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. The rare metal beskar resists lightsaber cuts, although it does become visibly hot at the point of contact, indicating that even beskar may yield if exposed long enough.
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. Color is determined by the nature of the focusing crystal.
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace shows the first double-bladed lightsabre in use by Darth Maul. It wields more like a staff than a sword, albeit a staff that can only be gripped by a limited section in the middle and can't be rested against the wielder's body.
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones has Count Dooku's lightsabre with a curved hilt, which is apparently customized for his one-handed fighting style.
- Star Wars: Rebels: Ezra Bridger constructs an unorthodox lightsaber which has a built in stun blaster. Imperial Inquisitors also typically have unusual features on their lightsabers.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduces a lightsabre with a crossguard. This seems impractical at a glance, as there are gaps between the main blade and the perpendicular guard blades, but Jedi and Sith have supernatural fighting skills, so they may be able to manipulate this design quickly and precisely enough to use the crossguard without the opposing blade sliding into the corner and destroying the weapon. According to the Episode VII Visual Dictionary, the crossguard exists more to vent extra plasma from an unstable design than to protect the wielder's hands.
Cortosis is another 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. Beskar is yet another material able to withstand lightsabers, but unlike the others, it is a strong metal with numerous applications.
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
Red Lightsabers have a synthetic crystal in place of a natural one. Such lightsabers are prefered by the sith.