Deja Vu Cabinet 1

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© Copyright J C Sum 2016


Dear Fellow Magician, I have spent a lot of time & effort putting this set of E-Plans together. It is my way of giving back to the magic industry that has enabled me to have a career in what I do. I hope you will respect this request not to share or upload this E-Plan. If you think there is value in this E-Plan, please direct your friends to and ask them to subscribe to the website to download their own copy.

© Copyright 2016 by J C Sum No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, now known or to be invented, without permission in writing. All commercial manufacturing rights of the illusion contained in this publication are reserved and strictly remain the sole property of the author. The author accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of the illusion in this publication.

© Copyright J C Sum 2016


THE DÉJÀ VU CABINET EFFECT As part of the presentation for the illusion, the illusionist removes a Kabuki robe and mask hanging on the back of a cabinet, that is back-facing the audience. After wearing the full costume, the illusionist walks behind it and turns it around, revealing the clearly empty interior. The cabinet has no door. He unrolls a cloth from the top of the cabinet so that it covers the entire front of the cabinet and the view inside. Once done, the illusionist walks off stage, out of view from the audience. Suddenly, a hand presses through the cloth from the inside of the cloth. The cloth is ripped down revealing the magical appearance of the illusionist inside the cabinet, out of the Kabuki costume.

INTRODUCTION & METHOD This illusion requires an assistant that is never openly seen by the audience. The only requirement is that the assistant should be of similar height and build to you. As you will both be wearing some kind of a costume such as a Kabuki costume, robe, cape or long jacket as well as a mask, you have some latitude and can get away with minor differences. The main prop used is basically a “Modern Cabinet”. Invented by Servals Le Roy, the secret load space is hidden by a secret back wall at the back of the cabinet. The secret back wall can be pushed open and is actually two panels that fit in flush to the sides of the cabinet. The assistant starts off in a duplicate costume with mask inside the cabinet. When the illusionist, in costume, moves behind the cabinet to apparently turn it around, the two people switch places. The illusionist, however, stands to the back of the cabinet and closes the two secret panels over himself to form a fake back wall. The assistant proceeds to turn the cabinet 180 degrees, showing that the cabinet is empty. He then unrolls the cloth and walks off stage. Subsequently, the illusionist opens the secret panels, takes off the costume and leaves it behind the fake back wall. When ready, he makes his magical appearance. The illusion plays big and can pack flat. It has to be performed on stage where the prop can be pre-loaded and pushed out onto stage as needed.

© Copyright J C Sum 2016


The assistant plays a pivotal role in the illusion but it is very easy for him to learn. You can even cue him when to move during the performance to reassure him. As he does not need to handle the secret panels of the cabinet, you do not even need to teach him that. All he needs to do is perform the switch with you, turn the cabinet around, drop the cloth and walk off stage. Obviously, you can use any costume that fits your presentation. You can use a monster costume and claim that the cabinet is a bedroom wardrobe or cupboard. This would also be great for a Halloween or horror-theme illusion. You could even change wardrobe into a telephone booth (do they still exist though?) and use a super hero outfit. For the sake of this description, I will assume it is a Kabuki robe and mask.

REQUIREMENTS The Cabinet The prop consists of a main cabinet on a base with castors. You can build this cabinet as one solid unit that does not break down or use bolts and buts to have all panels break down for transport. You can use hinges and cotter pins to secure the pieces together for set up. See Fig 1.


Base The cabinet is attached to a base that measures 36” x 30”. The base is made from a 2" x 1" lumber skeleton frame (frame with cross supports), sandwiched between two sheets of 3/8" ply. You could also use a solid 1” sheet of ply for the base. There are four 2" castors mounted on each corner of the base.

© Copyright J C Sum 2016


You will need to sew up a cloth skirting that goes around all four sides of the base so that it covers the castors and does not allow the audience to see under the base, through the castors. This is important to hide the switch. You can sew a 1” Velcro strip on the entire top edge of the skirting and attach it to corresponding adhesive Velcro on the base. The dimensions of the skirting would be 132” x 3”. Sides & Back Panels The sides and back panels are constructed of 2" x 1" lumber frames mounted with 3/8" ply that form the inside walls of the panels. The lumber frames are on the outside of the cabinet, not inside. You can choose a light wood as these panels do not take much weight or stress. ¾” vertical stripes of black vinyl sticker or tape are used to decorate the insides of the panels. One vertical stripe camouflages the line of the back door. These stripes conceal the edges of the secret panels and confuse the eyes into how deep the cabinet actually is. One or two clothes hooks are screwed into the outside of the back panel of the cabinet so that one set of the costume can be hung on it. Secret Panels There are two secret panels, made from 1/4” ply hinged to the inside of each side panel using piano hinges. The secret panels can swing flush to the side panels or come together to form a fake wall that creates a secret 9" deep hiding space between them and the back panels. Use Velcro to hold the secret panels in place, in either position. You can attach rubber stoppers on the base as well as the underside of the top panel so that when the secret panels form the fake wall, it will be straight and in a fixed position. Attach small knobs or handles so you can pull the secret panels easily as needed. The secret panels should also have vertical black stripes on both sides. See Figs 2 & 3. Top Panel The top panel is made from 1/4" ply and is hinged to the top of the back panel. It can flip all the way back against the outside of the back panel to fold flat. The top panel can be secured to the inside front top of the side panels with hinges and cotter pins.

© Copyright J C Sum 2016


The Cloth The cloth measures 42” x 76” and is made from a medium to heavy-weight material. I recommend sewing a lightweight plastic chain into the bottom of the cloth so that it is weighed down. This prevents it from flapping open and exposing the illusion. The top corners and center of the cloth has 1” x 1” Velcro tabs sewn onto it. Corresponding adhesive Velcro is attached to the top of the top panel. This allows the cloth to be attached to the top of the top panel. The Costume You will need two duplicate sets of costume. Just make sure it is easy to put on and off the costume quickly.




Fake Wall formed by Inner Panels FRONT 9”

2” X 1” Lumber Frame (Indicated in Grey)

Cloth skirting covers the bottom of the cabinet so the audience cannot see under the cabinet.

© Copyright J C Sum 2016



36” FIG 3 TOP VIEW Doors (Top Panel


Fake Wall formed by Secret Panels


The cabinet is set on stage with its back to the audience. The untrained assistant, in costume, is standing inside the cabinet. The fake wall is opened with the secret panels flush to the sides of the cabinet.

The cloth is attached to the top of the cabinet. The bottom of the cloth is then rolled up and placed onto the top cabinet.

The duplicate costume is on the hooks on the back of the cabinet.

PERFORMANCE The performance should be apparent from the “Introduction & Method” but briefly: Provide a suitable patter for the presentation of the illusion and to give reason why you are donning the costume to perform the illusion. Openly put on the costume and mask in front of the audience. Walk behind the cabinet and perform the switch. Be sure to practice the switch with the assistant so you know exactly how each person is to move. Once you have made the switch, step to the back of the cabinet and pull the secret panels over yourself to form the fake wall. After the assistant has dropped the cloth down (the © Copyright J C Sum 2016


assistant can give a verbal cue like calling out “now” when he has dropped the cloth), open the fake wall up VERY SLOWLY. The reason is, air will be pushed out when you open up the secret panels. So, move slowly. Remove your costume, drop it onto the cabinet floor and close the secret panels over it. Make your dramatic reappearance.

PRODUCTS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN: If you found value in the quality of this free illusion design, check out my range of illusion books for beginners to professionals at the world's largest online illusion book shop:

Illusionary Departures 2012

Corporate Illusions Made Easy

© Copyright J C Sum 2016


Behind the Illusions (DVD)

Urban Illusions

Pack Flat Illusions for Kids & Family Shows

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist

© Copyright J C Sum 2016

DÉJÀ VU CABINET has been and will always be 100% free with all the articles, book and illusion plan made available to the magic community. So, any support we get to defray running costs (dedicated server, administrative costs, staffing) is greatly welcomed. If you think you have received value from all the free content from this website, you can make a token $3 one-time donation via PayPal HERE. As a thank you, all donors will have a lifetime access to the BACKSTAGE SECTION. This is just a way to say thank you and to show my appreciation for your time & support.

The secret Backstage Section of was first started in 2005 for owners of profession-level illusion books “Illusionary Departures”, “Equilateral” & “Urban Illusions”. The Backstage Section contains a large collection of illusion ideas, concept designs, articles and even illusion methods. Illusions covered include “The Teleporting Lady”, variations of the “Sub Trunk”, a “Sawing in Half” design, appearance illusions, “Sword Basket” presentations and even 3 ways to produce a full-sized car! New content will also be periodically added to the Backstage Section.


© Copyright J C Sum 2016