Introduction: Cryptex

Picture of Cryptex

Just like in the Da Vinci Code. It works much like a bicycle combination lock and if one arranges the rings to spell out the correct password, the rings align to unlock it, and the entire cylinder slides apart. In the inner compartment of the cryptex, this is where secret information can be hidden.

This was sorta a school project. For an engineering project we had to invent something.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

-(2) 2" PVC end caps
-(1) 1.5" PVC coupler
-(1) 1.5" PVC tubing (about 7")
-(1) 2" PVC tubing (about 7")
-(3) .5" x 5" x .125" clear acrylic strips
-Dremel Tool

Step 2: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

Cut the 2" PVC tubing into:
-(2) 2 1/8" pieces
-(5) 3/4" pieces

Step 3: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

Sand down the insides of the 2" PVC rings and also the inside/outside of the coupler, until it fits snuggly inside the 2" PVC ring. Do this 4 more times. Then cut a 1/2" notch in the 1 1/2" coupler, then glue to the inside of the 2" PVC ring.

Step 4: Glue and Cut

Picture of Glue and Cut

Glue one of the 2 1/8" piece of the 2" PVC into the end cap, glue the 1 1/2" PVC to the other end cap. Then slide the 2" piece into the end cap but DO NOT glue.

Cut a 2 1/4" x 1/2" piece of PVC, then glue it onto the 1 1/2" PVC tube

Step 5: Password

Picture of Password

Next you must decide what you want your password to be, then put the letters of the word you chose above the notch, then complete the rest of the alphabet on the ring, then slide the rings onto the 1 1/2" PVC tube.

But also make sure that you can create a riddle or something with your password. Mine was PIANO, and the riddle was.. i am a box that holds keys without locks, but can unlock your soul. What am i?

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Just Put the other end cap on and glue on the acrylic strips. But only glue them onto the 2" PVC pieces that are in the end caps. And there you go, a cryptex!


sueman2 (author)2013-09-10

this is sorta hard to follow, i am not sure what is the key or what is the point of the clear pieces on top. could you make a video of you going over opening it and explaining more about everything.

Halphinian (author)2013-04-02

why is there a dictionary in the picture??????

h.bogart (author)2011-07-09

The coupler is holding the rings in place, right? idk : /

paperairplanecreator (author)2011-06-18

i bought all the materials. Tried to make this for weeks. what do i get? 20$ gone out of my pocket, and wasting 2 weeks of my life. T_T

Luxordo5 (author)2010-06-18

It took me awhile to realize what you meant by "get your mind out of the gutter" I probably wouldnt have realized if you didnt mention it, should I be embarrassed?

akinich (author)Luxordo52010-06-18


SterLuMan (author)akinich2010-08-15

well dude look at the pic and think... what does it remind you of?

akinich (author)SterLuMan2010-08-22


SterLuMan (author)akinich2010-08-23

Dude how old r u?! 5?!

akinich (author)SterLuMan2010-08-31

pvc? will somebody just tell me what it means

SterLuMan (author)akinich2010-09-02

it starts with p, has 5 letters, boys have it, girls dont...

Dumchicken (author)SterLuMan2011-03-08

i know

just shuttup please!

Oh jeez... Are you really that superficial? And it's 'shut up', not 'shuttup'...

I don't care! Just please, shut up!

SterLuMan (author)akinich2010-09-30

have you got it yet?!

josh1324 (author)akinich2010-09-29

lol seriously?

kooldoode (author)akinich2010-08-31

no, close its another p word,

I DONT Know!!!!!

jeroenenmarloes (author)2010-01-03

Great project. I used rivets to make the cryptex thougher to crack. In stead of one small stripe of plastic at the end, use rivets under every letter. See the pictures attached.

! the sanding of the tube is done best with an electric grinding wheel.

sulis96 (author)jeroenenmarloes2010-01-26

 do you have an instuctables on this of your own ?????? if you do could you E-mail me how to make one your way 


jeroenenmarloes (author)sulis962010-01-27

Dear sulis96,

If you follow exactly the instructions in the instructable you have 80% of the result. You need to be alert in step 4: Glue and Cut.

Instead of :"Cut a 2 1/4" x 1/2" piece of PVC, then glue it onto the 1 1/2" PVC tube."
Each "ring" consists of an outer and inner ring. The inner ring is smaller +/- 1/4". This space is enough for the rivet. If you place ring for ring on the cryptex and sign it, draw a line as seen in the firt photo, its jhust a matter of drilling and nailing. 

I hope with this information you have enough for building the cryptex.

sulis96 (author)jeroenenmarloes2011-01-18

it has thanks again bra ;)

dude do u hav a instuctabl fr dis its so sick

hey death kid,

unusual nick by the way.... if you follow this instructable then you will end up like mine. All you have to do extra
is use rivets.

 pleas make a video on youtube on how to make a cryptex the way u did

 Dear hornbadoing,

I already made the crypto. So a video is only possible if I rebuild it. I don't have the time right now. Perhaps in the future.


boston09 (author)jeroenenmarloes2010-01-03

i like it! thanks for the advice

Quintonio (author)2011-01-11

what does it mean by notch like it starts at one end and goes to the other

NicOmbra (author)2010-12-16

Because of the length pvc pipe is sold in, maybe you could make lots of these, then have the riddles to one cryptex inside another cyptex.

MITisNOTHINGtoME (author)2010-11-14

You didn't mention that little piece of white paper or plastic of some sort. It seems like, reading through your instructable that that is the mechanism. Please go more in depth.

starfox384 (author)2010-08-29

love the riddle

Kaelessin (author)2010-07-28

Hey! I liked your idea so much that I ported it over to an all copper design. Had to do some tweaking to make it work properly but enjoyed what I feel great results! I changed the design somewhat so that all letters need to be lined up to crack it (as opposed to a "brute force method" possible design)

Here is mine.

Thanks for this ible!

jediking14 (author)2010-05-20

What you gave us your password... Nooooooooooo.

rennboyz (author)2009-09-18

nice riddle!!!

greymatter21 (author)rennboyz2010-04-26

dido dat!(i suc at riddles>.<)

ampeyro (author)2009-06-18

it's good, but do u think is posible to put an acid(or ink) container like it was no the movie(the acid tube was for if someone tryed to broke it)

papalevies (author)ampeyro2009-06-18

Well if breaching the device is in the picture, you could use a tiny hole and a syringe to drain out the acid, or even cut around the wall/lock and take the paper out. Also, low power explosives would be safer than acid.

Pie Ninja (author)papalevies2009-06-18

You use a mild acid, like vinegar, to wash away the ink.

ph34rsoldier (author)Pie Ninja2009-10-17

But if you use regular paper than the vinegar will jus wash the ink away and leave the pen/pencils indentaion in the paper. So for vinegar to work you would need to use papyrus which fully dissolves the paper.

LiMiT-L3sS (author)ph34rsoldier2010-04-20

u can laminate it

maybe that would work if you used pen ink and painted the words on so when it washed off there would be no indentation?

then you would have to be an expert painter because when u paint the paper soaks the moisture and if u put a lighter behind it it will show

ampeyro (author)Pie Ninja2009-06-21

what i wanted to use is any solvant that solves the ink, or the same ink of the text

zimmemic25 (author)ampeyro2009-08-07

if u use the same ink like the text, then someone can pour sand on the paper, and it will collect where the pen did press the paper on time of writing the text.

Xerillum (author)ampeyro2009-10-31

 You could use a small piece of elemental sodium in oil (or another method of creating a flame, this is just the first thing I thought of), and write the message on flash paper. When the sodium is exposed to air, it ignites the flash paper.

ampeyro (author)Xerillum2009-11-03

it's a really good idea, but sodium is difficult to find, maybe a cylinder of permanganate inside another of glycerin and a pendrive inside it

LiMiT-L3sS (author)ampeyro2010-04-20

wat abot  sodium cloride

i may be you would have to have the sodium /oil in water its reactive to water

Silence (author)ampeyro2009-06-18

The acid was contained in a thin glass container and the parchment wrapped around it. if the cryptex was tampered with violently (or dropped) then it risked destroying both the glass container and the parchment as a result. To maybe add pick proofing with that, a mechanism to clamp the glass could be added if the cryptex is pulled apart without setting the rings correctly it would risk crushing it thus spilling the acid.

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