How to Balance a Fork and Spoon on a Toothpick

84 Comments

This is a simple and amazing bar trick that allows you to balance a fork and spoon on a toothpick. Two forks also works well.

It will turn any dull conversation into a “WTF?!” moment where people start pulling out cameras. No training or special items required — you can learn it in about 30 seconds.

It might be as inane as my video on how to peel hard-boiled eggs without peeling them. Then again, that video got more than 2 million views, so at least a few of you seem to enjoy sleight-of-hand and general tomfoolery as much as I do.

Be careful with the glasses!

Elsewhere on the Interwebs:
Tim Ferriss – 3 Tips for Would-Be Dancers: From 1st Class to World-Class in 6 Months

Posted on: May 26, 2009.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

84 comments on “How to Balance a Fork and Spoon on a Toothpick

  1. Sweet post. Loving your book im reading it for the first time in Belize and im about to travel Central and South America. Thanks bro for your inspiration and information

    Like

  2. I learned this trick a while back from one of the best and most accessible science textbooks ever written, “Conceptual Physics” by Paul Hewitt. A great book, by the way, for dunderheaded liberal arts majors like me who want to get a practical understanding of how the universe works.

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  3. I ordered the audio version and I absolutely cannot take the guy who is reading it. Am I the only one with this problem? His voice is just abrasive to me and I’m having a hard time listening. Is there any way to exchange it for the book? Did you listen to it? I wish it would have been your voice.

    Warmest Regards,
    Rosemary Hamilton

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  4. Nice one.
    Btw, are you by any chance into magic? Cause there are some amazing things you could do with a napkin or a coin or a deck of cards although with cards it’s a bit more advanced -)
    Love your blog, Tim.

    Like

  5. The value/inaneness/awesomeness of the trick depends on the person you’re with. Even the best tricks may come off as dumb/awkward if the person/people you’re with aren’t the right type to appreciate the trick.

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  6. Tim! This is grand. A girl showed me this at dinner once and I’ve been meaning to replicate it.

    Also – cheers for mentioning “On Writing Well” in the Le Muir interview. The book has been an awesome resource on my quest from terrible writer to readable writer. (*Note to other readers – it’s a book by William Zinsser and its’ rad.)

    @Kaiser – This should grab a girls attention well – won’t make her fall in love with you – but puts you on the right path. I’ve had good luck recently with making business cards disappear. A few searches on You Tube will show you how.

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  7. a jajaja

    I’ve been doing this trick as a child. I don’t remember who taught me though. There are other tricks too. Some harder, like balancing a coca-cola bottle on the tip of another bottle.

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  8. Ha! Cool. I learned this trick waiting out a storm on the Azores near the end of an Atlantic crossing. Good relaxation for sea sick tired people. (Don’t try this on a boat.)

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  9. Tim,

    I am enjoy that filling the void doesn’t always have to be 100% seriousness. In fact richness for me is a wonderful conversation over a home cooked meal. Thanks for sharing what you enjoy.

    Peace.

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  10. Good trick, Tim, I’ve been doing one like this for 17 years, leaving bartenders, wait staff, and dinner guests befuddled. If you want to get really creative and leave people absolutely amazed, you can use two toothpicks, balancing one with the forks on the very tip of another toothpick that’s wedged into a salt or pepper shaker. I’ll record “this” version and post a comment back here with a short video. Originally learned from Bill Nye the Science Guy (thank you PBS).

    Cheers,
    Eric

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  11. When I was working graveyards in the restaurant we would do kind of the same thing with two forks, two toothpicks and a salt shaker. Looks really neat when you got one tooth pick balanced on another.

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  12. Greetings from Hong Kong!

    Fun post. Back to your twitter comment; you eyeballed a girl’s body fat?! That is far out.

    Hope all is well. Keep the creative juices flowing.

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  13. @Rosemary – I agree, I still hear his voice ringing in my head “too much human contact and blackmailing required”. But honestly, it did make a few key points stick that I missed when reading the book, so there are positives to it as well.

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  14. Haha I’ve been pulling this one for years as my party piece. nb: It helps to remember how to do it, as on one particular occasion I completely forgot and it resulted in epic failure.

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  15. To trevor chiming in with
    “I read a book recently that said “just because you do something well doesn’t make it important.” Smart guy.”

    I read somewhere that you shouldn’t believe everything you read :P

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  16. Hey Tim,

    I learned something similar to this back in the late 90s from an issue of Transworld Snowboarding. Inside was an interview with Peter Line and they listed a step by step trick.

    List of Materials:
    2 forks [or in your case a fork and spoon, the effect is similar]
    2 toothpicks
    1 Salt or Pepper shaker (with a center hole)

    Step 1: Join Forks together
    Step 2: Insert toothpick #1 between forks
    Step 3: Insert toothpick #2 so it stands up vertically into the salt and pepper shaker (This should not fall into the hole, but STAND up)
    Step 4: balance the end farthest away from the fork tongs of horizontal toothpick(the toothpick in the forks) on the vertical tip of the toothpick in the salt/pepper shaker.

    With this trick i’ve actually even got it to spiral around. Give that whirl :)

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  17. Great video! Another variation of the same trick uses two toothpicks and a salt shaker instead of the side of the glass. Place the first toothpick into one of the holes on the top of the salt shaker. Then balance the second toothpick (already inside the fork/spoon) on the first toothpick to form an upside-down “L” shape. This variation is a little more difficult to pull off, but also looks a little more interesting.

    Cheers!

    Like

  18. My girlfriend asked me to perform the same trick and I had no idea how to do it. Then she proudly did the trick and showed me and I was dumb struck. Now I know where she first saw the trick.

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  19. What a great WTF trick. I am going to try this one out soon. Tom foolery is all good and we need more of it. Thanks again

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  20. @ rosemary

    regarding the voice recording – yes – for some reason the guys voice was too intense. He had a good voice, it just didn’t fit the book at all.

    Tim,

    Love the videos and the fact that you are ultra successful and know how to have fun!
    PS – I STILL can’t do ANY of the pens tricks and I drive people (and myself) crazy trying to do them

    Like

  21. Great video, I was surprised when this popped up on my subscriptions list. It has been a while since you posted a youtube video.

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  22. I’ve been doing that trick for years although I use a diff. variant of that trick.

    It utilizes a little more dexterity but is even more accessible to anyone at a restaurant or bar, because it doesn’t require a spoon or a glass. Just 2 forks, 1 salt or pepper shaker (with a hole small enough to hold one toothpick firmly), and 2 toothpicks which you can pick up on the way in. Also, presentation-wise it definitely looks much cooler.

    NEED:

    ONE salt/pepper shaker.
    TWO tooth picks.
    TWO forks.

    1. Place one toothpick firmly in one of the salt shaker’s holes (middle hole is best)

    2. Intertwine both forks (not too tight though)

    3. Place toothpick between the mid section of the crossing section of both forks (about 1/6-1/7 of the toothpick should go through the forks)

    4. *This is the trickiest part* align both tips of the toothpicks with each other. If done right it should create a (slightly) perfect right angle!

    5. Watch others stare in awe!

    Here’s a link I found that shows the final results.

    http://tinyurl.com/q6f4e3

    Enjoy!

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  23. Haha! Rosemary that’s hilarious and so true –

    Me and my brother, who’s had to listen to the book whenever I drove him somewhere a couple of years ago, always had a running joke about this …

    That every guy that they got to read the book got so inspired he quit his monotonous voice job –

    So the guy you hear there was the only loser that could make it all the way through!

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  24. Thanks Tim, this was hilarious and made me smile in the middle of a mad week when I’ve been juggling a million balls and dealing with a bad cold. Love a bit of inanity now and again – lots of fun! I’ll show my kids. Happy Days and thanks for the smile! Lynda.

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  25. Very important to me! Great entertainment @ the dinner table for our 4 year old! Never knew about it before. Must agree, intertwining two forks would make the restaurants/ waiters more happy :) Son loves magic trick we taught him to make the salt and pepper “disappear and re-appear” via cardboard tabletop advertising thingy – what are those called? :) Anyway, thanks!!

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  26. I’ve done this with 2 forks and a toothpick. You push the tines together, and put the toothpick where the tines meet, hen set the other end of the toothpick on the table – no glass. The forks sty up just on the end of the toothpick (they shouldn’t touch the table at all).

    Other tricks I’ve done making a rose out of a bar napkin (really easy) and I had a teacher once who had a Bar Bet You Can Never Lose that I’ve used a couple of times. it’s true, you can’t lose it. but usually the intelligent men at the bars think that they can do anything, so they take the bet – and I walked away with cash every time (thank you to my old teacher!)

    Oh, and I win bets with my middle name, too – no one can guess it. It’s that weird XD.

    Drunk people at bars are fun.

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  27. that’s pretty cool. :) I’ll try it out next time I go to a restaurant.

    Reminds me of the balancing bird toy when I was little. Its beak balances its entire body.

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  28. @Tim Ferriss

    It sounds like you took the comment the way it was intended, friendly BS.

    It’s those audiobooks, you hear someone talking (especially in 4HWW) to “you” and then it’s like your old buddies with someone who’s only exposure to you is being an ass in a comment thread.

    Oh technology, you’re a whore I just can’t quit!
    ;)

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  29. I just found out of all the libraries in the University of California system, only UCSD and CSL have your book! Perhaps you could lobby them? I’m an undergrad at Berkeley and the school library really is my only source of books – not only just to save money but also the hassle associated with going to a bookstore or ordering books online and getting it from the post office, etc. I think a lot of college students are the same way.

    Like

  30. Tim,

    I thought I’ll share this link about how More American Workers Outsourcing Own Jobs Overseas from the Onion News. I’m not supposed to put links here in the main text but I have added the link under website that is linked to my name. Hope that’s cool.

    Like

  31. Hi Tim. Very clever. Hey I have a question for you. Somewhere a while back I saw one of your video post. In the background you had what appeared to be a sun room full of plants. You had made a real quick comment about how you used it as a breathing room or something to that effect. Is there anyway that you could create a post around the how and why you do this. I recently started breathing exercises and started to think about the air quality in most indoor settings. Any of your wisdom would be very helpful. Thanks.

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  32. Hey Tim,

    I need to learn a language (I have chosen Spanish) fast, but I don’t have time to go to another country to finish getting it down.

    Do you recommend the Michel Thomas program you mentioned briefly at the end of Random?

    BW

    Like

  33. Posted following to you @tferriss but know you & your team are slammed. Want to assist w/ #1 & #2. It’s what I do as a Prof. TY for the TED inspiration to manage back injury that forces #3.

    1. Eductn ovrhaul reqd esp in CA aftr fallout frm elctn rslts 2. Comp apps prof w/database spclty 3. distnc runnr stuck on trdmill.

    Cheers-
    @ProfBrendi

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  34. Neat trick. I have a couple I like to bust out too and they sometimes get me free drinks. The shot of you upside down really reminded me of a self portrait I did a bit ago….though you might get a kick out of it..

    Look ma, no hands

    p.s. watched almost all your other vids too. good stuff. i rock the pen tricks as well thanks to a japanese exchange student i had when i was 15

    Like

  35. I have also been doing this trick for years. It’s even better if you burn the toothpick all the way to the edge of the glass. Can see the video on my phone.

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  36. Hey TIm
    My BF send me your article about Blogging without killing yourself. That is pretty cool thanks. I also stumble upon find your spoon and fork thingy very funny and ingenious! Thanks for posting! One day I also like to create my blog.

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  37. Hello Timothy, I am Italian I have read your book 4 hours a week I will create a company and apply the rules of your book in Italy.

    In your opinion what is possible ‘in Italy?

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  38. I used to light each end of the toothpick and let it burn to the very edge of the glass – it goes out by itself. It’s even more amazing, then!

    Like