“A magician never reveals his secrets,” the saying goes. But this is not always true. While most magicians don’t explain their illusions, others focus on the details. Here are the secrets of some of the coolest magic tricks …
The trick: swallow razor blades
Here’s one you really shouldn’t try at home. In the razor swallowing trick, the magician first takes three fresh razor blades out of a bundle and swallows them one at a time. Then they swallow one end of a length of string, then pull the string out of their throats to reveal that the razor blades are threaded through the swallowed end of the string.
How it’s done (step 1): swallow razor blades
This is a dangerous trick even if you know it is secret so we insist you do not try it at home. To avoid putting sharp blades in their mouths, the magician dulls their equipment before performing this turn. That way the magician won’t cut their tongue into ribbons, but since they always put razors in their mouths, it’s far from foolproof. A second step is needed …
How it’s done (step 2): swallow razor blades
To perform the trick, the magician secretes three razors prepared on a piece of wire in their mouths. It will hide in one cheek, and as they “swallow” each razor during the performance, they will hide them in their other cheek. Then it’s time to pull the string and reveal the second batch of pre-made razors that have been hiding in their mouths from the start.
The trick: tear up the money and fix it
Here’s a popular trick: A magician produces a regular dollar bill, then rips it in half. If the magician is feeling ambitious, he rips half of it into extra pieces. The magician then folds the pieces together, rubs them a bit, and unfolds a pristine dollar bill. So how is this possible?
How it’s done: tear and repair silver
The trick involves two dollar bills held together. They are also glued together at the edges on one side, creating a pocket. After the magician tears up half a bill, they slip the pieces into the pocket while folding the leftovers. Using a sleight of hand, they untangle the fresh banknote while the pieces remain in the pocket. Holding firmly conceals the tear line on one side.
The trick: card on glass
Have you ever seen a magician throw a deck of cards at a window to glue a specific card into it? A common version involves the magician asking a volunteer to choose a card first, then failing to find it once it has been shuffled into the deck. Frustrated, the magician throws the deck against a window and the chosen card. magically sticks to the other side of the glass.
How it’s made: card on glass
This trick needs a partner. They hide on the other side of the glass, watching for the card the participant chooses. The helper finds the same card in a packet he is holding. While the audience watches the magician, the assistant sticks the duplicate of the card to the window. They only look out the window when the magician launches the game, so it looks like that’s when the card appears.
The trick: bend the spoon
Spoon Bending, made popular by self-proclaimed medium Yuri Gellar, is all about channeling mental energy to warp and bend regular spoons. Gellar protects his trademark, once even suing The Pokemon Company because the character Kadabra shared Gellar’s spoon-bending abilities. But that didn’t stop other magicians from copying the stuff …
How it’s made: spoon bending
The easiest way to accomplish this trick is to use a special spoon that bends when held. Sometimes these spoons react to heat and sag on their own. Others have a rubber hinge that allows them to sag when held. Either way, the magician uses a sleight of hand to swap the spoon for a preformed copy. But that’s not the only way to perform theistrick …
How it’s done: advanced spoon bending
Some magicians prefer a different version of the spoon trick: with a pair of identical spoons, the magician runs one around the room so everyone can see it’s real, then carefully holds it in front of another bent spoon. . By twisting the two spoons, it looks like a single spoon is bending. The magician pockets the original spoon, displaying the curved spoon alone.
The trick: levitation
A common street magic trick that doesn’t involve a lot of staging is levitation while sitting cross-legged in the air. Their only contact with the ground appears to be a large stick that cannot support their weight. These magicians float in the air for hours, which sounds like an incredible feat for the uninitiated …
How it’s made: Levitation
These magicians are actually sitting on a sturdy chair hidden under their clothes. The chair is anchored to the ground through the staff, and a metal contraption winds through the magician’s sleeve so that the seat-to-staff connection is invisible. This nifty trick has nothing to do with psychic powers and everything to do with chair concealment.
The trick: make the Statue of Liberty disappear
In one of the most famous stunts of all time, magician David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. A large sheet was pulled up in front of the famous statue, and when it was lowered, a stunned audience discovered that the statue was really no longer there. So how did Copperfield handle it?
How it’s done: make the Statue of Liberty disappear
Copperfield performed the tour at night. The only lights illuminating the statue were inside the statue itself. When the curtain went up, those lights went out. A wall of lights shining on both sides of the curtain dazzled the audience’s eyes so that they would not adjust to the darkness, preventing those looking on from seeing that the statue was still exactly where it had been.
The trick: the Niagara Falls challenge
One of Copperfield’s televised stunts had tied him to a raft rushing towards the edge of Niagara Falls. Copperfield was supposed to escape before going overboard and setting off on a jet ski. He seemed to fail, tumbling over the waterfall. But then he got out safe and sound, aboard a helicopter. To prove that this was not a camera hoax, the entire stunt was filmed in one uninterrupted shot.
How it’s done: the Niagara Falls challenge
The shooting was truly uninterrupted, though obscured at key points to let Copperfield pass with a set of false limbs. Since his cage obscured the rest of him, it was hard to tell they were fake. The camera followed the raft’s doomed journey as Copperfield sneaked up to the helicopter. He then flew into the waterfall, ready to triumphantly reappear.
The trick: the disappearance of salt
In the ninth season of “America’s Got Talent,” magician Smoothini advanced to the semi-finals with his sleight of hand. The one that stood out during his audition was to make salt or liquid disappear in his hand and then make it reappear in his other hand. Because Smoothini wore short sleeves during his performances, it was difficult to understand how the trick worked …
How it’s made: disappearance of salt
The Smoothini trick is easily done using a fake thumb. This is difficult for most people to spot, as Smoothini is adept at using the wrong direction to keep attention away from his fingers. Smoothini simply pours salt into the fake hollow thumb while it’s hidden in his fist, then swipes the thumb over to his other hand when it’s time for the salt to reappear.
The trick: Thin Air cards
In this classic trick, the magician reaches out his hand, palm exposed, without anything sticking out of his sleeve. A second later, with a bit of frills, they produce a playing card from scratch. The magician can even continue to produce a chain of cards, one after another, from the same hand. What magic makes this trick possible?
How it’s made: Thin Air cards
This tip is all about the equipment. The magician carries a secret card holder on the back of his hand which, when folded the right way, deals the cards one at a time until they are empty. A card holder can hold 10 to 15 cards, allowing the magician to take a dozen cards out of nowhere (as long as no one looks closely at the back of their hand).
The trick: the jug always full
A fun accessory that magicians will use often is the always-full jug. The pitcher holds a small amount of water, but dries up quickly when poured, so the magician sets the pitcher down. Then, a little later, the magician collects the jug and somehow it is filled. Later, the magician can empty it again and again, as the jug produces an endless flow of water little by little.
How it’s made: the jug always full
When magicians are playing with water or other liquids, there is probably a hidden compartment that does all the work. This kind of pitcher dries up because its main compartment is empty, but the magician covers a hole in the pitcher with his finger while pouring. When they drop the pitcher, water will flow into the main compartment, allowing more to pour from an “empty” pitcher.
The trick: the disappearance of milk
We’ve all seen this trick done. A magician uses a jug to pour milk into a rolled up newspaper, then unrolls the paper and, voila, the milk is nowhere to be found. But the pot is clearly empty where it was full before, so where has all the milk gone?
How it’s made: The disappearance of milk
Remember: magical liquids usually involve hidden compartments. The milk jug used in this trick appears to be full at first when viewed from the front, but in reality the milk is only present in the front compartment of the jug. When the magician tilts it, the milk will flow out of this thin compartment and into the pot, making the pot appear to now have less liquid inside.