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Buzz Saw Illusion

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The Buzz Saw (also Buzzsaw) is a stage illusion that consists of a large apparatus. It involves, at the very least, a magician and one assistant. It lies in the same family as the Sawing a Women in Half Illusion, however the effect involves a large mechanical circular saw. Normally, the person is cut across at the waist without any covering.

The Details

The illusion uses a piece of equipment utilizing a circular blade. First, the saw may be proven genuine by showing it cutting an object of some sort, possibly a piece of wood. The table rests under the saw blade, which desends upon it. While an assistant lays on the table, secured by bands or rope, the saw is turned on and is lowered, supposedly severing the body of the person upon it. Afterwards, the saw is turned off and the assistant is shown unharmed.


The illusion has many variations. The Buzz Saw Illusion may also refer to any illusion using a cirrcular saw for cutting a person in half, whether across the hips or down the middle of the body. In some variations sound effects are used, in others, blood and gore are spilled everywhere. Sometimes a piece of wood or other object is placed on the table, along with the assistant, to prove that the saw cutting actually takes place. Other versions are more like the Sawing a Women in Half Illusion and seperate the halves of the body after they are cut.

Notable Performers

  • Horace Goldin 1873-1939
    • Created the illusion titled The Living Miracle and premiered by him in October 1930 at the Palais d'Eté in Brussels (Belgium)
  • Maurice Rooklyn 1905-1992
    • He began using wriststraps when an assistant that was on the table for the Buzz Saw illusion lost her poise and started trying to stop the saw with her hands.
  • Aldo Richiardi (Richiardi Jr.) 1923-1985
    • Using his daughter as an assinstant he performed a particularly gruesome version of this illusion. Blood and gore flew out of her body and the saw was suddenly turned off mid-illusion. The audience was then given the oppurtunity to examine the girl. Finally, the illusion was finished and the girl was shown to be unhurt. This illusion was later omitted from his shows.
  • Harry Blackstone Sr. 1885-1965
    • Openly sawed a women, laying on her stomach, through her midsection using a large circular blade.
  • Harry Blackstone Jr. 1934-1997
    • Followed in his father's footsteps and performed the illusion in much the same way.
  • David Copperfield 1956
    • Performs a variation of the Buzz Saw Illusion called the Death Saw Illusion. In his version, the illusion is presented as an escape gone wrong, rather then a typical sawing-in-half illusion.
  • Penn & Teller
    • They created a version in which the audience believes that they are let in on the secret, only to see the assistant's body visually cut with the spinning blade. This was performed on the television show, America's Got Talent.