Magic trick with pen and dollar bill explained (with images)

For this awesome magic trick, you only need a pen, a dollar bill, and a piece of paper. It’s very easy to perform, but it looks great for the audience! I will explain all you need to know, so you understand how it’s done – and you can even perform it yourself.

This is how the trick works:

The magician puts a folded dollar bill (or any other banknote) inside a piece of paper and pushes a pencil right through it. However, once the paper is removed, the banknote is not damaged at all.

I will explain exactly how the trick is done and show you how you can do it yourself. All you need are a few everyday items.

By the way, I’ve taken quite a few pictures because it’s way easier to show the trick properly with images (it might take a moment for my site to load them, but it’s worth it!).

How this magic trick looks for your audience

I will explain the entire trick in detail in this post.

But before I explain the trick in detail, I want to briefly show you how it looks for your viewers:

The magician folds a dollar bill or any other banknote and places it inside a small sheet of paper. He then pushes a pen vertically into the center of the bill from above.

Pen magic trick (Folded)
This is how the banknote and the paper are folded.
Pen magic trick - Step 2
Next, the pen is placed inside the paper as shown.

The magician now hits the pen from above and it audibly and visibly penetrates the paper; the tip of the pen peeks out from under the paper. Next, the pen is pulled out again and the paper is perforated, but the bill is still intact.

Pushing the pen through the money bill
The pen is pushed through the banknote and the paper; you can hear it rip.
Paper and dollar bill after the trick
However, the banknote is still intact after the trick!

This is an awesome little magic trick that requires some preparation, but it’s very easy to perform once you know how it’s done.

Now, since you know how the effect looks for your audience, let’s start with the tutorial. You will need the prepare the banknote before you can perform the trick.

The required preparation (pen, paper and banknote)

All you need for this trick are some everyday items you will most likely already have at home.

You will need:

  • A pen with a sharp tip
  • Any banknote
  • A small piece of paper
  • Scissors
The required materials
These are the required materials for the trick.

The secret of the trick is the banknote: it has a small cut on the edge through which the pen can be passed. This cut is barely visible and is hidden by the magician during the performance. The folded paper hides the cut and the pen can be passed unnoticed behind the bill.

This allows you to actually push the pencil through the paper without damaging the banknote.

How to properly prepare the bill

As I already mentioned, you can use any banknote you want. Even after you cut it, you can still pay with it – so don’t worry too much!

For the first step, you want to fold the bill as shown:

Pen magic trick preparation 1
Fold the banknote.

Next, cut it as shown in the picture, the cut should be around 0.5 inches or 1 – 2 cm deep. Try to hide the cut as well as you can by selecting an inconspicuous spot.

Pen magic trick preparation 2
Add a small cut.

This is how it looks after cutting the bill:

Pen magic trick preparation 4
The cut should leave room for the pencil to pass through.

Don’t worry too much about anyone noticing the cut, it’s barely visible, and nobody will pay close attention – who expects the banknote to have a small cut in it? This is how mine looks from a little further away:

Pen magic trick preparation 5
The cut is barely visible.

The only thing left to do is preparing the piece of paper.

Cut it to around the same size as the banknote, and you are good to go.

How to perform this magic trick with the pen and banknote

Now, it’s time for the performance. Please make sure to practice everything at least once or twice before you show the trick to any spectators, just to make sure that you know what you are doing.

Once you’ve done the trick a few times, it will be pretty straightforward.

Let’s start.

Begin your performance by folding the banknote as shown. The cut has to point in your direction, so make sure that you know exactly where it is!

Pen magic trick 1
Start by folding the banknote as shown, the cut is facing towards you.

Now, put the bill inside the paper. Make sure that it covers the entire cut since your audience will reveal this trick if you mess this up! It’s a little easier when the paper is significantly bigger than the banknote.

Pen magic trick (Folded)
Put the bill inside the paper.

Now it’s finally time for the pen. Put in with the tip facing downwards inside the paper.

This right here is the part where the magic happens.

Instead of just putting the pencil inside the banknote, you navigate the tip of the pen through the cut inside the bill. Your movements have to be smooth, so practice this part of the trick!

This is how and it should look for your audience…

Pen magic trick 3
Putting the pencil inside the paper…

… and this is what actually happens. You put the pencil through the cut of the banknote.

… and this is what actually happens.

Once the pencil is in place, you obviously can’t remove the paper, since it will instantly reveal the secret. So never do that!

However, as long as you push the paper on the pencil, you can actually show it from several angles. This will most likely convince your viewers that the pencil is right between the banknote (which is not the case!).

This is how I like to hold the paper when showing it to my audience:

Pen magic trick 7
With this grip, you can show the paper from multiple angles.

Try to push the paper firmly onto the pencil with your thumb and middle or ring finger. It’s a great idea to practice this part in front of a mirror or with a friend, so you know exactly how you can move your hand.

The final part of the trick: Pushing the pen through the paper

With everything set up, it’s finally time for the final push. This is where the trick happens for the audience, even though you’ve prepared everything in advance (this is very typical for magic tricks).

Before pushing the pencil through the paper, make sure to hold it very tight to keep everything in place.

This is how I usually do it:

Pushing the pen through the money bill
How to properly hold the paper when pushing the pencil.

As you can see, I like to grip the paper with my left hand and push the pencil with my right. Just try a few grips and see what works for you!

Now, push the pencil with a short, light punch through the paper. You can even hear how the paper rips apart, which adds a nice little extra effect. For your viewers, it looks like you just damaged the banknote – they can even see the pen sticking out the paper!

Just to clear things up: This is how it looks behind the paper, so make sure that you don’t remove it too early!

Pen magic trick: Behind the scenes
A “behind the scenes” look of this trick.

After you pushed the pencil through, you can show everything from multiple angles to your audience, but make sure that you don’t remove the paper!

Remove the pencil first, before unfolding either the paper or the banknote!

This is how should look like after removing the pencil:

Pen magic trick 12
The paper is damaged after removing the pencil.

Now, you can unfold the paper and show the banknote – and surprisingly, it’s not damaged at all!

This is how it looked for me after performing the trick:

Paper and dollar bill after the trick
The paper is damaged, the banknote hasn’t been touched.

Good luck trying the trick yourself!

Final thoughts for this trick

As with any other magic trick, it’s important to “sell the effect” in an appealing way. So don’t just unfold the paper and show the bill, but make it a little more exciting.

Here you can get a little creative, but there is one quite simple but effective method I would like to share with you.

A method for the end of the trick
Unfold the paper and show the hole in the paper, meanwhile, put the bill on the table. Once everyone has seen the paper, take the bill and cover the center with your fingers.

By now, no spectator should have seen the center of the bill.

To the audience, it looks like you are hiding the hole in the bill (after all, you just pushed a pencil through the bill).

Then you can slowly rub your fingers and pretend to close the hole again (circular or pulling motions work best for this). This creates the illusion that you are simply repairing the damaged bill, which gives a nice extra effect.

Image sources:
All of the images are my own photos, click here if you want to use them.