10 Pumpkin Carving Tools for the Perfect Jack-o'-Lantern
Once you've found a smooth, symmetrical pumpkin, it becomes all about the tools. Look beyond the knife drawer to implements intended for other uses—say, a melon baller, a power drill, or a keyhole saw.
First, before carving, decide how you are going to light it: For a candle, carve a hole in the top of the pumpkin so that the lid can be removed. For LED battery-powered lights, cut a circle out of the bottom of the pumpkin so that the top can be preserved. As you master the technique, you will find that each tool handles a different part of the carving process. Use a keyhole saw to make the initial cut into the pumpkin. Use a fleshing tool the removing the pulp and seeds and to thin the pumpkin's walls (this allows more light to come through your design). Then, you can use a variety of tools to carve in the details many of which are found at your local arts and crafts store. Use a needle tool to transfer a design template to the surface of your pumpkin, which makes it easy to carve the perfect scary face. Use cookie cutters for decorative cutouts or a melon baller to scoop out perfectly circular indentations.
To start, download and print out one of our templates. They are designed to help you master the technique, providing both a certain amount of guidance and the room for creative freedom. Tape your chosen design to the pumpkin, and start to etch, carve, and even drill in the details. More elaborate pumpkin carvings will also take more time and attention than simplified designs. But having the right tools on hand helps to make your pumpkin masterpieces with expert precision.
The sharp teeth on this saw can slice through a pumpkin's tough shell, and its flexible blade allows for curved cuts.
Woodcraft Harima Keyhole Saw (Hikimawashi Noko Giri), $22, woodcraft.com.
Sculpting tools, such as large plaster scrapers and smaller fleshing tools, remove pulp and thin a pumpkin's walls. The serrated loop on this tool easily scrapes away the flesh, allowing light to shine through.
Kemper Tools Fleshing Tool FT453, $6, shop.ceramicsupplyinc.com.
This item is used to carve detail into the surface of a pumpkin with great accuracy. Make a skin-deep outline and pattern with V- and U-shaped blades in a few sizes.
Speedball Lino Set No. 1 (#40203-1009), $9, dickblick.com.
Used by potters to create holes in clay, these short metal pipes with a sharp end and a capped one will work well on pumpkins, too.
Kemper Tools Hole Cutter, $5, dickblick.com.
Create strips in the shell of the pumpkin using these carpentry items.
PFEIL "Swiss Made" Gouge No. 7, $32, amazon.com.
Awl, Needle Tool, and Pin
These are good for transferring designs from paper to a pumpkin. For instance, a monogram is created by taping a template to the rind, and tracing it by poking holes.
These common baking tools can make uncommon designs: crescent moons, stars, skulls, and other Halloween motifs. Tap a cookie cutter with a rubber mallet to penetrate the rind of the pumpkin.
Copper Gifts Mini Star Cookie Cutter Set, $9, coppergifts.com.
Traditional kitchen tools such as a melon baller can carve spherical chunks out of the shell of a pumpkin. These depressions will glow when light shines through them.
Crate and Barrel Melon Baller, $9, crateandbarrel.com.
This tool makes it fast and easy to create small holes for accents or patterns.
Black + Decker 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill, homedepot.com.