How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin

Whether you are working from a pattern or free-handing it, having the right tools for carving pumpkins makes all the difference.

Carved Jack-o-Lanterns

Carved Halloween Pumpkins

Materials and Tools:

Halloween patterns
carbon paper
carving kit
serrated knives
wood carving tools or pottery tools
metal Halloween shaped cookie cutters
light-duty hammer


1. Place your pattern over the carbon paper and tape onto the pumpkin. Trace around and the image will be left on the pumpkin for easy lines to follow when carving.

2. The tools that work best for carving are the small carving tools that come in those inexpensive Halloween pumpkin carving kits. They're manageable for all ages. Other tools that work well are serrated steak knives and grapefruit knives.

For additional detail, carving and pottery tools work great.

Tip: The best trick of all is to use metal Halloween shaped cookie cutters.

3. Place your metal cookie cutter onto the pumpkin. (Some plastic cookie cutters will also work, but they’re generally not as flexible.)

Note: Don't cut the lid off or clean out yet! Make all your impressions first.

4. Use a light-duty hammer to get the cookie cutter into the pumpkin. Work the cutter side to side while hammering.

5. Hammer the cookie cutter in until it's almost all the way in.

6. Pull the cookie cutter out with a pair of pliers.

7. Continue to hammer all of the shapes where you want them in the pumpkin. Once you have your designs stamped in place, you're ready to cut off the top of the pumpkin and clean it out.

8. Once cleaned, finish cutting out the shapes with small serrated blades and pop them out from the inside.

Option: Place the pieces in a bucket alongside your pumpkins and the kids can have fun trying to put them back in. It's like a puzzle and they can decide which designs they want to light up each night!

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