One Minute Tip: Making a Cypher Wheel

Apartment Therapy Videos

Originally invented by Thomas Jefferson, the cypher wheel is a code machine that can provide hours of creative fun, both in the making and in the execution. This is the first of John Gleeson Connolly's series on handmade toys.

Supply List:


  • Lined or graph paper for random alphabet drawing/letter chart

  • 2" poplar dowel to cut into slices

  • 1 threaded rod

  • 2 fender washers

  • 2 wing nuts

  • pen

  • some kind of sealer to seal the writing on the wheels (polyurethane will work)

  • A mitre saw or chopbox to chop the dowel into 1/4 inch slices

  • An orbital sander or sandpaper to sand the 1/4 inch cylinders by hand

• The Star: John Gleeson Connolly is an actor, contractor and object maker who lives with his family in Los Angeles in the construction site they call home. We also recommend John's video tutorial, How to Build a Hammered Light.

• More Videos: Go To Video Channel

• Submissions Welcome: Are you a Maker? Do you have great how-to's and tips to share? Do you have a winning personality or are you just a great character? Tell us here and we'll consider sending our video team to tape you for the site.

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