Scratchbuilt Cryptex Would Make Da Vinci Weep

Here’s a fun fact, the kind of thing that you might (but we definitely did not) find out when writing a blog post: Dan Brown actually made up the cryptex for his book, The Da Vinci Code. We therefore have Mr Brown, with a bit of help from the filmmakers over at Sony, to thank every time we see somebody make their own version. To follow that line of logic to its conclusion, we believe you’ll agree that the following is without question the greatest thing Dan Brown has ever done in his life.

Created by [Stephen Peduto] as a ring box for an exceptionally lucky young lady, it required an estimated 127 hours to complete over the course of two months. From the incredible job [Stephen] did photographing and documenting the build, we don’t doubt it for a second. Expertly combing milled aluminum and lathe-turned bocote wood, this has got to be the most gorgeous ring “box” ever made.

Frankly, it’s hard to do justice to what [Stephen] has created in so short a space, and you really should browse through the 140+ images in his gallery. But the short version is that after some furious white board sketching, [Stephen] moved over to AutoCAD and then SolidWorks to design all the parts which would eventually get machined out of aluminum. As a very clever touch, he wisely added 17° slop in the locking mechanism so that the recipient wouldn’t fumble too much at the big moment.

When the machining was all said and done, [Stephen] then switched over to the woodworking part of the project. Rather than numbers or letters for a combination, this cryptex uses the grain pattern in the turned piece of wood. This gives the final product a more organic feel, while at the same time avoiding the head-scratching problem of getting the characters printed or engraved into the wheels.

Towards the end of construction there was a worrying moment when the newly made wooding rings warped so badly that the aluminum inserts would no longer fit. As a last resort, the rings were placed in a box with a humidifier for a week and slowly worked back into shape. [Stephen] says he’s still surprised it worked.

Even if some may argue that a cryptex is nothing but a prettied-up bike lock, people sure do love them. We’re no stranger to high quality cryptex builds here, though even mere mortals can play along if they’ve got a well calibrated 3D printer.

Steampunk USB Cryptex Keeps Your Data Secure

Worried about people snooping around your USB drive? Digital encryption not good enough for you? What you need is a USB Cryptex to secure the drive from even being accessed!

Made completely out of copper and brass, [Scots72] really put a lot of effort into this beautiful piece of metalworking. The USB drive itself is encased in epoxy inside of a copper tube — the rest is built around it. Built almost entirely using hand tools, and we can only imagine how long the process took to complete. But patience is often rewarded with results like these!

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A Replica of Da Vinci’s Cryptex

What makes this beautifully crafted, hand-made Da Vinci Cryptex even more impressive is that a high school student made it.

Shared with r/DIY a few days ago, the creator [SandNpolish] got tons of positive feedback — and so he should. Made out of solid brass and tigerwood, the level of detail he put into it is incredible. From the carved lions face on an antler bone, being used as an end cap for the cryptex, to the other end, a piece of Damascus steel. The whole thing is gorgeous. He made almost everything by hand, making use of a lathe to shape the cylinders, and a milling machine to notch the inner teeth of the lock. The entire gallery of images is a pleasure to scroll through to see the project from start to finish.

We’ve seen lots of cryptex combination locks over the years here at Hack a Day — from something as simple as a paper-craft cryptex, to one made out of PVC pipe, and of course, even a 3D printed one. But all of them seem to be missing the fun part — as portrayed in the Da Vinci Code — where’s the vinegar and papyrus damn it!

Combination Lock Made Out of Paper

Most projects we feature are of the metal/wire/wood variety, but there is an entire community devoting to making very interesting and intricate things out of paper. Imgur user [Criand] has been hard at work on his own project made entirely out of paper, a combination lock that can hold a secret message (reddit post).

The motivation for the project was as a present for a significant other, wherein a message is hidden within a cryptex-like device and secured with a combination that is of significance to both of them. This is similar to how a combination bike lock works as well, where a series of tumblers lines up to allow a notched shaft to pass through. The only difference here is that the tiny parts that make up the lock are made out of paper instead of steel.

This project could also be used to gain a greater understanding of lock design and locksport, if you’ve ever been curious as to how this particular type of lock works, although this particular one could easily be defeated by a pair of scissors (but it could easily cover rock). If papercraft is more of your style though, we’ve also seen entire gyroscopes and strandbeests made of paper!

A 3D Printed Cryptex

Once you’ve dialed in your 3D printer calibration settings, you enter the phase of printer ownership where you’re eager to show off what you can make, and you’re sure to impress with [pjensen’s] 3d printed cryptex spinning around in your hands.

If you’re a regular reader of our 3D Printering column, then the behind-the-scenes screengrabs should look familiar: [pjensen] used Autodesk Inventor to sculpt the shapes, staring with the cryptex’s individual rings. After embossing the alphabet across each ring, [pjensen] adds slots into the inner loops for pins to slide through. An outer chamber holds the rings in place and prohibits access to the interior chamber, which is held in place on both sides by an end cap.

Lining up the rings to spell the correct word allows the inner chamber to slide free of the whole assembly, revealing whatever goodies may lie inside. You can follow [pjensen’s] step-by-step guide to build your own cryptex, or just download his model and start printing.

PVC Cryptex Keeps Your Stuff Safe

Apparently we’ve never shared a Cryptex before! Made popular (and coined) by the Da Vinci Code, a Cryptex is a combination style lock originally used to store secret messages. You can make your very own using a few pieces of PVC pipe, some epoxy, and nuts and bolts!

Cryptexes have a clever design that cannot really be lock picked, without simply breaking it. In [Dan Brown’s] novel, it was said that some Cryptexes stored a fragile vial of vinegar with the message written on papyrus — that way, if it was forcibly opened the vile would break, dissolving the thin papyrus note.

They work similar to a bicycle’s combination lock, where if the correct password is guessed, the tumblers inside align, allowing the two halves of the cylinder to come apart. It’s actually a very simple design on the inside, and the whole mechanism can easily be made by yourself with minimal tools.

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