A large apparatus is presented, consisting of a sturdy frame supporting a large buzzsaw or circular saw and a table sufficiently large to carry a person lying flat. It is shown that the table travels beneath the saw, leaving little or no gap, so that anything placed upon it in the path of the saw would be sliced through. The table is moved either by an electric mechanism or by some form of manual crank. The buzzsaw is generally driven by an electric motor. To demonstrate the saw is completely genuine, a piece of wood is placed on the table and sliced in two in full view.
An assistant is introduced and placed in a horizontal position on the table. Sometimes the magician might give the impression of hypnotizing the assistant into a rigid trance before having her lifted onto the table. She is secured in place with two metal "straps" that close over her waist and which align close to the plane of the saw. She might also be further secured with straps or manacles at her wrists and ankles. A strip of wood is pushed beneath her waist in line with the saw.
The saw is then started and the table set in motion. The saw visibly passes through the assistant and generally sounds like it is sawing through something. Once the table reaches the end of its travel and the saw is switched off the assistant is released and shown to be in one piece and uninjured. The strip of wood that had been placed beneath her is shown to have been sawn into two strips, thus reinforcing that the saw really did cut in the manner it appeared to. Harry Blackstone, Sr. was performing this effect in the United States in the 1930s.