Pumpkin Carving Tools
Having good tools on hand will make pumpkin carving easy. Below is our recommended supplies plus some alternatives you could use in a pinch. If you don't want to invest in quality tools for the long haul (or are working with kids), one of those pumpkin carving kits from the pharmacy will work just fine.
The rough pumpkin skin needs to sawed as opposed to being cut. The Van Vacter Pumpkin Knife is sturdy serrated knife features a dual blade that is thick on the bottom for cutting large holes and a thin at the top for more precision and its plastic handle provides an excellent, non-slip grip. Available in specialty kitchen stores and on the Van Vacter website.
Once the rough cuts are made you will want to fine tune your cuts. Use a precision knife with a long, thin, flexible blade which allows for maximum control. We like the X-Acto DIY Kit which includes a utility saw blade and the Bonsai Keyhole Saw. Be warned that both of these do not love moisture so clean and dry your knife immediately after use.
This tool attaches to any cordless drill. Simply insert and run long the sides of the pumpkin. The membranes entwine along the spindle and the seeds detach. It can also be used to thin the walls of the pumpkin. It's available at craft stores and online at getcarvingquicker.com.
To further thin walls with more control use a small thumb scoop like this one (found a Pumpkin Masters Carving Kit). Sized to fit in the palm of your hand, this can easily scrape the flesh of the pumpkin. Regular spoons are generally too dull. The loop tool used for clay modeling also works well.
Used to transfer a printed pattern, a poker will punch little holes along the pattern. You can use a variety of modeling tools like the straight needle above, or anything with a sharp tip from a toothpick, large nail, or even a dead ballpoint pen. Keep in mind, you will be punch a lot of holes, so something that's comfortable to hold for a long period of time is better.
To make pattern transfer easy, try using Saral Wax-Free Transfer Paper. Found in art and craft stores, this paper allows you to trace the pattern with a ballpoint pen directly onto a dry pumpkin. It's a bit pricey (about $10-12 a roll), but unlike poking holes, if you make a mistake, you can easily wipe off the markings.
STICK 'N CARVE
Download a pattern and print it out onto this tacky paper. It sticks to the pumpkin allowing you to easily carve it. When you are done, rinse it the remnants off. This miracle product makes carving so easy and is available at Sulky.com. Use promo code "Scary20" to save 20% off!
Decorating your pumpkin has never been easier. I love Pumpkin Teeth, plastic fangs you can stick directly into the pumpkin for a ghoulish grin. You can also carve patterns using sturdy cookie cutters, make holes with an apple corer, or etch designs onto the pumpkin skin using a V-notch tool.
To apply the printed patterns onto the pumpkin use low-tact blue painters tape; have a selection of wooden toothpicks and skewers to mend any broken pieces or to secure stacked pumpkins; anticipate a mess and have a bowl, newspaper and a towel handy; and rub the exposed flesh with Vaseline to inhibit mold and retain the pumpkin's moisture.
Candles are the traditional way to light pumpkins, but be careful where you use live flames. It better to use battery operated lights or glowsticks near sidewalks where kids or pets will be walking. Safety first!