Tablecloth Magic




Learn to pull a tablecloth out from under a table setting for entertainment purposes. Anyone can pull off this simple trick. (Get it? pull it off) With a little bit of practice you can amaze your friends at your next dinner party.

***Before you attempt this trick, read through all of the directions. Pay close attention to step 7 and the troubleshooting tips. This trick takes practice. Do not expect to be successful on your first attempt. ***


Tablecloth (any size)
Heavy Dishes (plastic will minimize breakage, however they may be too light)
Heavy food that will not spill (canned food, fruit, etc.)
Silverware (optional)

Step 1: Lay the Tablecloth on the Table

- The tablecloth should be placed on the table seam side down.
- Make sure there are no wrinkles
- The edge of the tablecloth should meet (be flush) with the edge of the table on the opposite side you will be pulling from.
- There should be a large length of tablecloth overhanging on the side of the table you will be pulling from.

Step 2: Set the Dishes on the Table

- Place the dishes on the opposite side of the table you will be pulling the tablecloth from.
- Begin with one plastic dish until you gain comfort with the movement. See step 7 and the troubleshooting tips for more advice.

Step 3: Weigh Down the Dishes

- The dishes need to be heavy to prevent movement. Place food items in the dishes to create more weight. (Fruit or cans)

Step 4: Positioning Yourself

- Center yourself in the middle of the table, opposite the side of the dishes.

Step 5: Hand Placement

- Hold the edge of the tablecloth with your hands shoulder width apart.
- Bunch or gather the tablecloth until your hands meet the table.

Step 6: Pull the Tablecloth

- Quickly pull the tablecloth straight down to the floor.
- As you pull straight down take a step back.
      o Be sure to pull straight down

Step 7: Practice

- Begin by practicing with one plastic dishe to get the feel for the movement. Practice a few times. The trick will most likely not be successful until you use heavier dishes.
- As you get feel more confident you can place the dishes in the center of the table or add more dishes.

Step 8: Finish

- As you gain confidence you can flourish the tablecloth for dramatic effect.

Step 9: Troubleshooting/ Tips

- It is easier if you put the dishes near the top of the table opposite of you.
- Be sure when you’re pulling the tablecloth, pull straight down so the dishes don’t slide off the table.
- If you’re having trouble with the dishes moving too much, put more food or cans in the dishes to weigh it down.
- The trick will take a while to completely master due to the fact that there is user error in the pulling technique.

Step 10: Source

The ideas and steps for this instructable were taken from, "How to pull a Tablecloth from Under a Place Setting" posted on WikiHow.



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    15 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Instructive instructable by an able instructor !!

    nice job ;) and i can't wait for me to give myself a great excuse for needing to buy new china!!

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for posting this act of skill.
    Speaking as a Magician/Performer with decades behind me, please don't forget to wax (or silicone spray) the bottoms of the dishes. Also make sure the table has a matte surface (slightly rough) and do not wax the table. The dishes need to stay put when they land.
    Great job, keep on writing and teaching!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Instructive instructable by an able instructor !!

    nice job ;) and i can't wait for me to give myself a great excuse for needing to buy new china!!


    5 years ago

    Done that


    5 years ago on Step 9

    There's a giant mark on my forehead where I was hit by a flying can of refried beans. Cool trick, though.


    5 years ago on Step 10

    This is a trick I first saw many years ago. The same go for pulling your hand through the flame of a candle. To get the real feeling we used old porcelain dishes and plates I enjoyed the instructable and it brought old memories back at the youth meeting at church and other parties


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You forgot to copy the most important "tip" which is a *requirement* for this very old trick: "Try and find a table cloth without a sewed edge. You can buy material at the fabric store to use as a table cloth, or just cut off the sewed edge on one that you already have. The raised edge may create more turbulence as it passes underneath everything." THe sewn edge will ruin it and make it much more difficult.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Having set this up many times I can give more advice.
    Wrinkles aren't as important as creases.
    The cloth shouldn't have a sewn hem. These do exist in restaurants.
    And fairly slick fabric. Take a moment to check out the table cloths the next few times you dine out, you'll see a large variance in hem, fabric, even shape. (Rarely is it square, unless your linen service is expensive)

    That's the biggest point, no sewn hem; only a bound hem.

    Bill WWKiteman

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Kiteman -

    Here is the video:
    Always glad to help.

    KitemanBill WW

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    That's funny, but I meant the video of the author actually doing the trick.

    Bill WWKiteman

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yes. But I want to help my friends in East Anglia wherever I can.
    Notice that in the video I attached, the boys were successful in what they set about to accomplish. There is a lesson there for all of us. For me especially.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    1. Material list is easy to find, very specific and helpful.
    2. You used very precise and clear language.
    3. Your organization was easy to follow with small detailed steps

    1. In Step 1 you say not to have wrinkles in the tablecloth, but in the picture for that step the tablecloth has a lot of wrinkles (in the folds of the fabric)
    2. You did not use directive words, like "first" or "next"
    3. Step 8 and 10 could be removed. Step 8 could be more of an optional step given at the end, and Step 10 could probably be included in the introduction.

    Overall, this was really great! The pros far outweighed the cons, I could definitely do this! Great job!