How to Carve the Best Pumpkin on the Block

To ensure your jack-o’-lantern is primed for Halloween, follow these tips.

How to Carve the Best Pumpkin on the Block

It’s October. The air is getting crisp; the leaves are starting to turn. Football is in full swing. And all over America kiddies are planning costumes and candy-hauling strategies. When they arrive at your doorstep, you’ll want to be ready — with your Halloween spirit and the best jack-o’-lantern on the block. Before you head to the pumpkin patch for your sacrificial squash, check out these top tips for making a carv-tastic display.

Pumpkin selection

There are no rules for what size or shape makes a great jack-o’-lantern. Any pumpkin can rise to ghoulish greatness. Do look for a pumpkin that isn’t bruised and has no mold around the stem. Who wants to cut into a rotted pumpkin? Also, look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit firmly without rocking.

Tools

Every job is made easier by the right tools. A kitchen knife is not the best — or safest — thing to use for pumpkin carving. You can get a set of pumpkin carving tools at many hardware or drug stores around Halloween, but you can also use items already in your possession —power drills, awls, wood gouges or even cookie cutters. Don’t forget a big spoon to scoop out the guts!

Carving

Rather than giving your jack-o’-lantern a cap by cutting it at the top, draw a circle on the bottom of your pumpkin and cut your opening there, making sure to angle your blade toward the center to create a ledge for support of the finished cut area. Clean out the guts (save the seeds for your post-carving snack!) and scrape the insides of your pumpkin until they are about an inch thick in the areas you plan to carve. If you’re using a pattern, tape it on and transfer it by tracing with a poking tool. Then you’re ready to carve! If you’re using a pumpkin saw, it’s easiest to keep the pumpkin on your lap, holding the saw like a pencil and using a steady up-and-down motion. Saw at a 90-degree angle with gentle pressure.

Preservation

To extend the life of your jack-o’-lantern, spritz it with water and keep it in the refrigerator while it’s not on display. Spread some petroleum jelly on the cut edges to keep them from drying out. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, submerge it in cold water for a couple of hours. It should come back to life. Just make sure to dry it well on the inside to avoid mold. You can also ward off mold and insects by spraying or soaking the pumpkin with a water-and-bleach solution.

Display

If you are using a candle, cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin toward the back to act as a chimney for smoke and heat. A candle will be more secure if you drill a hole for it. You can also use battery-operated LEDs, Christmas lights or even a nightlight to illuminate your pumpkin. If you carve a design in the back of your jack-o’-lantern, you’ll produce a shadowy effect on the wall behind it, making it extra spooky!

However you choose to carve your jack o’ lantern, use your creativity and have fun. It’s just a pumpkin, after all. The ghosts and goblins coming to your door will be excited about whatever you display — especially the stuff in your candy bowl.

This post was originally published by Jennifer Noonan of BobVila.com on Zillow Blog. See the original post here.

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6 Tips & Tools for Pumpkin Carving

Mix and match these tools to turn your regular pumpkins into Halloween masterpieces.

No. 1: Template transfer

Source: squidoo.com

Source: squidoo.com

You can easily draw your own template (or find one on the internet) to make sure your “Jack” comes out looking exactly as you planned. Use any sharp object you might already have — an awl, ice pick or even a ball point pen — to trace the pattern onto the pumpkin.

Source: flickr.com/indigoprime

Source: flickr.com/indigoprime


Once the outline of the template has been marked on the pumpkin, the rest is a matter of carving— rather than coloring — in the lines.

No. 2: Pumpkin saw

Source: about.com

Source: about.com

A pumpkin saw is a short, thin saw blade attached to a small handle that fits nicely in your hand. It’s much easier (and safer) to use than a kitchen knife when carving a pumpkin, and the tool will enable you to tackle far more intricate designs.

Source: hudsonweb.net

Source: hudsonweb.net

A classic saw for a classic “Jack.” The rounded curves and small cuts in these jack-o’-lanterns were made using a pumpkin saw. The compact blade gives you control to make your scariest squash dreams come true!

No. 3: Power drill

Source: builtbykids.com

Source: builtbykids.com

A power drill will make quick work of a jack-o’-lantern’s eyes, or you can attempt a more ambitious design by combining your drill with a variety of bits and attachments.

Source: hgtv.com

Source: hgtv.com

This freehand design of circles demonstrates the detail and precision afforded by a power drill. The look is crisp, and it’s quick and easy to produce.

No. 4: Dremel

Source: builtbykids.com

Source: builtbykids.com

A classic woodworking rotary tool, the Dremel can bring your pumpkin carving to the next level. In combination with different attachments (from drill bits to blades to sanders), the tool is able to cut, carve and even etch or engrave.

Source: carvingpumpkins.com

Source: carvingpumpkins.com

This intricate Celtic-knot design was achieved with a 1/32-inch drill bit and a Dremel, which is capable of far more detail than a regular power drill.

No. 5: Linoleum cutter

Source: designsponge.com

Linoleum cutters are used by artists in block printing, but they can also help you carve details into the surface of your jack-o’-lantern that “glow” once the pumpkin is lit.

Source: designsponge.com

Source: designsponge.com

The floral motifs on these pumpkins were carved with a linoleum cutter. The range of depth in the carving creates a shaded effect, enhancing the design’s 3-D quality.

No. 6: Cookie cutters

Source: modernparentsmessykids.com

Source: modernparentsmessykids.com

Cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies anymore. Pick a theme, get out a mallet and start pounding — you’ll have a truly original pumpkin before you know it. (And, they’re great for carving with kids!)

Source: designmom.com

Source: designmom.com

This jack-o’-lantern was created using just a few cookie cutters. Although it’s not the spookiest of themes, it is a magical lantern to light the night and amuse any child’s fancy.

This post was originally published by Jennifer Noonan on Zillow Blog. See the original post here