Trick School: The “Folding Dollar”

Magic tricks are impressive because they make the impossible seem possible. Audiences are wise to the act most of the time, and if you’re looking to impress people, you need a trick that will leave them guessing. Now if you’re just starting out I’d recommend looking at something more rudimentary, like a simple coin trick. The “Folding Dollar” is more intermediate.

It’s not extraordinarily complicated exactly, but it requires a semi-trained hand. Learning how to divert the eyes of the audience is mostly how magic tricks succeed, but again, these skills are best learned with a simpler performance. Once you feel you have the necessary dexterity to manipulate your hands stealthily without being noticed, then it’s time to move onto this trick.

What You Need

Now, getting down to what you need for this trick to be pulled off. As always, you need your trusty pair of hands.

Next, you need a Dollar bill. It doesn’t have to be a Dollar exactly, but any “paper” currency will do. You may have to see if there are any trick variations online, as not every country has the same sized money. It may or may not impact the trick, so always be sure to test it first when you plan on using unfamiliar currency.

You also need some “Magician’s thread.” Basically, it’s an incredibly thin thread that is imperceptible to the human eye. Well, almost. I’d suggest actually purchasing some thread that is expressly marketed for street magic. Other types of thread may be too thick otherwise. Be sure to get the thinnest sewing needle you can find too. You won’t need it for the trick, but you do for the prep.

Finally, you need some clear scotch tape. Nothing special about this.

The Trick

Onto the trick itself, it’s actually pretty impressive to watch. The first thing you do is take the Dollar out of your pocket and show it clearly to the audience, just to let them know you’re not up to any funny stuff. You then hold the Dollar flat out in your palm, and then, like “magic,” it begins to fold itself in half, and then neatly sideways. Tah-dah! Impressive, right?

How It Works

Now, onto the prep work required for the trick. Read carefully.

The first thing you want to do is fold the Dollar three times. Not one, not two, but three. Next, you thread the needle and put it through half of the Dollar. Be careful, you don’t want it to tear. Try and get it kind of near the middle fold, but not too close.

Once the thread is through the Dollar, you use a thin strip of scotch tape and pin the thread down on the other folded half of the Dollar. On the other side of it (where you threaded the needle through), take the thread and cut at about 15 inches of length.

From there, you need to attach the thread to an item you usually keep in your pocket. Your wallet, maybe. If you’re not the type to carry stuff in your pockets regularly, a deck of cards will do the trick too. It’ll be an anchor for the trick to work, so make sure it has some weight.

Once your prep is completed, it’s time to move on to the trick itself.

Give yourself a bit of slack on the thread so you can adjust the Dollar as needed, and prevent the thread from snapping. Pull the folded Dollar from your pocket, and casually unfold it. Don’t be too rough, else the thread or the tape may not hold.

Let the Dollar rest in your palm, but the thread leading to your pocket has to be between your fingers. From there, just push your hand out gently towards the audience. The thread should begin to tighten up thanks to the anchor in your pocket and pull the Dollar folded over and over. It sounds a little complicated in writing, but I assure you it’s really simple to pull off.


The most important tip I can give you for this trick is in your fashion sense. Don’t wear dark clothes when you plan to do this trick. The light will reflect from your dark clothing in such a way that reveals your thread. Likewise, pay attention to light sources. A strong light behind you will reveal the thread instantly. If the light is shining towards you, however, then it’ll look practically invisible.

You may want to adjust the Dollar you’ve prepared a few times over for maximum effect and comfort. Don’t be afraid to go through a few iterations of the trick as you perfect it and your own personal display technique.