X-Wing Data Cylinder Tutorial

By Jay Pennington

This will show you how to create your own "tools" or "data cylinders"
as worn by X-Wing pilots in three pockets on their left arm.

X-Wing Data Cylinder

Parts breakdown:

A - common "bright" nail
B - #8 Finishing Washer (Lowe's 791798)
C - 1/4" Finishing Washer (Lowe's 806705.5)
D - #16 Finishing Washer (Lowe's 791808)
E - 1" Washer (Lowe's loose washer bin) (3x)
F - SAE Flat Washer 5/16" (Lowe's 03858) (4x)
G - 10mm SST Flat Washer 810302.5 (2x)
H - Lowe's loose washer bins (2x)
I - 1/2" aluminum tubing (Home Depot Hardware aisle)

The quantities listed above indicate how many you need to make one tool/cylinder, not the number of packages you need to buy (different amounts come in a baggie, so you will end up with extras). To make three tools, multiply accordingly.

Start at the top, but skip the nail at first. Take great care to center properly. It's easy to end up with a lopsided layer cake if you don't. Superglue B to C. The point of contact is very small, so to reinforce it, shoot hot glue in from the bottom to fill in the inside of Part B. Do the same to attach Part D. The remaining washers have bigger contact surfaces, so superglue away until you've attached all washers.

The head of the nail will probably have surface imperfections. Just dremel or file.

Now insert the nail--you may have to hammer it through the hot glue. If it comes through crooked, drill out a bigger hole through the center so the nail is unhindered. Now put the assembly upside down, with the end of the nail pointing up at you. Again, line it up carefully and fill the inside with hot glue. Not all the way to the top just yet, this is just to get the nail stable.

Now the aluminum rod. Using a table saw, hacksaw or dremel, cut off three 5" sections. File one end of each piece until you have a smooth edge and above all make sure the edge is straight. The other end is unimportant, as most of the rod will be hidden in the pocket. But clean it up if you feel you must.

Back to the nail. If you want to be able to remove the washer/nail assembly from the rod in the future, you can simply wrap the nail with masking tape until you can just barely push it inside the rod. However, there will be a little bit of a gap between the bottom washer and the top of the rod.

For a more permanent option, forego the tape and just lower the rod section over the upturned nail. Verify that the rod rests flush with the washer, file some more if necessary. Dribble some superglue down the open end of the rod to make it stay. Don't overdo it, as the glue will run out the cracks between the parts and mar the outside. Once dry and the rod stays put without support, drip hot glue down the opening. Let it fill up the remaining area inside the washers and past the joint to the rod. These parts ain't goin' nowhere!

With a very fine grit sandpaper, you can get the aluminum rod to shine quite brightly. With a bit more work you might be able to get the washers to as well, but I haven't tackled that yet.


I made every mistake I warn about above, so heed, heed!

Part G was the size washer I needed but it obviously could stand to be shinier. Perhaps you'll find something better. I forgot to measure Part H, but they're only slightly smaller than the 5/16" Part F. Lowe's might also have aluminum tubing, I just didn't find it during that trip.

The finishing washers are nickel-plated, so they also have a different sheen, while still shiny. If I ever get around to sending in some toy & model parts to ChromeTech USA, I'll probably have these done, too. But even as-is they look tons better than "chrome" paint.

Also, the three stacked finishing washers was the closest I could come to the equivalent section of the "real" tools, but I'm sure there's something out there that would be better. Just have to find it.

Parts cost for three tools/cylinders: under $20.