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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Best book(s) for constructing small props (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
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Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
ringmaster
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Inner circle
Memphis, Down in Dixie
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[quote]On Jan 28, 2019, Michael Baker wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
Look at the guys blazer.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11162 Posts

Profile of Michael Baker
[quote]On Feb 12, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, Michael Baker wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 28, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, Michael Baker wrote:
Https://www.lybrary.com/magic-handbook-s......EALw_wcB

I bought this at my drug store for six bits.



In what century? Haha!!
Look at the guys blazer.


No kidding! Haha!!
~michael baker
The Magic Company
IncantoMagic
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Isn't there a lot of this info in Tarbell? I know that at least the Squared Circle is in Vol 6.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
11162 Posts

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Quote:
On Feb 13, 2019, IncantoMagic wrote:
Isn't there a lot of this info in Tarbell? I know that at least the Squared Circle is in Vol 6.


There are many books that show the basic methods behind props. But, that is a far cry from actual building plans. I build magic props for a living, and would tell any aspiring builder to learn basic woodworking, as well as other disciplines like simple metal work, sewing, drafting, and more. Learn these skills and use them to construct a simple box. This will teach how plans are written and illustrated, and will also give hands-on experience in cutting and milling wood, types of wood, joinery, and finishing. It wouldn't hurt to also go buy a couple of model kits, both plastic and wood... cars, airplanes, or whatever. Follow the instructions and build these kits. This will give you hands-on experience in following directions and actually constructing something from parts.

Once these skills are at the very least competently understood, then it will become an easy task to use them and a general method for how a prop operates to draw one's own plans, materials lists, cutting lists, and assembly order. The advantage is that you won't have to ask these kinds of questions, as you will know how to solve just about any need, except for projects that are beyond your skills, your finances, and the quantity and quality of the tools in your workshop.


But, never fear... I began constructing my first props from cardboard cigar boxes. My first illusion was built in my bedroom of my apartment, with a hand saw, a hand drill, a hammer, and my bed serving as a sawhorse.

As far as books, there are many that describe how props work, even if they are not considered actual building plans. Tarbell is loaded with prop descriptions. Also find copies of all the Hoffmann books.. Modern Magic, More Magic, Later Magic. At least one of these is a Dover reprint and I'd guess by now they can be found as free PDFs in public domain. The basic goal would be to build your library... even look at old magazines which you can likely buy for the cost of shipping if you ask for them. Many of these are loaded with cool prop ideas, that most people have never seen or forgotten all about even if they did read it.

All you have to do with any such information is apply your learned building skills, and some imagination to update the look to suit your particular needs. I continue to laugh whenever I hear someone say that the information in the older books is outdated. Learn to think outside the box (no pun intended), and to be a lateral thinker. Look at everything for its possibilities, it's pros.. not it's cons.

If you look at my website, which you can probably access in my profile here, you will likely find many props whose roots go back a long way. I just give them my own spin. I've done exactly what I've described here. Anyone can do the same.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
gimpy2
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The books Michael mentions above work more like a spring board for me as well. I look at an old tired prop and begin to develop a new version. In the process many times the method is improved and the end mechanics are completely different. Sometimes the end product is so different that I almost forget where I started.

You would think that magic builders spend much of there time on the magic secrets but that's not the case for me. I spend much more time on the production questions. How to build something in the most efficient way is the real puzzle. I built a piece last year called "4 wrongs make right". There is no magic secret in the prop. You would think you just go out and start cutting and putting together. In fact about a week was spent sketching. setting up, building patterns. constructing jigs, experiments on assembly, products research, finding all the parts, ect.

Bench built props or one of a kind pieces many times don't turn as good as a production piece. Not as much time is spent in the development phase and learning curve in bench building. By the time you figure out the best way to build it your done.

In other words its not how it works but how to make it work.
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