This weapon's design was based on schematics Luke found in his mentor's hut on Tatooine. While the final product remained largely faithful to these designs, Luke simplified the weapon considerably, as this was his first attempt at constructing a lightsaber. For instance; he decided use only one crystal for his lightsaber, as opposed to the ideal three to allow for a fully adjustable blade. Luke was able to gather most of the parts he required to build his weapon from various vendors in the city of Mos Eisley, including a high-energy reflector cup, power cells and a focusing lens. However, Luke was unable to obtain the one vital component that would bring the whole project together: the lightsaber crystal itself.
In the years following the Galactic Empire's establishment in 19 BBY, great efforts were taken to expunge the last remaining resources of the fallen Jedi Order from the galaxy. One of these measures was the banning of all crystals capable of being used in the construction of lightsabers, and shutting down the sites that possessed these crystals. Possessing lightsabers was also outlawed with the exception of Palpatine himself, Darth Vader, the Emperor's Shadow Guards, and the Emperor's Hand. Others who possessed lightsabers collected them as a trophies from fallen Jedi. Due to this, Luke was forced to fabricate his own green synthetic lightsaber crystal, utilizing a small blast furnace and a book of instructions found within the home of his fallen Master on Tatooine.
For many days, Luke labored over the components, checking and then re-checking the instructions many times, taking no shortcuts. Over a month after he first began, the weapon still was not complete. Luke had to interrupt his work on the project while he and his friends mounted an ultimately unsuccessful rescue for Han Solo from bounty hunter Boba Fett's custody on the planet Gall. Returning to Tatooine, Luke resumed his work on the weapon, cutting and shaving the unrefined crystal he had created into a proper multi-faceted lightsaber jewel. He likewise based its design on Ben Kenobi's lightsaber in memory of his mentor.
When Luke Skywalker first ignited the weapon, it functioned perfectly. The green blade emitted no heat, signifying that the internal superconductors were working properly, and it sheared through a wrist-thick rock spire with no difficulty. Luke also noted that the weapon possessed superior balance to Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber. Possibly as a result of utilizing a synthetic crystal, the lightsaber made a distinctive snap-hiss sound when activated, which was a different sound to that emitted by his father's weapon.
- "I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen."
- ―Darth Vader examining Luke Skywalker's lightsaber.
In 3 ABY, the construction of his Jedi weapon gave the confidence Luke Skywalker needed to progress in his studies as he advanced toward becoming a Jedi Knight. A year later, the young Jedi used the weapon during the desperate rescue of his friends from Jabba the Hutt's hands on Tatooine. On the moon's surface of Endor, he used it to deflect the blaster fire from Misik's speeder and sliced the speeder's steering vane, before Misik crashed into the tree. Aboard the second Death Star, Luke used his lightsaber during his final confrontation with Darth Vader. When Palpatine was inspecting the lightsaber, he claimed that the design was much like his father's. At the climax of his duel with Vader, as he stood with the weapon leveled at his fallen father's throat, Luke refused to give in to Palpatine's goading to slay his father and submit to the dark side of the Force, shutting his lightsaber off and hurling the weapon aside. Luke would later retrieve his lightsaber after being rescued by his redeemed father from the Galactic Emperor's barrage of Force lightning, wearing the weapon at the Rebel Alliance's victory celebrations on Endor.
Luke would go on to wield his lightsaber in the years following the Battle of Endor, seeing repeated use. The weapon was at his side as Luke oversaw the rebirth of the Jedi Order and the repeated conflicts that followed, including the struggles against the Imperial Remnant, the Yuuzhan Vong and the Killiks. During his brief apprenticeship under the reborn Palpatine, Luke was forced to replace his green crystal with a red Sith gem. He ultimately wielded this red blade in rebellion against Palpatine, overcoming the Sith Lord. Luke afterwards changed back to his crystal.
A legend later claimed that the lightsaber could be found inside the remains of Outpost 17, an outpost in the Unknown Regions that had been destroyed during the Yuuzhan Vong War. This would turn out to be a myth, as Skywalker would continue to wield this lightsaber years after the Yuuzhan Vong war, including during the Swarm War and the Second Galactic Civil War. Later, he would take the weapon with him into his imposed exile in 43 ABY. The weapon was still with him as of 44 ABY, when he used it to kill Abeloth.
Luke would go on to craft several more lightsabers in his lifetime, including a short-bladed version (called a shoto), and a standard red-bladed lightsaber for his sister, Leia Organa Solo. At some point prior to 35 ABY, Luke constructed a backup lightsaber that was nearly identical to this lightsaber. The backup weapon was stored inside R2-D2, seeing use after his primary lightsaber was confiscated by UnuThul. Luke later retrieved his original weapon.
Behind the scenes
For decades, fans were intrigued by a rumored "lightsaber construction scene" in which Luke constructs this lightsaber in a cave on Tatooine. Though storyboards for the scene existed, Mark Hamill denied that he ever filmed the scene. However, at Celebration V in 2010, Hamill and George Lucas debuted the deleted clip, which included a brief sequence where Luke assembles the lightsaber, then activates it for the first time. The clip was later included in the saga Blu-ray boxset.
The original prop lightsaber hilt Mark Hamill used in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi was flown on Space Shuttle Discovery on October 20th, 2007, which coincidentally launched at 11:38 a.m EDT from Pad 39A.
- "A Wookiee Scorned!"—Star Wars Tales 10
- "The Lost Lightsaber"—Star Wars Tales 19 (Non-canonical appearance) (In flashback(s))