How to Carve a Pumpkin

By: Tracy V. Wilson  | 

Pumpkin Carving Instructions: Carving Designs

6. Sketch the jack-o'-lantern's face on the surface of the pumpkin. If you make a mistake, use a damp cloth to wipe it away -- marks from dry-erase markers or grease pencils should come off easily.

7. Use a paring knife to cut along each line. Use your finger to push the cut-out pieces out of the pumpkin.


Using these steps and a little creativity, you can make a unique pumpkin easily. Here are some ideas ­for customizing your pumpkin:


  • Instead of cutting a lid, cut off the entire top of your pumpkin in a zigzag line that resembles spiky hair.
  • Hold your knife at a slight inward angle as you cut out your design rather than cutting straight through the pumpkin. This will leave a thin rim of visible pumpkin flesh around each hole. When you light your jack-o'-lantern, this will create an orange glow around your design. You can use different cutting angles to create patterns of light and shadow on your pumpkin's surface.
  • Use leftover pieces of pumpkin to make ears, eyes or a nose. Attach these pieces using toothpicks.
  • Rather than cutting a face into your pumpkin, cut another design, like a cat, a bat or a message to trick-or-treaters.

You can also make memorable pumpkins by using stencils or carving your design as a relief instead of a cut-out. We'll look at these and other techniques in the next section.