SaberForge brings light sabers, more to Oregon City
Although light sabers may look like toys, to Ben Blacker, a fifth-grade math and science instructor, they are a teaching tool.
He takes his light saber to school when he is talking about visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum, and his students love it.
A light saber "marries science with science fiction, and there are a lot of 'Star Wars' fans in my homeroom class," he said.
Blacker, who lives in Everett, Washington, was visiting family friends in the metro area recently and made time to come to Oregon City's SaberForge, a manufacturer and retailer of high-end science fiction collectibles.
He had ordered light sabers from the company on the internet and wanted to see the showroom in person. After looking at all the choices on display, Blacker purchased a full-contact dueling saber with a high-powered LED in the hilt.
"The showroom was very nice with all different (light saber) models on display, so you can pick them up and get a feel for them," he said.
The employees were helpful and happy to dole out advice, Blacker added, and there is even a bigger than life-size model of Yoda on display.
When he's not demonstrating the properties of infrared and ultraviolet light in the classroom, Blacker likes to get together with friends for informal dueling with the light sabers.
The sabers "are designed for full contact and are made to be clanked together really fiercely," he said.
Company owner Phil Isherwood said he founded SaberForge after losing his job during the 2008 financial collapse.
"I started SaberForge so I could live to work rather than work to live," he said, adding that he moved the business to Oregon City in 2013.
The company has one primary location of 10,000 square feet and five smaller satellite shops.
The light sabers are made from aluminum, brass, copper and steel and the blades themselves are made from polycarbonate.
"I taught myself how to machine using a mini lathe. Over the next 10 years I added new machines, skills and team members to expand SaberForge capabilities," Isherwood said.
"Our customers come from every age group and demographic. They have one thing in common, a love for geek culture and 'Star Wars,'" he said.
"What they do with their sabers is as varied as their backgrounds. Some do full-contact dueling, some do choreography, some collect and some cosplay," Isherwood said.
The company's adaptive modular saber system is the most popular line in the physical location in Oregon City, but most products in the showroom also are available online.
In the future, Isherwood would like to hold an adaptive saber parts builders workshop, where customers could design and build their own saber, guided by a trained SaberForge saber smith.
For now, though, Isherwood has this to say: "May the Forge be with you, always."
See the light
Where: 270 Beavercreek Road, Suite 200, Oregon City (near Benchmade Knife Co.)
Hours: Noon-8 p.m. daily
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