“What tools do you use to carve your pumpkins?”
It’s a question I often get asked.
While giving a presentation at a local wood carvers club meeting some
time ago, I pulled out my little plastic box full of a variety of
gadgets and gizmos. As I began the demonstration, I dumped the contents
onto the table in front of me, and fingered thru a few items until I
found something I could use to poke out my pattern with. During the
presentation I would grab for whatever was closest or most convenient
and continue working.
“It doesn’t look like this is much of a science,” someone commented. “I
wouldn’t call it disorganized, but you don’t seem to be particular
about what tool you use to get the job done”.
Another person even handed me one of their wood carving tools to see if
that would work better for the particular area I was working on at the
moment. It worked great.
Yep. That’s pretty much how I go about carving a pumpkin or a
Of course, for the simplest designs, a simple pumpkin saw may work fine
for the whole design, start to finish. On more difficult designs, you
will find me reaching for something else to get into the more detailed
areas better, or to sculpt out a large area quicker.
Here are some of the most used items in my pumpkin carving toolbox:
First of all, you can’t go wrong with a good Pumpkin Masters® carving
kit. These little tools were specifically made for carving pumpkin
patterns and they work great for doing what they were designed for.
transfer poker. Pumpkin Master’s new design is improved over their
earlier pokers. These allow you to poke out the design and transfer the
pattern to the pumpkin quicker.
I will use a poker with a smaller tip in tight places on more intricate
patterns. The tool shown here I purchased in the pottery section of the
local craft store.
Note: I hardly use the poking method for transferring
my patterns anymore. I cover other ways to transfer patterns in my
book, "You Too
Can Create STUNNING Watermelon Carvings".
and tape. You’ll want to have these available for cutting out your
pattern and attaching it to the surface of your pumpkin or melon.
I haven’t found anything better than the Pumpkin Master’s scoop for
cleaning a pumpkin. It works great for scraping the inside of the
pumpkin or melon to a nice thin wall in preparation for carving.
Child safe pumpkin carving blade. I keep a few of these handy in my kit
for when younger children want to join in carving. I give them these to
carve with so they don’t break the smaller detail tools. I also use
these for cutting the access hole in the top or bottom of the pumpkin
or watermelon before cleaning it out.
Saws. Use the smaller saw in more detailed areas. Notice that I have
clipped off the end of the blade to a sharp point using a pair of side
cutters (sometimes called dikes). This makes it easier to use the blade
and poke thru the pumpkin when starting new cuts.
Wood carving tools (I just use a cheap set). These are what I use to
sculpt or shave my design in places where I do not cut all the way thru.
Tile cutting tools (Speedball). These also work great for sculpting.
The finer blades allow me to get into tighter areas.
You may find yourself collecting additional items that make your
carving even easier. I’ve listed here the tools I use most and have
worked great for the pumpkins I have carved over the years.
In Part Two I will discuss how I use power tools in carving.