Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks
Carve Your Design
By Paul Krantz
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Carve Your Design
Now that your pumpkin is hollowed out, you can follow a three-step process to bring your design to life:
Step One: Transferring the Pattern.
Use tape to attach your pattern to the pumpkin. This step is easier if you cut away the excess paper around your design. If your pattern is too big or too small for the pumpkin you chose, use a copy machine to enlarge or reduce the pattern size.
Once the pattern is in place, use a punch tool to outline each shape. Poke the tool along the edge of each shape, spacing the holes about 1/8-inch apart. You don't need to press hard; all you want is a small indentation.
Remove the pattern enough to check for missed spots. When you are done, remove the pattern completely.
Step Two: Cutting the Shapes
If you are using a steak knife (adults only, please!), gently plunge the blade point through the rind to start your cut. To start a pumpkin saw, use the poker that came with your tool kit to make a hole at the start of the cut. Then insert the pumpkin saw and follow the line of dots around the shape.
Let your blade or saw do most of the work. Maintain light pressure and use a gentle sawing motion to cut through the rind. Steady the pumpkin with your free hand, which should be kept well away from the blade. In some cases, it will be easier to make the cuts if you cradle the pumpkin in your lap.
Never try to force a knife or saw blade around a tight turn. Instead, remove the tool and start a new cut just as you did the first.
As you finish each shape, gently put it out from the inside. If the cutout refuses to budge, check that all of your cuts meet at corners, and that the blade had cut all the way through the rind. In some cases, you may need to gentle pry out the shape with a butter knife.
Step Three: Clean Up the Shapes
For maximum brightness, trim the inside walls of the cutouts so they are straight and even. Also remove stray fibers and strands around the inside edges.
Try Something Different
You don't have to cut completely through the pumpkin when carving your design. By removing the outer layers of the rind, you'll reveal the white flesh beneath. That allows the design to stand out during the daytime. And at night, these areas will glow when the pumpkin is lighted from inside. Just be sure your pumpkin has fairly thin walls (1/2- to 1-inch-thick).
This technique requires the use of sharp carving tools, like the gouges and cutters you'd use for wood carving, so it's best suited for adults or teens. By choosing various shaped blades, you can achieve some interesting and detailed carvings.
For extra tips and photos of some of the steps described in our guide, view our pumpkin carving slideshow.
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