How to Do the Magic Cork Trick

Easy Magic Trick: The Pass Through Corks

The Spruce

In this easy magic trick, you hold two wine corks that are seemingly interlocked and against each other and somehow pull them apart. Each cork appears to pass through the other one. It’s a fast, visual trick that you can also perform with rolled dollar bills, lip balm containers and other objects of roughly the same size as wine corks. This trick would be classified as a penetration effect as two objects seem to pass through each other.

The other fun aspect of this trick is that it’s completely impromptu and requires no preparation. All you need are the objects, which you can even borrow, and you’re ready to go.

For visual learners, there is a video of the trick.

The Secret and Materials


When you grab the corks with your fingers, it looks as if the corks are interlocked, but they aren’t. The secret lies in the way that you grab the corks.


Two wine corks, rolled dollar bills, lip balm containers or other cylindrical objects of roughly the same size as wine corks. For the purposes of the explanation here, we’ll assume that you are using corks.

To start, place a cork in the crook of each hand—between the thumb and first finger, just as in the picture above.

Grab the Cork in Your Right Hand

With your left hand, grab the cork that’s held in your right hand with your first finger and thumb. The first finger reaches naturally for the top of the cork and the thumb reaches for the bottom.

Pass through corks magic trick
The Spruce

Reach Through the Loop

Here’s the tricky part. Instead of naturally grabbing the cork with the first finger of your right hand on the top of the cork and the thumb on the bottom, you turn your hands. Thus, the thumb of the right-hand reaches under the first finger of the left hand to grab the top of the cork and the first finger reaches under the left thumb to grab the bottom of the cork. More specifically, the right thumb reaches through the “loop” formed by the left thumb and first finger that are already holding a cork.”

Notice in the picture how the right thumb is reaching between the left first finger and thumb and the right first finger is reaching underneath the left thumb. You may have to turn both hands in opposite directions to grab the second cork. The corks look as if they are interlocked, but they’re not. This is effectively the secret to the trick.

The pass-through corks
The Spruce

Exposed View

This photo shows the manner in which you’re holding the “left” cork with the right hand. It’s an exposed view with the right hand brought out so you can clearly see the grip. As you can see, the cork is already free but when the hands are held together, the corks look as if they are intertwined. 

Exposed view of the pass-through corks
The Spruce

Exposed View 2

This photo shows the view from the other side. Here you can better see the hand positions. Again, note how the corks are not intertwined. If you separated your hands at this point, the corks would "come apart." In fact, this is exactly what you will do. You're all set up, now, finish the trick.

Exposed view two of the pass-through corks
The Spruce

Finish the Trick

By simply separating your hands, you can free the corks without letting go of them. Your hands will naturally turn as you separate them. The corks appear to pass through each other.

Finish the trick
The Spruce

Final Thoughts

The penetration effect is one where a solid object somehow passes through another solid object. This effect is probably used most by stage illusionists who pass swords and other objects through a person and the best-known penetration effect is probably the Chinese linking rings. A penetration is different from a destruction and restoration or torn and restored effect because the object that passes through does not appear to harm or change the other object.

If you're interested in penetration effects, you may enjoy the following easy magic tricks:

  • The necklace: In this easy magic trick, a necklace is shown with three beads strung on two strings. You take an end from each side and begin to tie a knot. You place the beads into someone's hand and then pull on the strings and the beads release themselves from the strings. All you need for this one is three beads and some string.
  • Sawing a lady in Half: Alright, this is not a version of the big stage illusion where a magician appears to saw a lady in half. But you can make this version out of an envelope and paper. In a classic sense, sawing a person in half is usually a torn and restored effect. Something is destroyed and shown to be in this state, and then it's brought back together. However, here, the "lady" in the trick is never shown in two pieces. Thus, it's more of a penetration effect.
  • The unlinking safety pin: You clearly link two safety pins together by opening one, inserting it through the other and closing the first pin. In seemingly no time, you pull the safety pins apart, but both are still closed. All you need for this one is two safety pins.