August 24, 2009

Our History with Saber Forge

UPDATE, April 19, 2012: we purchased new sabers from Ultra Saber LLC. To see a review, go HERE.
* * *

Saber Forge's Ambassador saber hilt

This post is to document and record the history of our experience with a company called Saber Forge. I would like this information to serve as information and perhaps a warning to all that are interested in purchasing a machined lightsaber, and/or are considering Saber Forge.

Saber Forge makes and sells lightsabers to be used as props with Star Wars costumes. When we started looking to purchase lightsabers that had the ability to light, Lisa posted for information on the Rebel Legion website. She was contacted by Mr. Phil Isherwood, owner of SaberForge.

Saber Forge

It is most unfortunate that we have had problems with the sabers. I love the hilt, to be honest, and felt that we got what we paid for; however, the lingering problems and now the complete lack of customer service is most troubling.

[We were so excited about purchasing these blades. Read this post.]

I sent the following email letter to Mr. Isherwood August 10, 2009. I have included the history of the email contact we have had, for your information and consideration.

-------------------------
Phil,

We received our light sabers March 22, 2009. From that date, we have had issue after issue with our sabers.

Issue #1 - the Switch
The switch on my light saber; due to bad design and placement of the switch on the hilt, would switch on and off during dueling. That problem seemed to be fixed by my replacing the switch with one with a guard. (I purchased this switch from Custom Saber Shop.)

Issue #2 - Power
The next problem was worse. As we initially purchased the blades to use in night parades, we were excited to march in our first in May ‘09. Unfortunately, within 30 minutes of marching out, our blades would automatically shut down. Thinking it was a fluke, we turned them back on. To our dismay the blades began to be weaker and weaker until at last they wouldn’t turn on at all. This was most unfortunate, for by the time we reached the television cameras, our blades were non-existent, thus violating the rules of marching in the Starlight Parade.

Issue #3 - Customer Service
As you know, we sent them back to you in hopes that you could eliminate these problems. It was our understanding that you would install a ‘power boost’ which would re-route power from the sound board to the light, creating a more uniform brightness on the blade and enabling them to remain on until we turned them off. Much to the contrary, we waited at least 5 weeks to receive them back, and when we did the problem was worse than ever before. Now the sabers didn’t even stay on for 5 - 10 minutes before shutting off. What a let down after waiting at least 5 weeks to get them back, even missing two events where the sabers were very much needed. However, the boost must have done something, as the sound boards are now far louder than ever…too loud, in fact. If that weren’t enough, you took off my special switch and replaced it with the original switch, which will not work during dueling.

Issue #4 - Lisa’s Saber
This saber is having issues making it unusable. It shuts off within minutes of being turned on. When the blade is inserted and set screw in place, the flange is nearly impossible to get on or off. At this point, we are unable to remove the blade due to the flange (or collar) being stuck. The brightness of the blade has improved greatly where the cut-outs are on the hilt, but too bad that brightness does not extend up into the blade, like we wanted. It’s as dim in the center of the blade as it always was.

Possible Solutions
This situation HAS to be rectified. Period. We trusted that we were purchasing high-quality sabers. To say we are highly disappointed is an understatement, to be sure.

We are hesitant to send them back to you, as we are unsure you will send them back to us. Even if you did, we are doubtful that they would be to our satisfaction.

We are asking for our money refunded. I am pleased that you did not charge us for the recent work you did, but that is just not enough to make these problems go away. We are very pleased with the hilts and the dueling blades (which we absolutely need), but the power issues just negate any positive feelings we may have concerning these sabers. We will happily return the hilts and blades to you at such time we are refunded the purchase price in full, including the extra cost for the sound boards.

I would most certainly like to give a positive report to my fellow costumers at both The Jedi Assembly, the Rebel Legion and the 501st concerning this matter. I will not hesitate to give full disclosure of our experience with your business if this is not handled appropriately and correctly. I certainly don’t want anyone else to be disappointed after spending $200+ for what they hope is a wonderful dueling saber.

We are sending this as an email for now. If we do not get a response within a reasonable period of time, we will send this letter to you via USPS Certified.

Sincerely,
Liz Henderson
Lisa Landry
-----------------------
From: customorders@saberforge.com
To: moedimgirl@comcast.net
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009
Subject: Re: Help!

If both of the boards are doing this, than its going to be related to your power source. What kind of batteries are you using? I have had problems with costco brand kirkland batteries only lasting 15-20 minutes.

There is no way that the buck puck would effect the volume, its wired in between the board outputs and the led, its not going to effect the amount of power going from the battery pack to the board.

As far as brightness goes, I tested both of your sabers lumen output with my multi use voltometer, and they leds are both as bright as any 3 watt based led lightsaber can possibly be. If you dont like the dimming in the center of the blade, I suggest you buy a different blade. Nylon blades, and ultrasabers ultra edge are the two types of blades that do not flare at the base and tip.
--------------------------
From: moedimgirl@comcast.net
To: customorders@saberforge.com
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009
Subject: Re: Help!

Phil,
I understand that you are probably as frustrated with this situation as we are. I apologize for this situation, as this is not what I had planned in any way.

How would you like to proceed?

~Liz
--------------------------------

*At this point in the communication, I received no further reply from Mr. Isherwood.*

---------------------------------
From: moedimgirl@comcast.net
Subject: Re: Help!
To: customorders@saberforge.com, "Landry, Lisa"
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 6:05 PM

Phil,
As I haven't heard from you since my last response, I can only assume that you don't want to deal with this issue. I hold no hard feelings, nor want to cause problems, but there are a couple of issues that need to be resolved.

I absolutely want my switch back, the one you removed from my saber. I would be happy to send back the one you replaced it with, if you like.

I am willing to figure out the electronics myself, and to remove the sound board (s), if needed. I am willing to try different batteries, as well, and will be doing that today and timing how long the blades stay on continually. I'm hopeful this will solve the problem, as it would be a nice fix. Here's hopin'...

This last issue is a definitely a problem. Lisa's shroud seems to be stuck and we cannot seem to get it to move either on or off. The blade is in place, and when she went to put the shroud back on, it got so stuck. We are really at a loss as to what we should do about this problem. Suggestions? Since you work with this material all the time, I am thinking you may have a fix we have not considered, short of destroying the shroud.

Please address these issues right away. I look forward to hearing from you. If you don't want to deal with these issues further, an easy fix would be a full refund and we would send the sabers, etc., all back to you.

Sincerely,
Liz Henderson
-------------------------------------

At this point in time, we have not heard back from Mr. Isherwood. I am disappointed and am just expecting to 'take the hit'. I have arranged for help with the electronics, and if that doesn't work, I'll figure it out myself.

I do not want this to happen to anyone else. I'm sure there are many happy customers who have dealt with Saber Forge, and I am happy about that. However, if I can help one costumer avoid problems such as this, then I will be pleased.


The Staunch Defender by Saber Forge

On another note, the above hilt is the one that Lisa chose. She has had some issues spinning/twirling the saber due to the cutouts and extra pieces on the hilt. Just for comfort, I would suggest getting a hilt that is more simple and smooth in it's design.

I welcome any comments and suggestions regarding this matter.

UPDATE: A reply from Mr. Isherwood, dated September 8, 2009, posted on the Rebel Legion forum, of which he is a member.

I would like to take the oppotunity to defend my products and services.


About a month after my sabers were purchased. Hendel contacted me to say that she and her friend were not happy with the brightness, and the asked what could be done.


I said since they have soundboards in both hilts, there is a MAH drop accross the boards resulting in slightly dimmer LED's. My sollution was to suggest BUCK PUCK current regulators.




She agreed and shipped the sabers back for upgrades.


When I recieved the hilts back one of the switches had been replaced and the wiring had been altered. Many saber smiths would say mucking with the electronics voids your warranty. Not me, I just returned the parts to stock for her.


I completely dissasembled the hilts, installed new brighter SEOUL P4 LEDS, installed BUCK PUCK's in both hilts, and I polished out all of the marks they had gotten on them. I tested both hilts, they worked perfectly. Then I shiped them back, !!!!!I DID NOT CHARGER HER FOR ANY OF THIS!!!!! not even shipping


Is that poor customer service?


When she got the sabers back, she was complanining of short battery life. I had allready tested the hilts with my multimeter before I shipped them back to her, they were not shorting out or drawing excess voltage. I suggested to her that she use higher quality aaa batteries, kirkland for example or known to have very poor preformance.


She ignored my suggestion and demanded a refund.


At this point I have allready spent an additional 60.00 in parts +4 hours in labor to make her happy. I think that is more than enough and I have satisfied any reasonable requirements of a retailer. This is in fact my one and only unsatisfied customer. It is an exception to my feedback that proves the rule, in business it is impossible to satisfy everyone. But I typed this because I want the record to show, that I did try. (end post)
My reply, dated September 11, 2009:

I have to say that I am thrilled that Mr. Isherwood has responded to this thread.

I am also thrilled that others have had wonderful experiences with his sabers.

Phil, I love our hilts - they are beautiful.

Unfortunately they are unusable, due to the power issue. Staying on for 2-3 minutes, (or even x7 = 14 - 21 minutes with lithium) is not acceptable. I cannot get the wiring fixed until I re-purchase another switch, which I will do. Enjoy the switch, Phil. And I will have to remove the sound board, since that seems to be the problem - so much for the extra $55.

Voiding the warranty? OK, I'll give it to you. I wish you would have just said that you couldn't fix them in the first place. I would have taken another route.

You could have just given a call and talked to us directly.

Since this is the first item we have ever stepped out and purchased for our costumes online, it makes me even more wary to purchase other items. And, I don't really care about your ebay rating...I just wanted my saber to work like it was supposed to.

Furthermore, I don't want to tit-for-tat on this forum. We tried to settle this by phone, then by email in a polite and professional manner. Posting here as a warning was our last resort - not as a threat, but to help others avoid such hassles. I don't think we have ever been rude or mean-spirited, either - that is just not how we do things.

We have only been costuming a couple of years, and have learned so much about putting together a complicated costume. We have learned leatherworking, sewing, and how to build props. Now I guess I learn how to wire lightsabers.

So, for that - thanks.

~Hendel (end post)

UPDATE, September 26, 2011:

We have not heard one peep from Mr. Isherwood regarding our sabers since this post was published.  I continue to be amazed at how many hits this post receives, to be honest.  I mean no disrespect towards the owner of Saber Forge, however I do not want others to purchase props that will not live up to expectations, or to have the same problems we suffered.  We have talked to many about fixing our sabers, and have discovered that the interior of these beauiful hilts are far too small for most to wire correctly.  They are lovely, but unusable.

As of just last week, we spoke to a gentleman who is affiliated with Ultra Sabers, another lightsaber supplier.  At first look, I am impressed and have heard good reports from fellow costumers. The prices seem reasonable and we are considering taking the plunge again and splurging on sabers that we will be able to use for night parades and other events where a light-up saber is necessary.  I will happily report our discoveries concerning this new development (most likely on this post, since it gets so much traffic).

Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with us all!

~hendel d'bu

20 comments:

Mama Cache said...

I am so, so sorry that you are continuing to hve problems with this. I remember your excitement when you first received them.
*sadness*

Kaaren said...

Wow, what a pain! So sorry about that. $200+ is a lot of $$ to not be getting good customer service.

Ari C'rona said...

Excellent summation - here's hoping we can get this resolved. :o/

Anonymous said...

C'mon Dude. How long to do you expect batteries to last? Don't go cheap. Get the good ones. Not Phil's problem.
Kent

Hendel D'bu said...

Thanks, Kent, for your comment. I'd like to hear what you would consider 'good' batteries.

I guess I expect them to last more than 5 - 20 minutes. *shrug*

~Hendel, who is female.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you're having issues with Saber Forge. I am on the verge of making a purchase with them, and this blog will certainly play into my decision, as I have had a very similar issue with Parksabers.

Last year, my cohorts and I purchased three parks sabers and only one works properly. He replaced the blades(where all the electronics are) for the ones that had issues, but the same problems persisted. The blade would shut off when struck against another, sometimes even when I was simply swinging it around, and the switch worked about 60% of the time.

To this day my parks saber does not work, in fact the blade I have with it now will not turn on at all anymore. The hilt is amazing and perfect in size, weight and about as close to a real-size replica you can get with "dueling" sabers, but the blades have failed me so far, and I feel I should not be obligated to pay shipping back and forth to Texas time and time again when I should have gotten my $300 worth from the start. The parks eat batteries as well, and take expensive ($15/pair) C123 camera batteries, but they lasted roughly two hours.

Anyway, thought I'd share my story with you, feels good to get it out

Hendel D'bu said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for posting this. I hope whatever you decide to purchase works well, and I would be very much interested in what you decided on, how much it cost and how the transaction went. Good luck!

Thanks for the information about your experience with Parks...it's good to know!

~Hendel :-)

Anonymous said...

How sad. Unfortunatly there are so few manufacturers of custom lightsabers it makes it impossible to not end up purchasing from saber forge or parks. I was planning on purchasing a pair of sabers from saber forge and even had my hopes up for getting a custom saber that I designed built after so much time. Now I really don't know what to do.. Thank you for sharing your dealings with saber forge and the anonymous person for their experiences with parks. I hope you can get these issues resolved to your benefit.

James said...

Hey Hendel, I seriously recommend checking out Ultra Sabers. I just ordered 3 of their grab bag sabers(basically discontinued sabers, second, and returns) and even these, which would be considered the lowest on the quality ladder for them are amazing. I have been using them constantly and have yet to kill the bargain brand triple a batteries in them. They are near uniformly bright and seem to be very sturdy, me and my brother have done some heavy dueling and nothing has broken, even the mars I got on my blade rubbed off with some elbow grease. The forums Ultra (the owner) set up are extremely helpful with anything lightsaber oriented, and he is commonly involved in threads himself. He and his employees or partners (I'm not sure which they are)Are all incredibly cool and helpful. Up until recently he was known to have fixed saberforge products (apparently they often have issues) but has recently stopped due to the fact they are train wreck messes. I've seen more than a few posts reporting dim blades, and poorly designed (for dueling at least) hilts. One guy actually got cuts on his hands from his. So it isn't just you this has happened to (no idea how he has any Ebay rep points at all. I hope you try out Ultra's products, and if you do, get on the forums too, I'm on there as jminor92, I don't post much though.

Hendel D'bu said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment and recommendation, James - we most certainly are planning on purchasing sabers from UltraSaber.

I am interested in poking around the forums, and if I do, I'll look you up, my friend.

Thanks again! MTFBWY!

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,

This same sort of thing has happened to me. I bought a Venom from eBay with a Hasbro Clone Wars soundboard installed, and within 30 minutes of my getting it one of the speaker wires came loose from the soundboard. 65 USD for that. The second problem I have is with the blade not being evenly lit, and when I looked into the hilt I felt quite a lot of heat coming out of it. I was using Energizer Lithium long life batteries, designed for use with items with a high power draw.
The power button does not latch, it feels like a momentary, however a video on eBay you can clearly hear the button 'click' when he switches it on and off.
Two of the claws were nearly falling off when I opened it, easily remedied with an allan key but still, sloppy to have been packed like that.
The soundboard contacts the interior wall and the wiring itself is like a rats nest.

I have attempted to contact him via eBay as well as having sent emails directly. No response so far.

If I have not heard from him by tomorrow night (7 December 2011) I will be invoking a PayPal dispute and leaving negative feedback on eBay. I don't want to do that, but was prompt in contacting him with the issue within about an hour of having picked it up. I have owned several sabers from a couple of different companies, and know what good quality is. The hilt is great, as alot of people say, but the electronics are dodgy and I asked him to repair it. It states on his website that these are covered by a 1 year warranty. I've had my saber 1 day.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I've been looking around for somewhere that sells sabers for quite a while and liked the hilts on SaberForge so I decided to go with them. I'm happy I found this review, cause it'll prep me for what I'm getting. I've been talking to the owner in emails (Loose term). All of his hilts are 1-handers and my style is more of a 2-handed broadsword/claymore so I've been trying to see if he can modify the Desert Warrior hilt to have an extra 'body' section in it for the 2 handed grip I prefer. So far I've not gotten very far, it seems as if I only get responses to my messages if I post it from the "Contact Us" area on his website, it seems like if you respond to his responses they do not get to him. Kinda hard if he wants you to send a sketch of what you want.

Thanks so much for the reviews about the electronics too. I was already planning on installing the electronics myself, and now I am going to for sure. My friend and I are going to start doing Choreography vids so all I need is it to light up.

I'm also going to check UltraSabers now too, I want as little hassle as possible, and now they are seeming like the way to go.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Please please please educate yourselves FULLY on both Saberforge AND Ultrasabers. Check here for honest feedback on Ultrasabers that they repress on EVERY forum:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ultra-Sabers-Lies-and-Deceit/239240936130636

You only hear good things because they delete any negative reviews or complaints and then threaten lawsuits if you still have an issue with them. They do this with their products they sell, AND with manufacturers they deal with AND with website owners.

Saberforge has awesome ideas for hilts, but the execution leaves alot to be desires. He leaves metal shavings everywhere within the hilts and coats them in excess oils, has terrible communication, does NOT solder well or give much thought to the internal electronic wiring, uses cheap batteries, and just poor customer service. He'll twist what he does (whether its what you asked for or not) into the solution and make YOu the problem. Same with Ultrasabers

Seriously, take a look at some of the pics in the link, these are actual things you will receive. No wonder there's so many issues!

If you buy from Saberforge, buy an EMPTY HILT, and take the time needed to file/sand down the rough cuts or you'll cut the snot out of your hand. Take the empty hilt, do the work needed yourself, and you'll have a pretty decent polished turd. STAY AWAY FROM THE ULTRASOUND or NOVASOUND soundboards. CRAP!

Check out www.thecustomsabershop.com and pick up a Petit Crouton soundboard. It is light years ahead of those monkeygong soundboards Saberforge uses. And ultrasabers Obsidian? UGH you REALLY don't wanna go there. Any idea how many of those are being QUICKLY turned around and resold at a LOSS by customers who realize what a POS it is?

Really, people, if you care about your prop and want a decent lightsaber, do the reading and go to a real reputable smith. Not someone that gets to the top of search engines by paying money for it (alex buckner of Ultrasabers) and instead, read reviews posted by people!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ultra-Sabers-Lies-and-Deceit/239240936130636

Anonymous said...

I'm the Anon who hadn't heard back about the Venom I got....

Finally, only after initiating a dispute with PayPal did Isherwood respond. And he was quite nasty too.

I detailed what I thought was wrong, including the set screw holding the LED in place sticking out half a millimeter at least, and asked if I could send it back for a complete replacement of the electronics with better quality components. I even offered to pay for the components.

I was told, "No thankyou, send it back for a full refund which will be issued after we receive it back."

No. Fucking. Way. Excuse the French

Isherwood also decided that because a friend of his had gotten some bad news or some such, that it was OK for him to have left things as they were. Sorry, but if you are running as buisness and expect people to pay you, you better be prepared to do what is needed to keep your customer happy. This tool called me, "a perfectionist that should have known what components would be needed to get an evenly lit blade."
He then proceeded to say if I were to buy from him again then I should make clear what I wanted in the saber. Uh, I have owned lightsabers, but I've NEVER looked into the electronics side of oit. That is, until I dealt with this arsehat. Made me learn quick. Next time I'll be putting one together myself if I can get someone to help me with some of the fiddly small work, as I have an arthritic condition in some of my knuckles that make it hard to do anything too small or fiddly.

So, after that, I sent the hilt to a sabersmith who has not only called the saber an "atroicity" in the first place, has helped me with my questions and let me know what I need and has asked for permission to do anything with my hilt that I did not want. He has been fantastic. The electronic rebuild is happening as of NOW, and he also added a baked finish to it for what I thought was a reasonable amount. He has also machined the hilt somewhat to get rid of sharp edges that were present in an area where your hand would sit a lot of the time you would use it. He's also slightly tweaked the hilt itself to "flow better"

I have seriously been impressed with the guy, and am very seriously considering him to build a new saber from scratch for me.

AS for SaberForge, I was going to buy a couple more hilts from him, but no longer. I had to use that money to get the one I already bought up to scratch. And I received an Email from him just the other day (16th January) FINALLY responding to a webform enquiry I sent on.... THE 4TH OF DECEMBER. About getting it repaired. A whole. Fucking. Month. More.

SaberForge are bad juju. Avoid them like the plauge. Same goes for UltraSabers.

Anonymous said...

I ordered a Dark Relic in November thinking it would be a nice Christmas gift for my son and less likely to break than a Hasbro saber. I paid and was assured it would ship immediately. Dec. 20th and no saber! An mail revealed it hadn't been shipped but he would get right on it. Well, Yesterday was Jan. 20th, I had emailed saberforge five before and got no response, so, I contacted paypal and got a refund. If the saber ever shows up I'll happily send the money but I'm not holding my breath.

Lead Sop said...

I ordered from SaberForge on Nov. 29. On Feb 6 I received my saber from them, only to find they 'forgot' to install the soundboard I ordered with it.

I returned it for soundboard installation the next day (with NEXT DAY shipping).

Email from SaberForge stated that he was extremely sorry that it happened, and it would be a 1-day repair.

I have emailed 12 times since then asking for status on the saber, and have received ABSOLUTELY NO REPLY OR RESPONSE, and obviously no saber.

At this point, I am past PayPal's Resolution/Dispute date guidelines, and it won't let me file a claim. Should I call PayPal?

Should I call a lawyer?

What recourse/action do I have at this point? Can anyone help out?

Hendel D'bu said...

Lead Sop, I am so sorry. I don't even know the first thing you could do to resolve this.

We are also out our money for our sabers, which are still unusable. I certainly wish all who were considering buying from this seller would do research and find this post and subsequent comments prior to purchasing and suffering the same disappointment as we did.

At least your comment and frustration are now available to anyone who wishes to look for it, via googling Saberforge. I pray they do.

(And, for the record, this post gets a LOT of hits every week, so I'm sure some are taking heed...)

~hendel

Jeroen Sjarbaini said...

Another one bites the dust.

I ordered a saber on 12-29-2011.
I once contacted him after app.4 weeks,with the online inquiry form on the website,if my order was received.It was received,and it would ship out in the following 2 weeks.

Well,I'm still waiting after 17 weeks.
I've sent several emails and even pm's on Facebook.
No response whatsoever!In my opinion,Saberforge is one big scam!$350.00 down the drain!

As a member of the 501st Legion,I've posted a topic,warning my fellow troopers to stay away from Saberforge.

Jeroen Sjarbaini
TK3342 Dutch Garrison,501st Legion
the Netherlands

Mathew Staader said...

Well then... whilst this thread is obviously old now. It has definitely made me think twice. I am currently working on developing a version of saber electronics customised from a design that I believe I can improve, and amm shopping around for someone I can purchase reasonable quality enpty hilts from, and was considering the Saberforge ASP system to be my answer. As 5 years have passed I can only hope their machining standards have improved. I may have to bite the bullet and purchase a couple of pieces before going whole hog.

Anonymous said...

My friend bought a Saberofrge Acolyte, we started a fight between him and his SF lightsaber, and a PVC one I built. The Saberforge blade shattered. There goes his warranty.