Pumpkin Man

Fall Carving / Patterns & Projects

Pumpkin Man

Quick-carve decoration looks great in any size

By Donna Thomas

As part of my annual Halloween carving projects one year, I developed a jointed pumpkin man. I use a larger version as a home decoration, but you can also reduce the pattern by at least 50% and make a pin or refrigerator magnet.


Cut the pumpkin and arms to shape. Round the edges with a knife. Add the grooves of the pumpkin with a V-tool, and blend the grooves with the knife. Use the V-tool, knife, and a skew chisel to carve the open mouth. Sand lightly with 400-grit cloth-backed sandpaper to remove any fuzzies. If you plan to hang the pumpkin or add wire to the top, drill a hole through the stem,


Thin the paints with 5 parts water or acrylic paint medium to 1 part paint and apply as shown. Allow the paint to dry completely. (When dry, the wood will feel warm; when wet, the water-based paint will make the carving feel cold.) Wad up a piece of brown paper bag and buff the carving to smooth any raised grain. Seal both sides of all of the parts with a light coat of matte finish.


To attach the arms and legs, make small holes for the screw eyes in the pumpkin with a pointed stylus or awl. For a door hanger, put the screw eyes for the legs on the bottom. For a shelf sitter, put the screw eyes on the lower front of the pumpkin. Feed short lengths of 30-gauge florist wire through the screw eyes, twist the two ends together, and trim the wire to 1/2″ (1.3cm) long. Use the stylus or awl to poke holes for the wire in the arms and legs. Secure the wire in the holes with epoxy.

For a door hanger, cut an 18″ (45.7cm)-long piece of 22-gauge green florist wire. Thread it through the hole in the stem, twist the two sides together just above the stem to keep it from sliding around, then twist it again 2″ to 3″ (5.1cm to 7.6cm) from the ends, making sure the loop will fit over a doorknob. Wrap the remaining wire around a dowel, pencil, or skewer and then slide it off, leaving a curled wire “vine.”

For the shelf-sitter, cut a 12″ (30.5cm) piece of wire. Thread it through the hole in the stem, twist it just above the stem, and then curl the ends using the technique explained above.

Acrylic Paint Mediums

Because thinning paints with water can affect how the paint sticks to wood, I prefer to thin acrylic paints with flow medium. I use JoSonja brand, which helps the paint flow smoother, with fewer brush streaks, and creates an even coat. In addition to flow medium, manufacturers offer products to mix with acrylic paint to slow the drying time, to create a crackle finish, and to add a variety of other effects. Look for them at the craft store in the paint aisle.


• Basswood, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: body, 3″ x 4″ (7.6cm x 10.2cm)
• Basswood, 1/2″ (1.3cm) thick: arms, 2 each, 3/4″ x 2″ (1.9cm x 5.1cm); legs, 2 each, 1″ x 2″ (2.5cm x 5.1cm)
• Sandpaper, cloth-backed: 400 grit
• Acrylic paint, such as JoSonja: black, brilliant green, Turner’s yellow, vermilion (orange), white
• Brown paper bag
• Spray finish, such as Krylon: matte lacquer
• Epoxy: 5 minute
• Permanent marker: ultrafine-tip black
• Florist wire, green: 22 gauge, 30 gauge
• Brass screw eyes, 1/8″ (3mm)-dia. hole: 4 each 1/2″ (1.3cm) long


• V-tool: 3/8″ (10mm) short-bent
• Carving knife
• Skew chisel: 1/4″ (6mm)
• Drill with bit: 1/8″ (3mm) dia.
• Paintbrushes: medium flat, pointed
• Pointed awl or stylus

Click HERE to download the Pumpkin Man pattern: Pumpkin Man-Patterns

About the Author

Donna Thomas of Nevada, Mo., has been carving for nearly 30 years. A recently retired college administrator, she co-teaches a beginning carving class through her local woodcarving club. Three adult children, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and a Schnauzer grand dog round out the family. Donna is a moderator on the Woodcarving Illustrated forum, where she is known as Donna T.

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Want more autumnal projects? Check out Halloween Woodcarving by Cyndi Joslyn.
Available for 16.95 plus S&H from Foxchapelpublishing.com.






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