Well, this is what I think how this rope through block trick is done.
As I do not own or know the actual method of this Houdini Block Escape by Magic Wagon, it is just my assumption.
Yes, it’s my opinion of Houdini Escape Block solution.
I am putting my head on the block, as my speculation could be dead wrong.
Houdini Escape Block Instruction
The performer displays a block of wood which has a hole running through its center and a length of rope or cord.
The performer threads the rope through the hole in the middle of the block.
Then he places it on a specially-designed elevated stand.
The two ends of the rope are placed at each end of the stand and always in full view.
A flat arch frame is mounted onto the stand over the wooden block with the rope running through it.
The wooden block is now locked in place.
Now the performer slowly pushes the wooden block out from the frame and the stand.
Magically, the wooden block manages to free itself from the cord.
The cord or rope apparently is still in one piece resting on the elevated stand with the frame above.
Watch the video of Houdini Escape Block:
Jack Hughes’ Cuban Release
This Houdini block off the rope trick is inspired by Jack Hughes’ “Cuban Release” aka “Cube On Release“.
It was originally called the Cuban Release, but then it was changed to the Cube On Release, because of the conflict between the US and Cuba back in the Sixties.
There are two versions; using one rope and two ropes.
Cuban Release Trick Explained
Basically the secret working of both versions are the same.
The rope is joined in the center with a snap fastener.
Inside the the flat arch frame is hidden with a stiff short length of fake rope held up with a clip.
To do the trick, tug the rope to separate the snap fastener, thus the two ends of the rope would end up at the uprights of the stand.
Next, slide the secret lever at the back of the flat arch frame to release the concealed short stiff fake rope from the flat arch frame.
It falls down across the center of the flat archway.
Slowly push out the wooden block from the frame, the short stiff fake rope will be magnetically joined with the two ends of the rope at the uprights.
Watch this video by Brother Bor demonstrating the “Cuban Release” with one rope.
I think this is the short stiff fake rope clipped inside the hollow flat arch frame captured from the above video.
This is probably is the key mechanism that is attached to the lever to release the fake short rope.
Look closely at the picture below, you can see the two joints at the rope lying on the uprights.
Two Rope Method Of Cuban Release
This is the other version using two ropes, called the “Two Rope Method Of Cuban Release“.
For this apparatus, there is a peg or pin hidden on each side of the upright.
The method of this penetration trick is the same, except the two ropes used the “Grandmother’s Necklace” principle, as shown below.
When the pair of ropes is pulled, the thread breaks and each rope will looped at the peg at the upright.
Similarly, adjust the secret lever to release the two pieces of short fake ropes which glued together from the flat arch frame.
The two looped ropes will be joined with the pair of short fake ropes, as the block is slowly pull out from the frame.
If you want to know how the two-rope Jack Hughes’ Cuban Release works, click here.
There is another very similar design called the Royal Block Release by Milson Worth.
Its secret lever to release the concealed double short fake ropes is at the back corner of the flat arch frame.
This is another picture of the lever in the center the flat arch frame of this giant Cube On Release by Jack Hughes.
Check out the mini version of Cube-On Release by Jim P. Riser.
Wooden Block Release Position
One key feature of the apparatus design is, the block is positioned slightly more to the front.
I think it is to accommodate the short fake rope(s) dropping down from the flat arch frame toward the back of the apparatus.
It is the same as for the Houdini Block Escape apparatus design as well.
Now, let’s get to the Magic Wagon Houdini Block Escape…
I think the method of the Houdini Block Escape is identical as the Cuban Release.
Houdini Block Escape Solution
From my observations, I know the wooden block is not gaffed.
It is one solid wooden block with a hole through it.
However, there is one obvious suspicion, and that is the rope; it appears rather stiff.
It seems to me the rope is gimmicked.
Then I observed closely how they perform the trick and handle the prop.
I can see all of them pulling or tugging the cord or rope, after they place the flat arch frame onto the stand.
From there, I focused my attention on the rope, the elevated stand, and the flat arch frame.
Houdini Block Escape By Magic Wagon Explained
The performers try to convince the viewers that it is a regular rope by pulling it.
But I noticed their hands keep holding onto the same spot of the rope.
It is from this Jay’s World of Magic & Mystery video, I confirmed my suspicion about the gaffed rope.
Before and after doing the trick, his right hand fingers and thumb keep holding or rather hiding the same spot of the rope.
After the penetration trick is done, he throws the stiff rope on the table, slightly off the camera view.
To retrieve the rope, you can see the performer pushes the white stiff rope off the camera view first, then returns with a different supple rope
This is what magicians called it a Switch or Switching.
Watch the switching sequence of the video clip.
This time he can confidently pull and swing the rope at both ends.
As a result, I reckon the Houdini Block Escape uses a gaffed rope.
At this juncture, I believe the method of the Magic Wagon Houdini Block Escape trick must be similar to the Cuban Release or the Cube On Release.
All this time, I suspected one part of the secret behind the Houdini Block Escape, is identical to the famous Pavel Super Walking Knot rope trick.
The rope is secretly joined together with either a magnet or a snap fastener.
There are many rope magic tricks that used hidden magnets or snap fasteners.
Snap Fastener Or Magnet
But for Pavel Super Walking Knot rope trick, I think it uses snap fasteners, rather than magnets.
Four Nightmares DX Tenyo Magic
The other popular rope trick which also using magnetic connection is “Four Nightmares DX” by Tenyo Magic.
You can see the magnetic joint at the rope from the two images below.
But for this Houdini Block Escape, I think it uses both snap fastener and magnets.
Jim Steinmeyer Houdini’s Rope
Initially I though there might be a hidden rope running from one end of the side slot to the other via the base of the stand.
Then I scrutinized at the flat arch frame which is placed on top of the wooden block.
After watching the performance, I find it doesn’t really serve any function to the prop.
Why does it need this piece to lock or hold the wood block to the stand?
After all, when they perform the penetration trick, they just give a light push or gently pull out the block of wood.
To me, this flat arch frame seems redundant, unless it is there to conspires with this rope off the block trick.
You will find out soon…
Houdini Block Escape Secret
So how does the solid wooden block bypass the rope?
I think the secret is:
There is a magnetic snap fastener at center of the rope or cord.
I think that is a magnetic snap fastener as seen below:
This is another picture captured from another video clip.
When the rope is inserted into the hole of the wooden block, this magnetic snap fastener is hidden inside it.
Just like the Cuban Release Block by Jack Hughes, you need to set up the prop first.
You have to insert a short fake stiff rope inside the flat arch frame.
The picture below you can see the short stiff rope embedded inside the flat arch frame.
I presume both ends of this concealed short fake rope are attached with magnets.
This is what I think how it looks like as illustrated.
When they pull the jointed rope apart, this is what it looks like:
Houdini Block Escape Lever
There is a secret lever to release the short fake stiff rope from the flat arch frame.
It is located at the center of the flat arch frame as seen here.
Here is another picture of the lever of Houdini Block Escape which is hidden behind the flat arch frame.
Madison of Presenting Tenyo slides the lever with his right thumb at 0:41, just after he has slotted in the flat arch frame onto the stand.
For this video clip, I think he adjusts the lever just before he pushes the block out from the frame at 0:38.
Brother Bor operates the lever with his right thumb to drop down the concealed stiff fake rope at 1:03.
This performer also does it with his right thumb, just after he has set down the flat arch frame at 0:25.
Houdini Escape Block Secret Revealed
After the lever has released the short fake stiff rope from the flat arch frame, it will join up with the two separated rope.
The block is now free by itself sitting on the stand.
The seemingly one complete rope hidden is actually make up three separate parts.
That’s why at the end of the penetration trick, they do not openly show the rope.
They hold onto the two magnetic joints with their hands, under the pretext of tugging it to prove it is one complete rope or cord, as seen in this video.
Then he hides the gimmick part of the rope behind the apparatus.
So is this performer who hides the two magnetic joints of the rope in his left hand as seen here.
Because of the working method of this trick is like the Cuban Release, the wooden block is positioned less to the back of the apparatus.
This is what I think how the Houdini Escape Block by Magic Wagon secret works.
Block Off Rope Magic Trick Explained
By the way, there is a popular block with rope magic trick, that does not use a stand.
It is just a solid wooden block with a hole through it and a length of rope or cord.
Thread the rope/cord through the hole in the block.
Tie the cord in a knot around the wooden block.
Give the rope a pull, and the tied-up block magically releases itself.
One of the earliest designs is the “Blok-Kord” created by American magic dealer and inventor Lyman Allen back in 1941.
Today we have many other versions, that include: “Block Off Cord Revisted”, “Cobra Cord Magic Trick“, “Block And Rope Escape” by Michael Smilek, “Billy Blockhead” by Supreme Magic.
There is one with the same name “Houdini Block Escape” by Arlen Studios.
Not forgetting the “Rib-Blok” by Mark Jacobs and built by John Snyder.
Watch the demo video of Block Off The Rope performed by Andy Martin below:
They use only a block and a long rope, and the secret is in the deceptive looping of the rope around the block.
If you want to know the secret of how to do this rope and block trick, it is under “Block And Cord” on pages 196-198 of this free book:
Magic Digest: Fun Magic For Everyone By George B. Anderson
Click on this: Link
NOTE: To read this book, you need to have a free account with Internet Archive to borrow it.
*Here is a tutorial on how to download and save the Internet Archive borrow books.
Block Off Ribbon Magic Trick
Then there is another version which uses the ribbon and a wooden block.
They are “Levante Block Penetration” and “Pineapple Block Penetration” by Ed Massey.
To perform these mechanical blocks, you can get the spectators to hold the ends of the ribbon.
I read that you need to use a nylon-type ribbon, which compresses quickly and easily for the penetration.
Magic Wagon Chiang Mai Block Revealed
A 2-inch wooden cube block with a hole on both side and it is threaded through with two cords.
It is placed inside the cabinet with the ends of the cords protruding from each side of the cabinet.
The cabinet front door is closed and the ends of the cords are wrapped over the lid and tied in a knot.
With a tug, the cords visibly penetrate through the wooden block and the cabinet.
Mysteriously the Chiang Mai Block in still inside the cabinet.
The secret of Magic Wagon Chiang Mai Block trick is based on the old classic principle called “Grandmother’s Necklace” aka “Cords Of Phantasia” by Austrian magician Ottokar Fisher.
The secret is the two cords are not actually threaded through the wooden cube block.
Actually the two cords are folded in half with their ends together.
These two folded ends are tied together with a small piece of thread and they are hidden inside the block.
This magic principle is found in 1584 book “The Discoverie Of Witchcraft” by Reginald Scot.
These days you can find the “Grandmother’s Necklace” or “Cords Of Phantasia” in many magic books.
Here is a kiddie version of the “Grandmother’s Necklace” magic.
This magic principle is also found in this book, and it is titled “The Mysterious Balls And String“.
I think the working principal of the Diamond Block Mystery by Magic Wagon secret is similar to Tenyo Crystal Cleaver T-155.
This is another one of the many Magic Wagon magic tricks which is a mechanical trick.
No doubt this self-working trick by Magic Wagon does not use the spring mechanism like the latter.
The wooden block-lifting mechanism concealed in the rather thick or high platform, is controlled by a sliding lever facing the magician.
Below are three visuals together with video links, showing the performers’ hands engaging the secret sliding lever to lift the wooden block to the top of the cabinet.
This video, at 1:00 his right thumb discreetly sliding the lever to raise the wooden block, before he threads it with a string/cord. (below)
This video, at 1:04, his left thumb is secretly shifting the lever as he turns the prop to misdirect your attention.
This demo video, at 1:04, after his left hand places the cover, his right thumb pushes the gimmick lever, as seen below.
This is from Merlins of Wakefield video clip, where you can see his left thumb sliding the lever at 0:42.
I think the mechanism which lifts back the dropped wooden cube is hidden inside of the left front edge of the cabinet.
This is the close-up view which I guess could be part of he concealed mechanism that lifts up the wooden block.
From Bor’s demo video you can the thread at the two sides of the cabinet moving in slightly at 1:43, when he uses his right thumb to operate the lever again, to drop the block down.
Escape Room Magic Trick
There is a pocket trick called “Escape Room“, which uses a ball with a hole threaded with two cords, and placed inside a clear perspex box.
The secret behind this ball freed from the two cords trick is the same as the Chiang Mai Block.
Watch the demo video here.
RELATED: Color Block Escape Magic Trick
Talking about using the wooden blocks in magic tricks, there is this ever-popular trick called Color Block Escape.
The effect of the Color Block Escape or the Escaping Blocks is originally called Bloxo.
It is said the Bloxo was invented by John Rice back in the 1950.
Now it is called by various different names that include Psychic Block Escape, Oriental Blocks, Color Cube Release, and Chin Chao Color Blocks.
There are so many versions out there, from those made of cheap plastic to exquisite well-crafted wooden ones.
They come in different sizes, and even there is a large size called Blox Off that can be used for stage magic.
Color Block Escape Magic Trick Revealed
After watching how the magicians place the colorful blocks inside the box, I think I know how this prediction trick is done.
The secret of the Color Block Escape magic trick is arranging the two selected two color blocks on top of each other horizontally, as shown below.
Free Rope Magic Tricks Books
Since we have just talked about ropes, check out these four free books on rope magic tricks:
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NOTE: Here are more magic trick secrets exposed and explained.