaber’s energy must be on a complete circuit. For those who are not especially careful, they end up reversing the emitter. This causes an inversion of energy once it passes through its various channels and can cause it to backfire, among other serious and often fatal complications.

A Lightsaber Can’t Cut Through All Materials

Throughout the Star Wars saga, we see lightsabers chopping their way through pretty much anything and everything. But there are some materials that lightsabers just have no effect on. Phrik metal is one such material, which is what electrostaffs are made of.

I’ll bet you probably had no idea that lightsabers were this intricate! Check out the video below of the top 10 greatest lightsaber duels, and SHARE this article with your friends so they too can find out how complicated of a process building a lightsaber really is!