How does the resistance of a substance being cut affect the handling of a lightsaber compared to an equal-sized sword?

When two lightsaber blades meet, or a lightsaber stops a blaster beam, physical force is transmitted back through the handle to the user.

When cutting ordinary matter is any force transmitted to the user? Does the type of matter affect the physical force used? Does the user have to press harder?

Yes.

If the strength/intensity of the lightsaber blade remains constant but the material being cut becomes thicker or higher density then one would need to apply more pressure in order to continue cutting at the same speed. Otherwise the cutting process becomes slower.

This is appears to be what happened when Qui-Gon Jinn was cutting the door in The Phantom Menace. At first it was a single door so he was cutting a shallow circle with relative ease.

However the Viceroy then had the additional blast doors closed as well which greatly increased the amount of material the blade had to cut though. Qui-Gon realized this and abandoned the wide, shallow circle he'd been cutting, opting instead for a deeper and slower cut since there are 1) more doors to cut through and 2) the blast doors are likely made of some kind of higher density material.

So, per the films, it seems that when using a lightsaber the effort needed to cut something varies depending on the amount and density of the matter being cut.

• Really makes you appreciate what Qui-Gon experienced when he had a saber blade rammed through his guts later in the movie. – Kyle Jones Nov 12 '15 at 5:41
• But would a stronger person be able to cut it faster? It seems like the cutting rate should be proportional to the power output of the saber and not the pressure/effort exerted by the wielder (assuming the same material/door thickness/saber diameter being cut). – kaine Nov 12 '15 at 18:01
• @kaine I touched on that in the answer but I'll elaborate. Things that make cutting easier/faster 1) stronger saber, 2) more effort exerted by wielder, and 3) less material being cut, and/or lower density material being cut. Things that make cutting harder/slower 1) weaker saber, 2) less effort exerted by wielder, and 3) more material being cut, and/or higher density material being cut. It's just like cutting things in real life. :) – RedCaio Nov 12 '15 at 21:31
• @RedCaio I have very strong doubts about #2 as the driving force for this method of cutting is the melting of the substrate. A minimum amount of effort will be required to deflect the melted material around the "blade". Beyond that requirment, additional work will have little effect as you can't move the unmelted metal. This minimum would increase with the viscosity of the melted metal. This would be closer to cutting with a recipricating saw than a sword. Otherwise a disinct sawing or jerking motion would be used to accerate this process. Otherwise I 100% agree with this answer. – kaine Nov 12 '15 at 21:46