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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
Scoop out flesh, pulp, and seeds with a plaster scraper or fleshing tool.
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Transfer Your Design
Now it's time to transfer your selected designs (use one of our pumpkin templates or draw your own). Affix it to the pumpkin, and trace the design by poking holes with a sharp awl, needle tool, or T-pin.
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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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An 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.