Picture of How To Make a Cryptex
In this Instructable I'll show how I made my cryptex.

There is already an Instructable on making a cryptex published lately, but I wasn't satisfied by that one. That cryptex was held together on the outside, like this. I prefer my cryptex held together from the inside, like this. That is by the way the 'real' cryptex, like it is used in the film. Those are harder to make.

A cryptex is a kind of lock with a password, that holds a roll of paper. Author Dan Brown said in his "Da Vinci Code", a book from some years ago, that Leonardo da Vinci invented it, to let messengers carry secret papyrus rolls that the messengers themselves may not read; only the sender and the recipient know the password. If the messenger would smash the cryptex to read the message, a vial containing vinegar which was rolled inside of the papyrus roll would also break even earlier than the cryptex itself, the vinegar would spread over the message, disolve the ink, making it unreadable.
The term 'cryptex' is actually made up by Dan Brown. I don't even know for sure that it's true that Da Vinci invented it, he never actually made one, he would have made a blueprint in his diary, but I never found that page of his diary(so I made my own blueprint, see the next step). What I do know, is that the vinegar thing doesn't work. It doesn't disolve the ink so much that it gets unreadable, it becomes only a little more vague. I tested it with Black Indian ink, several kinds of pen inks, marker pens, ecoline, pencils, and some more; it never worked, just like Wikipedia says.
In the Da Vinci Code, the cryptexes were used different than how they were meant by Da Vinci, in the story they use it as a part of a big puzzle, the answer to a riddle is the password of a cryptex, which contains another riddle that leads to another cryptex, etc. To my opinion the use of cryptexes in such a way is a bit ridiculous, the characters in the book could've just put the cryptex in the freezer so that the vinegar gets frozen, then they could saw it open without danger. But they didn't think of that easy solution in the book.

In the comments below, 'cavingboy92' came up with this genious way to make use of the vinegar vial: on the paper around the vial, don't write with ink, but also with vinegar. If you want to read the message, pour a PH indicator on it(like red cabbage juice), and you can see the text. Or you can just hold it under a low heat source like a light bulb, then you can see it too, because the acid will oxidate.
If the vial breaks, the piece of paper gets all drenched in vinegar, so it's absolutely sure that it's unreadable!
Here is the proof that it works, tested by cavingboy92.
You could also just put the same inkin the vial as the ink where you wrote with on the paper, that would also destroy the message.
If you want more ways on how you could use a vial-break-delfdestroy mechanism, read throught the comments below, there are a lot of people giving suggestions for it, and also on improving the cryptex.
Finally, if you disolve a lot of salt in the vinegar, I think you can lower the freezing point of it so much that it can't get frozen in a normal kitchen freezer, then the freeze method also won't work so easily, you would have to find a special freezer in a lab or something.
Smccln2 years ago
But, really with trial and error, you could crack the code...

But, i still want one
Ggg101 Smccln9 months ago

trial and error won't work. This one has over 308,915,776 combinations and only one is correct. There are 26 letters on all 6 dials. It's highly unlikely that trial and error would ever work

Istarian Ggg10156 minutes ago

Trial and error will work just fine, you'll be there a long time though. The biggest dilemma is that a well-built cryptex will require you to discover each digit in the combination before you can test if it's right because no movement is possible until all the pegs are free to move...

CigarSmoker22 months ago

this would make an excellent lock for a pocket door. At first I didn't understand how it worked, but I get it now, thank you.

Law_dud8 months ago
Yes the original cryptex had papyrus . Which was paper of long ago and the vinegar would dissolve the paper . Paper used to be held together . It was tree pulp held together so the vinegar would break the bond . New paper is different but papyrus was a different paper. You can try making your own paper and using a solvent that would be undone by vinegar

Write your message on a glossy paper using watercolour paints or use a nib pen and write with printer ink. Everyone has some old print cartridges that are no longer useful, but still have a good quantity of ink left. Just empty the cartridge into a container and fountain pen away. Any liquid including water should mess up the printing fairly well. I'm thinking a lighter colour ink would be easier to dissolve.

Kraplax6 years ago
OMG! This is totally awesome! Oh, why did Instructables digest came so late?! This cryptex idea would fit my puzzle-present for my friend's birthday tomorrow :( guess i'll make it anyway and present him the whole puzzle a bit later :/ I still wonder where to find tubes.. though, i guess i'll try in local store for such things.. Thanks for instructable :)
merijnvw (author)  Kraplax6 years ago
Thanks. I was just lucky, three of the tubes were in my dad's shed, and one tube came from an old damaged tent. But if you are going to make it just for a puzzle, I assume your friend keeps sportive and won't try to lock-pick or break your cryptex or something, you could also make it from cradboard tubes that go around posters. Or just paper... I could think of those tubes made from paper, with 10 or more layers of paper in thickness. It wouldn't hold against a thief, but for a puzzle present it would be good!
Kraplax merijnvw9 months ago

Better late than never ;) Three (or four?) years ago i finally made it from composite water pipes (PVC+Al+PVC ones) and it turned out really great. In case anyone looks for a material that is easy to handle and work with - PVC tubes are great for cryptex!

Well, i looked around for other instructables about Cryptexes, but they don't look that cool. I doubt i'll follow your idea to the letter, but i guess most of your instructable would be done. I guess i wouldn't work that hard on side caps. Maybe some strong glue, but no nails, i guess.
petsenek101 year ago

It says that the video is private?

nstimley1 year ago

I think in the book it said the Cryptex used a special kind of paper so the PAPER itself dissolved. And is there a way to have the inside be hallowed out so you can store bigger objects in it?

apark38382 years ago
Hey, I had a question about doing this without a soldering iron, you say in the instructions you can use an oven what do you mean by "putting something under both sides" specifically. Can you clarify this a bit?
ThaXified2 years ago
xvf.2 years ago
Let me enlighten you. The vinegar is not meant to dissolve the ink but the PAPYRUS itself.
merijnvw (author)  xvf.2 years ago
Let me enlighten you. Read the text or comments for chrissake. Papyrus is not dissolved by vinegar
superrust2 years ago
What did you use to cut the incisions?
altimus322 years ago
this is an awsome instructable especialy for me because i have a lot of nosey family members
thattori2 years ago
What kind of material do you use?
i have made a version of my own here is a link, please leave your thoughts and how you think i could improve it

Great build and a great instructable. definitely favoriting and planning on building a couple as gifts in the future
monkeys983 years ago
you should really sell this as a kit
haha u think that can stop me i can brake into a 79 numbered vault in 5 minutes lol lol lol I CAN"T BE STOPPED MUHAHAHA!
canucksgirl3 years ago
Very cool. Thanks for sharing. :D
Where would you recomend buying the four tubes ?
I have made a lot of different things with tubes and I always go to LOWES.
i would say home hardware in the plumbing section, or any hardware store,if you cant find any ask a clerk or someone
SimonRawr4 years ago
Another way you could make the vinegar vial work is is you wrote on something like tissue paper so the vinegar would dissolve it completely. I also like the idea of adding salt to prevent the freeze method. I was wondering if somebody could figure out a way to make a timed cryptex so that if it wasn't opened in time, the message would be destroyed. That would take some work, but would eventually be worth it for secret spy stuff.
thats actually exactly the point, had merijvnw read a little deeper into Dan Browns book, paper is not the material the note is written on but rather papyrus, which dissolves in vinegar, im not sure if someone else has already commented on this, but if so i just wanted to bring it to greater attention
merijnvw (author)  94todd3 years ago
had 94todd read a little deeper into this instructable, he wouldn't have placed this comment. pfff
Old post, I know.. I would look in to something electronic. Small timer (chip might work best), maybe a motor to crack the vial? Not sure how small it could be though. Sounds like a weekend project for me =)
In the book, pulling to hard on the ends of the cryptex actually moves a lever that has a point attached to it that presses down on the vinegar vile. When enough force is used (less force than required to break the cryptex) it cracks the glass vial containing the vinegar. this acion releases the vinegar which dissolves the papyrus.
bowmaster4 years ago
I plan to use this to make a cryptex flashdrive, encrypt in digitally, then put back-track linux on it for a top-secret hacker drive.
merijnvw (author)  bowmaster4 years ago
XD good luck!
Much better then the "Auto-Hacking Wardrives" on Instructables. This one can be used to actually hack, not just copy random files.
laloworld944 years ago
the paints you are using...wich kind is it? i live in mexico and i think here they dont sell teh citadel paints...
merijnvw (author)  laloworld944 years ago
it's paint from the miniature wargame called warhammer, I have the paint even though I don't play the game. It's a nice type of paint I think
ahurd14 years ago
I'm really excited about trying to make a cryptex. I think I understand the steps, but it should be much easier to understand when I have the actual tubes in front of me.

Thank You
The best Cryptex tutorial EVER
yaly4 years ago
okay cool, now how do you change the password?
Gossey2002 yaly4 years ago
I have given this thought with several designs, the best way to describe it is to make the lettered part have a piece under neath it that is an internal gear (http://www.rushgears.com/images/internalIMG.gif), with this you can adjust where the keys letters are on each letter ring. While I cannot describe this in great detail I suggest looking up how to change the code of your cryptex (the small ones Google distributed as part of their give away), the descriptions will show you all the internal workings and give the information you need.

Also, what he said " v ".
Burnsides4 years ago
Hello next week's project.
lkearbey6 years ago
You mention engraving on the PVC with a heated paperclip and that the fumes are harmless. It appears that the vapors from heating PVC can cause some forms of cancer (what doesn't these days though!) so it might be a good idea to do that in a well ventilated area.
merijnvw (author)  lkearbey6 years ago
Thanks for the information, I'll add it in to the text. I had my doubts about it too, but I read on another website that it's harmless. However there are researches about PVC that contradict the other. Also PVC in contact with food, some say it's unhealthy, some say it isn't.(I know that because of my other 'cat feeder' project) I'll tell them to do it in a well ventilated area like you said.
PVC is Poly-vinyl-chloride. Burning or melting it can give off small amounts of chlorine gas. It doesn't take a lot of chemistry knowledge to figure out the reaction of breaking down PVC molecules with heat. There may be some that say it doesn't happen. Though, I would not take the chance that they are wrong.
tobyscool4 years ago
Hey your blueprint is very helpful,I made my own out of 4 tissue rolls and paper mache for the ends. :D
how did you make it from tissue rolls and paper mache? :)
Poehls054 years ago
Thanks for posting this. I made my own, but the password is my last name, which kind of ruins the point of it because everyone I ask can guess it. Oh well.
merijnvw (author)  Poehls054 years ago
haha, stick new alphatbet strips on the dials then! with a different password

Just reading through your instructable, I cant find any reference for your tube lengths? I am assuming they are about 10cm long. Can you confirm this?

merijnvw (author)  liam_mcquellin4 years ago
I would estimate them as 13.5 cm or so, not super sure though, can't measure them now as I am on vacation. But this length is dependent of the length of your password of course, that's why I didn't include it I think. Moreover my measures are just an example, take the measures how you like, good luck!
I'm going to make one of these for my hard materials class next term. I'm going to make it completely out of copper pipes with wooden balls for the end caps. I'm just going to tweak your version a bit on my one. looking forward to seeing how its going to turn out. VERY GOOD INSTRUCTIBLE.
merijnvw (author)  jvan den bergen4 years ago
wow great! There have been some commenters who also announced they were going to make one from copper completely, you could search for them, maybe they have tips. good luck! and thanks
listen dont use vinegar use acetone!
that will dissolve the ink making it unreadable
Antitheus4 years ago
I am now making this cryptex completely out of brass, and I would like to change the password sometimes.
in the video (step 1) you mentioned you've changed the code.
I'm really curious about how you did that, since the scales are glued on the 'locking rings'
merijnvw (author)  Antitheus4 years ago
Haha, at first I just glued the alhpabet on it with pritt glue and then added lacquer over it, but because of that I could easily make a cut and then remove the whole strip.

In your case I would do it like this, maybe you already thought of this but I will tell anyway, see image:
make the alphabet strip like an extra ring with some pins on the inside that fit into 26 optionably chooseable notches on the real ring underneath. So when the cryptex is locked these rings interlock and form 1 ring, if you unlock the cryptex you could take the rings off the inner tube and then you can get the 2 parts of each ring apart and then rearrange.
This would also need the border of the inner tube holding the rings together to be removed, but ONLY if the code is inserted. I do have an idea for it, but I think that's very hard to make, especially in brass. the inner tube would have at least one cut at the beginning of the tube (I drew two), the ring holder tube needs a hole with a skew cut on one side, and the holder ring needs pressable buttons in the shape I drew. Then when the buttons are in the cut, the holder ring isn't movable, but if it's pressed in by the part of the inner tube where there is no cut (so the tube has moved and the code is broken) then the button gets pressed in far enough to be able to when given side pressure, slide through also the hole in the 2nd tube, and then get out.

nice project btw, in brass! good luck!
cryptex extra.png
csim854 years ago
I Just had an idea for a multi-cryptex. It would use less pins spaced closer together and the notch that the pins slide though would not be a straight line. The rings used to input the code would be staggered every other ring depending on how many codes were implemented. Sort of like a renaissance nuclear missile launch. It would take multiple people with different parts of the code to unlock. I'll try to draw it out on paper first to see if it's plausible.
merijnvw (author)  csim854 years ago
wow that's really interesting1 I don't completely understand it, but if you have drawn it on paper please show it to me!
C LORD4 years ago
I live in New Zealand but I cant find the right pipes for this project. Does anyone know where I might find the right materials?
merijnvw (author)  C LORD4 years ago
I don't know DIY shops in New Zealand. If you are not able to get pipes, you can think about making it from cardboard. Not so ong ago there was an 'ible on making a cryptex from cardboard, I didn't read all of it but it seemed good. good luck!
C LORD merijnvw4 years ago
I have found some good steel in my granddads basement and will get to work tomorrow. I am making it for my brother for his birthday. I hope it turns out good.
bisho snake4 years ago
about using vinegar in the glass vial you have to use papyrus so that the vinegar can corode it it sys that in the da vinci code page (273) lines (17-18-19) that's why when you tried to use normal paper it did not work
merijnvw (author)  bisho snake4 years ago
read old discussion on last pages, papyrus is much stronger than normal paper.
merijnvw (author)  merijnvw4 years ago
thanks for your information though
tobyscool4 years ago
I'm trying to make one out of the cardboard roll from tissue papers :D
r3pp3l4 years ago
does anyone know sizes of pvc which fit together snuggly?
Iridium74 years ago
Using your dimensions (because I'm lazy and bad at calculating) if you were to put a small vile in it, about how big would the vile be and how much liquid could it contain?
merijnvw (author)  Iridium74 years ago
the inside of the most inner tube has a diameter of 2cm. So what is the max diameter of the vial? 2 cm obviously. To be able to wrap some paper around it make it a little smaller. The length of the vial depends on the number of letters in your code word. To calculate the volume of a vial (cilinder) use the formula:

volume =
ground surface × length of cilinder =
PI × radius squared × length of cilinder =
3.14 × radius × radius × length of cilinder

The radius is the same as the half diameter, so the distance from the edge to the center of a circle.
shabaki6 years ago
oh ps about the changable code i just made an extremmely crude image and it simply shows how the face with the characters is enlarged and is detached from the normal ring with a peg and slot locking mechinism to were a slot is lined up with each character a matcing ring with pegs so that going on rotational symetry it should fit either way it is turned. there would need to be an equal pair of slots and pegs as there were characters a stabderd of 26 if the aplhabet was used or 36 if the alphabet and the digits 0-9 were used.also by using this method multiple rings could be made with different combonations of symbols/letters and numberscreating an endless possibitities for combonations.and finally if anyone actually makes this would they mind posting pictures or even going as to create an instructable?
merijnvw (author)  shabaki6 years ago
Yes they were also talking about this in step one, search for 'Jefferson wheel' I don't know much about that wheel, but they said that if you make something between the Jefferson wheel and the Cryptex, it would be cool. I think they meant something like you made up, so cool concept! however I would make it like the image below, only then with the inner ring having 26 teeth instead of 20, then you can put it on every letter. On yours there are only four possibilitiet per ring, of course you can swap them, but still it woul be a great puzzle to form another word and the chance would be small you could form a word you want. Maybe I'm going to make a Cryptex 2.0 Instructable later on. I have found some other metal tubes, that fit in eachother aswell, and those are a lot smaller than the ones I used in this cryptex(the biggest tube is 2.5 cm. in diameter!) So I could put that cryptex in my other cryptex like Saunière did, that would be a really precise job and if I would implement the Jefferson thing aswell, I would blow away Saunière and they would call me the master builder!
Here are some pictures of one of the "Nested" Cryptex(R) Security Boxes or a smaller box inside a larger box. These are custom made by hand out of Cararra White Marble, solid handpolished brass and black marble... The display box is Bolivian Rosewood with a pop-out inlay. There is also the vial of vinegar and papyrus document. Having a little trouble posting images due to file size restrictions... so there are only three pictures. Still too big! Ah, I see, I'm trying to upload very high res pictures. Let me try again with low res pictures. Hopefully there will be enough detail.
3 Rosewood Box - Inlay Open - Resize.jpg5 Rosewood Box - Open - Resize.jpg6 White Marble Box 1 - Resize.jpg7 White Marble Box - Open 1 - Resize.jpg8 White-Black Marble 1b - Resize.jpg9 White-Black Marble 2b - Resize.jpg10 Black Marble Box - Resize.jpg11 Black Marble Box - Open 1 - Resize.jpg12 Black Marble Box - Open 2 - Resize.jpg13 All Elements - Resize.jpg
Wow... these are beautiful!!! I am going to attempt to make a cheap one by the instructions of this instructable, but it would be so cool to be able to see/use one of these masterpieces!
Well you can get one from my website at www.cryptex.org. The "Replica" version are nice if you are not concerned with having one made with real marble spacer rings, and they have the changeable code feature. Check them out and let me know what you think - Justin
Hi JNEVINS234, My name is Victor and I'm interest to know if it is you who make this " cryptex" as you show on instructable.com as Nested" Cryptex(R) Security Boxes. Would like to have more information about it. If you want please let me know all information regading this particular item. Thank you. Regards, Victor Oliveira
Victor, Yes, I am the person who made this box. I'm happy to answer whatever questions you might have but but to provide "all information regarding this particular item" as you requested would be too much. I'd need more specific questions regarding this item. While this is a nice place for general discussions on things, I don't want to take up the space on this website to discuss my work. If you would like to contact me directly, you can do so via my website www.cryptex.org or you can contact me at admin@cryptex.org. I will then be happy to answer any specific questions you might have (but not something as broad as "all information regarding this particular item"). Justin
Oh... My... God...
What... haven't you ever seen a fully functional handcrafted "Nested" Cryptex(R) Security Box made with Carrerra Marble and inlaid with 23K gold before? I have GOT to figure out how to market/advertise these things better.
lol, yeah dood.. i may or may not have made one of thease... leaning towards the not O_o
merijnvw (author)  JNevins2346 years ago
wow! looking good!
As you know by now, vinegar does not disolve papyrus so the vial and papyrus is purely cosmetic on this box (for safety purposes and to avoid lawsuits I won't make boxes for clients with anything that could be considered hazardous, I've done it with the self destruct mechanism, but it's too dangerous, will burn your hands and is pretty much a one shot deal as it destroys the box at the same time). But everything else on these boxes is fully functional and they are secure (barring smashing it into a million pieces or as one person said "Going Dr. Freeman on it with a crowbar") with anti lock picking features, etc.
well my image was crude and i explained the number of teeth/slots/pegs/etc , i just didnt put all of the teethe , it was more of a proof of concept and i was using the paint application and didnt want to have to make all the teeth
shabaki shabaki6 years ago
but if the jeferson wheel style ring was used then like i said there could be different rinngs with different characters to make even more combinations
merijnvw (author)  shabaki6 years ago
o ok so we meant the same. I can make a Jefferson Cryptex 2.0 later
ok that would be cool. ps the "jeffersons" wheel is actually used today and the whole reason i found out about is i have a loc kthat the combination can be changed
I have actually created Cryptex(R) Security Boxes with the changable code feature. I don't know if I have any pictures showing this as usually I'm more focused on the outside for my pictures, but I suppose I could take some.
Actually, I've got a photoshoot planned in the next couple of days for a beautiful dark green marble box I'm finishing up this weekend and a black granite box with a changable code I made last week. So maybe I'll take a few pics of the changable code feature if you all are interested.
merijnvw (author)  JNevins2346 years ago
I'm interested!
OK, I'll see about getting some pictures of that at the same time. People are always asking about that stuff anyway so I might as well get those pictures for my website anyway. I was going to take some shots today outside with natural sunlight, but I woke up and it is overcast and pouring down rain (not uncommon for Seattle). So as soon as the weather gets nice, I'll take some pictures.
OK, here are a couple of shots with the changeable code feature. I'm not sure if you can see it all that well, but the first black ring is an insert that goes inside the second brass ring. You can rotate it to set the "true" notch to any of the letters on the code ring. This also shows the "added security feature" or the "false notches" which make it extrememely difficult to "pick" the lock if the box was tuned poorly enough to allow a person to "feel" where the notches line up on the key by pulling on the end caps and rotating the code rings slowly until you found one that "clicked".
Dark Green Marble & Hybrid 019.JPGDark Green Marble & Hybrid 018.JPG
thats exactly wat i ment
trker4 years ago
Just got my pipes and will be starting over the next few days, just some final planning, checking and thinking!
Actually, the ink would disolve on the papyrus roll, yes. And so would the papyrus itself. The end result would be a messy, gross looking goo that used to be the message.

But, anyways, cool 'Ible. I'll make this someday when I've got some spare time.
merijnvw (author)  videogamemaster4 years ago
it wouldn't, just try it yourself :) there had been a discussion on this a while ago, in the oldest comments there are good suggestions for ways that do work.
I'm a very picky when it comes to what I like and what I dont like. And this I really like! Good job. Their is two small falts in it. The first about easily being able to decode it. I agree with 'ch5' on what they sayed. The second is I would have like a bit more explanation in how to make it. But thats okay. Im sorry if I seem a bit rude. I hope I hope im not but the only reason Im saying this is because like me some people may not be the smartest crayon in the box sometimes. But other then that Im talking to my dad about letting me make this. I hope to get back to you soon with pictures and any tweaks i may add on the way. ^.^ thanks much!
merijnvw (author)  Phsycoduckie5 years ago
Okay cool, thanks! Yes I had some questions about it, but when I made this instructable I thought I couldn't explain it better, which is of course hard because in the beginning it can be hard to understand which tube is for what. I would indeed encourage you make faux notches, it was stupid I forgot them! Several people told me about it. I added a line about it in the step too, I believe. But on the other hand, I tried that trick with my cryptex and it wasn't so easy as it seems. With one ring it was easy but the other rings were tight together so I could hardly feel the click. good luck!
would you sell one?
merijnvw (author)  Doctor Freeman4 years ago
depends on what you offer
trker4 years ago
A great thing bout this is u can customize it infinitely. Im thinking bout using cabinet door knobs for the ends.

Great Instructing!
Mr_Starrr4 years ago
Great instructable!
Just about to start the dremel trick for the ends.
Happy with the way it's turning out
merijnvw (author)  Mr_Starrr4 years ago
thanks, and good job!
VLOEIBEER4 years ago
ch55 years ago
Veeery nice :) I like it, and it makes me want to go back to my thrown away blueprints and finally make the one i never had time to finish. Might I suggest a small security improvement tho ? Right now your design seems vulnerable to the basic decoding technique for such locks: If one pulled gently on the opening end while turning the rings one by one, beginning with the most 'binding' one, he'd probably be able to feel it when the corresponding nail falls into the gap , meaning proper alignment. The easy way to defend against such attacks would be to make 26 small notches on the inner rings ( the white ones from step 4 ). One in front of each letter. That way, every step on the rings would provide a small gap for the nail to fall into but without unlocking, which would effectively fool such a decoding :). Excellent work btw.
Iridium7 ch55 years ago
 that is just plain INGENIOUS. If I made one I would never have thought of that! thanks!
merijnvw (author)  Iridium75 years ago
thanks a lot!
merijnvw (author)  merijnvw5 years ago
O wait, I didn't see you wrote a reply to ch5.
Yes there some people who suggested this, I believe I also said something about it in the text but I didn't do it myself. It is indeed better but in my cryptex you can hardly feel the notches.
I already have the 3rd tubes glued into the 4th tubes, trying to figure out how to add faux notches this far along >.<
 I was thinking of building the small one first then making the bigger one around it.
ajburne ch55 years ago
great thought!
caturro4 years ago
Formidable trabajo, Congratulations!!!!! Excellent explication!!!!
Best Ever!!!! 5 Stars!!!
ppprfldr4 years ago
Use longer pipes and you could make this as long as you want, amirite? The possibilities are endless with this! Great Instructable!!
Mr. Seeder4 years ago
I don't believe they had freezers back then, lol.
Kaelessin5 years ago
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!

Here is mine.

Thanks for this ible!
merijnvw (author)  Kaelessin5 years ago
Goog job but I already said that over there! Your steampunk things all look cool
Thanks! I do have a lot of fun making them but it's nice to know others like them too.
zombiefire5 years ago
the message is suppost to be written on rice paper which dissolves if touched by vinegar
zombiefire5 years ago
the message is suppost to be written on rice paper which dissolves if touched by vinegar
Foaly75 years ago
You can write in other stuff than regular ink, so the "ink" used could be something else than ink, from an alcohol mixed with plant-matter (unlikely) to kohl might be dissolved in vinegar on a papyrus. If Da Vinci indeed invented the cryptex and used vinegar as the dissolvent (wrong term, probably), he probably wouldn't have used any normal ink.
It isn't supposed to disolve the ink. The papyrus scroll is supposedly vinegar soluble and is thin enough to do so quickly.
I looked in Home Depot and all i could find is 1.5 inch pvc not 1.6........i wanted to use your sizes to make it easier but i cant seem to find them.......any suggestions?
merijnvw (author)  randomness72.55 years ago
See the next step to see the requirements for the sizes. You can choose any sizes just if it is complaint to what I say there. You can of course make your cryptex as big or as small as you want... It's no point for me to write all possible size combinations because those are more than a trillion
where would you find the alphebet strips?
merijnvw (author)  maddiemanahan5 years ago
In the image I added to this step. Or you can make your own in Word or an other program. Print it on paper and glue it.
Thanks for the instructable, this is a picture of mine.  The smaller one actually holds more, because the big one's "pegs" stick down into the holding area.

A note to anyone who decides to make one : Take your time and be patient.  When I made my second smaller one I spent much more time on it and liked it much more.

merijnvw (author)  JaredsProjects5 years ago
Cool! You really are patient, when I finished my cryptex, I would never want to think about making one right after it! and thank you too.
Do you study AI by the way? Because of your name. I'll be in the 1st year of AI on Amsterdam University next year, I just subscribed for it.
No, I don't study AI, but I am interested in it.  I want to get better at programming so eventually I will be able to make some of my robots have AI (I made a butlerbot with the nxt, that what remote controlled, and I want to "revamp" it with arduino and have and autonomous mode).   Mainly I choose AI for my username, because I liked the way it sounded.

Here are some clearer pictures taken with a better camera.

merijnvw (author)  JaredsProjects5 years ago
Thanks for posting, it looks good! Only next to the middle ring there is a little gap I can look through.. Did you make faux notches? So someone can't twist and push to the side at the same time, so feeling a little tick when it's on the right place? Then it works even with the small gaps.
Did you think about studying AI?
I program since I was 10 or so, so I am autodidact skilled at normal programming right now, I also do it as a job. But it is different from AI programming, you'll have to re-learn programming for AI. Because you mostly use a language called Prolog, which is totally different from all other programming languages.
I'm also very interested in non-robot AI parts like the semantic web or chat bots.
templar6276 years ago
is it possible that instead of vinegar they could of used hydrocloric acid? they had it back then
This thought occurred to me as well, but I discarded it in favor of more ink. A strong acid would dissolve the message, but if the outer casing should leak, the would be thief could be severely injured, leading to a lawsuit. The law frowns on the creation of objects that can burn people, even if the person being burned is a criminal. There was a thief who was injured falling through a skylight who sued his would be victim and won.
merijnvw (author)  Lioness5 years ago
Hahaha, you live in America? Because I heard some more stories like that from there, like a woman who put her dog in the microwave, she sued the manufacturer and won. American justice is weird.
 i was reading up on a woman who  bought a campervan  she was on the motorway in america and put it in cruise control . walked in the back made a cup of tea and crashed . She sued the manufacturerer for not saying it wasnt auto drive.
ya in one state its ileagal to carry an unloaded gun in town our laws are weird too
Perhaps they used 100% vinegar, and not the 5% vinegar we get. According to the wikipedia page vinegar could dissolve papyrus.
byvej5 years ago
 how long did it take you to make it?

great DIY  love it
merijnvw (author)  byvej5 years ago
 a few days, I think three or so.
sebask85 years ago
does the manual have the instructions to put the vinegar into the criptex?
i dont understand
mathman476 years ago
Great job. I can't wait to see many more I's from you. Perhaps something else from the movie? dpf
merijnvw (author)  mathman476 years ago
Like... How to make a giant depiction of the Last supper, or How to set up a cryptic expedition? I can't think of anything else. But There are some other ideas from Da Vinci that he never built, I could make one of those. Here are some pages from his diary, not all, and also some other old books you can see in. Page 22 and 23 seem interesting to me, only I don't understand them... Here they summed up some inventions, with screenshots from his diary, and here you can see some aswell. Between those results you can also see something that maybe looks a bit like a cryptex, but it isn't.
How about "How to break into (and out of ) the Louvre?" I'm sure you could get a lot of help from the museum on that! Or "How to Photograph Nude People on the Floor Without Showing Their Genitals." "Putting Hinges on Great, Huge Paintings." "Escaping from Bathrooms." "Setting Up Lights in the Louvre." There's an Instructable waiting in every scene of the movie!
merijnvw (author)  mathman476 years ago
Haha, you're right. I'm going to the Louvre this year, so I'll take a special look on the painting hinges. I've been there before but I forgot to notice the hinges...
Going through some old emails and ran across one from you.  So how was the Louvre?  And the hinges?

My daughter went to France, etc. for her French class trip in high school, but that seems like a hundred years ago since she is 30 now.  Maybe I'll get the chance someday, but not too far in the future since I'm 62 already.

Have you posted anymore I*.

Dennis Finegan
mathman47 at comcast.net
merijnvw (author)  mathman475 years ago
 Hi Mathman, thanks for the reply.
The trip to Paris had been cancelled because my teacher had a high blood pressure and she was feeling 'a little ill'... yes I know, what a stupid reason to cancel the trip for everyone. And we had to do exams in French there, so now they have to come with a solution.
But visiting the Louvre in one day may not give you a right impression. My teacher has lived in Paris for the greater part of her life and she hasn't seen everything in the Louvre yet, while she has been there over 1000 times(literally, I think because she's an artist aswell)
No, I haven't posted any Instructables yet, that's because I'm in my exam year so I'm very busy with school, posting Instructables is for me something to do during holidays. But you will receive a notification when that will happen, as you are subscribed to me!
Are you planning to make any Instructables?
No Instructable planned.  Maybe if I get a good idea - maybe ham radio orientated.  For now I'm just too busy, and in too much pain (lower back - I have a morphine pump in my abdomen and that makes me tired most of the time.)  Right now I'm going for my Extra class radio license, setting up a shack, taking care of my fish tanks (11) and finishing the basement.  Thanks for writing back.  dpf
yeah, like that robot knight on saunieres desk lol
If it's not built using state-of-the-art precision techniques, I bet I can open it in less that a minute (without destroying it). Beautiful tutorial though.
betarafa5 years ago
muy buen manuel o tutorial de como hacer un cryptex espero lo pueda entender no soy muy bueno con el ongles pero muchisimas gracias e estado buscando algo de esto hace un buen tiempo. nos vemos espero serles tb de ayuda a ustedes.
merijnvw (author)  betarafa5 years ago
 has pueblos, el hombre de paella e uno taco per favor.
A real cryptex also has a mechanism in it the crushes the glass vial of vinegar in case of forced entry. and the vinegar did not make the ink on the papyrus illegible, it destroyed the papyrus, dissolving it.
merijnvw (author)  YellowZealot5 years ago
Then a 'real' cryptex doesn't exist because vinegar doesn't destroy papyrus.
But there are many other ways, read text and (older) comments.
There are a few reasons for that. we get 5% vinegar, because 100% would cost a lot more. and they havent made papyrus for more than 200 years.
vickyadrian5 years ago
Good instructable...

I love riddle...
ant ant 335 years ago

Thank you very much for a great instructable. I made mine completely out of wood. I found it made a great gift certificate wrapping for Christmas. Just hope the person I gave it to figures out the password before the gift certificate expires.

merijnvw (author)  johnnybumblebee5 years ago
Good idea to use a cryptex!
Completely out of wood? Where did you get the wooden tubes from? Or did you make them by yourself?
Oh! and I did use screws for the pins (although I toyed with the idea of having the pins carved out of the inner tube I remembered that I'm not good enough at this yet)
I'm no woodworker so I did my best using what I had. I used a drill with hole saw bits and glue to make the tubes.
fletchy5 years ago
i've always wanted to make a cryptex but dont have the skill to make my own.
i can follow instructions but in all of these instructables here the can all be crack by pulling on the end and twisting the wheel. I was thinking and if u made the rings like a car tyre it wouldn't happen... OR does this instructable have a way to stop that above meathod??
merijnvw (author)  fletchy5 years ago
No it hasnt, there were already a lot of comments about this, that suggested to add fake notches that don't go all the way through. That is indeed better but I forgot it. But my cryptex is quite tight, it's hard to feel the notches.
Iridium75 years ago
 for the varnish, could Mod-Podge work as well?
merijnvw (author)  Iridium75 years ago
 I don't know mod-podge, I would test it first: glue a piece of paper on somthing else with something written on it, add the mod-podge. If the ink dissolves or the paper gets bubbles or something else ugly then try to find something else.
Nick6925 years ago
Can anyone give me any tips on where to buy the 4 tubes that fit into each other? Are they readily available at hardware stores, or are they hard to find?
 try home depot. should have plenty of tubes.
I live in the UK so I don't think they have home depot's here. Can I order from their website even though I live internationally?
myckro Nick6925 years ago
Hi, just go to any hardware store and see what you can find... I didn't find the exact fit for the plastic ones (Two outer tubes) so I had to fill them but it worked okay! Good luck. Ohh I also had to go to 2 hardware store, i bought 2 from one place 1 I found in a construction site and the other from another store!!! Take care! (If you want to see mine http://www.instructables.com/id/My-very-own-Cryptex/)

Just go for it!
 ah... well I don't know that sorry. strange they have them there. 
Iridium75 years ago
 I'm going to make three of these.
 1 for my friend
2 for me, gonna base it on the books Ideas, with the smaller one in the bigger one. SLIDESHOW!
merijnvw (author)  Iridium75 years ago
Okay good luck, the small one is going to be really hard! And don't forget to make some fake notches on the rings, like ch5 explains under here(I didn't do it but it's better)
You're sure you are going to make three? It's a lot of work.
VLOEIBEER6 years ago
Good precision job on this. I suppose you are a heterosexual!
ehh, "flowbear"? what do you mean with that?
merijnvw (author)  VLOEIBEER6 years ago
... yes I am... ... ???
JoeAconite5 years ago
Not read through all the comments, but you could use Water Soluble Paper.

Sodium Carboxyl Methyl Cellulose

A Magicians paper that dissolves with simple water or vinegar for the extra acidic touch.
Check magicians supply stores.
Shajee45105 years ago
Man this is so cool...................by the way wat is da 3rd n 4th rings made of? dey look lyk rubbr
merijnvw (author)  Shajee45105 years ago
 thanks. Those are made from polyvinylchloride(PVC), a plastic. A lot of tubes are made from it, like the tubes where cables go in. It's smooth and even, so it glides good unlike rubber what you thought, rubber wouldn't work.
how much to buy it?!
--tip of the hat to you old bean-- @.@
gaucho5n6 years ago
FANTASTIC! 5 stars, I'll try to do it!
merijnvw (author)  gaucho5n6 years ago
Thanks and thanks for subscribing and good luck!
tdl7116 years ago
I like this. Very interesting and clear.
OnyxxStone6 years ago
AWESOME isn't enought to express how great this is, Cudos my friend, 5 Stars Indeed
tamphan19866 years ago
This one is my favorite!!! I will try to make one...Thank you for the instruction.
McBlaise6 years ago
I was thinking if you put ink instead of vinegar!!!
Heiro6 years ago
Awesome, 5 stars. I planed out an identical version of this Cryptex after seeing reading the book. However according to my Engineering teacher creating one was "Impossible" and my plans were flawed, needless to say he did not specify what these flaws were. After reading this Instructable I cannot help but feel a small victory. Thankyou :)
merijnvw (author)  Heiro6 years ago
thanks and you're welcome!
where do u put thge vinegar/ink /etc??
merijnvw (author)  chosenangelx6 years ago
In a vial in the inner tube. I didn't do it in my demonstration, I also don't have such a vial.
DeriemD6 years ago
That is extremely cool! I think it would look even cooler if the dials and caps are stained and engraved wood. I was looking for the how to on this a while ago but gave up because I couldn't find it, but now you posted it and it caught my interest (again!) Thanks for posting. 5/5
Or if it had LEDS inside and the dials and caps were made of shiny steel and had glowing futuristic symbols instead of letters
TR3M6 years ago
This is a very well documented, and intensely entertaining instructable. I am planning on following it and making my own cryptex. However I was wondering if you had a printer friendly version of the blueprint? Thank you very much.
merijnvw (author)  TR3M6 years ago
thanks! Sure, here is it in black and white. click here to get the big version.
TR3M merijnvw6 years ago
Thanks a lot!
nieks6 years ago
You could also use something like water paint or food coloring to write your message, and use the same fluid in the vial, this would also destroy the message. Also, I have a question for you: How is the vial broken when force is put upon the cryptex?
merijnvw (author)  nieks6 years ago
good idea! Well glass breaks if you bend it only a little bit or if collides fast, so if you take the cryptex and smash it on something or throw it from a building, the glass breaks... And the metal tubes don't. So the cryptex is not yet opened then but the paper gets all drenched in the fluid and make it undreable. That can be done with many fluids like your idea of paint, I will implement that in the introduction if you don't mind, thanks.
nieks merijnvw6 years ago
No, I don't mind, but I think that there should be a better way to make the glass vial break, maybe something with the point of a nail driven into the glass when it is forced, I'll post a design if I find one that would be sufficient for the job.
Rotten1946 years ago
But the (Dutch) wikipedia also says, that it WILL work if you first drench the paper in saturated bicarbonate. That would make it a fragile kind of paper that would react with the vinegar, making carbondioxide bubbles that will tear apart the paper fibres.
Nope, sorry. Tried it.
The pics are before and after, it was allowed to dry between. It was literally coated with baking soda when I pulled it out, I scrapped it off, dried it, and dunked the paper. It faded the 'n' a bit, but that's all. Pencil and normal pen were no different.
merijnvw (author)  Rotten1946 years ago
Thanks a lot for testing and for the images! I will remove that part now.
myckro6 years ago
hi, I made mine and posted it but when you search for it... it doesn't find it...
here it is:

I entered the keywords and everything... any tips?
merijnvw (author)  myckro6 years ago
I does work now, you have to wait till i is indexed in the search engine.
This is awesome! I should make a Steampunk version!
merijnvw (author)  AlternateLives6 years ago
do that!
myckro6 years ago
Here is mine... I took some ideas from yours... then I maid mine... it for my girlfriend... at the end of the month it's going to be a year since we've been together... God bless you all! It took me about 25hs to complete the whole thing... (searching for the stuff I needed, and assemble it together paint and everything) Fun project!
merijnvw (author)  myckro6 years ago
Okay I already replied on the Instructable you made about this, again good job and you have a lucky girlfriend.
have you ever thought of making on the is spring loaded so that it just pops open? that would be cool
Yes I did, but I thought that it would wear out faster because there would be a constant tension on the nails. However if you make the cryptex really smooth so that you need almost no strength to pull it open, you can use a weak spring for it because that wouldn't give much stress on the nails and still pop open the cryptex.
myckro6 years ago
Hi, I started mine today... I took a few of your ideas, and some of my own... since I'm from Argentina... and we don't have the same size for the tubes and also I didn't have nice tools... but it's coming up nicely... the only thing is that it took me forever about 12-14hs until now... and I'm only half way trough... I'll post the pictures when I'm done... Nice!!!!
merijnvw (author)  myckro6 years ago
yea I saw your instructable about it, cool!
Xm3buX6 years ago
I am a complete beginner when it comes to this sort of stuff, but this instructable has really got me interested. Can anyone tell me if this dremel and this soldering iron will work fine for this project?

Thanks a lot!

And great instructable btw, it's the first one that's actually got me interested enough to try it :D
merijnvw (author)  Xm3buX6 years ago
Hey cool I got you insterested. I think the Dremel is ok because I believe all Dremels are about the same, yours looks newer than mine so I think it works even better. I don't know if you already have those two things or you are planning to buy them, but the soldering part in this instructable can also be done with an oven, it probably works even better so I recommend trying that. Just look at the instructions at step 3.9. If you are still planning on buying a soldering iron, the one you linked to is good, because it has thin points, so you can well use it for electronics. Mine has a thick plump point which is unhandy.
I don't get this. I'm trying to make a 30 cm 1 and it just isn't looking right. what do you mean"saw rings out of the fourth tube which cover the small rings including the nails
merijnvw (author)  Einsteins Bro6 years ago
Maybe taking a look at the blueprint could help you understand it. the dials exist of two rings that are glued together, the inner ring is a bit thinner than the outer one, so that there is a space on the inside over the whole ring, where a nail fits in. The outer part of the dial covers the nail so that it isn't visible. in the inner part there is also a notch where the nails go through when all nojtches are lined up correctly. This notch on the inner part isn't visible, because of the outer part.
were do u get those steel end caps?
merijnvw (author)  Einsteins Bro6 years ago
the end caps are made from wood because I didn't have metal in such a shape that I could make that from it, I only had the metal tubes.
cryptex16 years ago
this is sweet
g4m3rkid6 years ago
Actually in the book " Da Vinci Code" it has nothing to do with erasing or muddling the ink. You had to have used papyrus for this any ink would do. The vinigar was used because it would dissolv the " Papyrus" not the ink. Also they were pressed for time and could not freeze the vinigar. for a few reasons. A murdurus albino was after them, a crazy Grail inthusiast was aiming a gun at them and they were wanted by the police. i dont think they had time to freeze vinigar.
steampirate6 years ago
Are those citadel paints in the picture?
Yes they are, well seen ;)
themonorail6 years ago
does it destroy the message inside if you break it like in the book?
Not exactly. however, read the whole intro of this insructable to get the whole story on the ink.
hornbadoing6 years ago
And no cavingboy92 did not come up with the viniger trick he stole it from a movie because he is a dik its from davinci code
It didn't say cavingboy92 came up with the viniger trick, it's just the viniger trick doesn't actually work the way it does in the book/film, and cavingboy92 came up with a way that does work.
hm. i thought that the answer would be "coffin". that seems to work better.
12150w6 years ago
Could you use a lathe
as long as you can make small openings after its round... with wood it would be hard... i would try and post and 'ible about it...
hornbadoing6 years ago
take a piece of paper wright important stuff on it and wrap it around a very thin glass tube with chemicals that fits snugly into the cryptex with the paper around it so if someone tries to break into it the chemicals are released and destroy the paper
you forgot about something that breaks it when handling it improperly... if you tried sawing off the end with a really high precision saw you could open it without damaging the bottle...
vivianar6 years ago
awesome :O
liquid0086 years ago
great, very well documented. Trying on a full metal version. Stainless steel anybody?
jianqiang6 years ago
Hey Dude, sorry I took so long to reply. It looks good dude, it looks really good. Problem I had was I was trying to fit a beer bottle inside....and I was using wood. Anyway, props dude.
This can be also be called a "cipher wheel"
AshaiRey6 years ago
Here's mine cryptex, build with only basic handtools.
The inscriptions on the rings is a puzzle by themself already. :0)

merijnvw (author)  AshaiRey6 years ago
Hey cool Cryptex, your blueprint was just the same as mine while yours is build independent from this instructable. I don't really understand the dot system on the rings, but it looks cool
Hi thanks, i like your cryptex. It's much larger with more settings on the rings. I like that a lot.
The riddle to open op the device was something like 'To open this call Brown'
If you look at the phone pad you will see that Brown is 27696. The rings are ingraved with dots that represent a binairy system. This hint was given away in earlier riddles in the form ...0 = 1, ..0. = 2 , .0..=4 and 0...=8
JNevins2346 years ago
Very nice and well documented Instructable. I have actually been handcrafting Cryptex(R) Security Boxes for over 5 years including ones made with real marble, granite, exotic woods, various polished metals, inlay with precious stones, gold plated, what have you and as far as I have been able to determine, I was the first to actually build such a device (not Leonardo Da Vinci) I have made "Nested" Boxes or a smaller box inside a larger box, boxes with changeable codes and boxes with vials of liquid and papyrus. Here are a few of my creations below.
DSCF1505.JPG5 Rosewood Box - Open.jpg11 Black Marble Box - Open 1.jpg13 All Elements.jpg
Those are sum pretty sexy cylinders...
so if one was to purchase one with the cheapest materials (ie mainly wood and such) then how much would one of these cost ?
It would really depend on what specifications, features and design elements you would want. Each of the handcrafted pieces I make are custom commissioned art and the focus is more on the artistic qualities than functionality and they can take several weeks or even months to make so they are not cheap.

But if you are more interested in a very high quality yet loweer cost "replica" version of my boxes which is more geared toward the functionality as opposed to the artistic aspect I have those as well (see attached picture)

But I'd rather not discuss pricing or sales on this forum as it's not really the place for that. If you are interested though you can contact me via my websitehttp://www.cryptex.org and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Klappstuhl6 years ago
I've got an idea. We do have Pneumatic tubes at the place where I work. Got my hands on a broken one by chance. I'm thinking about modifying it to be a cryptex that can be sent via the 'tubes.
merijnvw (author)  Klappstuhl6 years ago
Ok good luck with it!
trollpet6 years ago
This is my Cryptex
what are the grey parts made out of?
I work on him yet..
merijnvw (author)  shabaki6 years ago
It looks like PVC
merijnvw (author)  trollpet6 years ago
cool!! Did you make it after my Instructable?
JNevins2346 years ago
Here are a few more pictures of marble/granite and brass Cryptex(R) Security Boxes I've made...
merijnvw (author)  JNevins2346 years ago
Those are really impressive! I have a question, how do you make those rings from marble, brass and granite? With a lathe? I was planning to make a better version of my cryptex, also with changeable codes. And I would like to make it out of a mineral of which you can get big chunks for a not so big prize, like quartz. That's why I wanted to know how you make those rings. thanks!
Yes, I do use lathes for some of the work on my boxes, but the actual techniques I developed for working the stone is proprietary information (sort of "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" kind of things). I know this is an "instructables" website and I'm happy to discuss non-proprietary information or design elements, but I make these boxes for a living and Patent, Copyright and Trademark protections will only get you so far. I've found that the easiest way to protect the techniques and processes I’ve developed over the years is to simply not share the really secret stuff with people (such as how I work the stone). Plus I had to design and create my own tools and techniques for working the stone as this is not something you can simply pick up at the hardware store, so even if I was to tell you how I do it, you’d need to make the necessary tools as well (this would probably cost you a couple thousand dollars). So for most hobbyists this process would be out of reach anyway (but not a corporation, or someone who was willing to invest the necessary capital to do this in the hopes of getting a return on investment by producing and selling these boxes as I do) I have no problem with people like yourself figuring out how to make boxes like the one you did and sharing this with other hobbyists (I actually applaud the accomplishment) but I have to keep certain techniques and processes I use secret to protect my investment in developing these techniques (it took me years and many thousands of dollars to perfect these processes). I don’t mean to sound rude (I’m trying to word this response so you understand where I’m coming from), but I’ve had problems with people in the past taking intellectual property and using it for their own personal gain so I’m a little careful on the subject. I’m sure that you and all of the people on this website are simply hobbyists and would only use this information for personal use or for intellectual curiosity, but there are others out there who would not and the only way to keep this information out of their hands is not to share it with anyone. Sorry, I hope you understand.
merijnvw (author)  JNevins2346 years ago
Okay I understand it, no problem. Thanks for the long reply.
frollard6 years ago
Great instructable, This can be easily 'picked' like any rotating lock. To make it more secure, add 4 or 5 false notches on each cylinder, at random locations that do NOT go all the way through. That way someone applying force to open while rotating the dials will get locked up instead of being able to search for the correct letter one at a time. **step 4 picture 1 shows the slots, just create false notches as well**
oop - I see RIAA posted that already... great stuff still!
merijnvw (author)  frollard6 years ago
that's right, still a good idea! But I have tried that method it with mine, I can't really feel the movements when it's on a notch. I have made the outer rings real closely fitting, so that would be hard. And that's also why I rounded the edges at step 4 pic 1, then you won't feel a sudden snap but maybe a slight movement. Do locks from the factory have those false notches?
cheap ones do not, expensive ones have 'all' false notches and 1 real.
My Cryptex(R) Security Boxes all have the "Added Security Feature" with the false/ true notches as you describe. Usually there are 7 "false" notches on each code ring which results in over 35,000 false combinations you would have to manually go through and check IF you could feel where the true notches are... however I tune my boxes really well (single stroke with a fingernail file) so it is next to impossible to feel the notches anyway. I'll post some pictures of this after my next photo shoot.
anyway i explained this mabye in another instructable but if the inised rod with the pegs is on piece then even if one is lined up then the other rings block it preventing movement
I think what frollard was saying was that unless the pegs and rings are tuned absolutely perfectly (something very difficult to do by hand), you can "pick" the lock by pulling on the ends and slowly turning the rings to "feel" when the pin is lined up with the notch on the code ring. You will be able to feel this on the least tuned code ring. Once you find that one, you can repeat the process for the next least tuned code ring and so on until you have found them all. BUT if you put in a series of "false" notches, or notches that go halfway through the code ring, if someone is able to fell when one of these notches (either "true" or "false" notches), once they have been found for all the code rings, you would only be able to pull out the box the depth of the false notch and you would not be able to tell when it is aligned to the true notch. I emply this technique on my boxes and I'll post a picture of this after my next photo shoot.
Vissy frollard6 years ago
Hmm, you took a locksmithing course too? Theres a russian lock based on this principal, works the opposite. I cant think of the name, but a German immigrant living in Rus under Catherine the Great developed it from a failed Rus locksmith. Thats the first thing I thought of when you said that...
frollard Vissy6 years ago
I aspired to be a locksmith, but extended schooling always turns me away from trades - I'm a jack of all trades...So I just learned how to replace locks, and pick them based on their function. The internet has so much more knowledge than all those courses you can take :) My only problem then is that nobody will hire a non-certified ...
Ward_Nox6 years ago
what i thought the book said was that the vinegar broke up the fibers of the paypurus turnign it into Mush they were quite insistant that it was papyrus if you remember however....you right why didn't they just stick it in the freezer?
well in medieval times they didnt know about the three states of matter , much less freezers. - Rogue king says " well how can we this meesage out?" knight says " well there was that big white thing with mega freeze written on it ....... we could try that" king says " no no i had it burned for which craft ...it stayed cold inside...it had to have some sort of black magic spell on it ........."
merijnvw (author)  Ward_Nox6 years ago
Yes that's why I did research on that but papyrus actually is stronger than our modern office paper! And I read on several pages that it doesn't work with papyrus either, so... I think that's right. However I didn't do a test myself with papyrus, so I can't check it for sure. There don't grow any papyrus plants here in my area.
only place ive ever seen any is a hyrogliphics stamp kit i got as a kid ....Not for nothing but what if you used Bleach wouldn't that destroy the text?
merijnvw (author)  Ward_Nox6 years ago
Yes that's just what aerospaced said below aswell, only he says it doesn't destroy the paper, but the ink, when the ink is vegetable based. I don't know if this method works.. maybe I'll add it in the Instructable aswell
well ive recycled news post and bleach is a major ingrediant so i know it works on news ink
tieguy6 years ago
I've always thought that these were amazing, but I think the vinegar thing wasn't that effective. I would lace it with thermite on the inside and some form of ignitor, so when someone tries to force it open the thermite ignites and causing it to get really hot making the person drop it while anything on the inside burns.
shabaki tieguy6 years ago
good idea but magniusium or sodium with water capsules would be more effective considering thermites fairly unstable
Thermite is extremely stable, the most reliable fuse is made of magnesium, and it has to bbe ignited with a propane torch.
ive heard that thermite has to be made on sight instead of transported due to unstablity factors
Azayles shabaki6 years ago
No you musta heard that about something else. Thermite is very stable, seeing how it's just aluminium dust and iron oxide.
earnst2w86 years ago
je hebt dus precies hetzelfde mechanisme bedacht als ik 1,5 jaar geleden al wou bouwen ( maar nooit aan toe gekomen ) maar misschien hebben we nu iets te doen in de vakantie :P nu ga ik eerst maar even je instructable lezen en alle comments :P top!
merijnvw (author)  earnst2w86 years ago
Ja ik had de plannen ook al een paar jaar in mijn bureaula liggen, haha. Maar toen dacht ik dat het me uiteindelijk niet zou lukken, ik dacht toen aan die ringen ook in hout zelf maken, had niet aan PVC buizen gedacht. Maar het zou me toen sowieso nog niet zijn gelukt. En toen laatst kreeg ik opeens weer de cryptex bouw drang
JNevins2346 years ago
Here are a couple of "All Metal" Cryptex(R) Security Boxes made with solid hand polished brass and/or chrome plated brass. In addition a Bolivian Rosewood Display box with Brass Plate...
DSCF1363.JPGGood All Metal Group 1.JPG27.JPG
shabaki6 years ago
pps well im a bit out of beath hypothetically but u mite want to add a sort of "window" as in a frame around were the selected letters would go instead o the arrows or triangles, this was done n the movie if im not mistaken
merijnvw (author)  shabaki6 years ago
No, that wasn't done in the movie, this is the cryptex that was used in the movie(and that was given to I thought 5.000 people from all over the world who solved a big puzzle by Google, some years ago)
So that one also uses arrows on both sides. I think that looks better because when you would put a frame on the outside, it looks a bit as if that frame holds the cryptex together from the outside, and I don't like those kind of cryptexes. However you can build it if you like that more.
yea i for some reason remembered a thin white frame on the outside
What a fascinating instructable. I think I would have broken the procedures into smaller steps so that there were fewer "sub-steps", but, you make your points very effectively and there's plenty of pictures to help get the message across. And I LIKE your Oyster riddle too, very clever. Thank you very much for sharing your project. It's important to remember that Dan Brown is an author of FICTION, and the cryptex is a plot device. The book is great fun, but it is just a story. There are many reasons that the Cryptex wouldn't work in the way it is used in the book. There is no evidence to suggest that Leonardo devised anything like it, and even if he did, he knew surely knew enough about chemistry to know that the vinegar and papyrus thing is a red herring. If however, you write the message on very fine paper like Cigarette paper, using water soluble ink, and then wrap it around a vial containing water, (or more ink) you would have a device that would serve a similar purpose to the device in the book, and stands a better chance of actually working. Though the cryptex, and the paper wrapped around it would tend to prevent the vial from breaking, you could probably add some kind of "hard point" inside the device to achieve the apropriate breaking force. Or you could use an acidic "invisible ink", vinegar, lemon juice, or any "WATER CLEAR" acid should work, (the less colour obviously, the more successfully invisible your ink will be). Write your message and allow the ink to dry. Roll the paper and place inside the cryptex. When it's time to read the message, remove the paper from the cryptex and simply warm the paper over a light bulb or other very low heat source. This works by causing the acid in the ink to oxidize revealing your message. There are loads of very cool ways to encrypt or disguise a message to go into the cryptex, go forth, investigate, experiment, take care, and have fun.
merijnvw (author)  Dream Dragon6 years ago
Thanks for your reply! So you can also reveal an acidic message with heat? Ok, above I told that you should use a PH indicator for it, but it would be much easier with a light bulb. So I'll add that way. I think I'll use that aswell, if I can find a vial that fits in the cryptex. Maybe I can just use an empty pen exterior, sealed with glue on both sides.
But I'm not sure if L. da Vinci would know that the vinegar thing wouldn't work. The knowledge of chemistry in his time was very low, unlike the other sciences. With chemistry they were still busy trying to turn iron into gold etc.
And for the encrypting thing in the cryptex, I just found a writing system I really like. Here is it. There are also other invented writing systems there, but I like the look of this one, so I'm using it in my cryptex now. And I'm going to use that, my cryptex, and some other things in a puzzle-gift I'm making. It would be doable to reveal what a text in 'graph script' says, if the text is just long enough. Because it's just one letter stands for another, you can use letterfrequence. Each language has an average percentage of frequency for each letter, and you can compare it with those characters, to reveal it. There are some combination characters, like 'sh' etc. But it's still doable I think. Only, then they still have to discover that the text is written from bottom-right to top-left, with vertical sentences.
Chemistry was actually pretty advanced in the medieval and renaisance periods, the time of Leonardo da Vinci. They were trying to do some odd things (like the lead into gold thing) but not because they were bad scientists, they were exploring and testing some pretty outrageous theories. (I gather it is possible to turn gold into lead with a particle accelerator.) Leonardo was no slouch when it came to inks and pigments and paper and such, he'd have known that Papyrus was less susceptible to acid than wood pulp paper, and I'd be pretty surprised if Dan Brown didn't know it too. Yes, A simple "Letter Substitution" code like the "Graph Script" is susceptible to Letter Frequency Analysis, a "Rotating Substitution" like Enigma could be useful, and of course the rings on the Cryptex could act to indicate elemnts of the decryption key. So that instead of simply scrambling the correct combination, the dials could be set to the key word or settings, the correct recipient would note the starting positions of the rings and use that information to aid in the decoding of the subsequent message. In this way, if the Cryptex is tampered with in any way, the key could be lost even if you DO manage to open the thing in the freezer. Combined with a "Word Substitution" code and perhaps a "Plattern Encryption" you could have a very robust system.
For a different AND DANGEROUS method of destroying the message, use brake fluid or similar in the vial and fill the tube with Crystal Draino. I've, um, 'worked' with that combo in the past. When the brake fluid contacts the Draino, it heats up and forms a pile kind of like a carbon sponge. (If you've ever lit one of those little, black disks on the 4th of July that turns into a snake, you've seen what I'm describing.) In my tests, this reaction is sufficient for igniting chemical reactions, so it should either ignite the paper or at least cook it enough to destroy the message. If I get the time, I'll test it and include the results here. Hopefully somebody will get to it sooner (and very, very carefully). KEEP IN MIND, THIS IS FLAMMABLE AND DANGEROUS! ADULTS ONLY! KEEP A FIRE EXTINGUISHER CLOSE! ACTUALLY, YOU SHOULD NEVER DO THIS!
merijnvw (author)  shamanwhitewolf6 years ago
Haha, thanks for the good explanation. However still I don't really understand what those chemical things are, the only thing I understand is that snake disc part.. But maybe other people understand it, they will read it because now in step one I redirect people to these comments like yours, if they want more suggestions on a selfdestruct mechanism. Apparently there are a lot of ways for that selfdestruct mechanism, you all come up with good ideas.
Well, explaining the chemical reaction is a bit beyond me, too. I've long since forgotten my chem skills. However, take a look at the Wiki entry on Drano and how it works. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drano) The first bit covers it. After reading that, consider how the Drano would react with flammable hydrocarbons like gasoline or brake fluid.

As a test, find a nice, wide-open place, preferably dirt or paved, not grassy. Place a SMALL pile of Crystal Drano on the ground. The gently dribble a few drops of brake fluid or gasoline onto the Crystal Drano. Done correctly, it will fizzle and swell up like those 4th-of-July carbon-snake things. Done too fast, it might flare up and start a fire. In other words, you either should never do this, or be very, very careful. As in, extremely cautious. If you're going to break the rules of common sense, wear protection (goggles, etc).

If you want to know how hot it gets without doing it (a good idea!), consider that I have used it in the distant past as an igniter for other experiments such as thermite. No matches needed. BE CAREFUL
shabaki6 years ago
brandonssk6 years ago
Wow! Amazing Instructable! But not for the Impatient,lol
shabaki6 years ago
dude this is awesome and much better then the other Instructable but I just seriously don't have the resources to make one so accurate.ill probly end up making a cross between yours and the first one with a changeable code
tmkiwipeel6 years ago
umm not sure if this was commented yet, didnt read them all but in the book he says the papyrus will dissolve in the cryptex (as papyrus dissolves much like toilet paper) , no the ink, just wanted to mention that, but the writing with vinegar idea is really interesting
How about a bit of overkill? Hide two vials in there: One with a couple of drops of sulphuric acid, and the other some potassium chlorate. Then all you need to do is write on sugar paper, and if someone smashes it, the whole thing will go up in flames! Or, if your not hiding paper, put table sugar in with the potassium chlorate, or in another vial. It will burn through pretty much anything! WARNING: This creates a lot of flame, and a lot smoke!
Just thought, the potassium chlorate and sugar doesn't even need to be in a vile!
merijnvw (author)  thefluffball6 years ago
Haha, cool idea! I have no idea how it works but i'll just tell people to read in the comments to get more ways for chemicals in the cryptex. First I thought it wouldn't be possible but you all come up with these great ideas.
It's been said that DaVinci may not have actually invented a "Cryptex". Though Benjamin Franklin did. He invented a rod with removable wheels (all brass) that had a jumbled alphabet on the edge and labels on their sides so that the wheels could be removed and switched around, and when the recipient received it they could replace the wheels in their proper order, spin the wheels until they spelled out a specific code and elsewhere on the cipher wheels they could read the message. It was ingenious. And I must commend you on the instructable. It's great.
I'm pretty sure that you're thinking of the jefferson wheel, which was invented by Thomas Jefferson, not Franklin. Of course, it differs from a cryptex in that it isn't a lock that contains a note, but rather a code machine. The two do look rather similar, though. How cool would it be to build a cryptex that contained a jefferson wheel...
Ok. Thank you for correcting me. Sorry. I knew it was one of the founding fathers. I simply assumed that it was Benjamin Franklin. And I agree that it would be amazing to combine the two. Or find a way to have changeable passwords. If you keep the same password for too long, it could get cracked, and then opening it would be a synch for anyone who found out. So make it in such a way as to allow you to alter the password once it has been solved. Anyway. Thank you again for the correction. I may have told someone else wrong in the future and then it could spread untill it was told to everyone and we would live in a world of lies, secrets and disbelief!... Oh, wait. We already do. J/K. Have a good day.
Hey, no problem. I love Franklin too. He was a fascinating inventor. But having the correct info will make it easier for someone else who likes the idea to look it up later ;)
Very true. That's a very good point. We can't have the ideas of Jefferson being integrated into the cryptex if everyone who would integrate them are looking at the ideas of Franklin, can we?
merijnvw (author)  Erfunden6 years ago
Ok interesting, I'll do some research on that Jefferson wheel. Yes I don't know if Da Vinci invented it, I looked through a lot of his diary pages, couldn't find anything that looked in a way like a cryptex, and on cryptex information pages, they often say Da Vinci would have written it in his diary, but nobody ever comes up with that page.
PKTraceur6 years ago
What is the use of the cryptex being four-tubes-thick? -PKT
merijnvw (author)  PKTraceur6 years ago
the dial rings consist of the outer two tubes. you could make them from on thick tube, but that's harder and less effective, because the dials need to be smaller on the inside. That is because there should fit a nail in that place. So my instruction is to make from the second-but largest tube smaller rings with a notch, see step 4 image 1. Then make from the largest tube rings that are bigger and fit into eachother so that they fill the gaps. Then you have two smaller tubes. The dial rings are on the second-but-smallest tube, and you can't get them off it, because there are on both sides of that tube anchor rings, that are nailed to the tube. Then the smallest tube has the nails, and can be pulled out of the second-but smallest tube and the rings, if the password is correct.
Hmm... okay. This is how I understand it. (Ill use three layers... I think?) -The very innermost tube has nails secured into it. They cannot be moved. The InnerDiameter of this contains the "volatile" vial, (vinegar in your Cryptex,) and the message. -The middle layer are multiple "clips" which have a small cut, that can fit the nail, when the clips are aligned correctly, thus creating the password. They move freely, as if on an oiled axi(s) Your Cryptex has 6 CPVC/PVC "clips". -The outer layer is to protect the clip notches from being seen, thus having the password secret. You password is "oyster." The outer layer also has the Alphanumerical "indicator" to allow a set password. Am I correct? I think my explanation is simpler. Thanks
Oh, nevermind, that doesn't work. I understand it now.
5 stars
heathbar646 years ago
Nice job on this. I'm adding iit to my favorites
cavingboy926 years ago
here's an Idea. Making the ink out of vinegar. The only way to find the answer is to use red juice from beats, cherries,or etc. Then you have to heat the paper to see the message. Since the ink is written in vinegar, the vinegar writing will be erased if the glass vile filled with vinegar is broken.
merijnvw (author)  cavingboy926 years ago
That's a cool idea, have you tried that before? How do you know it works? If you don't mind I can place your idea in the instructable giving you credit
I tried it today. I used vinegar to write the message and used fresh cherry juice to reveal the message. It turns the writing blue and the background pink/purple. The best method for applying the cherry juice is with a Q-Tip. Here is a picture as proof.
merijnvw (author)  cavingboy926 years ago
That's cool! I'll implement it in the Instructable text and film with your name with it! thanks a lot you're the best! If I would be able to give patches I would have given you a cherry master patch. Why actually cherry juice? And how do you know this? Did you just someday think: Oh, lets write with vinegar and then pour cherry juice on it??
merijnvw (author)  merijnvw6 years ago
Okay I put a message in the video and under step 1. I would work even better if you put a lot of salt in the vinegar, because then the freezing point gets so low that it can't be frozen in a normal kitchen freezer, so that the 'freezing method' is also a lot harder, then you need to find a special freezer in a lab or something.
I tried cherry juice multiple times and I did not get the same result.

The best way to reveal the message is with red cabbage because it contains a pigment molecule called flavin. Flavin is also found in plums, grapes, cornflowers, poppies, and apple skins. This option could require people to make a red cabbage solution found at http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa012803a.htm
merijnvw (author)  cavingboy926 years ago
Ah yes of course it works like a PH indicator! Yes I remember we used red cabbage in chemistry class! But does the ph stay low in the message, I mean, doesn't the vinegar get PH neutral after some time? thanks for you help
I am not sure if the vinegar PH gets neutral after time. I didn't try it yet because I don't have red cabbage. I saw on a website that the message turns dark red because vinegar has a pH of 2.4. With Red cabbage water, Acids turn a Red color, Neutrals a purplish color, and Bases a Greenish-Yellow color.
ReCreate6 years ago
Lol, Google is suggesting Michel Jackson coffin...in that link
hviniciusg6 years ago
Excellent, ill totally love it, CUDOS
Bor6 years ago
Mooi man! Je klinkt wel heel Hollands trouwens xD
merijnvw (author)  Bor6 years ago
Oei dat wilde ik juist verbergen! maarja ik zal vast nooit van dat accent afkomen he
pepsiamir6 years ago
sweeeet! it came out very well, like the original
xproplayer6 years ago
thanks for the answer to the cryptex now i know were the treasure is muhahahahahahahahahahaha
merijnvw (author)  xproplayer6 years ago
I can glue new strips on it and re-varnish. This password O-Y-S-T-E-R, I only made because of Instructables, because people speak English here so I made an English password, but I prefer a password in my own language so I think I will change it anyway.
Ward_Nox6 years ago
(just watched the video) Wonder if you could make a cryptex where USB drive was attached to the inner cylinder?
merijnvw (author)  Ward_Nox6 years ago
You mean, that the USB is connected to both sides in a cilinder, so that if it is smashed it breaks, and if you normally solve the cryptex you can just take it out? I can't think of a way to do that.
wow this is a great instructable i plan on building this. 5 stars
merijnvw (author)  BigFriendlyNinja6 years ago
good luck
Aerospaced6 years ago
I thought they said that the vinegar would dissolve PAPYRUS. If any thing, I would use common bleach in the vial and a vegetable base ink.
merijnvw (author)  Aerospaced6 years ago
That's right but papyrus actually is stronger, so it would work better for our modern office paper. Maybe the papyrus is stronger but it's still weaker when it touches vinegar, but I read on several pages that it doesn't work with papyrus anyway. That's also a good idea, would that work? I can put that in the edit: part in step 1 aswell.
guiadan6 years ago
Actually, if you read closely in The DaVinci Code, the vinegar isn't meant to dissolve the ink, it's meant to dissolve the extremely thin paper. I believe it's actually a rice paper that was used? But yeah, just wanted to clear that up.
Amazing Instructable! 5/5
theRIAA6 years ago
ooooohh... can't you just put pressure on the pins and twist each one until it snaps in position? still, GREAT handiwork!
merijnvw (author)  theRIAA6 years ago
No, that isn't possible because the dials fit real tight, and the inner ring of the dial(made from the 3rd tube) has an incision where then with your technique the tab would snap in a little bit, that's one of the two reasons why my instruction is to round the edges of that rings(see step 4 for that) That way you won't feel a sudden snap if there would be one, maybe a real slight movement of the dial to the side, but that would be real hard to feel, because you're turning the dial at the same time.
you could put false grooves in!
merijnvw (author)  theRIAA6 years ago
That's a really good idea! and then form a word with the false grooves, like S-U-C-K-E-R. But probably that person doesn't only get the false grooves, haha. The grooves only shouldn't be a full groove, just a little cavity will work, that's easier to make AND a whole groove would not protect against lockpickers, Because that groove would also lead to opening the cryptex, unlike redgator12 said below. And if you want it even more effective you could make the whole side bumpy, that way, even if the lockpick method would be succesfull normal, would then surely be hopeless. great idea
that's what i meant, a groove on the side, like a little "V" or since your channels are rounded off, make the "V" rounded, so there's no difference.
Like putting in small grooves on like 2 or 3 of the inner rings that actually don't work. Like they do have the groove, but it doesn't follow all the way through so if you tried to pull it out it would get stuck on a small remaining "wall" of wood at the end of the groove. Good idea!!!
Gonazar6 years ago
This is surprisingly well documented, nice instructable! 5 Stars!
Great job on the robot at the end! Loved it.
amakerguy6 years ago
that's awesome! I would like to make one instead of buying one from a magazine I've seen for about $200 dollars!
This looks really good. Now I'm off to the hardware store!
merijnvw (author)  LuminousObject6 years ago
Okay good luck and work precisely!
conrad24686 years ago
I got the riddle! But its one i herd before so i guess im just as whitty as the next ha ha ha.......I love your design i am making one in sketchup as sort of a pet project but your project deserves 1 million stars!
merijnvw (author)  conrad24686 years ago
thanks a lot!
corsi6 years ago
Instead of nailing it can it be glued or are the nails used for something else?
merijnvw (author)  corsi6 years ago
As you can see I used glue AND nails on most places, you could leave away the nails, but I don't recommend that, they make the strongest connection, and the cryptex needs to be a able to hold the maximum power of a man's arms, if that person doesn't have the password right but believes he is right, he may keep pulling harder and harder. So these nails are place perpendicular on the pull-direction, that makes a real strong connection, and the glue connection is parallel on the pull-direction, so much weaker. The reason why I use glue is also just that the thing kept in exact the same place when I later inserted nails and screws. And moreover, the nails are really needed at step 1.5 to 1.9. Those nails are the tabs that go through the notches on the dials, and they're soldered from the inside of that tube. Glue won't work for that, it should be solder, OR your tube could be made from real thick PVC so that it holds the nails good aswell. I think nails are the best and easiest solution for that tabs, maybe you could think of something else but I can only think of harder ways.
budsiskos6 years ago
absolutly love the robot animation.
merijnvw (author)  budsiskos6 years ago
thank you
This is really impressive! Great work! :D The Robot is looking quite fancy at the end of the video as well!
merijnvw (author)  jessyratfink6 years ago
kissiltur6 years ago
I'm sure you're right about ink not being dissolved in vinegar, but the key is in fact the carrier for the ink: papyrus is a very fragile material which does not like getting wet at all (Dan Brown, the old hack, had already used this idea in Angels and Demons of course).
merijnvw (author)  kissiltur6 years ago
That's what I first thought too, but then I read somewhere that that If that vinegar thing would work, it would work even better for normal paper, because papyrus actually is stronger. That didn't surprise me because those papyrus rolls from up to about 4000 years from Egypt are still readable, but the 'modern' papers, from the last millenium or so, almost all decay much earlier. And I think the office paper we now use will do that even faster. Wikipedia says only that Papyrus will rot when it's wet, not that it will disolve immediately. And rotting takes so long that the cryptex would be already open. But it may be true what you're saying, that it does work with papyrus. If i know that's true -with a link or a test by myself- I'll add that to the Instructable!
it is a wonderful ible, though. Thank you.
Argon276 years ago
Wow! We've been waiting for this!
Sunbanks6 years ago
That looks great! I think I might just have to make one :D
Oyster? Funny.