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Cryptex from DaVinci Code

I was shopping last Christmas at Barnes and Noble, and I stumbled across a wood pattern for the Cryptex secret storage chamber from the DaVinci Code book/movie.

Here is the one from the movie:


Here is the wood equivalent from the book Wooden Puzzles:

I designed my own Google Sketchup of the Cryptex to get familiar with the design and I can make a full scale print-out of the combination letters when I build it.

I did a Google image search and found The Vitruvian Man. I made a carbon line tracing to use on my model.



The book says to rabbet a 1/4" x 1/4" groove on the OD of all the rings. It shows making a piece of wood to hold and move the ring on the router table.  I made such a piece out of 2x4 with 3 finishing nails to hold the ring:

I did not like the idea of using this set-up when I saw it in the book.  My bit not carbide, but it should still be sharp even though it is 30 years old.  My bit also has a solid versus bearing roller.  The bad part is that you can not see what you are doing because the 2x4 covers everything up. I started routing, then ka-ting........a chunk of the ring blew out. I decided to switch to the lathe to cut the rabbet groove.

I next cut the notch for the combination pin using a 3-sided hand file.....versus using the recommended scroll saw......because I don't own a scroll saw. It worked very quickly and very well:

To the right of the file in the picture above, you can see the chunk the router blew out. Since it doesn't show, I am going to continue finishing this piece.

In Sketchup, I made a to scale strip with all the dividing lines and alpha characters. Between the lathe and sanding drum in the drill press, I got the OD down to the size where the ends of the strip meet perfectly. This takes some trial and error to get just the right size OD. I used my hand jigsaw to mark the dividing lines.  I ended up not using the alpha printed letters, I just burned them by hand. Here is the 1st ring in the lathe where I am sanding over the finished lines and alpha characters with 220 grit:


Here is ring in rough state on the lathe:

Since I don't own a scroll saw, here is how I cut the notches in the Cryptex rings:

I used my woodburning tool to burn in the image of the Vitruvian Man:

I glued up (3) pieces of 3/4" oak to make the inner dowel.  I used my old draw-knife to take off the 4 reduce vibration in my lathe:

Here is the 1-3/8" diameter dowel completed on the lathe:

I already had a fixture made up to support items vertically for drilling in the drill press. Here is how I drilled the 7/8" diameter hole in the inner dowel:


Ok, we are getting near the end of project completion.

I did my usual finishing procedure to the parts before assembly, because on most models the finish thickness can affect how the model works:

  • Sand 220 grit
  • Coat 1 of polyurethane
  • Sand 220 grit
  • Coat 2 of polyruethane

Here is photo of clamping the purple end piece with pointer onto the center hollow dowel:

Since I don't own a scroll saw, I cut out the sliding door with a hand coping saw.

Here is photo of finished main body of the Cryptex:

 Here is what the inside looks like:


And now photos of the finished Cryptex:




Concluding thoughts:

 This project took more man-hours of labor than I thought. The rings are really works of art to make. The color contrasts turned out pretty well. I chose hand lettering of the rings over buying stick on letters.......because I was concerned that over time the stick-on letters would fall off. 





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