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Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tools

Updated on September 12, 2015

A Halloween Tradition

One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the pumpkin patch to select a pumpkin for carving. I was attracted to the cute small pumpkins. But, my siblings always selected a large heavy pumpkin.

As a child, I loved cleaning out pumpkins. There was nothing like working your hands through all those squishy pumpkin guts. We always saved the seeds for roasting. And, they were usually devoured that night. I suspect my love for this job was for the fact that my siblings ordered me to do it.

My family wasn't very creative. We carved traditional Jack o' lantern faces. But, hey, we didn't really know any better.

Today, pumpkin carving is a skill unto itself. People carve faces, designs, and even do them in relief style.

There are contests across the nation. There are people quite talented when it comes to carving knives and pumpkins!

Today, I've offered up some ideas for your pumpkin carving feat. There are tools you can use besides a regular ol' knife, patterns to choose from, and a simple recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. Now go find some inspiration and carve a pumpkin! Happy Halloween!

Carving vegetables has been a tradition in Ireland and Great Britain for centuries.

Ooey, Gooey Pumpkin Guts


Cleaning Out Your Pumpkin

First, go out and get yourself a pumpkin. You can't do anything unless you've got a pumpkin! Larger pumpkins are easier to work with. Make sure it isn't so heavy you can't move it around while working on it. Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes. You don't have to buy a round one if you don't want to.

Got your pumpkin? Good! Set out some newspaper on your work space and place your pumpkin on the newspapers. You're going to remove the guts which is really messy. Decide if you are going to roast the pumpkin seeds before you start. If so, set them in a bowl to deal with later.

Next, cut a circle in the top of your pumpkin around the stem. Make sure the hole is large enough to reach your hand it and pull out the seeds and goo. You want to cut the circle at a slight angle so that to top fits in like a lid when done. If you cut straight up and down, the lid may fall right inside the pumpkin. You don't want that.

Finally, remove all the guts. You can keep the seeds for roasting or toss them in the compost bin. You may need a spoon to scrape some of the gunk out.

When you pumpkin is all cleaned out, you're ready to carve!

Award Winning Pumpkin

This award winning Jack O'Lantern is pretty clever, don't you think?
This award winning Jack O'Lantern is pretty clever, don't you think? | Source

Get Ready to Carve

Will you be carving a pumpkin this year?

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Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips

So, you've never carved a pumpkin. Or, the last time you did the Monkees still had a hit TV show and now the grandchildren want you to show them how it's done.

Not to worry! This video offers tips on how to carve a pumpkin. Make sure you watch it when the kids aren't around so you can impress them with your skills. They are so easily impressed.

Carving Tools

Kitchen knives work just fine for carving pumpkins. They can be difficult to maneuver in small areas. If you'd like to do something a little easier to work with or you want to carve something fancy, you might try a pumpkin carving tool that is especially made for the job.

These tools usually have narrow, pointy blades. This make it easier to cut out around tight corners. Because the blades are thinner, they allow you to make smaller cuts than a regular dinner knife.

The blades are serated. Some are serated on both sides of the blade so you can use it more like a saw.

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

This kit comes with one handle and five interchangeable blades. The blades come in different sizes to fit your design needs.


Traditionally, pumpkin carving has been associated with the yearly harvest in the United States.

Bad Seeds

The creator of this one called it "Bad Seeds"
The creator of this one called it "Bad Seeds" | Source

Carving with Patterns

When I was a kid, all we had to work with was our imagination. Consequently, all we ever carved were Jack O'Lanterns with the tradition square teeth. We weren't very creative.

Ever seen a pumpkin with a sport theme or a haunted house? I bet that person used a pattern. Today, you can choose patterns to work from which makes the job a bit easier. These patterns can be drawn cut out and stuck on to carve around. They can also be used as a guide for drawing a pattern before making your first cut.

You can purchase pattern books specifically made for this purpose. You can also use stencil books or coloring book pages. If you can draw, you are limited only by your imagination.

Extreme Pumpkin Carving: 20 Amazing designs from Frightful to Fabulous
Extreme Pumpkin Carving: 20 Amazing designs from Frightful to Fabulous

Think you're pretty good with the ol' carving knife? Then, you might want to try the elaborate designs in this collection. You'll sure to win the office contest if you master one of these!


The term Jack o' lantern literally referred to a man with a lantern.

Produce Carving Traditions

In the United States, Jack-O-Lanterns are a Halloween tradition. School children make their treks to the pumpkin patch to get their prize squash. Over the years, the carving has become more elaborate and detailed. It's not just the children who enter contests. Many business have their employees compete. It does add a bit of a festive touch to autumn.

You might be surprised to know that it wasn't always about the pumpkins. In Ireland, hundreds of years ago, they took to turnip and potato carving. I suspect those were a little more difficult to work with given their size. In other countries, they use different produce for their carving.

Over the years, the pumpkin has become synonymous with Halloween. In North America, we tend to only do this in October and specifically for Halloween.

All Kinds of Jack O' Lanterns

There's a lot of creativity going on here!
There's a lot of creativity going on here! | Source

What type of carving is the best?

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Let's Roast Some Pumpkin Seeds


Now that you're done carving, you've got all those leftover pumpkin seeds. What will you do with them? If you have decided against starting your own pumpkin patch, why not roast them?

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: Varies


  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Salt
  • other seasoning...try onion or garlic powder or flavored seasoned salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. You will need to separate the seeds from the pumpkin guts. Then rinse off any leftover pumpkin.
  3. Get out a cookie sheet and line it with foil.
  4. Spread the pumpkin seeds on the cookie sheet. Then sprinkle with salt and other seasonings.
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes. Toss every 20 minutes so that seeds are evenly roasted.
  6. Let cool, then enjoy!
  7. Optional: If you want different flavors use different seasonings. You can even season one side of the tray one way and the other another way.
Cast your vote for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Underwater Pumpkin Carving - Who would have thunk it?

Yes, people actually do carve pumpkins underwater. In fact, there are underwater pumpkin carving contests springing up across the country. Don't ask me how you get to be an expert at this! I have enough trouble carving the old fashion way. You can learn about underwater pumpkin carving and those who enjoy doing it at this link: The Thrill of Underwater Pumpkin Carving

This video gives you an idea of how it's done.

I'm glad you've stopped. Say hello and tell us about your Halloween traditions.

Happy Halloween!

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    • savenlives profile image

      savenlives 6 years ago

      I was thinking about trying this out this year.....fingers crossed!

    • profile image

      RosemaryLucas 6 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, thank you. I feel inspired to carve a pumpkin, never done it before!

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      great lens. we always carve enough pumpkins to have our own mini-pumpkin fest. :)

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 6 years ago from California

      @boutiqueshops: Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      boutiqueshops 6 years ago

      Awesome work on this page ~ thanks for making this! I may just carve a pumpkin this year!