How the "scissor bucket" (a rigged carny game) works


Every once in a while I get an angry email from someone who stumbles across this old Boing Boing post about the scissor bucket carny game. The emailer tells me that carny games aren't rigged and that the games are purely skill-based. When I reply with photos from MAKE that show the fraudulent gimmick inside the scissor bucket, they sometimes write back again with a foul-mouthed diatribe about how I ought to be ashamed of myself for revealing the secrets of carnivals. (The emails died down somewhat after I updated my post with photos of the hidden gimmick).

Here's the article, from MAKE Vol. 13 (our magic tricks issue) which was published a couple of years ago. You can still buy a copy from

(I was reminded of this when Matthew Gryczan, author of a cool book called Carnival Secrets, got in touch with me about an how-to for Make he is writing. It's not a carnival game, but it is something really nifty involving a gyroscope.)

Scissor bucket carnival game exposed in MAKE