Walking MatchSticks

Introduction: Walking MatchSticks

This is a trick from the book that I read when I was a child. It is a very simple trick using matchsticks but It had such a effect that I had my jaw drop to the floor. How it is possible ? Is it science, is it black 'magic', or is it simple my shaking hand that is causing it. Years have been passed out but these matchsticks are still in my brain refusing to be die out. And I am as amused now, as I was in my childhood. So, finally I am sharing this trick with you. Remember, All I offer to you is truth(The matrix :))

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Watch the Video!

View Matchsticks in action!

Step 2: What Are Walking Matchsticks ?

Walking Matchsticks is a simple arrangement of two matchsticks, when they are placed on the edge of knife they start to walk, until they fall off the knife. This is a simple trick that you can use to amuse your friends and family members.

Step 3: What You'll Need ?

All you'll need for this project is :

  • Two Matchsticks
  • A Paper Knife(Cutter)
  • A Kitchen knife

Note : Paper knives are very sharp objects. Kids will need assistance from their parents.

Step 4: Prepare Matchsticks

Now, cut away excess wood from one end of a matchsticks, so that it will have a sharp edge, with the help of paper knife.

Also, make a thin slice cut in second matchstick, so that we can fit our first matchstick into it.

Step 5: Join Matsticks Together

Now, take these matchsticks and put the thin edge of one matchstick into the slice cut of another matchstick to join them.

And you walking matchsticks are ready "To Walk!"

You can understand it better from the diagram given above.

Attribution : The diagram image is by Crati - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Step 6: Watch Them Walk!

Ok, as our matchsticks are ready, time to make them walk.

Hold the knife tight in you hand as shown in the figure, try to keep it as steady as possible.

Now, place this arrangement of matchsticks on the edge of the knife.

  • Initially, keep the hanging matchsticks above the surface of paper/table.
  • Slowly, bring knife down, until the matchsticks come closer to the surface
  • Hold you hand in this position, while matchsticks just touching the table.

It will take 3-4 seconds while your matchsticks begin to slide away on the edge of knife.


Step 7: Mystery : How They Walk ?

Now, after you have watched them walk. Question is how they walk ? Well, frankly I don't claim to fully understand this mystery. Though, I have noted some points about it.

This arrangement is very sensitive to any kind of vibration. These include

  • Simple air movement of fan.
  • Slightest movement of your hand.
  • Any type of vibration on the table.
  • Your pulse as you are holding the knife.

If you can explain this mystery, you can write in the comment section. Both of criticisms and suggestions are welcome.

For more detailed explanation of this topic please visit my blog


Thanks. /\

Update : Mystery Revealed :

After some search on google, I found this website that finally solved this mystery for me.

"The 'walking' of the sticks is caused solely by the imperceptible movements of the hand and arm, transmitted to the knife. The vibration caused by the uncontrolled muscles give physical boosts to the sticks, and doesn't matter how steadily the spectator keeps his hands....In fact, the more effort one puts into keeping the hands still, the faster the 'walking' would take place."
Wizarding Contest

Participated in the
Wizarding Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Finish It Already Speed Challenge

      Finish It Already Speed Challenge
    • Declutter Speed Challenge

      Declutter Speed Challenge
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest

    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    That's so cool! By the way I really like your matches, where'd you get them?

    Silverline Labs
    Silverline Labs

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for appreciation,

    It's from a local matchstick manufacturing company, here in India.


    3 years ago

    ideomotor effect? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideomotor_phenomenon

    Silverline Labs
    Silverline Labs

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for the link!

    Yes, the vibration is due to the uncontrolled muscles give physical boosts to the sticks, and doesn't matter how steadily the spectator keeps his hands.


    3 years ago

    Great tutorial! I have a match stick trick that moves but mine is supposed to show your friend's pulse. I will have to make a tutorial! Thanks!


    3 years ago

    Fun party trick! I would guess the inadvertent movement of your hand holding the knife!