Introduction: Illusionist Heart Locket

Picture of Illusionist Heart Locket
I got the idea to make this from the movie The Illusionist, I was very intrigued as to how something like this could be made. As i count really find a set of easy instructions to make one of these, i decided to make my own. I took a lot of pics , but towards the end i kinda forgot to, but im sure it'll easy enough to make. 

This is quite a difficult project, but thats only because everything is so small . I myself have very little experience and thats why the finished product isn't exactly what i expected.
Just follow the pictures and you'll be fine.

For those of of you who havent watched the Illusionist, here is the clip showing the locket in action:

Ok, let's get  started !

A couple of things you'll need:
-Tools and machinery 
   -A drill press
   -A grinder 
   -Drill bits
   -Foster bits
   -Fret saw
   -Super glue 
   -Wood ( duh )
-And finally Patience (you're going to need a lot of it , if you're a beginner like me :) )

Step 1: The Plan

Picture of The Plan

My plans for the locket do not involve any magnets.
I made a 3d model so that its easier for all of you.
Take a good look at this picture it shows the left half of the heart, then proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Cutting the Main Shapes

Picture of Cutting the Main Shapes

In this step we'll cut out 6 half hearts.

First cut out the template on paper, you can scale my design up if you want a bigger one. 
Then draw an outline on  a peice of wood 

After that cut it it out, i used a fret saw but if you dont have one you can use a hack saw.

  When you're done grind the extra out , remember we need 6 of these half- hearts.

 Just follow the pics.
OK step one done!

Step 3: Thinning the Two Top Pieces

Picture of Thinning the Two Top Pieces

Now were're going to thin the upper 2 half hearts and the lower 2 half hearts.

If you have a 1.5mm thick piece of wood  lying around you can skip this step and just cut four half hearts out of it, but as i dint i had to do this: 

Just glue the halves with some weak glue.
Then using a sander bit grind it down to about 1.5 mm thick.
Then with a chisel pry them out. 
Voila, the top and bottom pieces are ready.

Step 4: Making the Center Rotating Pin

Picture of Making the Center Rotating Pin

Ok in this step we'll give our heart a one axis rotation.

Take the  two  thicker half hearts and in one drill a hole( dia: Equal to the diameter of your pen refill ) in the center like in the picture.
And for the other half cut a pen's refill to about 1cm long 
Then take a nail, put it into the refill , then hammer it into the half heart until the level of the refill.

This Pair is the 2nd layer of our heart, this is where the photos will go, and it should now be able to change from an oval to a heart !

Step 5: Making the Side-ward Rotating Pin

Picture of Making the Side-ward Rotating Pin

In this step we'll make the side-ward rotating pin, i made it out of platic but you can use wood.
You will need 2 of these pieces.
Just follow the pictorial walk through.
As for the lenght of the pin it should be equal to the total thickness of you locket.

Step 6: Giving It It's 2nd Axis of Rotation.

Picture of Giving It It's 2nd Axis of Rotation.

Ok now comes the difficult part.
In this step , first take layer 2 and drill a 4mm hole at the center of the tip and the mid point, be sure to clamp the two halves together.
Then using a 5mm cutter bit ( a cutter bit drills flat holes see the picture ) widen the hole you just made from one side about the depth of the length of the head of your side-ward rotating pin.
Now you should be able fit the side-ward rotating pin in and only a small bit should be jutting out of the first hole.

Step 7: Making the Grooves for the Photos.

Picture of Making the Grooves for the Photos.

This is pretty straightforward  get a fosner bit of your preference and drill two holes like in the picture and then cover the two hole with some M-seal.

Step 8: Assembly.

Picture of Assembly.

Ok! your locket is almost ready you have all the parts ready all thats left is assembly and some polishing.

First  put a few drops of super glue on the surface of the refill and then gently push the both halves of the 2nd layer together, like in the 1st picture, only there should be the refill piece around the nail.

Then just follow the instructions on the pictures.

And finally install the pictures, add some polish and you're finally done !

Step 9: The Finished Locket

Picture of The Finished Locket

This took me about 3 hours to figure out the plans and another 10 to build it .
I'm not quite satisfied with the final product as i was kinda in a hurry to finish it , but i'm sure you guys will do better.


sslaney made it! (author)2016-09-11

Exactly like yours except i used veneer and a nail instead of a pen tube

themortalphoenix made it! (author)2015-03-02

Substantially different from yours. I had no use for the photo cavity so decided to go without it and create the simpler version.
Lacquered Teak. Amazing finish and texture.

Basic idea was from here though!
Thanks a tonn

aisenheim (author)2012-12-16

The locket in the movie is actually two lockets which they replace, each rotating around one axis. If it wasn't How would the picture inside be able to stay in middle

Greasetattoo (author)aisenheim2013-01-27

Sorry, your wrong.
It is only one locket!
You can buy them here:

I plan on building one!

Trillistar (author)Greasetattoo2014-04-14

Different locket than the one in the movie, nice as you can have the two different pictures but the one in the movie only opens when in heart shape.

The split cage center hinge they use on that site would be handy for being able to do the picture without tearing though. In the movie I don't see hwo they managed to not tear the picture with as thin a locket as they used. It would have had to be put in while in heart form. I do agree it was one locket not two though. But am betting the picture wasn't inside during manipulation.

sslaney08 (author)2013-07-24

Where can I buy one of this same design? I want the larger space for a picture that this design has. Love it!

sslaney08 (author)2013-07-24

I Love the Illusionist locket! I would love to make one like this or buy one if i can't. haha What do you think of this version?

aledt (author)2013-02-25

Liked this so much I made my own version of this locket inspired by this instructable, here -

izy25 (author)2012-12-14

i don't understand how the central axis works, where does the refill get glued and how does the nail allow it to spin?

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-12-10

That is crazy! I didn't think that locket would work!

mpanayiotis (author)2012-11-30

Im attempting this project as my first ever woodworking project. It took me a few times to read over your plans and understand them but they look like they are going to work just fine. I have acquired four 2mm magnets which I am going to use to secure the locket in place as ones I have seen look slightly 'shaky', hopefully they should secure it. Unfortunately I have no real tools to work with, just a hacksaw and a drill as-well as a clamp so allot of it is going to take a long time sanding etc. Do you have any tips for the creation of the side ward rotation pins using only these tools? I'm thinking of making them from wood and perhaps even using the drill as a make-shift lathe? Many thanks!

carpfluff (author)2012-01-08

i really want to make this, but i'd probably ruin it. Why is this so difficult? :(

ealisha (author)2011-12-30

i really liked this of urs..its a really nice idea.. :) yeah, im planning to make one this too.. but what i dont understand is the concept of the pen refill and the nail..and you hvnt put up enough pics of the nail n pen refill for me to understand.. i mean i wanted to see a pic of the nail being insertd in the refill and attached to the hearts..
so, could you please show some picture of this .. ??

hpe u reply soon..

ealisha (author)ealisha2012-01-01

could you please reply quickly ..?? i really needed help on tht particular part..! so..please reply fast..

kenjiMP (author)2011-12-25

Hi Pushan! You seems to be the ONLY one on ALL internet that have done a detailed tutorial for the creation of this wonderful locket! I searched everywhere, so really thank you very much! I finished to read all your instructions and seems to be not extremely hard to do, so i'll definitely try to do it for my girlfriend very soon! :)
I'll probably have more questions for you, but for the moment there is one thing i can't understand: why you do these 2 holes with the fostner bit, and then why you cover them?? I just can't understand the meaning of these two holes.. :/
Thank you very much! hope to receive a reply from you! :)
And happy christmas!
Marco (from London)

Pushan Panda (author)kenjiMP2011-12-26

Hi kenji! yeah thats why i decided to do a detailed tutorial! :)
These holes are slots for the images, so that the image fits in flush.

1melza1 (author)2011-06-14

your idea helped me and i will finsh one soon now

Pushan Panda (author)1melza12011-12-08

thats great would love to see some pictures !

migx333 (author)2011-08-06

do you have any for sale that arent too pricey?

please contact me on
i am willing to purchase one. thank you!

Pushan Panda (author)migx3332011-12-08

I'm sorry it takes way too long to build one, making it pricey is the only way :(

jmantelli (author)2011-10-07

Where in plans are magnets that hold together???

Pushan Panda (author)jmantelli2011-12-08

yup my plans do not have any magnets in them.

Razanur (author)jmantelli2011-10-18

I don't need any. May work better, but works fine as it is.

Razanur (author)2011-10-18

I did it :D
Thanx for the great tut! I hav mor pixs if any1 wanna c!

Pushan Panda (author)Razanur2011-12-08

wow that is awesome ! and your most welcome ! :)

trekman (author)2011-11-08

In step 3 you say use cheep glue... Here is a hint; use Elmer's white glue and glue the locker halves down with a piece of blank paper in between. Use plenty of glue. Apply glue the wood scrap first and place the paper on the glue. Apply a layer of glue onto the paper then place the locket half onto that glue. Place another piece of wood on top of all of this and place some weight onto this sandwich and let dry. When you are all done it will just tale a good tap with a hammer and wood chisel to separate it. The piece of paper will spilt in half and just a little sanding will clean it up and you are move on th the next step.

Ms. Understood (author)2010-12-22

I can't seem to find a half-hinge here in the Philippines. Do you have an alternative for it? I found pic that placed the hinge at the left side and used only 4's the photo:

Razanur (author)Ms. Understood2011-10-18

But how does the right side of the heart hold to the left side if in heart-shape???

where did you find this?

I forgot..I just googled it and I found it :D

This is a wonderful alternative for the half hinge, it does the job and it also looks cool, i can't think of any others

Rentam (author)2011-09-09


Pablo8 (author)2011-06-04

About the wax, is it possible to have any problem in the future? I mean, will the heart twist ever wihtout problem? I don't know how long the wax is useful... Thanks

ffsman (author)2011-04-22

can you make one for me please? email me at

Kralya (author)2011-04-01

How can you twist the the 2nd layer if you super glue the refill and push it into both sides of the heart???

Pushan Panda (author)Kralya2011-04-01

Hi Kralya
You only stick the pen refill , the nail inside it is free to rotate

Kralya (author)Pushan Panda2011-04-02

OOOOHHH!!! :-) thanks!!

psemmler (author)2011-03-15

Sorry I`m not common with the word "pen refill" what do you mean with it and where can i buy it? It would be awesome if you guys had a german word for it ;)

Best regars

Pushan Panda (author)psemmler2011-03-15

Just about any plastic pipe that has an inner diameter that will fit your nail will work.

mborges (author)2011-03-02

hi helpe me

rug (author)2010-11-15

nice work, make a metal one

Pushan Panda (author)rug2010-11-16

If only i could :(

tomman (author)Pushan Panda2011-02-18

would it be hard in stead of wood and glue metal and solder?

rug (author)Pushan Panda2010-11-19

it would be 20x better looking , u could add leds and tons of other stuff

Pushan Panda (author)rug2010-11-27

That wolud be awesome !

Ms. Understood (author)2010-12-22

I can't seem to figure out how the right side of the heart lid is able to stick with the left side of the heart lid when the hinge is only placed on the left. How do you think this was done? Any ideas? GREAT PROJECT BY THE WAY :D Gonna make this one soon for a loved one :)

Thnx a lot,
There are 2 magnets along the thickness of the top two pieces

But the right side of the heart lid would fall once its displaced, wouldn't it?

There's a magnet holding them together

Yes, but the right side of the heart lid has the tendency to fall off because it's not permanently attached, right?

About This Instructable




Bio: I am interested in all aspects of design and technology, I take to pottery in times of uncertainty, it is my grounding. The piano is ... More »
More by Pushan Panda:Algorithmic Origami: an Exploration of Expressive Form in Sheet Metal3D Printed CycleRecover Exhaust Energy
Add instructable to: