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How to Do Mechanical Tricks Containing Complete Instruction for Performing Over Sixty Ingenious Mechanical Tricks

How to Do Mechanical Tricks
Containing Complete Instruction for Performing Over Sixty Ingenious Mechanical Tricks
Title: How to Do Mechanical Tricks Containing Complete Instruction for Performing Over Sixty Ingenious Mechanical Tricks
Release Date: 2018-09-13
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, How to Do Mechanical Tricks, by A. Anderson

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United Statesand most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost norestrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use itunder the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with thiseBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are notlocated in the United States, you'll have to check the laws of thecountry where you are located before using this ebook.

Title: How to Do Mechanical Tricks

Containing Complete Instruction for Performing Over Sixty Ingenious Mechanical Tricks

Author: A. Anderson

Release Date: September 13, 2018 [eBook #57894]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8



E-text prepared by Craig Kirkwood, Demian Katz,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
the Digital Library of the Falvey Memorial Library,
Villanova University


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Digital Library of the Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University. See https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:504090

Transcriber’s Note:

The Table of Contents was created by the transcriber and placedin the public domain.

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at theend.






Title page.


Containing complete instruction for
performing over sixty ingenious
Mechanical Tricks.



New York:
FRANK TOUSEY, Publisher,
24 Union Square.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year1902, by


in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington,D. C.



The Pile of Draughtsmen.

“Matter is inert.” That is what you read in everytreatise on physics—what does it mean? Here is a verysimple experiment that will prove this truth to anyone.

Pile up ten draughtsmen, as shown in Fig. 1. Beforethis pile place another piece on edge, and pressing its circumferencewith the forefinger, let it glide from underneathso that it strikes the pile with considerable force. Thepiece so thrown must, you will think, upset the whole pileof draughts; but no: the piece thus sharply sent forwardwill strike only one piece of the pile, and this alone will bedislodged without putting the others out of their equilibrium,and the whole column above will settle down togetheron the bottom piece.

Fig. 1.

In effect, the force of the impulse, making itself felt on[4]the piece that is touched, the latter leaves the pile withouttransmitting its movement to the other pieces, which, followinganother physical law, that of gravity, descend verticallyto fill the place left vacant.

The experiment may be varied by using a knife andstriking with it a sharp horizontal blow on one of thepieces. The piece struck will fall out of the pile withoutdisturbing the symmetry of the others.

The Decanter, Card, and Coin.

This law of “Inertia” will provide us with a few moreexperiments as curious as they are conclusive.

Place a playing or an ordinary visiting card on a decanter;upon the card and just in the center, over the apertureof the decanter, put a small coin (a dime). Now, ifwith a sharp fillip, given horizontally on the edge of thecard, you succeed in whisking it off (which is very easy),the coin will fall to the bottom of the decanter. The followingphenomenon has taken place: the movement wastoo rapid to be transmitted to the coin, and the card alonewas whisked off.


The coin being no longer sustained by the card falls, ofcourse, vertically, without having in the least come out ofposition.

A sharp horizontal knock given with a penholder orsmall stick on the edge of the card, will produce the sameresult, but the fillip is more effective.

A Clever Blow.

Take a thin stick about a yard long, and thrust a pinfirmly in each of its extremities. This done, place thestick on the bowls of two pipes, which a couple of personshold by the stems, in such a manner that the pins only reston the pipes. A third person then strikes the stick sharplyin the middle, and it will break without injuring thepipes.

Ordinary clay pipes will do very well, as the more brittlethe pipes are, the more striking is the experiment. Howis this explained?

The mechanical effect of the shock has not time to reachthe bowls of the pipes (inertia), and is only manifested atthe very point on which the blow falls, hence the stick unableto resist the force of the blow at the one point breaksin two pieces.

The Obedient Coin.

Take an ordinary wooden matchbox, and remove thedrawer holding the matches. In the center place a smallcoin, a cent will be the best for the experiment, the objectof which is to make the coin fall into the interior without[6]touching it. Tap lightly on that side of the box to whichyou desire the coin to come, until it rests upon the edge.

Then slightly raise the end of the box whereon the coinrests, and lightly tap with the finger once more. At oncethe coin will fall into the box. The secret of the experimentis this: the taps on the box only move the box, whilethe coin retains its position by reason of its own inertia,until the edge of the box reaches it. The last tap knocksaway the support, and the coin, obedient to the law ofgravity, falls vertically into the interior of the box. Thislittle experiment is easily performed, and extremely interestingwhen done neatly.

To Cut a String With Your Hands.

With a little practice, and some briskness of movement,you may be able to break a string of considerable thicknessby proceeding as follows:

Wind the string round your left hand, so as to make aloop, as shown in the figure. Pass it three or four timesround the fingers to insure the solidity of the loop. Seize[7]firmly the other end of the string with your right hand,around which you wind it three or four times, then give abrisk pull. The string will be clean cut at the junction ofthe loop in the left hand.

When the knack is well acquired, one may break thestring on two fingers only, by following always the sametheory as above.

The Rebound.

On the neck of a bottle place a cork in an upright position.The cork must be large enough to rest on the neckwithout falling in.

Now give a sharp fillip on the neck of the bottle, and youwill see the cork fall, not on the other side of the bottle asmost people expect, but forward in the direction of thehand giving the blow. This, again, is an illustration of theprinciple of inertia. A rapid blow tends to push the bottlefrom the cork before the movement is transmitted tothe latter.


Few people will execute this experiment properly thefirst time, for the instinctive fear to break the bottle andcut their fingers, will prevent them giving a blow sharpenough to make this experiment successfully at the firstattempt; but with a little perseverance, the necessary degreeof force will be gauged to a nicety.

A Fiery Catapult.

Take a match-box and place it upright edge-wise andplace two matches in each side between the inner andouter box, heads up. They must be inserted deeply enoughto stick firmly.

Place a third match cross-wise between them and it willstay there by the pressure the latter exercises on them.

Now light the middle of the horizontal match and wait.What do you think will happen? Ask the bystanderswhich will first catch fire?


The natural conclusion they will draw will be the following.

From the middle the frame will spread of course to thetwo extremities and light the other two matches, probablythis side first where the two phosphorous heads meet.

Well, nothing of the sort happens. When the volume ofthe burning match has diminished, and consequently itsrigidity also, the force of its resistance grows weaker asthe combustion proceeds.

A moment comes when the two vertical matches, tryingto assume again their original position, throw off, with asway, the burning horizontal match.

The burning match was rendered flexible in the middle,and is not at all burned at the ends, and the two matchesremain standing as before.

To Make an Exact Balance.

To construct by yourselves, with the help of simplematerials a balance of great precision may seem impossible.Nevertheless it can be done.

A ruler, a tin box, (in which blacking was contained, for[10]example) three blocks of wood, two pins, thread, four nails,a small piece of glass, and cardboard are all the necessarymaterials, and now to work.

At a short distance from the center of the ruler, and on across line with one another, stick two pins so that theycome out a little on the other side. At one end of the ruler,in C, nail a small piece of your box.

At the spot, where the hook to which the scale is suspended,is to hang, make an indentation with the point ofa nail, so that the hook does not shift at the other extremity,in A, fasten a flat piece of tin, which will

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