I was thrilled to be to able to drop by the SaberMach headquarters, hidden away in an industrial park situated in Singapore, far from the hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown. I went to the gargantuan building where they are housed and got off the elevator on the third floor just in time to see a truck with titanic tires drive right by me. As I walked down the wide hall a few work vehicles moved down the center and forklifts picked up stacks of boxes from various shophouses along the sides while welders were sparking away at long metal bars. The SaberMach office is unassumingly tucked in a corner along the main thoroughfare unidentifiable except for the metal sign with their logo near a single door.
SaberMach shares a cozy two-floor workspace with a couple of other small companies in an open air environment. It’s very much a start-up feel. I got to speak with Albert, their media liaison, Gary, who’s in charge of marketing, and Jay, the founder and chief sabersmith. Jay is an experienced saber maker who started with building movie props. He formed SaberMach two years ago and the sabers were launched in 2015. Last year, Kit Woo, another long-term builder formerly of Kit Sabers, joined the team to help with saber design.
SaberMach is perhaps unique in the saber making world as the only company that currently sells off-the-shelf sabers in a packaged box designed for a storefront. The SaberMach box contains a custom hilt, a 29 inch transparent white blade with a round tip, a USB charger, and a display case built specifically for each line of sabers.
They have six different hilts to choose from and I was fortunate to handle them all. They are light and easy to grip.
Each hilt type is available in three series and are priced in Singapore dollars:
Adept: Stunt sabers. One LED color for the blade, no sound. SGD $449 (~USD $325)
Expert: One LED color for the blade, uses Plecter Labs Nano Biscotte sound card (2 sound fonts). SGD $649 (~USD $470)
Master: RGB multiple colors, uses Plecter Labs PRIZM sound card (6 sound fonts). SGD $849 (~USD $615)
The hilts are machined by Jay from top-quality, aircraft-grade T606 aluminum tubes and are anodized to keep the chrome shine. This is a unique feature, as Jay explained to me. With anodizing, raw aluminum oxidizes. But if it’s anodized by supercharging it in a special chemical, it forms a protective layer that shields it from oxidization. But anodizing creates a matte look, which is one reason why other sabersmiths don’t anodize their hilts. SaberMach, however, uses a special anodizing process that keeps the chrome shine. This pristine look is more scratch resistant too. For fans of the weathered saber look, the only way to weather a SaberMach hilt is with paint. Sand paper, for example, would have to scrape through the anodized layer. No glue is used in their sabers to attach or hold pieces together – it’s solely used is for insulating wires.
SaberMach makes their own 3 mm threaded blades that screw into the hilt, another way they distinguish themselves. “All you have to do is screw the blade into the hilt making for a simpler design versus having to undo a pin each time,” says Gary. It may take a little longer to insert and remove the blade but it’s intuitive and there is no blade screw to interfere with the hilt design.
For the Adept and Expert series, you can choose from six colors for the blade illumination. The tri-cri LEDs in their Master series bring an additional four. Extra blades can be purchased: 29”, 32”, or 36” for SGD $59.90, and any other length is SGD $69.90. (USD $1 is about SGD $1.35)
SaberMach sabers sell worldwide including active buyers in the US and Europe. Their primary market though is Asia, which they see as underserved in the saber market. Besides online, they have partner retailers in Singapore and Hong Kong, with Thailand and Philippines coming soon. The wait time for a saber to ship is 3-6 months. They do handle customization requests on a case by case basis such as leather wraps or weathering but there is a longer wait time.
Their current production is 20 sabers a week but their goal is to increase that. “We don’t want to sacrifice quality for numbers. There’s no compromise on quality,” said Gary. They have a six person team currently, although not all are full time. “Sales have been good. We sold over 200 sabers in December and January. Currently we are averaging about 60 a month.”
They have two new series coming out soon. The Junior series, designed for kids, will feature simpler hilts without details and shorter 24” blades. The Sports series is designed for saber society dueling and combat enthusiasts. Both will have the signature SaberMach anodized chrome shine and fixed colors. The Sports series will carry a battery that can’t be disconnected during combat using a SaberMach custom design. Based on other feedback, the Sports sabers also will include a recessed on/off switch so the saber won’t accidentally shut off during battle.
I got to hold a prototype for their Sports series and it was excellent. It had a lighter and slimmer feel to it like a real sword. The sound was outstanding and the hilt was cool, featuring slits on the end of the hilt for lighting and better sound. SaberMach is also interested in producing new products such as katanas, middle Eastern swords and other blade shapes, as well as accessories like blade plugs. Gary said they are even looking into more durable alternatives to polycarbonate blades and down the road want to develop their own sound cards to have better control over design and supply.
Whatever the future holds, SaberMach is going to be part of it. As for me, I’m definitely a fan. Follow Sabermach on Facebook to stay updated on current and future releases.
For a complete list of saber makers check out The List of Saber Shops & Smiths.
(all photos in this article were taken by me.)