Sleight of Hand Tricks- Detailed Guide with Pictures

Sleight of hand magic is the purest and most eye popping type of magic there is. I have spent over 20 years practicing sleight of hand. Here you will learn some ultra visual and amazing sleight of hand tricks that you can do.

  • PENCIL PRODUCTION
  • PENCIL VANISH
  • ELBOW PRODUCTION
  • STATIC PENCIL
  • COMPLETE VANISH
  • CARD FORCE
  • SEATED PENCIL VANISH
  • COIN AND PENCIL ROUTINE

Sleight of hand is generally associated with close up magic and involves some sort of skillful deception when performing tricks. There is always practice required. I will walk you through, step by step, everything you need to know to practice and perform some amazing sleight of hand magic tricks. You will learn my full Coin and Pencil Routine, which I have never published before. It is all pure, super visual sleight of hand.

sleight of hand

I am right handed. If you are left handed just switch the hands.

Magic Tricks with Pencils

Most of the sleight of hand tricks here involve pencils. Here is why I love doing tricks with pencils:

  • Pencils are bright and easy to see.
  • Pencils are common and recognizable.
  • Pencils are long.
  • Pencils are solid.
  • Pencils are easy to conceal.
  • Pencils are cool.

Pencil Production

EFFECT: You produce a pencil at your fingertips.

HOW TO DO IT

wave

RIGHT HAND: Hold the pencil against your right wrist with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers curled naturally. I prefer the eraser end at my fingers. Relax your arm at your side and stand with the back of your hand toward the audience so the pencil is hidden. Keep your right fingers together so you have no windows. This is your starting position.

LEFT HAND: Hold your left hand palm up with your fingers curled naturally.  Rub your thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers together drawing attention to your hand.  

PRODUCTION

Bring your right hand up and over your left hand in a waving motion. Take the pencil in the middle between your left thumb and 1st. Immediately spread your right hand wide open and continue moving upward in a waving motion. Move your right hand out of the frame and back to your side after you wave over the pencil. Wiggle and rotate the pencil slightly and display it at your left fingertips.

IMPORTANT POINTS: This is a super visual production. Make sure you have your spectator’s attention before you produce the pencil or they will miss it. You can use a straw, a pen, a magic wand, etc. for this amazing production. Because your spectators are not expecting you to produce a pencil, there is no heat or pressure on you. Go slow.

The reason to wiggle the pencil after you produce it is so that the eye sees it and attention is drawn to it. You don’t want it to blend in with the design on your shirt.

HOW TO PRACTICE: The key here is to always keep the back of your hand with the pencil concealed toward your audience. Spend some time in front of a mirror so you can understand your spectator’s perspective.

PRO TIPS: You must get used to “holding out.” Holding out is when you have an object concealed in your hand. This is an important part of sleight of hand magic. Conceal the pencil in your hand and go about your normal daily activities. Do this for a few hours, for a few days, and you will get very comfortable with the pencil. You will learn that nobody knows you are holding out a pencil. Confidence here is important.

I like to rotate my body to the left when I do these moves so I can naturally keep the back of my hand toward the audience.

Pencil Vanish

EFFECT: You make a pencil disappear visually.

HOW TO DO IT

vanishfinal
  • Display the pencil between your thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers.
  • Press the pencil forward with your thumbs creating tension.
  • Sharply rotate your hands palm down.
  • Snap the pencil off your left thumb.
  • With your right 2nd finger press the pencil into starting position.
  • Let your arms fall naturally to your sides.
  • Slightly turn left so the back of your hand is toward the audience.

IMPORTANT POINTS: This vanish happens quickly. It is sort of like a snap, and the pencil vanishes. Any noise it makes adds to the illusion. This vanish looks really really good. I like the eraser end to be on the side that pivots into my hand. It is softer and less abrasive.

HOW TO PRACTICE: First learn and perfect the critical move or “sleight.” This is snapping the pencil from a display position into starting position. You need to be able to do this instantaneously, smoothly, and reliably.
Spend an hour practicing. Your thumb might hurt from all the snapping.

When you get the move down spend some time in front of the mirror doing the move plus bringing your arms and hands down to your sides naturally.

PRO TIPS: When you drop your arms at your sides let them swing a little bit before they stop moving completely. This is what your arms would really do. Good sleight of hand takes into account naturalness and normal movements. These small points mean everything.

Elbow Production

EFFECT: You produce the pencil from behind your elbow.

HOW TO DO IT

pencil 1
  • Lift up your left arm and look at your left elbow.
  • Move your right hand under your elbow.
  • Keep the back of your right hand toward the audience.
  • With your thumb, 1st, and 2nd pivot the pencil out of your hand.
  • Slowly bring the pencil into view from behind your elbow.

IMPORTANT POINTS: Let the vanish sink in before you do the elbow production. Do it a few times in the mirror to make sure it looks natural. Trust in the move, don’t rush it.

PRO TIPS: You could produce the pencil and then just vanish it. The reason I produce it again after the vanish is because there is too much heat. When you make something disappear spectators will eventually look toward your other hand. You need to have a plan. The elbow production is a good solution. Then you can go into your next trick using the pencil or casually put it away.

PRACTICING: You can perform these tricks alone or all together. When practicing it is best to do them as a routine. Produce the pencil, vanish it, produce it again. When you feel comfortable, go perform it for someone. Do it for the hostess at the restaurant, or the guy at the Verizon store. You will catch them off guard and the magic will be very strong. You will get gasps. Just make sure you have their attention.

Static Pencil

EFFECT: The pencil mysteriously sticks to your hand.

HOW TO DO IT

Static

Hold your wrist with your thumb, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers. Extend your 1st finger on top of the pencil. From the front it looks good.

IMPORTANT POINTS: This is a quick trick, not a blockbuster or a showstopper, just a little gag you might show and even teach. Sometimes it is good to have these types of tricks in your repertoire, especially when doing very strong visual magic like the other tricks found here.

Complete Vanish

EFFECT: You wave a pencil over a coin and it disappears.

HOW TO DO IT:

FINGER PALM

finger palm

You need to know this move. I will cover it here. Hold the coin at the base of your fingers, mostly on your 3rd finger, with it slightly overlapping your 2nd finger. Curl your fingers naturally and hold the coin gently in place with your 3rd finger against the skin at the base of your hand. That is it, simple! The finger palm is an easy, practical, and effective move.

  • Hold the coin lightly in place, there should be no tension in your hand.
  • Keep your fingers together at all times so there are no windows. 
  • Always relax your hand either at your side or on the table. 
  • You can rotate your hand palm up, the coin will remain hidden. 
  • You can still pick up and hold objects with your thumb, 1st, and 2nd. 

HOW TO PRACTICE:  Keep a coin in finger palm throughout the day as you go about your normal activity until you get used to it. Forget about the coin and just do whatever you normally do. Learn to relax your hand naturally as if you have nothing in it. Do this for a week. Get comfortable. The big lesson you will learn is that nobody knows you are hiding a coin.

PRO TIPS:  There are many ways to hide a coin in your hand. Most methods are unnatural and look suspicious. The finger palm is the easiest and most natural palm to use. Most coin tricks I perform use it. Practice and get comfortable with this move and it will serve you well.

FAKE TAKE VANISH

Vanish

Pencil should be on the table on your right. Display the coin on your palm up right hand in finger palm position. Push the coin up with your right fingers. Come in from above with your palm down left hand and mime taking the coin. It is a fake take and should look exactly the same as if you really picked up the coin. Spend a few minutes in the mirror practicing this.

vanish 2

LEFT HAND ACTION

Turn your left palm toward you and slowly close it as if you are holding the coin. Move your loosely closed fist up slightly and draw attention to it. Wiggle your thumb and fingers a little as if you are holding something in your hand. This is a strong convincer.

RIGHT HAND ACTION

Rotate your hand palm down, curl your fingers naturally and loosely so they grip the coin in finger palm, and pick up the pencil. Wave the pencil over your left fist. Open your hand quickly, palm up showing the coin is gone. I like to make a whooshing sound when I open my hand, I think it adds to the illusion. Rotate your hands palm up in a gesturing motion showing they are empty.

Since you are holding a pencil (a wand) your audience will not suspect you have a coin in your hand. Casually drop your hands to your sides. Put the pencil away and dump the coin in your pocket as well. Try not to clink the coin against the pencil.

IMPORTANT POINTS: When you want to make a coin disappear completely you need some sort of cover. The pencil is your cover. Look at the pencil and realize you need to grab it. Since it is on your right side it is only natural to reach for the pencil with your right hand. Your left hand picks up the coin to free up your right hand (do the fake take). Everything is motivated. Holding a pencil says your hand is empty.

PRO TIPS: The fake take vanish is very easy to do and very normal and natural. Do it loosely and nonchalantly. Your audience will look where you look so focus your attention on the hand that is supposed to have the coin. Move your hand slowly before the vanish, let them believe you still have the coin. Don’t rush it.

This vanish is a tool, not a trick. It is a strong piece of sleight of hand that you can use in many different magic routines with any small object. Now you know how to make a piece of candy disappear.

Card on Pencil

EFFECT: A card is selected and mysteriously appears on a pencil.

HOW TO DO IT

AHcorrected

PREPARATION: You will need to write a card on the pencil. I write it with a Sharpie marker.

You are going to “force” a card. This is when you know what card your spectator will pick before the trick and you cause them to pick the card. I will teach you the Hindu Force. For completeness I will first teach you the Hindu Shuffle. If you want to learn all the best ways to shuffle cards check out How To Shuffle Cards – A Complete Guide. I am right handed. If you are left handed switch the hands.

Hindu3

HINDU SHUFFLE: Hold the deck from above with your right thumb and 2nd at the inner edge. Curl your right 1st naturally on top. From below you will take small packets off the top with your left thumb and 2nd. As you take packets let them fall into your left hand which acts as a cradle. Your right hand does all the moving. You can take off as many packets as you want. I recommend 4 or 5.

HOW TO GET THE FORCE CARD TO THE BOTTOM

Start with your force card 2nd from the bottom. If your spectator shuffles first you can casually run through the deck and cut the deck so your force card is 2nd from bottom. Do a center Hindu shuffle- instead of starting the Hindu shuffle with the whole deck, pick up half the deck and do the Hindu shuffle. This leaves your force card 2nd from the bottom.

When you are ready to have a card picked tell your spectator that you want this trick to be impossible so you will bury the top card and the bottom card. Take the top card and place it into the center of the deck. Then take the bottom card and place it into the center of the deck. Your force card is now on bottom. Do the Hindu Force. Place the deck down.

HINDU FORCE: Here you will learn a very basic yet effective card force. Start with the force card on the bottom of the deck. Execute the Hindu shuffle taking small packets into your hand. Tell your spectator to say stop. When they say stop tap the right hand packet on the back of the cards in your left hand. Lift up the right packet and show the bottom card, your “force card.” Place the packet back onto the cards in your left hand.

sweet

REVEALING THEIR CARD: Fail to find their card a few times. Then do the Pencil Production and show the card is written on the pencil. If the pencil is already out you can spread the cards on the table and have them touch a card with the pencil. When it isn’t their card, show their card is written on the pencil.

IMPORTANT POINTS: I like to string together a few effects using the same props. When using a pencil you might as well maximize the amount of magic you do with it.

Check out this Free Video and learn my favorite 4 Ace Trick. It is easy to do and guaranteed to amaze. I perform it all the time at my paid events.

Seated Pencil Vanish

EFFECT: You lift a pencil off the table and make it visually vanish.

HOW TO DO IT

You have to be seated. You are going to lap the pencil in the act of picking it up. Lapping is when you drop it in your lap without your audience knowing.

PREPARATION: You might want to put a napkin in your lap or flip up the table cloth so the pencil falls flat on your lap and doesn’t fall on the floor. Play with this a little.

seated vanish

Start with the pencil on the table in front of you. Place both your hands in front of the pencil. Slide your hands back toward you. When the pencil gets to the edge let it fall in your lap. Act as if you actually pick it up. Move your hands up, look at your hands, and act as if you are squeezing and compressing the pencil. Make a whooshing sound and quickly open your hands palm outward for the vanish.

IMPORTANT POINTS: A little acting goes a long way here, you must believe you picked up the pencil. You can make it disappear and leave it as a mystery. Or you can produce the pencil after the vanish- casually relax your hands in your lap and grip the pencil in starting position. Pause. Produce it from your elbow.

PRO TIPS: I don’t perform much magic while seated. There are some rare occasions. This is a strong visual trick which is easy to do and good to have in your arsenal for those occasions.

Coin and Pencil Routine

EFFECT: You produce a pencil and a coin. They disappear, reappear, and switch places in some ultra visual ways.

PROPS: A pencil and a half dollar (you could use a quarter).

sleight of hand
YouTube Video of me performing this routine

PENCIL PRODUCTION

SETUP: Coin in left finger palm. Pencil in starting position against your right wrist held with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd fingers curled naturally. Eraser side at your fingers.

Production 3

“Watch! This is a trick with a pencil…” Here you will do the Pencil Production from above. Rotate and display the pencil. With a coin in your hand everything is the same. Remember, nobody knows you have a coin hidden in your hand.

COIN PRODUCTION

reappear

“…and a coin.” Grip the pencil at the end near you with your right thumb and 1st finger. Close your palm up left hand into a loose fist flipping the coin onto your palm. Wave the pencil over your left hand. Open revealing the coin.

COIN VANISH

coin vanish

“Just a wave, and the coin is gone.” Put the eraser side of the pencil in your left armpit. Take the coin with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd, and flip the coin in the air. It is kind of a flourish and also justifies switching hands. Move the coin into right finger palm position. Display it and do the Fake Take.

Reach for the pencil and wave it over your hand. Open showing the coin has disappeared. Place the pencil back under your armpit.

COIN TRANSFER

This is a very casual transfer of the coin, you are just brushing your hands together.

wiped clean
  • Turn your left hand palm up and flash it empty.
  • Turn your left hand palm down onto the coin.
  • Your right hand turns palm up to meet your left hand.
  • Transfer coins as you rub your hands together.

COIN PRODUCTION

reappear

“Luckily, I can bring it back.”

Drop your left hand naturally to your side. Take the pencil with your right thumb and 1st. Bring up your left fist palm up. Wave the pencil over your left hand. Open revealing the coin. Here is where the routine gets super exciting-

COIN TO PENCIL

coin to pencil

“Watch the coin…” Turn your body slightly to the left. Display the coin at chest level between your left thumb and 1st finger. Pivot the pen into starting position against your arm as you move toward your left armpit. Push your right 1st finger up into your armpit to give the illusion of putting the pencil there. Press your left armpit against your body and relax your right hand. Focus your attention on the coin.

“…switch places with the pencil.” Move your right hand in front of the coin. Relax your grip so the coin pivots forward, parallel with the floor. Grip the coin between the 1st knuckle of your right 2nd and 3rd fingers. Grip the pencil in the middle between your left thumb and 1st finger. Move your right hand away, as if peeling back a curtain, to reveal the coin. Run your right 1st finger along the pencil as it comes into view. Display the pencil.

Reach up to your armpit and produce the coin. Drop the coin onto your left palm.

PENCIL TO COIN

display 1

“The coin goes in my pocket.” With your right hand place the pencil under your left armpit. Display the coin on your palm up left hand. Do a fake take of the coin with your palm down right hand and place it into your right pocket. Bring out your hand and flash it empty.

pencil

“Watch the pencil, switch places with the coin.” Grip the end of the pencil from below with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd. Move the pencil in front of you. Bring your curled left hand palm down on the pencil. Touch the side of your left 1st against the tips of your right fingers and snap the pencil into starting position in your right hand Close your left hand as if you are holding the pencil.

Turn your left fist palm up and open showing the coin. Drop your right hand naturally to your side. Pivot the pencil down. Move your right hand up as if you are pulling the pencil out of your pocket.

STRIKE VANISH

strike

“For the big finish, I tap the coin, and it disappears.” Stand head on with your spectators. Hold the pencil firmly with the tip of your right thumb and 1st finger. Tap the tip of the pencil on the coin 3 times total. On the 3rd tap, bring your hands close together and quickly toss the coin into your right hand. Catch the coin with your right 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Bring the tip of the pencil back to your empty hand where the coin was.

Take the pencil with your left thumb, 1st, and 2nd and let go with your right hand. Adjust the coin into right finger palm. Take the pencil between your right thumb and 1st. Rotate your hands palm giving a nice display gesturing empty. Drop both hands to your sides.

PRO TIPS: This is an advanced routine. Slowly work on it and progress a little each day. Practicing these moves and sequences is fun. It is easy to carry a pen and a coin, you can practice anywhere.

I think the most you should perform this routine for is a few people. Otherwise it is too small to see. If you learn and perfect this routine you will have a very nice sleight of hand magic routine to perform.

Matt
Matt

Hi, I'm Matt Furman. I have been a full time professional magician for over 20 years, ever since I left medical school to pursue my passion of magic tricks. I have a ton of real world experience and I am constantly practicing and performing new mind blowing magic.