Pumpkin-Carving Tips

Carve a bat-mouthed pumpkin or any pumpkin of your own design, with our expert carving tips.

Photo: three carved pumpkins


  • A pumpkin
  • Three tools: poker, drill, saw
  • Paper pattern: make one or print our pattern
  • Tape
  • A candle


Illustration: step 1

1. Cut an opening in the top or bottom of a pumpkin. Make the hole big enough so that you can clean out the pumpkin easily. Save the piece you cut out to use as a lid.

Illustration: step 2

2. Clean and scrape the inside. The pumpkin wall you will carve should be no more than one inch thick.

Illustration: step 3

3. Cut out the pattern or make your own out of a piece of paper. Trim the pattern and tape it to the pumpkin. It may be necessary to make small folds to fit the paper smoothly.

Illustration: step 4

4. Transfer the design. Using the poker, poke through the paper making dots along each outline on the pattern. Then remove the pattern. (Save it and refer to it while you are carving.)

Illustration: step 5

5. Drill the holes. Hold the pumpkin in your lap and twist the drill into each hole made by the poker in step 4. Turn the drill gently until it pierces the pumpkin's skin.

Illustration: step 6

6. Start sawing. Grasp the saw like a pencil and move it steadily up and down, working from dot to dot. Always hold the saw at a right angle to the pumpkin.

Illustration: step 7

7. Cut a chimney. Light a candle inside the pumpkin, then close the lid. Quickly put out the flame and look for the blackened spot inside the lid. Cut a small hole there; it will let the smoke and heat escape while a candle glows inside.

Text by Jean Kaplan Teichroew
Step Illustrations by Dave Whamond
Pumpkin Pattern by Ursula Perrin Vossler
Photograph by Kraig Haver