How To: Carve A Pumpkin Without Butchering Yourself

We like you, so in the interest of getting you and your family to Thanksgiving with all of your fingers attached, we’d like to direct your attention to some pumpkin carving “how to” info.

First of all, Consumer Reports has determined that pumpkin carving kits are the way to go–

From CR:

Cutting through pumpkins can easily injure your hands. Such gashes can be especially serious since nerves, blood vessels, and tendons lie just under the skin. The cuts can occur, for example, when a knife sticks fast in the rind, then abruptly dislodges as you tug, slashing your other hand. A long knife can penetrate to the other side of the pumpkin where one hand holds it steady. Or your hand can slip down onto the blade after the handle gets coated with the pumpkin’s slimy innards.

The pumpkin-carving kits we evaluated–which ran from about $6 to $15–eased some of those concerns. They contained tools that can saw through rind, poke holes, or scoop out the innards. One advantage of the sawlike tools is that they’re not razor-sharp, unlike many knives. Although various tools broke in our tests, the sawlike ones were judged less likely than regular knives to cause serious cuts to your hand.

If you’ve never carved a pumpkin before — or want to improve your carving technique, we found some helpful YouTube videos from someone called “The Pumpkin Lady.” Here’s one where she demonstrates how to use the carving saws:

You can find more “How To” videos as well as some free patterns on The Pumpkin Lady’s website.

Happy Halloween! Oh, and don’t forget to toast your pumpkin seeds. Yum!

(Photo: aginghipster77 )


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ragman says:

    Now, if you want to go the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s always []

  2. ShawnD says:

    Cutting yourself is a part of Halloween tradition! It makers your costume look more real!

  3. illtron says:

    Is anybody seriously still carving pumpkins with a knife? Carving kits have been around for years, and they cost less than $5.

  4. donjumpsuit says:

    no lie, a friend just took out a tendon on tuesday due to pumpkin carving. As a ironic twist, she will now be having hand surgery on halloween!

  5. jimv2000 says:

    What’s the fun of Halloween if you don’t stab yourself while carving a pumpkin?

  6. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    Also, a tip I can offer from a personal experience. If you drop your knife, do not try to catch it/stop it from hitting the floor with your foot.

    Also, make sure your knife is sharp. It’s easier for surgeons to repair a clean cut than a ragged cut.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Serrated is also a bad idea. Not only does it cut you good, you get pumpkin parts added to the cut.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Or Thanksgiving and the potential Teaching Moment: You break bread with the hands, not by holding a roll in one hand while hacking into it with cunningly sharp, silver, serrated bread knives.
      Another Teaching Moment: did you know bones look green when exposed to the light? I learned that in the sixth grade!

      When I think of the number of boring, inane holiday family conversations that I selflessly cut short by substituting with exciting trips hurtling to the Emergency Room when I was a kid, my chest puffs out in pride.

      • D-Bo says:

        @Trai_Dep: This reminds me of the Thanksgiving we showed up at my Grandparent’s to find my Grandma in hysterics. Grandpa, after his usual half dozen wake up martinis, decided to cut firewood. So he took a chainsaw to a pile of 2x4s and when it hit a nail it bucked back into his face. Nothing like sitting down at the table with for a nice family dinner while the guy at the head of the table has 50 fresh stitches in his face.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That is the most disgusting Consumer Reports article excerpt I have ever read.

  8. SJActress says:

    I have a battery operated little pumpkin carving knife. Man, that thing rocks!

  9. arras says:

    I score the area I want to cut with a thumb tack or a pen and then cut along the dotted line. Very easy, very few cuts

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    All Hallow’s Eve really hasn’t arrived until the wail of self-maimed children and the pitter-patter of dripping blood on tiled floors echoes throughout the house. And I’ve got the scarred fingers to prove it!
    Get Em SteveDave: And feet too! If you’re going to dream, dream big.
    Yup, a scar on my right foot to prove that, too!

    …Think of it as a handy way for your parents to finally remember all their childrens’ blood types.

  11. DHT says:

    Don’t forget the Dremel option. Lots of cool designs one can do with a Dremel (you don’t need their special pumpkin-carving version). You can download pdfs of their patterns from Amazon.

  12. MameDennis says:

    I normally rebel against stupid one-purpose gadgets of all kinds… but, yeah, the pumpkin carving kits are dirt cheap, work like a charm, and keep your blood and tendons where they belong. (We bought ours after Halloween many moons ago, and it cost something like $1.50. Yay, post-season sales!)

  13. ludwigk says:

    I use a small set of wood carving tools from the hobby shop. They cost about $14 bucks for cheap ones. I like that approach instead of saws because I do relief carvings instead of cutting all the way through. Reminds me of block printing back in highschool.

  14. azzy says:

    I use a jigsaw, and sometimes a Dremel. The jigsaw makes things seriously easy, but I guess it could be dangerous too…

    I also have a jigsaw blade taped to a screwdriver, which acts like one of those pumpkin carving kit saws but doesn’t break. We’ve had a few of those kits and the kids use them, but the saws always break.

  15. Fatty Shcock says:

    A couple of years back, my girlfriend and I were carving pumpkins, and after she was done, she was so excited that she flailed her arms, with the carving knife still in hand. The blade ended up stabbing me in my leg. We both took a couple of seconds to register what just happened, and then I began yelling.

    Surprisingly it didn’t hurt, but it was just funny that something like that happened. Every year during October we think about it and laugh.

  16. Meggers says:

    Wish this had been posted last Friday =). How I managed to hack up both the pumpkin and my knee, I’ll never know.

  17. 67alecto says:

    The carving kits are great, but over the years I’ve found that a simple jeweler’s screwdriver set can be a time and money saver – they aren’t going to break!

    I still use the scoops that come with them, and I splurged on a delux kit one year for the more ergonomic saws to complete my kit.

    My results this year: []

  18. marike says:

    I picked up a super awesome carving knife from Williams Sonoma on sale for $3.95 a few days ago (they’re at the counter). I used it yesterday and had a pumpkin carved in less than 30 minutes. Usually the task takes me like at least 2 hours. The knife was super sturdy and will definitely last longer than those cheapy ones in the kits.

  19. perruptor says:

    I carved a pumpkin with a knife on Sunday. Nobody got hurt. The trick is to use a small, sharp knife, and observe basic knife-safety rules. That means never having any part of you in a place where a runaway cutting edge might go. If you get pumpkin goo all over the handle, you’re losing control, which is Doing It Wrong.

    Ice cream scoop or melon-baller to get the guts out of the pumpkin.

  20. ironchef says:

    Two words…Magic Marker.

  21. P_Smith says:

    I can’t see anyone but the most inept injuring themselves with a knife. As they say in the construction industry, “Cut toward your chum, not toward your thumb. You can replace a chum.”

    First, have at least two knives with thin blades of different length and have paper towels and/or dishcloths handy. Leather gloves would also be an idea.

    Second, DON’T cut out the entire top when you begin. Cut out the half of the top toward where you cut the face or pattern. A whole pumpkin has more structural strength and is less likely to shift or wobble as you cut, and by cutting the “front” half, the back half of the top still has that structural strength.

    Third, do straight-in, piercing stabs, rather than “sawing” the pumpkin (think blades won’t get stuck). Multiple stabs have the same effect. If the knives are getting stuck, cut it “lumberjack” style, at v-shaped angles, to get through the meat.

    Fourth, wipe the blades after every couple of stabs. A wet knife is more likely to slip in your hands.

  22. johnarlington says:

    Halloween, second most dangerous holiday next to 4th of July.

  23. Canino says:

    Gaaah! This Martha Stewart crafty family crap makes me very very stabby.

  24. kathyl says:

    Drill and large drill bits for holes, jigsaw or electric knife for lines. If you know how to use these tools on wood, just use the same safety precautions for using them on a pumpkin. My daughter even put on her kid-size safety glasses while I had mine on, even though I had a line on the floor away from the carving area that she wasn’t supposed to cross. It was a blast!

  25. Sanshie says:

    Sheetrock Saw!

  26. jonworld says:

    I use an awesome electronic pumpkin carving knife. It’s like a chainsaw, but it runs on batteries and carves pumpkins, not wood. It does have some room for improvement in precision, though.

  27. polyeaster says:

    pumpkin carving scares me. so does that lady…

  28. balthisar says:

    “Pumpkin ‘Lady’?” That’s it; I’m getting old. “Lady” is supposed to be someone older than me.

  29. jedipunk says:


  30. adamondi says:

    The best tool I have found for doing pumpkin-carving work is an X-Acto knife. The blade is nice and sharp for making clean cuts (whereas those pumpkin saw things make horrible, messy edges for the cuts), the end is pointy for poking out a pattern to cut later, and the blade is small enough to control easily without slicing off your hand. I used an X-Acto knife to do the following pumpkin: