How to Tear a Phone Book in Half

The most common way to tear a phone book in half is by pulling it straight up like you’re opening the pages.

The “how strong do you have to be to rip a phonebook in half” is an interesting question. It depends on the size of the phone book and how tightly it is bound.

How to tear phone book in half illustration.

I, like most others, have long abandoned the phone book in favor of Google to search up phone numbers. But, like most others, I continue to get a massive phone book sent to my home every year. I usually simply throw it in the recycle bin as soon as I receive it, but I didn’t this year.

Instead, I used my bare hands to rip my phone book in two. Then I repurposed it.

A typical strongman feat of strength is tearing a phone book in two. In the 1920s and 1930s, old-time strongmen like George F. Jowett wowed audiences with phone book shredding performances. I recall witnessing the Power Team shred through large phone books at school assemblies while also warning us kids about the risks of drugs and alcohol when I was a youngster.

While it takes muscle to rip a phone book in two, there is a method to it (though some strongmen can tear phone books without using it). Mr. Know Your Lifts, who likes tearing things up when he’s not lifting weights, explains how to tear a phone book in two with your bare hands in five easy steps below.

Step 1: Take both hands and grab the phone book.

Old time strongman with phone book in hands illustration.

Place your thumbs on top of the phone book and your fingers below one of the borders (excluding the edge that is the binding). You may rip the phone book in two ways: lengthwise or widthwise; either way, it will be spectacular.

Step 2: Using a phone book, make a “V”

Old time strongman bending phone book in half illustration.

The “trick” element of ripping a phone book in two is this. Press the bottom edge of the phone book up with your index fingers while pushing the centre of the top edge down with your thumbs to form a deep “V.” Instead of shredding all the pages adhered together, the “V” creates gaps between them, making it simpler to rip through. I discovered that the deeper the “V,” the simpler it is to rip.

Step 3: Start tearing up the phone book.

Old time strongman phone book holding tight illustration.

Hold the phone book securely in both hands and brace it against your hip or thigh. Begin bending the edges of the phone book down while keeping your thumbs on top of the V. While bending the sides down, keep your “V” form as much as possible. The cover and the first few pages of the book should start to separate. Continue bending until you’ve torn through to the other side. If your pecs, hands, and forearms feel like they’re getting a workout, you’re doing it properly. At this time, letting out a macho shout may assist. This portion becomes more difficult as the phone book becomes thicker. I could quickly rip through a two-inch phone book; a four-inch phone book was more difficult, but still manageable.

Step 4: Separate the halves

Old time strongman tearing phone book in half illustration.

It’s quite simple to tear the remainder of the phone book in two after you’ve ripped through the edge. Simply pull the two sides apart to finish ripping through the book. To acquire a stronger grasp on the book, you may need to reposition your hands.


Step 5: Relish the Benefits of Your Virile Feat of Strength.

Old time strongman holding ripped torn phone book illustration.

Congratulations! With your naked macho hands, you just ripped a phone book in two. With this virile feat of strength, it’s time to amaze your pals and make the girls drool.

Ted Slampyak created the illustrations.



The “phone book friction explanation” is a guide to tearing a phone book in half. The method involves using your thumb and index finger while holding the phone book between them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you shred a phone book?

A: The best way to shred a phone book is by tearing the pages out of it. Once you have finished this method, take your shredded paper and place it in a garbage bin or recycle bin.

How do you rip a book easily?

A: A good way to do this is to use a paper shredder that has the option for multiple sheets at once. You can also strip all of the pages off in one go, and then cut them into strips with scissors or an x-acto knife.

How do you rip a magazine in half?

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