Tag Archives: Halloween

Pumpkin Carving Tools

pumking carving tools

Pumpkin carving arsenal

I thought it might be helpful to identify the tools I’ve found helpful carving jack-o-lanterns. While we abused various kitchen knives growing up, specialist tools can make carving safer and simpler while sparing your good knives. From left to right and back to front in the image above:

  • Rubbing alcohol: clean Sharpie ink from pumpkin skin.
  • Sharpie permanent markers: mark up a pumpkin for carving.
  • Utility knife (or X-acto): cut pumpkins precisely.
  • Serrated carving tool: primary tool for removing sections of pumpkin (though I’ve been tempted to use a jigsaw for large removal). Often available at the grocery store around Halloween.
  • Carving gouges: carve the pumpkin. I bought this set of carving tools years ago and have used them more for carving pumpkins than wood. The gouges of various widths and shapes are useful for carving lines pf varying weights into a pumpkin or removing skin to allow light to shine through.

Carving the Betsy Jack o’ Lantern

betsy jack o' lantern

Betsy, a Curious George character, incarnated in pumpkin.

The question about what skills are transferrable from woodworking comes up on occasion in online discussions. Certainly the ability to measure, mark, and cut to that mark apply to a lot of crafts, and sometimes in unexpected ways. Take pumpkin carving. When asked what kind of jack o’ lantern he wanted, my son Peter replied “Betsy.” Betsy, for the uninitiated, is a character from the animated adaptation of the Curious George books. Peter gets points for originality, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to deliver.

An image search provided a suitable screen grab of Betsy. To transfer the image, I cut out the face and hair and traced them with a black Sharpie, then punched a toothpick along the details of the face and connected the dots. After clearing out the pumpkin, I drilled out the eyes with an appropriately-sized bit and used a pumkin-carving tool to define Betsy’s eyebrows, nose, and mouth. The hair presented more of a challenge. I first used a V chisel to define the outline of the head and hair, then used a gouge to scrape off the pumpkin’s outer skin within the hair outline. The results at least passed muster with a three-year-old.