Completed: The Mayfly
Completed: The Mayfly
Completed: The Mayfly
Completed: The Mayfly
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  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Completed: The Mayfly
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Completed: The Mayfly
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Completed: The Mayfly

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The Mayfly: 24-hour Saber Challenge

Around 2019, I challenged myself to machine a saber from scratch in under 24 hours. The challenge was a success, and the hilt came out great. However, that was four years of experience ago. This year, I wanted to challenge myself further, increasing the detail of the design, and installing the electronics all in under 24 hours.

I learned a lot about building sabers throughout this challenge. The pressure of time allowed no respite for thought or planning. I had to simply put metal in a machine and go to work. Working off of memory for speed and feed for materials, tolerances for threads, and coming up with creative ways to hold work without time for special tools or apparatus evoked creativity and pressed my skills, as it was important to retain similar quality to my regular work despite the challenge parameters.

I learned a lot about myself as well. I'm good at building sabers! Perhaps I'm often slow with builds for fear that anything I do will be less than perfect, or perhaps I underestimate myself. All the skills I have honed over the past decade came out to play, and it was a pleasure to see everything accumulating to this one day of work. There are only eight parts in the build that aren't made entirely from scratch, by hand. Naturally, the chassis is 3D printed, so this accounts for one. There are three screws, which I could have made, but certainly not in time. The three grip accents had been made by Inspira Designs many years ago, and they felt proper to use on this build. Aside from that, the red button is, of course, not handmade, but was a request of the build owner. Everything else was made from bare metal all that same day. Even the blade connector holder was made custom, out of African Blackwood to match the emitter shroud, for this build!

Now, lets talk about the build itself! It began with the emitter. Using solid steel round bar, I first went to work boring it out, which was a slow process. Originally I had intended to have a thin neck in the steel, so the inner diameter is three different sizes end to end. This idea was scrapped partway through the build, but it had already taken a toll on the timeline, as I spent the first three hours on the steel emitter.

Atop the emitter is a shroud made from African Blackwood, sealed with a topoil. The wood was shaped carefully by hand with files and sandpaper.

Next was the brass hex thin neck. This chunk of brass carried a material cost around $100, which is egregious in general, and put a damper in any profit margins I had hoped to hold for the build. Fortunately, money was not the driving factor for this challenge, so I was undaunted cutting such an expensive chunk of metal. Once the threads were cut and faces turned, I threw it in the mill. The trickiest part of this piece was certainly the concentric cut along the upper face. At first glance, this may appear to have been cut with a grooving tool on the lathe, but in reality it was cut with a 1/8" ball nose end mill, which gives a more holistic appearance with the hexagonal faces.

The grip is quite plain, being made of nothing more than an aluminum tube threaded at both ends, and a brass shroud cut and grooved to fit the accent rails.

The pommel is elaborate, with semi-hidden venting, and probably two-dozen individual milled grooves.

The install is nothing noteworthy. A resin chassis was printed after machining the brass neck, and the install took under an hour. The focus is on the hilt, so no leds or descriptive details were added to the chassis.

Thanks to all who participated!