Like a lot of realms of making, pumpkin carving becomes a lot more creative and interesting, the results more impressive, once you have the right tools and know how to use them. Not surprisingly, Martha Stewart has some great pumpkin carving resources. The images below are from a slideshow on her site of basic pumpkin carving tools. Here are some of the tools featured in that piece, with my notes on how to use them.

marthaTools_1Cookie cutters are an easy way to add pre-fab shapes in pumpkins. And sculpting scrapers are great for removing pumpkin guts and smoothing out the inner walls. A clean pumpkin is a handsome pumpkin (and one that’s easier to carve).

marthaTools_2Linoleum cutters allow you to confidently cut curvy shapes and lines into your pumpkin skin and meat. And by varying the depths of your cuts, you can allow more or less light to shine through. For scooping divots out of pumpkins, nothing beats a melon baller. Don’t attempt that Dalek pumpkin without one.

marthaTools_3Potter’s hole cutters (available at arts and crafts stores) are an easy way to punch perfect holes clean through your pumpkin. And a keyhole saw is the tool for cutting out that trusty lid.

marthaTools_4Hobby knives and saws are perfect for doing precise, detailed cutting work. For small holes and pumpkin acne and freckles, use your power drill. Try to keep the pumpkin innards and moisture away from the chuck and the motor (i.e. don’t drill very deeply).

marthaTools_5Every Cylon, Death Star, and other sci-fi pumpkin can benefit from a set of wood gouge carving tools. They allow you to carve deep trenches across the holiday gourd of your choice. In contrast, you can get very delicate light-pixel and monogram effects by punching holes in the skin and meat with an awl, needle tool, or T-pin.

See Martha’s other pumpkin projects on the page for additional carving ideas.

Bonus carving tip: How often do you draw your designs with a permanent marker and then spend far too much time trying to remove marker ink from the skin when your design is finnished? Instead, use washable markers. They will free you up to be more creative while outlining your design (because you can erase and redraw) and you can easily wash all of it off when you’re done with the carving.

[Carved pumpkin photos by Maura Mcevoy. Used with permission.]