How to Carve a Pumpkin Using a Template

Ricky de Laveaga


Pumpkin carving is one of the most cherished traditions of Halloween, but it can be an intimidating process for first-time carvers. Don't worry, though--eHow's got you covered! Pick your favorite template and follow along as designer and DIY expert Jonathan Fong shows you how to transform a plain pumpkin into a jazzy jack o'lantern.

Getting Ready: Supplies

Gather the necessary tools for pumpkin carving: newspaper small bowl water-soluble marker ice cream scoop scissors masking tape or double-sided tape thumbtacks toothpicks strong, serrated knife serrated pumpkin carving saw small blade or X-Acto knife

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Getting Ready: Template Selection

Now the fun starts--it's time to pick your template! eHow has over 52 pumpkin carving templates available free for you. If you're new to pumpkin carving, opt for a simple design, such as a classic jack o'lantern face or bats. If your kids will be helping you carve, use a template without a lot of sharp angles. For our pumpkin, Jonathan is using the monster face template.

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Pumpkin Preparation: Cut Off the Top

Using a small bowl and a water-soluble marker, trace a circle around the stem of the pumpkin. Cut around the circle with a serrated knife, cutting deep into the pumpkin. When finished, you should be able to easily pull off the top of the pumpkin.

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Pumpkin Preparation: Clean the Top

Use the same knife to saw off the pulp and seeds from the top of the pumpkin, making sure all of the orange pulp is removed.

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Pumpkin Preparation: Remove the Pulp

It's time to get messy! Use your hands to dig out the seeds and pulp from the inside of the pumpkin. If you plan to roast the seeds, separate them from the pulp and place them in a bowl. Once it becomes difficult to remove the pulp by hand, use an ice cream scoop to scrape it out. Make sure to scrape all around the pumpkin, including the top edges. When finished, the inside of the pumpkin should be pale yellow.

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Applying the Template: Tape

There are two ways to transfer the template onto your pumpkin. The first is with tape and a thumbtack. Cut slits in the paper around the template using scissors, then tape it flush against the pumpkin. Use the thumbtack to poke holes along the template and through the pumpkin's skin. Remove the template to see the outline of the template. Brush a bit of flour over the pumpkin to make the outline stand out.

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Applying the Template: Marker

You can also trace the template onto the pumpkin. Cut out the shapes of the template and stick them to the pumpkin with tape or thumbtacks, then trace around the shapes with a water-soluble marker.

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Carving the Pumpkin

Using the serrated pumpkin carving saw, begin carving at the center of the outline and work outward. Cut out the small shapes first, and cut larger shapes into smaller pieces. Gently push each finished piece through--do not to force it. You may have to go over some segments again to make sure the knife goes completely through the pumpkin wall.

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Perfecting the Pumpkin

For corner angles, cut along each side toward the point for sharp edges. Use an X-Acto knife to clean up corners and cut out the small details of more intricate patterns.

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Accident Repair

Did your pumpkin break a tooth? Don't worry--it can be fixed! To reapply broken pieces, snap a toothpick in half. Use it as a post by sticking it into the broken piece, then push it into the pumpkin.

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Clean Up!

Once you're done carving, clean off any excess pulp or marker outlines with a damp sponge.

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The Finished Product

Stand your pumpkin up and put his top back on, then step back and enjoy your handiwork! Place the pumpkin in a window or on your porch, and light him up with LED lights, small flashlights or votive candles.

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About the Author

Rachel Joy Horn is an associate product manager for Demand Media and a graduate of the University of Southern California.

Photo Credits

  • Ricky de Laveaga