How to Remove a Tablecloth Without Disturbing the Dishes

Have you ever seen a magician whip a tablecloth off a fully set table without disturbing a single dish? It’s a classic trick that never fails to impress. But what if we told you that you don’t need to be a magician to pull it off? Yes, you read that right. With a bit of practice and the right technique, you too can remove a tablecloth without dislodging the dishes from the table. In this article, we will guide you through the process step by step.

Understanding the Science Behind the Trick

Before we delve into the how-to, it’s important to understand the science behind the trick. The success of this trick relies on two key principles of physics: inertia and friction. Inertia is the property of an object to resist changes in its state of motion. The dishes on the table have inertia, which means they want to stay where they are. Friction, on the other hand, is the force that opposes the motion of one surface over another. The friction between the dishes and the tablecloth is what usually causes the dishes to move when the cloth is pulled. The trick is to pull the cloth quickly enough to overcome friction but not so fast as to overcome the dishes’ inertia.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing the Tablecloth

  1. Start with a smooth, flat table and a hemmed tablecloth. The smoother the table and the cloth, the less friction there will be.

  2. Set the table with unbreakable dishes. This is just a precautionary measure while you’re still learning the trick.

  3. Grasp the tablecloth at two points, about a foot apart, along one edge of the table. You should be standing at the end of the table, not the side.

  4. Lower yourself into a squatting position. This will give you more power when you pull the cloth.

  5. Now, the most important part: Pull the cloth quickly and horizontally. The key is to pull it towards you, not upwards. Pulling upwards will cause the dishes to jump and possibly fall off the table.

  6. Practice, practice, practice. It might take a few tries to get it right, but don’t get discouraged. Remember, even magicians need to practice their tricks.


Removing a tablecloth without disturbing the dishes is a fun and impressive trick that anyone can learn. It’s not just about speed, but also about the direction in which you pull the cloth. With a bit of practice and a good understanding of the principles of inertia and friction, you’ll be able to master this trick in no time. So why not give it a try at your next dinner party? Just remember to start with unbreakable dishes!