Houdini's Card Scaling Tricks

One of Houdini's favorite feats at magicians' gatherings was scaling cards, boomerang fashion, and catching them in a deft manner. Houdini made card scaling a feature and won great acclaim for his skill. Two of his best stunts were those of catching a scaled card in the pack and cutting a card in midair with a pair of scissors. To do the "boomerang" toss, Houdini would hold a card between his index and middle fingers of his right hand, with the card faced inward at right angles to the palm. When the card is snapped forward will fly through the air. This technique is a short throw combined with a rapid spins that brings the card back to the hand, regardless of how far it has traveled. To get the appropriate spin, the tip of the index finger moves to the outer right corner of the card, pressing against the corner. The thumb replaces the index finger pressing the card against the second finger.

Houdini was not only able to scale cards; he was able to do so from a pack of cards. To do this, he would hold the pack of cards crosswise in his left hand, thumb along the left side, fingers at the right. The right hand "boomerangs" the single card, then grips it directly from the pack, endwise. This technique allowed Houdini to open the pack like a book, at the same time thrusting the gap toward the returning card.

Houdini was also able to throw a card and then cut it by taking the scissors in the same hand. Assuming that the right hand scales the card, the scissors can be laid loose and slightly open in the left. The larger the scissors the better, as they are easier to grab and provide a larger space to receive the card, along with allowing more surface to cut. The blades are opened, raised directly at the spinning card and clipped fast together, the moment it clicks between them. Large scissors add to the effect, appearing more difficult to handle and are easier to see from the audience.