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Pumpkin Carving

Updated on October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Carving

I started carving pumpkins by myself when I was in middle school. I remember taking my time to get it just right and being so proud of my work. In 8th grade I entered a Jack-o-lantern contest at school and won!  One of my teachers liked it so much he asked to bring it home. It was a carving of a cat's face. It took a while to complete but with a pattern and the right tools it wasn't all that hard to make. I let him take it and then I made another one for my house. :)

The pumpkin in the intro photo is a unicorn carving. My daughter was dressing up as a unicorn for Halloween and wanted our pumpkin to match. I guess it's a cross between a pegasus and a unicorn, since it has wings. ;)

Below you'll find tips, tools and patterns to help you carve your Jack-o-lantern. I hope this lens gives you some great ideas for Halloween.

Cat's Face Carving - My Jack O' Lantern for Halloween 2007

curated from my Flickr account


These were the two patterns mentioned above. The cat and the unicorn.

The pattern book that I use, and that I've had since my middle school days, is Carve-O-Lantern: A Unique Way to Carve Your Halloween Pumpkins produced by Pumpkin Ltd.

Time to Start!

The first three steps.

Step #1: Picking out your stencil.

If you want to create a detailed Jack O'Lantern you'll want to use a stencil. You can buy them, print out free stencils, or draw your own by hand or on your computer.

Step #2: Cutting the top of the pumpkin.

As you cut, angle the knife in toward the center of the pumpkin so the lid you are creating will have something to rest on. I cut in a circle but like to add a square notched "key" in the lid so it can always be put back in the right position.

Step #3: Cleaning out the pumpkin.

Remove all of the pulp from inside the pumpkin. Separate the seeds into a bowl if you want to roast pumpkin seeds. I love pumpkin seeds! Make sure to scrape the inside of the pumpkin as clean as you can. Wipe down the outside when you are finished.

Basic Carving Tools

You'll want pokers and a few different size mini saws if you are using a pattern to carve your pumpkin.

1 X Brass and Walnut Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit by Warren Cutlery
1 X Brass and Walnut Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit by Warren Cutlery

4 1/2" black walnut handle with brass three way chuck, 6 blades, and a lock-jaw wrench.


What's Next?

Step #4: Transferring the image onto the pumpkin.

Tape the stencil to the face of the pumpkin. Start at the top, then the bottom and end at the sides. You may have to fold the stencil a bit to get it to fit the shape of your pumpkin. That's ok just try to make the creases where the pattern will be the least effected.

Using a poker tool, follow around your pattern in 1/8th inch intervals by pressing the tip into the pumpkin. You are creating the guidelines to cut later with a saw. Make sure to mark every corner and use enough pressure to pierce the pumpkins skin. You'll need to be able to see the marks clearly so you know exactly where to cut. When you finish with the stencil carefully remove it so you can refer back to it if need be.

Kits from Disney

Paper Magic Group Pumpkin Carving Kit, Disney Fairies
Paper Magic Group Pumpkin Carving Kit, Disney Fairies

Includes plastic scoop, punch, small saw, and 7 Disney Fairies theme stencil patterns.

Disney Princesstrade; Pumpkin Stencil Book
Disney Princesstrade; Pumpkin Stencil Book

Includes 7 Disney Princess theme stencil patterns.


Finishing Up

The final 3 steps

Step #5: Carving the Jack O'Lantern.

Start with the smallest shape that will be removed. Using a small carving saw, push the tip of the blade into the pumpkin and start following the dots. Use short back and forth sawing motions. Don't rush and pay close attention to corners. Gently push out the pieces you cut. Make sure the check the inside of the pumpkin when you are finished and clean out any pieces that have fallen in.

Step #6: Protecting the Jack O'Lantern.

When I'm done carving the pumpkin I coat all of the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. I don't do the inside, but if you want to keep your Jack O'Lantern for a while it is best to coat the inside as well. This helps keep the pumpkin from drying out too soon. You don't want a shriveled up moldy pumpkin right away after all of your hard work!

Step #7: Mmm Mmm Good

If you have cinnamon handy sprinkle some on the underside of the lid. When the candle is lit and it warms up the pumpkin your jack-o'-lantern will smell like pumpkin pie.

Patterns for Sports Fans - NFL & MLB

MLB Chicago White Sox Pumpkin Carving Kit
MLB Chicago White Sox Pumpkin Carving Kit

Comes with six Chicago White Sox patterns, glue stick, carving tool, and pumpkin scoop.

NFL New England Patriots Pumpkin Carving Kit
NFL New England Patriots Pumpkin Carving Kit

Comes with six New England Patriots patterns, glue stick, carving tool, and pumpkin scoop.


Floating Pumpkin Carving Kit

Floating Pumpkin Carving Kit

Includes 1 scoop, 1 safety knife, and 1 pumpkin hanging system.

Sensational Shadows Pumpkin Pattern Book - From Pumpkin Masters

Sensational Shadows Pumpkin Carving Pattern Book

Includes 8 different pumpkin patterns with shadows.

A Fantasy Pumpkin - The Midnight Hour

This was originally posted on which has since ceased publication.

What You'll Need:

1- 12" tall pumpkin
4- 4" tall gourds
4- ornate drawer pulls
3- ornate metal belt buckles
1- ornate lamp finial
2- 1/4" dowel rods (cut to the approx. diameter of your pumpkin)
Pencil or marker
Craft glue
Heavy-gauge florist's wire
Cordless drill fitted with 1/4" bit


1. Trace the inside of each belt buckle onto the pumpkin and cut to create openings for two windows and a door.

2. Glue the hardware over the openings.

3. Remove or cut down the stem until it's even with the flesh of the pumpkin, and twist the finial into the top.

4. Drill a hole through the center of each gourd.

5. Insert one dowel rod into the holes of two gourds to create an axle, and secure with glue. Repeat to create a second set of wheels.

6. Finish off all four wheels by inserting a drawer pull into the outside hole of each gourd for hubcaps.

7. Line up the two sets of wheels next to each other at about the same width as your pumpkin. Then wrap wire from one dowel rod to the other to fasten the axles together and to create a webbing for the pumpkin carriage to sit on.

8. Gently place your carriage on the wire.

For illustrated instructions take a look this Pumpkinhowto.pdf

Pumpkin Stands

Pumpkin Stand
Pumpkin Stand

26" x 32" x 30"


Pumpkin Seeds!

Every year I look up how to cook pumpkin seeds on multiple websites and every one has something different to say. I haven't been able to find a sure fire way to roast them. I've seen varying temperatures to set the stove and varying lengths of time to leave them in.

This is what I used last year. If you have your own pumpkin roasting experiment let me know the results! I really want to find the perfect "recipe".

Ingredients: seeds from 1 pumpkin, 1 teaspoon of butter, and salt.

Instructions: Place the seeds in a strainer and rinse them. Drain them and let them dry. Preheat Oven to 250 degrees. Melt the butter and coat the pumpkin seeds. Place the seeds 1 layer deep on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with salt. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown, stirring 2 to 3 times.

An alternative to carving - Mr. Potato Head Pumpkin Decorating Kits

Paper Magic Group Mrs. Potato Head Witch Pumpkin Push-in
Paper Magic Group Mrs. Potato Head Witch Pumpkin Push-in

Includes: witch hat, ears, earrings, eyes, nose, mouth, arms (one with attached broomstick), cauldron, and shoes.

Vampire Pumpkin Kit Decoration
Vampire Pumpkin Kit Decoration

Includes: ears, eyebrows, eyes, arms, nose, mouth, and shoes.


Pumpkin Carving on Squidoo

While it's home was on Squidoo, this page was chosen as Lens of the Day on October 23rd 2008 and again on October 29th 2011.

It was also the most visited lens on Squidoo October 29-31, 2007.

Do you have any pumpkin carving tips to share?

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      Isn't that something; I have a Dremel and never thought about using it on a pumpkin, but sure, that would make some of the intricate cuts easier. We never did much in the way of innovative cutting like you do, but it's lovely or scary to look at.

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 3 years ago

      I carve pumpkins every year, this year I did a ghost.

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

      Carving can be fun - especially at this time of year ;-)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      I really liked your cat carving...and I've never seen a pumpkin stand before. I also learned your trick of putting petroleum jelly on the cuts. Never heard of that either. Looks like I'll be pretty well prepared next Halloween. Really enjoyed this, thank you!

    • poorwendy lm profile image

      poorwendy lm 4 years ago

      Great lens. I especially like the non-traditional carvings. It looks so artsy.

    • Yvette Munro profile image

      Yvette Munro 4 years ago

      What an awesome lens. So informative and really colorful. There are so many ideas here, my mind is working overtime.

    • Piers Parker profile image

      Piers Parker 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow! If I had found this before we did ours at the weekend I am sure we would have ended up with something better. Still it was fun. Thanks for the info!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great Lens :)

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 4 years ago from Texas

      I like carving pumpkins the old fashion way - without a stencil. They may not look very pretty, but it still is a lot of fun.

    • ShineRita profile image

      ShineRita 4 years ago

      Nice work! I want to have a pumpkin carving for this Halloween! Great lens!

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 4 years ago

      Really great ideas! Blessed

    • fathomblueEG profile image

      fathomblueEG 4 years ago

      Super neat lens:-)

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      Ooo, I really love that pumpkin coach!! Carving pumpkins is such fun, can't wait to do ours!

    • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image

      SilmarwenLinwelin 4 years ago

      Great ideas! well done!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 4 years ago

      Carving pumpkins is such a fun activity. It's a great way to celebrate Fall, the harvest, and a cooler season. You have some great tips here. ~angel blessed :)

    • SanPedroBJJ profile image

      SanPedroBJJ 4 years ago


    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very nicely put together.

    • latishaalford profile image

      latishaalford 4 years ago

      Very nice lens

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 4 years ago from Covington, LA

      I really like all the stencils. Such great ideas!

    • sweetstickyrainbo profile image

      sweetstickyrainbo 4 years ago

      cute lens

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