How to Carve a Pumpkin (without losing a finger)

Carving a fiendish face into a big orange squash can be scary. Pumpkins are tough fibrous gourds, and cutting into one can cause cuts. So how to have fun while carving a cat, stabbing a spirit, or gutting a ghost?

Easy. Get the right Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit, a dose of patience, and an ounce of fun and your Halloween Jack-o’-lantern will shine with the best of them. Here’s how to carve a scary pumpkin without losing a finger! No need to adjust your monitor. The featured photo is of a white pumpkin. Yes, unusual and kinda scary. Boo.

how_carve_pumpkin.jpg

Stuff You’ll Need:

DIY Instructions:

  1. Plan a design or pick a pumpkin stencil.
  2. Based on your design, select a fresh pumpkin with the right shape and size.
  3. Place newspaper under the pumpkin, to catch the gooey mess.
  4. Design the lid. Using a marker, on the top or bottom of the pumpkin, draw a large circle large enough to fit your hand and spoon through. Be sure to draw a notch in the lid to remind you how the lid is positioned, allow heat to escape, and to give the candle enough air to stay lit. Tip: Making the lid opening at the pumpkin base prevents the lid from shrinking and falling through the top of the pumpkin.
  5. Carve lid. With a sharp knife or pumpkin carving tool (Dremel), carefully cut through the pumpkin’s thick, tough skin. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion. Be patient.
  6. With a spoon, scoop out the pumpkin pulp and seeds. Scrape the inside of the pumpkin in the area where you will be using the pattern (about 1 inch thick).
  7. Prepare stencil. Trim and make small incisions in the stencil. This helps it to lay flat on the face of the pumpkin. Tape the edges of the stencil to the pumpkin.
  8. Transfer the pattern by tracing a marker or pen along the stencil. Alternatively, poke holes along the pattern with a tool or needle. Tip: Be sure to make the facial features large enough to use a knife to cut though the tough skin. Small features are hard to slice, any way you cut it.
  9. Remove stencil. Don’t smear your marker ink!
  10. Carve pumpkin. With a sharp knife or pumpkin carving tool, saw carefully along the pattern lines. When pumpkin is fully carved, gently push the pieces through with your fingers. Discard the pieces.
  11. Light it up. Place a candle holder and candle in the bottom of the pumpkin. Light the candle. Keep the flame away from small children and have a safe and happy Halloween.

Want something else? Try these:

Pumpkin Carving Tips

Here are some pointers to help you cut the squash without getting squashed.

  • Go light. When choosing the perfect pumpkin, pick one with a lighter colored skin. It’s less tough, softer, and easier to cut through.
  • Bottoms up. Flip your lid. Remove the bottom of the pumpkin, not the top for a lid. This can help steady a lop-sided pumpkin. Also prevents a top lid from shrinking and falling through.
  • Leave pieces in place. Leave the carved-out pumpkin pieces in place until you are done carving. These pieces keep the structural integrity of the pumpkin and prevents unsteady wobbling or a disastrous puncture.
  • Preserve with jelly. Apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly to the cut areas. This prevents the edges from drying out and preserves your pumpkin for longer.
  • Dunk in water. If your pumpkin begins to shrivel, dunk it in a bucket of water overnight to revive.

More Halloween Fun:

Got any pumpkin carving tips, tricks, or treats? Got a ghoulish idea to share? Ever see a white pumpkin before? I know I was stunnified when my “better half” came home with a white pumpkin. Sheesh.

Your two cents:

  1. Vered - MomGrind October 10th, 2008

    My best carving tip: letting your brave husband do it. :)

    Thanks for the tips – I’m sure he’ll appreciate them. ;)

  2. Kerry October 10th, 2008

    @Vered – MomGrind You cut me up. :D

  3. ryan October 10th, 2008

    I’ve never seen a white pumpkin before, just some paler ones mixed in with the rest. If I can find these in my area here, they’d make some pretty cool “ghost” pumpkins.

    When carving, I’ve always added a small hole in the top of the lid as well as a small hole in the back at the bottom where you can’t see it. This gets air moving through and helps the candle burn.

    Also, don’t get toooo attached to your carved pumpkin. Otherwise you’ll end up disappointed when some of the older trick-or-treaters steal it late at night!

  4. Marci October 11th, 2008

    I can’t believe I got this old without knowing even
    ONE of those Tips! See, you can teach an old dog new
    tricks! Thanks :)

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