The Penetrating Pocket Knife

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This experiment appears to be entirely impromptu. It is puzzling and entertaining.


Performer borrows a pocket handkerchief and has two spectators hold it stretched out between them by all four corners. He takes a pocket knife and places it under the handkerchief at about the center. Covering top of handkerchief with a piece of paper, he pushes the knife right up through handkerchief and paper and pulls it out of the top. Handkerchief is then shown unharmed and knife and paper are given to spectators for examination.


1 -- A borrowed handkerchief--man's size.

3 -- A piece of newspaper or opaque wrapping paper, about ten inches square.

4 -- A small nail—three penny or less. SECRET AND PATTER:

To Prepare:

Finger Palm the small nail in right hand. It is easy to conceal for fingers can be closed naturally over it to hold it in place as you grasp knife in same hand.

Figures 43 and 44.

To Perform:

Borrow a man's handkerchief and have two spectators hold it out between them by the four corners. The ANGLE OF VISIBILITY is important to watch here. If audience is all around you, have handkerchief in horizontal position. If audience is in front of you, have handkerchief in vertical position. Spectators must not see what goes on under or behind handkerchief.

Borrow a pocket knife or use your own. Hold it in right hand with nail Finger Palmed.

See Figures 43 and 44.

Take sheet of paper in left hand.

Say to a spectator:

"Do you believe in the theory of solid through solid or the ability to walk through your front door at night without opening it? Such knowledge exuberates me. That's why I have asked the two gentlemen here to hold this handkerchief stretched out in plateau fashion rather than in parachutic style. Also that's why I use this pocket knife and this piece of paper with two sides between the edges."

Show knife and also paper on both sides, to show that you have no trick material.

"Now if I place the knife under the handkerchief and push up with the point of the blade, it makes a small mountain in the wide stretch of handkerchief."

Place knife under handkerchief in center and push up a little to prove that point of blade is actually there. Hold paper in left hand over rear left-hand corner of handkerchief.

Figure 46.

Withdraw knife and show it above handkerchief.

"I could push the point of the blade down on the center of the handkerchief from this side, but then the mountain would be on the other side."

Demonstrate this as you say it.

"You really get a better view of the mountain scenery from underneath."

This time as you place knife underneath center of handkerchief, bring the paper over to middle of rear edge. As you get knife under rear edge of handkerchief, grasp it with left fingers and hold it against the paper. Move right hand to position under center of handkerchief, get nail quickly to finger-tips and push pointed end of it up under handkerchief as you did with the knife before.

Figure 47 shows a diagram of your movements.

"I shall temporarily cover the center of the handkerchief and the mountain with this sheet of paper."

Bring paper back a little to clear knife from under rear edge of handkerchief. Then place sheet of paper with knife concealed under it on center of handkerchief.

Grasp handle of knife at the end through handkerchief with right hand.

"By giving the knife a slight push, the point of the knife comes through the handkerchief only about a thousandth of an inch, but if I push harder, the whole blade comes through --this being a sharp knife."

As you say this, push point of knife through the paper as you hold paper down with left hand. Knife is easily controlled through the handkerchief by right hand.

Figure 49.

"And if I keep on pushing, the whole knife comes through."

Pull knife out through top of paper with left hand. Figure 50.

Remove paper and show it on both sides. At the same time, remove right hand from underneath the handkerchief with nail Finger Palmed. Show handkerchief unharmed.

Figure 51.

"Of course, the handkerchief isn't hurt any because this is a borrowed handkerchief and I promised that no harm would come to it."


Be sure that when you remove right hand from underneath the handkerchief, you show it in such a way to convince audience that a duplicate knife is not used. You can keep nail Finger Palmed and still show hand freely.


In emergency, part of a toothpick can be used instead of a nail.

Or forefinger or little finger may be used if finger nail is long and a bit pointed.

Or you may even use blunt finger. In this case, I first show effect of point of blade against handkerchief, then reverse knife and show effect of pushing end of handle against it.

After I have knife in left hand under paper and have right hand under center of handkerchief, my Patter runs something like this:

"There is really no danger in pushing against a handkerchief with the handle end of a knife."

Push handkerchief up from underneath with tip of one of your right fingers, then cover it with paper.

"But there is some danger when the point of the blade is used, as the blade might accidentally come right through the handkerchief and the paper."

As you say this, push knife up through paper. Conclude experiment as above.

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Knife Throwing Techniques of the Ninja

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