How to Build an Illusionist Heart Locket


Ever since the movie "The Illusionist" hit theaters, the locket featured in the film has sparked interest among viewers. The Iocket in the film is itself an illusion: it can be turned and twisted from an unassuming oval shape into the shape of a heart, with room on either side for a photo of a loved one. This shape-changing locket has inspired romantica viewers to seek out a version of their own. With a little woodworking knowledge, you can recreate an Illusionist locket out of wood to give to that special someone.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 wooden heart-shaped wafers
  • Axel pegs, 1 3/8-inch
  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Finish
  • Shape one axle peg to form the lid-rotating pin for the locket. Use a ruler and pencil to mark precise cuts and measurements before shaping the peg with a utility knife. Cut off the rounded top of the peg and carve the edges so the top of the peg is square with rounded edges. Make a concave impression in the top of the peg.

  • Cut the axle of the peg in half, saving the excess. Carve trapezoidal notches on either side of the bottom of the peg for stability when the peg is glued in place later on. Cut the peg in half lengthwise.

  • Cut each heart wafer in half lengthwise. Each set of wafers will form one layer of the locket: the top, middle, and bottom. On the top wafer halves, carve trapezoidal notches at the bottom of each half that correspond to the ones on the bottom of the lid-rotating axle peg.

  • Carve semicircular convex notches at the bottom of each half of the bottom-layer wafers. Use a drill with a small drill bit to help you carve the notches with a utility knife. These notches should join up along the cut line bisecting the halves of the heart line so that when the two pieces are joined, the notches form one circular convex notch. These notches should correspond to the concave head of the lid-rotating peg. Make notches as smooth as possible so that the locket will rotate properly.

  • Cut notches for the lid-rotating pin in the middle wafer halves. The notches should correspond to the full width of the length of the lid-rotating peg, in the un-notched middle section of the peg. Make these cuts as smooth as possible.

  • Carve the center rotating peg. Use the excess length of wood cut off from the lid-rotating peg. Carve the peg so that it has squared-off, straight sides, and carve one end of the peg into the shape of a match head, with a slight neck and rounded tip.

  • Measure the length to the midpoint of the middle wafer halves where the locket will turn to rotate between the oval and heart shapes. The center-rotating peg must be exactly in the center of the middle wafer, oriented horizontally. Cut a square-shaped notch in one half of the wafer, and a carve a match-head shape out of the other half of the wafer. Match these notches to the shape of the center peg.

  • Glue both halves of the lid-rotating peg into place on the undersides of the lid wafer halves. Use a thin layer of glue, and don't let the glue seep into the notches for the pegs.

  • Glue the square end of the center-rotating peg into place in the square notch of one middle wafer half. Place the match-head of the center peg into the corresponding notch on the other middle wafer. Make sure there is enough friction between the wafer and the peg to keep the halves from spinning when rotated. Glue the bottom wafers to the middle wafers to secure the center peg in place. Let dry for several days.

  • Align the lid pieces before securing in place. Turn the bottom two layers of the locket half-way between the heart and oval shapes. The halves should be perpendicular to each other and the convex notches in the lid-rotating peg should be visible. Rotate the head of the peg on the lid wafer into the notches, but don't force the head into place. Sand down the pieces and adjust if necessary. Once the lids are in place, rotate the locket into place.

  • Carve one recess in each half of the middle wafers to hold a small picture on either side of the locket, if desired.

  • Sand, smooth and apply finish to the locket as desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can find axle pegs and heart-shaped wafers at an arts and crafts store.
  • To make the locket into a wearable necklace, attach a wooden or metal loop at the top to hold a chain or cord.
  • To make a locket that will snap into place and hold either shape more securely, set small magnets into the cross-sections of the wafer layers.

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