12 Pumpkin Carving Tools for the Perfect Jack-O'-Lantern

For a pumpkin with panache—or a big, toothy grin—it's important to reach for the right tools and wield them wisely. You'll likely find some of these supplies in your kitchen drawer or tool kit; a trip to an art supply, hardware, or housewares store will yield the rest.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

pumpkin carving tools
Photo: Bryan Gardner

Once you've found a smooth, symmetrical pumpkin, creating the perfect carved jack-o'-lantern becomes all about the tools. Look beyond the knife drawer to implements intended for other uses, like a melon baller, power drill, or keyhole saw.

Before carving, first decide how you are going to light your pumpkin. For a candle, you'll want to carve your hole in the top of the pumpkin so that the lid can be removed; for LED battery-powered lights, your first cut should be a circle from the bottom of the pumpkin.

You will find that each tool handles a different part of the carving process. Use a keyhole saw to make the initial cut into the pumpkin. Use a fleshing tool for removing the pulp and seeds, and to thin the pumpkin's walls (this allows more light to come through your design). Then, you can use a variety of tools—many of which are found at your local arts and crafts store—to carve in the details. Use a needle tool to transfer a design template to the surface of your pumpkin, which makes it easy to carve the perfect scary face. Use cookie cutters for decorative cutouts, or a melon baller to scoop out perfectly circular indentations.

To start, download and print one of our templates. They are designed to help you master the technique, providing both a certain amount of guidance and the room for creative freedom. Tape your chosen design to the pumpkin, and start to etch, carve, and even drill in the details. More elaborate pumpkin carvings will also take more time and attention than simplified designs. But having the right tools on hand helps to make your pumpkin masterpieces with expert precision.

Shop the Best Pumpkin Carving Tools:

Woodcraft Harima Keyhole Saw

pumpkin carving tool keyhole saw

The sharp teeth on this saw can slice through a pumpkin's tough shell. Plus, its flexible blade allows for curved cuts on the jack-o'-lantern.

Kemper Tools "FT453" Fleshing Tool

pumpkin carving fleshing tool
Kemper Tools

Sculpting tools, such as large plaster scrapers and smaller fleshing tools, remove pulp and thin a pumpkin's walls. The serrated loop on this tool easily scrapes away the flesh, allowing light to shine through.

Speedball Lino Set "#40203-1009 No. 1" Linoleum Cutter

pumpkin carving tool linoleum cutter

This item is used to carve detail into the surface of a pumpkin with great accuracy. Make a skin-deep outline and pattern with V- and U-shaped blades in a few sizes.

Kemper Tools Hole Cutter

pumpkin carving tool hole cutter

These are polished wood and steel hole cutters are often used by potters to create holes in clay. However, these sharp pipes with a sharp end and a capped one will work well on pumpkins, too, for easy carving.

X-Acto Knife Blade

x-acto knife
Courtesy of Office Depot

The thin, sturdy blades on these saws are perfect for carving irregular shapes. It also comes with a cap for safety when you're not using it.

PFEIL "Swiss Made" Gouge No. 7

pumpkin carving took gouge

Create strips in the shell of the pumpkin using this carpentry tool. The hardwood handle can easily fit in your hand to allow you to carve the design you desire as precisely as possible.

Kemper PNH-X Heavy Duty Cut-Off Needle With Hardwood Handle

cut off needle hardwood handle
Courtesy of Amazon

Round up this 5-inch tool when getting started with your carving. This heavy-duty needle is best to help cut off uneven parts of the pumpkin when carving out your jack-o'-lantern.

Lineco Awl

Courtesy of Dick Blick Art Materials

If you're worried about your hand slipping when trying to create a design on your pumpkin, you'll want to use this awl. It is stainless steel with a curved head, and the ribbed body makes it easy to grip.

Dritz 100 T Pins

T pins
Courtesy of Amazon

These are good for transferring designs from paper to a pumpkin. For instance, a monogram is created by taping a template to the rind, and tracing it by poking holes with the sharp pins.

Dadam Star Cookie Cutters Set

cookie cutters
Courtesy of Amazon

These common baking tools can make uncommon designs: crescent moons, stars, skulls, and other Halloween motifs. Tap a cookie cutter with a rubber mallet to penetrate the rind of the pumpkin.

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Melon Baller

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Melon Baller
Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Traditional kitchen tools such as a melon baller can carve spherical chunks out of the shell of a pumpkin. These depressions will glow when light shines through them.

Black + Decker 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill

pumpkin carving took power drill
Black + Decker

This heavy-duty tool makes it fast and easy to create small holes for accents or patterns. It can hold charge for up to 18 months, so you won't have to worry about delays in your creation process as you work on your pumpkin.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles