The magician presents a rectangular table just big enough to accommodate a person lying upon it. An assistant is introduced and several assistants are recruited from the audience. The magician presents a set of restraints consisting of a sturdy collar and a pair of ankle straps, each attached to a length of chain or rope. The assistant sits on the table with her legs stretched out and volunteers are invited to fasten the restraints around her neck and ankles. The ropes or chains are threaded through holes in the table and the ends given to volunteers, who are instructed to pull them tight and hold them that way throughout the illusion.
The assistant is thus pulled down onto her back and secured in that position. Two halves of a large box are presented and fixed in place over the assistant, covering her completely. Side panels are opened to show the assistant is still in place lying flat on her back. The assistant is then divided into two.
Sometimes the division is accomplished merely by pushing two metal dividing panels into slots near where the two halves meet. Sometimes the cutting of the assistant is emphasised by sawing between the two halves of the box before sliding the dividers into place. Catches are released to allow the table to be separated into two halves along with the box. The halves are parted and the assistant thus appears to have been cut into two completely disconnected pieces. The box and table are then pushed together, the restraints are released and the box is opened to allow the assistant to emerge unharmed.
This version of the trick is generally associated with magician and inventor Alan Wakeling. Whilst Wakeling performed this illusion and perfected aspects of it, the general configuration and method have been attributed to an earlier magician, Virgil Harris Mulkey (1900–1989), aka. "The Great Virgil", who first performed it in 1942 and later passed on the idea to Wakeling.