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Topic: Chair Suspension...again
Message: Posted by: Eddiemrdj (May 24, 2018 09:12AM)
Hey guys,
I know this topic has been beat to death, but I still have some questions to knock around. I just purchased a used CS and want to know:
1. Does everyone feel the trick must be assembled on stage rather than ready to perform assembled already on stage?
2. I'm preparing to get the cloth remade for me, the old one is really stretched out and too far gone, anyone have a pattern or know where to buy a replacement?
3. I already purchased heavy duty replacement chairs, 1000 lb. weight capacity. Will this upgrade also make the trick able to support more weight than original 100 lb capacity? I ask because I'm not sure if just changing the chairs will make the difference...will it?
Anyhow look forward to your answers and performiing the trick once I get it all together, thanks guys.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 24, 2018 05:16PM)
I have no idea where you received your information, but you are mistaken on all accounts.

We have to know what model you are referring to, and if you received the instructions, as they will give you the correct information.

All Chair Suspensions are not the same, or made he same, or even performed the same.

You want to use a thousand pound audience member, really? You got to be kidding. Where did you get that the original capacity is a hundred pounds? How many men and women weigh a hundred pounds or less.

Cloth, what cloth, the chair suspension does not use a cloth, just 2 chairs and a board.

You cannot change the chairs, that is why they sell them with the board.

Nothing you said makes any sense. I don't believe you have a Chair Suspension.

Do you even know that the effect is, of course you have to assemble the board on stage during your performance, you show each piece as being not gimmicked in any way. Spin the chairs, fold and open them. Then show the board, handle it like it light as a feather, slap it, drop it with a bang.

I can only suggest you contact the person or company you purchased your Chair suspension and have him teach you the illusion.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 24, 2018 07:27PM)
The chair suspension does use a cloth. At least the original Harbin one does.

"Upgrading" the chairs would not necesarilly change the weight limit of the prop. That's something you REALLY need to know.
Personally, I wouldn't put an adult on a chair suspension unless it was built by a pro like Bill Smith (or other pros). Not worth the liability.

In my opinion, I think the illusion benefits greatly from being assembled on stage in front of the audience. It's even better if the chairs have been on stage and used as chairs throughout the show.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 24, 2018 11:48PM)
Abbott's / Jack Hughes does not use or need a cloth. It can use someone up to and including 120 pounds. It is built very solid.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 25, 2018 10:48AM)
My concern is, where did you get the "upgraded chairs" from a magic supply? Or just chairs with a high weight limit. The chairs weight limit is going to be for someone sitting on a chair, not for the forces that are unique to a chair suspension. I'm not familiar with all chair suspensions, but the ones I do know about, the chair with the board connected is reinforced and heavier than the other chair which is just a chair.

Also, the weight limit posted by mak is possibly as much to do with the board and gimmick, as it is to do with the chairs.

Hope that helps. Again, I would be really careful with this, you don't want anyone getting hurt.
Message: Posted by: Eddiemrdj (May 25, 2018 11:13AM)
Hey Thomas, thanks for the reply. The original Mac chairs are Samsonite chairs that anyone can puchase minus the gimmick. I bought a pair of Rhino chairs that are exact copies of the Samsonite chairs except they are upgraded to heavy duty. I plan on taking one to a welder to attach the gimmick. Your statement about the one chair being "reinforced" is not true, at least for the Mac setup. The chair is just a chair with the gimmick on the back. Other than that, it's just a regular Samsonite chair. I plan on extensive testing before my first show so don't worry about that. Anyhow, thanks again and have a great weekend.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 25, 2018 11:36AM)
Gotcha. That makes sense. I'd take the board to the welder as well and get his estimate.

Does the mak model allow you to remove the board? If not you really don't need the cloth.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (May 27, 2018 10:04PM)
You must assemble the suspension and take it apart in front of the audience otherwise they may believe itís all connected.

Consider the performance akin to a Voirr illusion. If you were to just roll that on stage completely covered and a person appeared there is much less mystery then assembling it in full view.

Second point. There isnít and has never been a chair suspension that will handle a thousand pounds. If you did build something like that all the parts would be SOoooo oversized there wouldn't be any mystery.
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (May 28, 2018 09:59AM)
With the Abbotts I have also unfolded the chairs on stage. They are not already set up as chairs.

Question: Has anyone ever had a support/board made for the Abbotts that does away with the large board it uses? I've always thought about having one made that attaches to the gimmicked chair the same as Abbotts but on a shorter board, within a frame that can be removed (using a cloth of course).

Blair Marshall
Message: Posted by: Eddiemrdj (May 29, 2018 10:11AM)
Hey Guys, let me say again that I have no plans to use a 1000 lb. person....I figured everyone would just understand that I want heavy duty chairs. I was hoping that using heavy duty chairs would raise the usual 100 lb maximum capacity of the trick using stock chairs. As I play around with the illusion, one thing keeps bothering me about this illusion. When you assemble the board on to the chairs, the "angle" that you must do to put the board in the correct position kinda gives the trick away don't you think? Instead of laying the board onto the chairs, you have to hold it up at that crazy angle to make the trick possible. I think you guys know what I'm talking about. Opinions??
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (May 30, 2018 10:19AM)
Your answers might be on other threads. So, you might need to do a search.

Also, at least one performer has released a book on the subject of performing the chair suspension. It's been mentioned on other threads, but here's a link for you:


One more thought. Jay Leslie builds chair suspensions, and his are designed to hold more weight than 100 lbs. He's someone I would consider to be an expert on the topic. Re-read his post above, and take a moment to read about his products on his website (because there is some insight there):


But there's other solid advice on this thread as well.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 31, 2018 02:15PM)
Many have said that the way to do the Mak Magic type Chair Suspension is like this. It is all in the details.

Message: Posted by: Aaron Smith Magic (May 31, 2018 09:29PM)
1000 pounds?! That can't be right.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (May 31, 2018 11:27PM)
Yes, Penn & Teller are the only performers I've ever seen who follow the Harbin presentation correctly!

I was most excited when I got to see it in their Vegas show live.
Message: Posted by: Eddiemrdj (Jun 1, 2018 09:05AM)
Aaron Smith,YES the chair is rated at 1000 lbs. I am correct. The standard Samsonite chairs that come with the trick are 300 lb. capacity. Remember, that is the CHAIR capacity and not the trick capacity.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jun 1, 2018 09:43AM)
It should be pointed out that the Chair Suspension used by Penn and Teller in the video looks like the one from Bill Smith Magic Ventures, and not a MAK Magic one. Big difference in the prop, and what you can do with it.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Jun 2, 2018 12:17PM)
I have performed the chair suspension over 300 times. I started with a Jim Sommers illusion (the same "plastic" chairs you are referring to) and am now using a European Suspension. The difference between the two is like night and day. You can upgrade the chairs all you want, but you still have the light weight gimmick attached to the board. This may sag or even break off with additional weight. Experiment with heavy weights (not people) to see what your new set-up will hold. (Jay recommends an engine block, but they're hard to work with). My cloth has a small piece hanging on the inside at at the head end - when doing the trick, this piece falls over the gimmick. It just looks like part of the cloth and doesn't raise suspicion. Incorporate this if you can - the Jim Sommers didn't have this, and I felt the same as you about the visible piece. Not a problem if you're on stage, but close-up is a different matter. Lastly, you MUST assemble the unit in front of the audience. People assume a cantilevered unit if you don't. As far as raising up the board at an angle when attaching it - don't worry about it. Nobody knows what you are doing. Don't overthink what you're doing (or as some say, don't run if you're not being chased). Just put it together and do the illusion. Most spectators really enjoy this illusion, although personally I think it's the lamest illusion ever invented.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Aug 27, 2018 08:05PM)
Penn and Teller on the FOOL US tonight on the CW, just enhanced their Chair Suspension one more time. Looked good.

It will be repeated on Friday for those who missed tonight's show.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Oct 26, 2018 01:23PM)
What's really amazing is how magicians copy and steal jokes, puns, etc. but they don't copy / steal when it matters. Penn & Teller show everyone EXACTLY how the chair suspension should be done.
Having the assistants neck properly positioned and having the assistant lift their legs / feet in the air along with holding their hands up the way Harbin instructed are all so important for the visual of this illusion. The chair suspension is not a chair version of the Blaney ladder levitation, it's very much it's own special illusion that can be totally boring and obvious, or borderline supernatural.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Nov 8, 2018 02:28AM)
Well Thomas.
There is a place for the Harbin presentation (the volunteer has the power) as opposed to a family show where itís netter just to say ďI can not make them float (while the B.B. is floating).

The benifits to reverse psychology where kids are present is that they are misdirected from trying to crawl under the illusion and trying to convince you they are floating. Therefore they donít attempt to climb under the illusion.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Nov 12, 2018 12:20PM)
Jay, I'm really confused by your post. I wasn't referring to kids show entertainers, I was thinking of illusionists who perform the chair suspension as a levitation. They leave the lady "suspended" for way too long and they just let her lay there.

Im not sure I understand what you mean by keeping them from crawling under?
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Feb 5, 2019 06:57PM)
For reference, Harbin style: [url]https://youtu.be/6n862JxiN0k?t=19m45s[/url]

The speed and "hold it" patter definitely adds to the excitement.
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Feb 7, 2019 05:12PM)
If you did kid shows you would know exactly what he meant by crawling under!!
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Feb 7, 2019 06:31PM)
I think Iím glad I donít know then! Ha
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Jan 26, 2020 07:32AM)
Frank Hindly:

Stopping the kids (misdirection) from crawling underneath could mean they verbalize what they see and even if their guess msgnets, and itís wrong, they become a heckler lwhich prevents you from getting the deserved applause at the right time.

We agree that there should be a time on the actuall Suspension. I vote, around 7 seconds once you pull the board out. Any longer and it becomes a puzzle.
The illusion.