You want a jack-o-lantern that looks like it was carved by a six-year-old, by all means stick with the spoon and kitchen knife combo that you’ve been using since you were a kid. But if you want a jack-o-lantern that will terrify the neighbours until mid-November, you’re going to need a better tool set.
Depending on the size of your gourd, you can end up extracting a pound or more of slimy seeds and pulp. Doing so by hand, or with the traditional tablespoon, will require the better part of an hour and leave you besnotted up to your elbow. It’s disgusting. Instead, plug the Pumpkin Gutter into your nearest drill chuck and go to town. The spherical head will eviscerate the pumpkin’s innards without damaging the inner walls. Plus the 15-inch handle will keep your hands slime-free.
Kitchen knives are designed to turn large chunks of food into smaller chunks of food, not to be used as impromptu culinary carving implements. And yes, while a handful of professional chefs can perform amazing artistic feats using nothing more than a paring knife, an amateur pumpkin carver like yourself will do well with a more purpose-driven device. The Warren Cutlery’s Pro Pumpkin Kit, for example, comes with one five-inch long walnut handle and six serrated blades of varying sizes for both detailed and broad area work. The handle can even be reused throughout the rest of the year as it pairs with a number of Warren Cultery’s other woodworking bits.
Sawing your way through a complex design or especially robust pumpkin can leave you with tired, noodly arms. But with this 6V cordless Dremel 7000, you can dissect even the toughest gourd without breaking a sweat. It features a 6,000/12,000 RPM motor, an 1/8th-inch high speed cutting head, and even comes with a number of design ideas so you won’t have to fake your way through the “werewolf-princess-witch-o-lantern” your kids want. Seriously, this why you don’t do pumpkin design by committee.
Linoleum Cutters and Wood Chisels
The Warren Cutlery carving set is great if you’re going for the classic two eyes, nose, and toothy grin jack-o-lantern, but if you want to add more intricate details like shading and semi-opaque sections, you’re going to need to etch the jack-o-lantern’s surface without fully penetrating the flesh. For this, you’ll need tools designed specifically to etch and gouge rather than directly cut. Linoleum blades and wood chisels are both quite effective, allowing you to scrape off thin sheets of pumpkin skin and create more complex lighting effects.
Cookie Cutters and Apple Corers
Carving up a pumpkin to look like Van Gough’s Starry Night seemed like a great idea, until you realise how many goddamn star-shaped holes you’ve got to cut into it. And how tough it is to cut a evenly-shaped star hole in the first place. Instead, raid your local baking supply store for cookie cutters and use those as hole punches. You’ll need to press pretty hard to get them through the gourd flesh, but it’s still way easier than attempting to do it free hand. Want a perfectly round moon (or eyeball? Trust your handy apple corer.
With these five classes of tools at your disposal, carving the best jack-o-lantern on the block will be scary easy. If you’ve got a secret weapon or preferred tool in the seasonal War on Gourds, let us know in the comments below. [Martha Stewart – This Old House – Wired]