The Las Vegas Sun has a little article about Nathan Santucci, the prop-builder for Penn and Teller.
Santucci – who has many skills, including woodworking, plastic working, milling, welding, painting and SCUBA diving for underwater props – spends most of his days with blood on his hands and his clothes and the seat of his car. It gets everywhere.
Mostly this is because of the trick where the guys use a timber mill-size circular saw to cut their lovely assistant in half.
The article also has a great story about a fake snake.
I’ve always thought trick props can be approached in the same way as magic props. Building a prop for a stage illusion requires the same sort of creative thinking and knowledge of mechanics, pneumatics, electronics, and other control systems.
Unfortunately, information about magic is a closely guarded secret. Information in books tends to focus on sleight-of-hand tricks, or well-known illusions. Magic websites suffer from being overwhelmed by spam sites, link farms, and plain old con jobs.
Surprisingly (or not), some of the best information on these kinds of tricks can be found on DIY Halloween decoration websites.