A lightsaber consists of a handle that produces an energy blade when activated. Lightsabers are individually crafted, and the size of the handle varies according to the user, with Yoda's lightsaber hilt being less than 20 cm in length, while Darth Maul's double lightsaber hilt was over 60 cm in length. Similarly, the length of a lightsaber's blade varies depending on the needs of the user.
When activated, the lightsaber blade is rigid and "solid", allowing it to interact with solid objects and other forms of energy without noticeably bending. Lightsabers are capable of cutting through most materials without significant resistance. Dense materials and massive objects, like blast doors, will slow them down, but not stop them completely. Lightsabre blades have not demonstrated any ability to "cut" through energy fields, such as other lightsabre blades or the force fields in the facilities beneath the royal palace at Theed. Interaction between a lightsabre blade and solid matter generates substantial heat: they typically cauterize wounds they inflict, and Qui-Gon Jinn's lightsabre melted a substantial portion of a blast door on a Trade Federation battleship.
Lightsabres are effective at deflecting other energy weapons, be they lightsabres or blaster bolts. The incredible reflexes needed to block blaster fire, however, mean that only Force users are generally capable of this feat.
Generally, a Jedi's lightsabre will be blue, yellow, or green, but Mace Windu wielded a purple blade. Sith lightsabres are consistently red.
Cortosis is an exotic material described in EU publications. It can survive prolonged exposure to lightsabre blades and can sometimes destroy a 'blade' completely. It exists as a plot device to allow melee combat against Jedi that does not require another lightsabre. Phrik is a similar exotic material.
According to secondary sources, the color of a Jedi's lightsabre blade indicates his or her role in the Order.
- Blue: Jedi Guardian - primarily combatants
- Green: Jedi Consular - primarily diplomats
- Yellow: Jedi Sentinel - primarily scouts, explorers, or investigators