It’s October, and you know what that means, right? Halloween is almost here! While you may not be able to trick-or-treat, and you may not feel totally comfortable dressing up anymore, there’s still one tradition you can enjoy, no matter how old you are: making jack-o-lanterns! If you’re wondering about the latest and greatest in jack-o-lantern gadgetry, I’m here to help you with a guide to all the gear you’ll need to turn your pumpkin into one ghoulish gourd!
When I was younger, carving a pumpkin required four things: 1) a pumpkin (duh); 2) a steak knife; 3) a spoon (for scooping!); and 4) a candle. Since then, a lot has changed. Why? Because people started taking their pumpkin carving really seriously. Gone are the days when three triangles and a mouth were all that was required. These days, jack-o-lanterns are works of art. And, as any good artist will tell you, your tools matter! Additionally, safety has become more of a concern, and a lot of the tools out there are designed to be safer on skin and fingers than a regular, old kitchen knife. Disclaimer: While safer, some products are not suitable for children without supervision, or at all. Please use your discretion.
Last week, I was at a pumpkin farm where I happened upon a wall full of pumpkin carving equipment. I was stunned. So. Many. Tools. Apparently, my carving has been amateur hour, over here, ‘cause nowadays there are instruments and methods I’d never heard of. In case you’re super interested in taking your carving game to the next level, I thought I’d run down some innovations I discovered in the last week or so. For my money, I like the Pumpkin Masters line of products, so you’ll see them heavily featured here. For all you cynics out there, no, I’m not sponsored by them! They just happen to have a varied product line, and are readily accessible at big box stores, online, at costume shops, and at pumpkin farms.
Pumpkin Carving Kits
If you’re looking to elevate your pumpkin-carving game, the first thing you should check out is a pumpkin carving kit. Put the steak knife and spoon away. It’s time you had real implements for your craftsmanship. Hoping for something a bit more kid-friendly? Try this kids pumpkin carving kit.
Pumpkin Lid Cutter
If you already have a kit, but need more than the starter package, you’re gonna need to upgrade your gear. Anyone who’s anyone knows that the first step in making your jack-o-lantern is cutting it open, and getting all the goop out. While carving a design can be a precision enterprise, hacking off the hood is more of a power move. As a result, you need a knife that’s both safe, and up to the challenge—like this one here.
The most annoying part of the pumpkin carving process is scoopin’ the goop. That sounds like a Pauly Shore line, doesn’t it? Scoop the goop, bud, scoop the goop. Yeah, I referenced Pauly Shore. I’m not ashamed of it, either. Anyway, scooping pumpkin goop is a real drag. In my day (in the oldest old-man voice possible), we used the adult-sized kitchen spoon to help us. Now, you have options. Looking for a perfectly adequate option? Try this one. If you’re wanting to Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor things, this pumpkin gutting tool attaches to most drills (did you say power tools?) and lets you get down to business with some p-p-p-power. Speaking of power…
You read that title correctly. They now make power saws for pumpkin carving. I guess that makes sense. Sometimes, depending on how intricate a pattern you’re hoping to carve, your fingers don’t have the endurance needed to get the job done. If that’s the case, this power saw might help.
If you have a penchant for pointillism, you might be wary of all the cutting and sawing needed to make your design. For you, building a masterpiece from the very granular to the grandiose is more your style. If that’s the case, this power drill would be right up your alley. Use it to punch holes in the face of your pumpkin, and get your Seurat on.
Have you ever seen a pumpkin that was a little too good, and wondered, “Just how in the heck did they carve that thing?” Well, sometimes the answer is that the carver is a really talented artist. But if you know the carver was your cousin, Fred, who’d just as soon stick crayons up his nose than draw something magnificent with them, chances are he used a stencil. Hold on. It sounds like Fred shouldn’t be allowed to carve pumpkins without supervision. Who’s watching Fred?! Anyway, check out these basic (not in the trendy, bad way) stencils here. For some spooky realistic ones, check these out. Yikes!
Pumpkin Surface Carving Kit
If you liked the look of those spooky, realistic stencils, then you’ll likely need some tools that will help you carve the surface of the pumpkin without cutting holes all the way through. This creates a translucent appearance. The pumpkin glows. Surface scraping tools give you the control you need to allow you to create a bit more contour and definition without making a full cut. Check here for a surface carving kit.
Everyone knows that a jack-o-lantern needs light to come to life. When I was younger, we just used tea candles. But they burn out, or blow out, or won’t light when it’s a little wet. And you know what they call a burned out jack-o-lantern? A disgrace. So, to keep yourself from a load of embarrassment on All Hallows Eve, spring for a fancy-pants electronic light. Feeling a little lazy and prefer something remote controlled? Try these lights here. Want to up the spookiness (and maybe the seizure risk) a notch? Opt for a light with a strobing feature like this one. Want something with a little versatility (Greg, you can’t have a “little versatility,” it’s either versatile or it isn’t)? Fine, full on, full bore, max-level versatility? Try this 3-in-1 light here.
I don’t know about you, but we used to put our jack-o-lanterns on the ground—like suckers! If that’s not good enough, or you have a pumpkin with carving that spans the entire circumference of your squash, then this rotating pumpkin display stand would be perfect for you. It keeps your pumpkin off the ground, and rotates so those trick-or-treaters can see all sides of your lantern.
Are you tired of needing to carve teeth into your pumpkin, only to have them look bogus, or average, or non-intimidating? Pfff. Worry no more! Now, you can buy pop-in pumpkin teeth to take your jack-o-lantern from ho hum to horrifying! Check them out here!
Are you sick of the mess that carving pumpkins brings, but still want to be festive? Don’t fret. There are several options. Do you like stickers? If so, check these out here. Do you want something a bit more hands on? How about paint? There are pumpkin paint kits that might be right up your alley. Are you someone that craves variety, or finds it tough to make up your mind on one design. Then you might want a chalkboard design kit that will let you change the design as many times as you’d like.
Don’t Forget the Seeds!
Is your favorite part of carving pumpkins roasting the seeds? If so, there are pumpkin carving kits designed with you in mind. This kit gives you everything you need to design your jack-o-lantern and then roast your seeds. Not bad. Not bad at all.
If this is the year you decide to take carving to the next level, hopefully I’ve helped give you a head start on some of the gadgets and gear that can help. As always, whenever carving or working with tools that can carve, be careful, and make sure safety comes first. With that said, have fun this Halloween! And check out some spooky Halloween wreaths to hang on your door and complement your jack-o-lantern.
See all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.
Related Video: How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last?
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