The Workshop: Getting Started With Making Magic Gimmicks

By Jason Silberman - Wednesday, February 21, 2024

While making magic gimmicks can feel intimidating at first, it is one of the most valuable (and cost-saving) skills you can have as a magician. With a little practice, anyone can start making their own gaffs. So it's time to stop letting the thought of "DIY" send shivers down your spine. Dip your toes into the rubber cement filled pool and let's get started on your journey to becoming a gaff pro.

Jason Silberman Magician Workshop

My name is Jason Silberman and, beyond being a professional magician and Vanishing Inc. Support Wizard, I’m obsessed with making card gaffs and other magic gimmicks. I not only make gaffs for myself, but also several magicians in our community. I’m really excited to start this special blog series called The Workshop, in which will dive into all the ins and outs of gaff making.

In this first article, I’ll break down what I keep in my personal “gaff kit” and how you can easily start building yours right away. I’ll then give you my favorite starting points for basic gaff building.

A magic gaffer is only as good as their tools though. So, before we go any further, here are the tools I recommend everyone should have in their personal gaff-making kit (you probably already even own many of them).

rubber cement for magicians

The Top Gaff-Making Tools Every Magician Should Have

  1. An exacto knife
  2. A ruler (I prefer a metal non-slip one, but any ruler will work)
  3. Rubber cement (and a rubber cement eraser)
  4. Glue sticks (I like to buy Elmer’s purple glue sticks in bulk)
  5. Tape (regular scotch tape/invisible tape/magic tape and double-sided tape]
  6. Scissors

With these easily-accessible items, you can create pretty much any basic gaff you'd ever need, from double-backers to double-facers, split-faced cards and more. That means, in about 95% of cases, you'll have the tools needed when a new release mentions in the ad copy that a "small amount of DIY is needed".

Expanding Your Gimmick-Making Kit

As you progress in your gaffing journey, you may want to add some more items to your Gaff Kit. Here are several other items I use on a daily basis.

  1. A self healing cutting mat (easier to work/cut on, has built-in measuring tools, and protects your desk)
  2. A card press for pressing your gimmicks once they're glued: I usually sandwich mine between two pieces of acrylic and some spring clamps, but there are also official ones made exclusively for magicians
  3. Sharpies: I prefer to have a black, red and navy sharpie for coloring in any imperfections on my gaffs
  4. Invisible Elastic Thread (a must have for flap gimmicks)
  5. Bone folder(your secret weapon for achieving smooth, flat, pro-quality gimmcks).
  6. Dry Mount Tissue (I’ll be going more in-depth on this in a future post but, for now, it’s not really needed unless you are a more advanced gaffer)

Pro Tip: The more you build, the more you’ll start to add tools to your arsenal. So, it’s important to stay organized. I keep all of my gaff-making tools in a drawer, but also have a canvas bag with the essentials for when i’m traveling. You never know if you’ll need to make a gimmick on-the-go!

The First Step in Your Journey

Now that we know what tools you’ll need, it’s time to start your gimmick-making journey. The first, and arguably most essential, step in gaff-making is splitting cards. This invaluable skill unlocks a whole new world of magic possibilities (like being able to perform our bestselling effect "Stratis"). Yet, for some reason, card-splitting is something that terrifies many magicians.

I'm happy to let you know that splitting cards is so much easier than you think. In fact, I put together a free video that teaches you how to split cards in just a few minutes.

how to split playing cards tutorial

Learn How to Split Cards for Free

I also highly recommend Blake Vogt’s Masterclass for a more detailed overview of card-splitting and overall gaff-making. He not only helped many members of our team learn how to split cards for the first time, but also goes over a ton of other cool ideas that will showcase how exciting and inspiring making your magic gimmicks can be.

Get Blake Vogt's Masterclass

So, stop wasting time here. Go grab a deck of cards, practice splitting, and we’ll see you in the next post!

Reader comments:


Saturday, 24 February 2024 15:57 PM - Reply to this comment

Hey Jason
This is going to be a godsend for many magicians out there.
So great to see this come up on the sight. Great idea !
Long live Vanishing Inc !


Saturday, 24 February 2024 15:57 PM - Reply to this comment

Hey Jason
This is going to be a godsend for many magicians out there.
So great to see this come up on the sight. Great idea !
Long live Vanishing Inc !


Tuesday, 27 February 2024 22:14 PM - Reply to this comment

When do we get the Jason Silberman masterclass?
That would be fun :)

In the meantime I'll enjoy these blogs!

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