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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009
Subject: Re: Help!
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?
*At this point in the communication, I received no further reply from Mr. Isherwood.*
Subject: Re: Help!
To: email@example.com, "Landry, Lisa"
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 6:05 PM
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.
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.
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.My reply, dated September 11, 2009:
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)
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!