People have been carving pumpkins for hundreds of years and while some prefer the simplicity of triangle eyes and a snaggly-toothed mouth, others are keen on creating a more detailed design. With the help of the right tools and tips, you can whittle away at your gourds like a pro. 

What tools do you need?

While there is likely some useful carvings tool lying around your house, we recommend investing in:

  • A sturdy paring knife
  • A scraper (or large, metal spoon)
  • An X-Acto knife
  • Linoleum cutters
  • Small sculpting ribbons
  • A fine-line drawing marker

*Also important: some carefully selected horror movies to keep everyone in the spirit!

Transfer the design

Although free-handing is one way to set up your pumpkin before it gets carved, many enthusiasts prefer to sketch out their designs with a fine-line marker before tackling anything too complicated. Remember to use one that’s waterproof so it’s easy to wash off when you make a mistake. Alternatively, if drawing isn’t your thing, you can transfer a design by pinning it on paper to the pumpkin and tracing the lines in the flesh beneath it. Then, simply remove the pattern and connect the dots with your market.

Prep the pumpkin

Now it’s time to open up your pumpkin! Use a knife to cut a large hole in the top—make sure that it’s big enough for you to comfortably fit your hand in and move around. With the lid of the pumpkin removed, you can start pulling out the stringy insides. Be sure to save the seeds for roasting. Now, take your scraping/scooping tool and start cleaning out the leftover mush until the walls of the pumpkin are clean. 


Start carving

The X-Acto blade and linoleum cutters can now be used to slice out the design. You can fully carve through the pumpkin or add some effects of shading by only carving a certain depth within the pumpkin walls. 


Light it up

Whether you use candles or a battery-operated light, your design should be visible with only your chosen lighting source. If you want it to look brighter, simply add extra light and enjoy!


For those who don’t enjoy carving jack-o-lanterns, you can shop for pumpkin decor online and place it around your home and on your front porch. Many pumpkin decor products are battery-operated and will light up like a jack-o-lantern, offering a similar effect with little effort. 


Are you a pro pumpkin carver? Drop a comment below to let us know where your inspiration comes from. 

October 21, 2022 — Jeff Lew