Steel Ball Through Glass Revealed And Explained

For the first time, the secrets of the steel ball through glass revealed in full detail on how it is done.

I have never seen this actual close-up magic prop, and the so-called secrets are actually my own guesswork.

Just like all the other magic trick reveal posts published here, they are not actually exposé per se.

I include the rationale and ingenuity behind the prop design, the trick and the effect.

It is a combination of both the reveal and review of the magic trick.

On top of that, I recommend online resources for free e-books on magic tricks and conjuring.

It is just my own personal curiosity and challenge to unravel how the tricks are done.

In short, they are just my theory, opinion or assumption.

My presumption how this trick is done is solely by viewing the various video clips from the Internet, and study the prop from magic shop websites, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

steel ball through glass revealed

Take note: This steel ball through glass magic trick revealed is not the 1930s rectangle flat wooden box version by John Snyder, Jr.

This vintage prop was also called “Steel Ball Through Glass” sold by Kanter’s Magic Shop, and it was also manufactured by Davenports, and advertised as “The Miracle Steel Ball Thro’ Glass”.

miracle steel ball thro glass

By the way, I think the secret of this “The Miracle Steel Ball Thro’ Glass” is by using a false bottom.

For more detail of this old steel ball through glass trick go to Martin’s Magic Collection.

The steel ball through glass trick revealed and explained in this article is a small square wooden box.

It looks like one of those ornate antique jewelry wooden boxes; fitted with vintage strap hinges and a hinged clasp.

The wooden box has a hole right through the center on the cover and on the bottom.

How does this steel ball through glass trick work?

Before I penetrate into the steel ball through glass revealed, let’s go through the performance.

The performer displays a small wooden box with holes on top and bottom.

Then he places a glass piece inside the box, so that it obstructs the hole at the bottom.

He closes the lid of the box, and he drops a steel ball bearing into the hole on top.

Miraculously, the solid steel ball seems to penetrate through the glass sheet and it comes out from the hole below the box.

My view is, if this solid through solid magic trick is performed well, the penetration effect is very deceptive.

To achieve that, you need to practice the ‘secret move’, and it definitely has angle issues.

But the prop can be fully examined before and after the trick.

Note: The ‘glass piece‘ is actually a clear acrylic piece. In my explanation below, I would use the term ‘clear acrylic piece‘.

Here is one of the steel ball through glass trick videos:

Basically there are two parts to the secret working of this close-up magic trick.

First is the so-called hidden secret built into the inconspicuous-looking wooden box itself.

Second is what I called the ‘secret move‘.

This is the crucial part which makes the penetration effect possible.

Here is where one uses the sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation and legerdemain.

This relies on the dexterity of the performers’ fingers and thumb when doing the covert move, together with a little help from misdirection.


Related: Check out this free book on magic misdirection.

Magic by Misdirection by Dariel Fitzkee
Click any of these: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4


For this steel ball thru glass trick, the best misdirection would be your presentation supported with an appropriate patter.

A magician patter is dialogue use during a trick.

Magicians use patter to interact with his spectator as well as a misdirection.


Related: Here are free books on magic misdirection and patter.

Magic by Misdirection by Dariel Fitzkee
Click on any of these: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

The Book Of Wonder Vol. 1 by Tommy Wonder
Click on any of these: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

For magician who want to learn about scripting your act, patter and the art of magic, check out these free books for guidance and reference:

Scripting Magic By Pete McCabe And 6 Other Guys
Click on this: Link

Our Magic: The Art In Magic, The Theory Of Magic, The Practice Of Magic by Nevil Maskelyne And David Devant
Click on either of these: Link 1, Link 2

Impromptu Magic, With Patter by Geo (George) De Lawrence
Click on this: Link

Easy Magic With Patter by Will Goldston
Click on this: Link

The Book Of Magic: Being A Simple Description Of Some Good Tricks And How To Do Them, With Patter by A. Frederick Collins
Click on this: Link


Steel Ball Through Glass Revealed

Now let’s start the ball rolling and see whether my take on this impossible penetration magic trick is possibly correct.

The Wooden Box

As aforementioned, the box does play a part in the trick.

Its dimensions, and that include its width, the depth, and the thickness of its lid or cover, together with the hinges and the clasp too.
solid through solid magic trickThe box or prop has to be of a reasonable size, so that it fits snugly into the palm of the performer’s hand.

That makes it easier for the performer when doing the ‘secret move‘, which I will elaborate soon.

The pair of exposed hinges and the clasp also abet in this small close-up illusion.

If you study the prop closer, you would notice the lid or cover is not tightly shut down onto the top of the box is because of the pair of exposed hinges.

exposing magic trick secrets

In other words, there is a tiny gap between the lid and the top edges of the box, and there is reason for it.

steel ball through glass explained

I think even the thickness of the lid or cover of the box is also a help to the trick by blocking the so-called ‘exposed secret‘.

So is the innocent-looking clear acrylic piece.

All these parts will be explored and explained in the the next big secret exposé.

The Clear Acrylic Piece

This second secret is what makes the penetration effect possible.

As you know the obstacle of this magic trick is the clear acrylic piece.

To enable the steel ball bearing to pass through, we have to shift or move the clear acrylic piece away from the two holes of the box.

The size of the the clear acrylic piece has to be slightly smaller than the base of the box.

So that it is easy for the thumb and the finger to get it out from the box during the ‘secret move‘.

This is how I think it is done:

Watch the video clips closely, you would notice just before the performer does the penetration trick, he will usually distract your attention to the steel ball.

This is when he employs misdirection.

He deftly uses patter (talking about the solid steel ball or making some jokes) and hands it over to the audience to be examined.

At this time of misdirection, he quickly makes the ‘secret move‘, and then closes the lid or cover of the box in one smooth movement.

This is the time he furtively steals and shifts the clear acrylic piece inside the box.

From the videos, you could clearly see them pulling out their thumb and/or index finger from the box interior, as they shut down the cover.

steel ball thru glass

There are different ways of executing this important ‘secret move‘.

One needs to practice this ‘secret move‘, until it appears like an ordinary natural movement when one is closing the lid of the box.

The ‘secret move‘ is this:

Before he closes the cover, he pushes one of the fingers of his hand which is holding the box, through the bottom hole.

This is to lift up the clear acrylic piece from the bottom of the box.

Simultaneously, he uses his thumb to flip or drag about half of the clear acrylic piece out onto the top edge of the box facing him. See picture below:

steel ball thru glass trick

The part of the acrylic piece outside the box is what I referred to as the ‘exposed secret‘.

As this exposed part of the acrylic piece can be seen, that is why it has so-called angle problem.

That’s why some would tilt the box downward slightly towards them, or using the palms of their hands to block this ‘exposed secret‘, under the pretext of closing the cover.

To make it easier for one to get the clear acrylic piece out from the bottom of the box, the depth of the box is specifically designed to be shallow.

ball thru glass trick

That’s why I have stated the depth of the box is also part of the secrets of this trick.

When the clear acrylic piece is safely resting on the top of box edge, the performer quickly shuts the cover down.

The cover will now hold down or grip the clear acrylic piece securely on top of the edge of the box.

steel ball thru glass penetration trick

To be precise, about half of the clear acrylic piece is still inside the box, while the other half is out of the edge of the box facing the performer.

Remember I have highlighted earlier, about the tiny gap between the cover and the top edges of the box.

That readily available narrow space is to allow room for the clear acrylic piece, when it is placed on the edge of the box.

The performer will lock the clasp or the fastening device, to hold the acrylic piece tighter and safer in place.

From my deduction, I think the specially designed thickness or the height of the cover is meant to help to shield the ‘exposed secret‘ or the clear acrylic piece outside the box.

close-up magic tricks revealed

In addition, this trick uses a clear or rather transparent acrylic piece, so that it is not easily seen.

That will help to reduce the visibility of the exposed part of the acrylic piece outside the box.

plexiglass penetration trick

So now without the clear acrylic piece obstructing the holes, the steel ball can just slip through them.

That’s how this steel ball through glass trick works, I presume.

Exposed Acrylic Piece

Slow down playback speed to 0:25 of this video, and watch carefully the area just below the hinge near his palm.

At 1:16 -1:17 and 1:19 -1:21, you can see the edge of the exposed acrylic piece.

See the picture below as captured from the video clip.

steel ball thru glass exposed

I notice each performer do it slightly differently, depending on their prestidigitation skill.

Let’s watch and analyze some of these video clips:

Note: Slow down the playback speed to 0:25 for clearer viewing.

For this video clip, at 0:58, he uses his left hand finger to lift up the acrylic piece at the bottom hole, and the index finger of his right hand to drag out the clear acrylic piece, just before he closes the cover.

impossible penetration illusion box

Once the trick is over, at 1:26 he uses his right thumb to push the acrylic piece back into the box, and at the same time tilting the box.

He does this with one smooth move to get the acrylic piece safely drop back to bottom of the box.

This Japanese video, at 0:34, the performer uses right hand index finger to push up the acrylic piece from the bottom hole of the box, and his thumb to drag it up onto the box edge, before closing the cover.

ball thru acrylic magic

Then he uses his left hand to cover up the exposed acrylic piece outside the box, before doing the trick.

box with ball bearing magic

To finish up the act, at 0:49, he slips his right hand underneath the box, and using his fingers to push the acrylic piece back into the box, before opening the cover.

ball thru glass illusion

In this video, this performer does the so-called ‘secret move‘ only after he has closed the box.

With the closed box, at 0:27 to 0:32, he uses his middle finger through the bottom hole, to lift and push out the clear acrylic piece to the edge of the box.

He is using the patter (taking) to misdirect you from his ‘secret move‘.

closeup box magic prop

When half of the acrylic piece is out from the box, he turns the box around and at the same time he uses his right hand to grip around the box to block the exposed acrylic piece.

parlor magic trick box

After the trick, at 0:43 to 0:44, he uses his right palm to push the acrylic piece back into the box.

The video by Funtime Magic is more interesting, as the performer does it differently.

His act is more like the what people perform with John Snyder Jr’s steel ball through glass version or the Cabala effect by Dave Powell Magic Company.

john snyder steel ball through glass

He makes the steel ball as if it slowly melts though the acrylic piece.

At 0:33, he uses his right index finger to slide the acrylic piece out from the box.

magic trick wooden box

But for him, he does not shift the acrylic piece inside the box completely away from the holes, as what the other performers do.

His acrylic piece still blocks only half of the holes, that is why he can still place the steel ball on top of it.

ball thru box magic

Then he gingerly loosen the box cover gripping the acrylic piece slightly, so that it will tilt down by the weight of the ball bearing.

Watch carefully, you can see the cover moving upward slightly at 0:46, to loosen the grip of the acrylic piece.

As a result, the acrylic piece will tip downward, thus letting the steel ball to slip down the top hole and comes out through the bottom hole.

To repeat the trick, he uses his left thumb secretly pressing down the exposed part of the acrylic piece outside the box.

impossible penetration effect

You can view it at 0:52 and 0:57.

That will lift up the acrylic piece inside the box, then he can replace the steel ball back into the top hole.

In other words, he is fiddling the clear acrylic piece like a seesaw.

To conclude his act, from 1:01, with one move, he uses his left thumb to push the acrylic piece back into the box and tips the box facing downward to let the acrylic piece to drop back into the box.

To distract your attention away from the box, he taps the steel ball a few times on the table, before he opens it.

As you can see from their presentations, one needs to practice how to get the acrylic piece out and back into the box smoothly, without being noticed.

Then one must be careful with the exposed acrylic piece outside the box, as it is angle sensitive.

Well, this is the steel ball through glass trick revealed as according to my observations and assumption.


Related: Similarly, there is another magic prop by Viking Magic called “Marbo Card Penetration“.

Instead of a glass or acrylic piece, this trick uses a piece of card or a playing card as an obstacle.

marbo card penetration

Go and find out about the Marbo Card Penetration secret here.

Ching Ling Coin Box/Coin Of The Realm  

There is another similar penetration trick using a small wooden box, a glass sheet and a coin called “Coin Of The Realm” or “Ching Ling Coin Box“.

ching ling coin box secret

For this coin box trick, I think you do not have to move the clear acrylic piece (glass) out of the box.

I notice the dimensions of the box are slightly different from the steel ball through glass prop.

For this Ching Ling coin box, the width and the depth are almost the same.

In other words, when the clear acrylic piece is placed standing up inside the box, you can still close the lid or cover comfortably, as shown below.

coin of the realm trick exposed

Just like the steel ball through glass prop, it comes with a pair of exposed hinges.

When you shut the box, there is still a tiny gap between the cover and the top edges of the box.

The performer uses his index finger to either pull back or push up the clear acrylic piece inside the box.

ching ling box revealed

From this video, you can see the performer using his index finger to bring up the clear acrylic at 0:30.

Then he quickly pulls down the cover resting on the edge of the clear acrylic piece and locks the clasp to hold it in place.

Now the two slits are cleared for the penetration trick.

After the coin throught the glass trick is done, he releases the clasp.

To get the clear acrylic piece to fall down onto the bottom of the box, the performer either tilts the box slightly, or places it down on the table with a gentle thump.


Disclaimer: I do not own or upload any of the books here. They are copyrighted to their respective owners. All content cited is derived from their respective sources.