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How to Carve a Pumpkin – Top Tips

It’s time for pumpkin carving! All across the country, porches, driveways, storefronts, and so forth will glow with the orange-y light of jack-o-lanterns. To carve a really nice jack-o-lantern, it’s important to have the right tools and some directions. Here is a list of tools and some tips on how to carve a pumpkin.



You can get elaborate or stay simple with the tools; but there are some essentials regardless. The basics include the following:

* A sharp knife, preferably thin, flexible and serrated, is important for making a hole in the pumpkin in order to clean out the pulp and seeds. Some sources say that a keyhole saw is ideal.

* Box cutter or X-acto knife for carving the features

* Large spoon for scooping out the pulp

There are some optional tools, too – tools that you don’t necessarily need, but that may make your pumpkin turn out better and the process easier.

* Plaster scraper
* Toothpicks
* Linoleum cutter
* Long nail, center punch, or small knitting needle

Carving Tips

Here are some tips for carving that perfect pumpkin this year.

1. Choose a good one. Pumpkins do not have to be perfectly round; in fact, funky shapes can make for fun designs.

2. Cut a hole in the pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds – but before you do brain surgery on you pumpkin, think about how you want your jack-o-lantern to function. If you want to put electric lighting in it, cutting a hole in the back or bottom might work best. For candles, cut off the top.

3. Cut the hole with the serrated knife, and if you’re cutting off the top, slant the knife slightly inward so the bottom of the “plug” will be narrower than the top (that way it won’t fall in).

4. When you scoop out the pulp and seeds initially, use the big spoon. (Save the seeds for roasting and eating if you like.) The scraping of the flesh can be laborious with a spoon, so that’s the time to employ the plaster scraper if you have one. Scrape until the pumpkin walls are a uniform thickness, making sure not to compromise the strength of the walls.

5. Choose a design. You can draw a free-hand design on the pumpkin, choose a template, or just carve. If you’re using a template, transfer the design to the pumpkin by poking small holes with the nail or knitting needle along the edges of the design.

6. Carve the design with the X-acto knife and/or linoleum cutter. The latter does well for details or partial carving (where you don’t go all the way through the pumpkin wall).

7. Use a toothpick to stick broken pieces back into place.

8. Cut more vents or holes in the pumpkin if you can’t get your candle to stay lit inside it.