Fall Carving / Patterns & Projects

Extreme Pumpkin Carving

This October, showcase your carving skills with something special for Halloween

Here are ten hot tips for people using woodcarving tools to relief-carve a pumpkin:

1. For most pumpkin carvings, select a tall, elongated pumpkin because it is easier to develop the pitch of the face in the horizontal plane. The extra height of a taller pumpkin allows carving of a larger nose and creation of darker shadows and stronger features. This will result in a more interesting carving.

2. Develop the structure for the nose by pushing back the rest of the face and recessing the eye sockets. Using a 25mm#5 gouge, clear away the flat area. Change to a 12mm #11 to cut the grooves under and beside the nose and to recess the eye socket.

3. Using the 12mm #6 gouge, develop the round end of the nose by starting at the tip and rolling the gouge under the nose. With the same tool, put curvature in the base of the nostril and form the side and top of the nostril. This tool has enough curvature to form the nostril in one cut. Pay attention to the angle of the cut: Don’t make it perpendicular to the face.

4. Narrowing the area above the eye gives movement to the face and at the same time, creates a shadow that will help to define the face. Using a 25mm #7 gouge, make this cut because the curvature of this tool provides just enough movement without overdoing it. Cutting the pupils through the meat of the pumpkin provides the maximum amount of shadow value. Shift them to one side for movement.

5. Cutting the pupils through the meat of the pumpkin provides the maximum amount of shadow value. Shift them to one side for movement.

6. Using a 3mm #11 gouge, cut the center groove between the mouth and nose.

7. With a knife, cut in the teeth. Using a 7mm #3 gouge, recess the lower row of teeth. This cut will provide a good shadow line that will make both sets of teeth show up better. Then, using a knife, sharpen the separation of the teeth and lips.

8. To clean up the edge of the carving around the face and to bring the features forward, make an angular cut around the face.

9. To clean up the carving, use a toothbrush to get into all of the crevices.

10. Using a polyacrylic finish, seal the pumpkin to prolong the life of the carving.


CLICK HERE to download the Extreme Pumpkin Carving Pattern.


Carving pumpkins is a tradition for many people celebrating Halloween. In their book, Extreme Pumpkin Carving, Second Edition Revised and Expanded, Vic Hood and Jack A. Williams show and tell how to use readily available knives as well as woodcarving tools to relief-carve frightful, fabulous pumpkins. Following the steps in this book will enable you to add form to your pumpkin carving by creating actual cheeks, lips, eyebrows and more, instead of just cutting out solid shapes. The book is available for purchase for $14.99 plus S&H from www.foxchapelpublishing.com.

CLICK HERE to read more great articles from Woodcarving Illustrated Fall 2004 (Issue 28).

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