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Cut a Hole in the Pumpkin
The first step is hollowing out the pumpkin. Use a keyhole saw to cut the hole. If you'll be using a candle for illumination, you can cut the hole in the pumpkin's top (always put the candle in a high-sided glass, and never leave unattended). For electric lights, make the hole in the bottom or side so you can hide the cord.
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Scoop Out the Flesh
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Carve the Features
Remove the template and carve along the pattern with a miniature saw or linoleum carving tool. If you want to make holes in the pumpkin for eyes, use a drill equipped with a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch spade bit.
You can also get creative with patterns and designs using these pumpkin-carving tools.
If desired, place candles, small flashlights, or battery-operated light sources inside your pumpkin.
Tip: Prevent exposed areas of the pumpkin's flesh from turning brown by applying a film of Vaseline.
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How to Light a Pumpkin
To illuminate a carved pumpkin, string lights are preferable to candles for most designs: Wrap a strand of 20 lights around a glass jar, and secure wires with tape. Cut a hole in the hollowed-out pumpkin for the cord, and place jar inside. Unplug lights before leaving the house or going to sleep. If using a candle, place it in a glass or votive holder, and cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin for ventilation (or leave the top off). Battery-operated candles are another good alternative.
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6 of 6An amazing jack-o-lantern starts with a great pumpkin -- and the right carving tools. Learn our editors' best insider tips and tricks for choosing and using tools that will make for a truly magical display.