How to Rip a Phonebook in Half

Two Methods:Oven MethodSpine Method

Want to show off your strength at the next party? There are few strongman tricks so impressive as ripping a phone book in half with your bare hands. Try doing it, however, and no matter how strong you are, it will be nearly impossible. With the right technique, though, almost anyone can frighten foes and dazzle everyone around them with this trick.


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    Move your hands as far out toward the corners of the book as possible. Make sure all your fingers still fit on the book. If it's a small, narrow phone book, your thumbs may be touching in the middle, but if it's a large, broad book you will probably have some space between your hands.
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    Use your thumbs to bend down the center of the phone book. Put your thumbs close together in the middle (though still along the top edge) of the book. Push down with your thumbs so that the center of the book bends down to form a sort of crease.
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    Place your index fingers to the sides of the fold. While your thumbs will be on the top side (the front) of the book, your other fingers will all be folded over the edge so that they grip the bottom side (in other words, the back) of the book. Your index fingers (also called pointer fingers) should be right against the sides of the fold your thumbs have created.
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    Bend the side edges of the book downward with your fingers. Keeping your thumbs (and the crease) in position, begin to bend the corners of the book down while also pushing inward on the crease. You'll feel your chest (pectoral) muscles being used if you're doing it right. The crease in the book will become more accentuated, and if you look carefully at the crease, you'll be able to see pockets of air form between the pages.
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    Rotate your hands to tear the book. Twist the right side of the book up with your right hand while twisting the left side down with your left hand (this can be reversed depending on what's comfortable for you). Maintain a firm grip on the book at all times, and use your pectoral muscles to keep firm inward pressure on the book. The book should begin to tear.
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    Tear through the book. If you're strong enough and maintain a good grip on the book, you may be able to rip the book all the way down the center of its length in one shot. Otherwise you may need to reposition your hands and continue ripping less gracefully. Either way, it will be impressive.
    • Now, if you want to be able to rip ANY paperback glued book in two, then just rip it vertically along the spine! If it´s a bit thick, break the spine by knocking/kicking the book backwards along the spine.
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Method 1
Oven Method

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    Bake the book, 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius) for about 2 hours. Paper burns at 451 F (233 Celsius). Do not cook above 300ºF, that will set your oven on fire. Watch the oven for the entire 2 hours to reduce fire risk.
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    Let it cool, it will be really hot.
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    Once cool, stash it back with the other books. It will look exactly the same as it did before.
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    Invite some friends over. At some point make a big show about "hulk being angry" then pull out the book.
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    Tear it! (It won't be hard at all.) Ripped phone book, no muscle required, only science.

Method 2
Spine Method

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    If you start at the spine of the phone book rather than the open edge, you don't need to do any odd beveling or squeezing. This is easy to do with phone books up to 2 inches (5.1 cm) in thickness.


  • For added effect, make a feeble attempt at ripping the book in half, open the book and tear a single page out before trying again using the method above.
  • If you want to try ripping the phone book widthwise instead of lengthwise, you can try the above technique (which may work depending on your strength and the size of the book), or you can simply hold the spine of the book against your knee; grip the open edge with your hands; push the pages back with the heels of your hand; and then rip the book in half. While the method detailed in the steps above works by creating air pockets between the pages, this method works because you only tear a few pages at a time.
  • Surreptitiously wet the tip of one of your index fingers before you make the attempt. Dip it into a cup of water and let it drip onto the first pages that you will be ripping. It makes the paper rip apart easier. Just don't let them see you getting your finger wet and don't let them examine the wet parts of the phone book. Once you master the proper way of ripping a phone book in half, you can use this crutch less and less.
  • Smaller phone books are a lot easier. Start with a thin book and work your way up. You actually do need to be pretty strong to rip a large phone book in half.
  • You'll probably have some difficulty at first, even if you're strong enough. Keep trying and you'll soon be able to perform this trick easily.
  • Need phone books to practice with? Ask your friends and neighbors for their old phone books, or visit a recycling center, which is almost certain to have a bunch of them.


  • This trick (without oven) does put an enormous strain on your wrists and the muscles of your chest. Don't overdo it and hurt yourself. If you need to practice several times, give yourself some rest between each attempt. Don't proceed if you feel pain.
  • This won't work on glossy pages, like a textbook with the hard cover already off. You'll just end up cutting your hands.
  • If you use the alternate oven method - be very cautious. Don't leave the oven unattended.
  • Always use an old phone book. You could be searching for it when you are in desperate need of a number and you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • A phone book
  • Two hands
  • (optional) Oven

Sources and Citations

  • Videos provided by learnfromlance
  • A video of someone ripping a phonebook in half. The source of the pictures in this article.

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