The key to safe carving? Sharp tools. Sharpened saws and knives mean you won't have to use as much force while carving, which reduces the chances of accidental slips. When carving artificial pumpkins, don a mask and goggles to protect yourself from carving dust.
"Nothing slurps out messy pumpkin guts like a good, strong wet/dry Shop-Vac," says Scott Cummins of Pumpkin Gutter
. He also recommends scraping out pumpkin guts with a margarine container lid or an empty tuna can. Ryan Wickstrand of Zombie Pumpkins
is a fan of the Pumpkin Gutter drill bit
(no affiliation with Cummins' site), a special tool that grips pumpkin gunk and quickly shaves down the inner pumpkin wall.
For stability, carve out the small pieces first, then work your way up to larger cutouts. "In fact, it's wise to leave the cut shapes wedged in place until you are finished cutting all the lines. This will provide added support until you're done carving," says Wickstrand. Once all the cuts have been made, pop out the sections with your finger.
Some pros carve freehand, but using a template to lay out your design prior to carving can help. Simply print the pattern you want to use (available at any of our pro carver's websites) and secure it to your pumpkin with tape. Use a toothpick or sharpened pencil to poke guidelines into the surface of your gourd.
Want to carve a This Old House
-style pumpkin? You can download our exclusive templates, Scary Second Empire
and Creepy Queen Anne