How to Perform the Sawing a Woman in Half Magic Illusion

One of the basic illusions used by professional magicians is sawing a woman in half. This magic illusion involves placing a female assistant inside of a locked case. This case is sawed in half and the magician separates the two halves while the assistant smiles and waves. Magicians need to know the hidden tricks before sawing a woman in half in their acts.

Buy a special table and coffin to perform the illusion effectively. Your specific needs require consultations with experienced magicians like Scott Penrose, who offer customized equipment for your act (see Resources below).

Insert a unique wrinkle into your performance of the sawing a woman in half illusion with the Selbit version. This version requires the use of several audience volunteers to tie the assistant with restraints that wrap around the outside of the coffin. There are videos of the Selbit version from veteran magicians like Paul Daniels on YouTube (see Resources below).

Expand your magic act to include the double-sawing illusion. This illusion is difficult to complete, because it involves two trick tables that are sawed in half on a single stage. Magician Doug Henning's take on the double-sawing illusion is shown on YouTube to help fellow magicians figure out the timing of this variation (see Resources below).

Begin to learn the sawing a woman in half illusion with Goldin's variation. This variation involves a deep and long box that allows the volunteer to curl her legs away from the blades of the saw. Magicians can visualize Goldin's box sawing by looking at illustrations on Wikipedia (see Resources below).

Replace the feet of the volunteer if you perform the Goldin sawing technique. Mechanical feet can be controlled by an assistant off-stage when you cut through the coffin. An assistant stationed inside of a hollowed-out table underneath the coffin creates the realism necessary to perform the illusion.

Seek out a volunteer from the audience to participate in this magical illusion. This volunteer should inspect the apparatus by opening the lid and separating the two halves to convince audience members that it is authentic.

Help the volunteer into the coffin while keeping the audience's attention on your patter. Ask questions of the volunteer to ease tension until you are ready to use the saw.

Place the front point of the saw into the box to initiate this magical illusion. Struggle to push the saw in and out of the coffin to sell the idea that you are cutting the volunteer in half.

Separate the two halves of the coffin once the saw reaches the top of the supporting table. Ask the volunteer to wave her hands and wiggle her feet before finishing the illusion.

Return the box and the audience volunteer to one piece as a conclusion to this magical illusion. Assist the volunteer out of the box and help her down to the seating area to show that the demonstration had no effect on her health.


Demonstrate the power of the saw used in this magic illusion on several objects before asking for a volunteer. You should cut apart a solid piece of wood, as well as a plastic dummy to show that you are using a genuine saw. The crowd volunteer can touch the blade on stage as a final confirmation prior to the illusion.

Things You'll Need

  • Magic box
  • Hollow table
  • Long saw
  • Piece of wood
  • Dummy
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author