carved pumpkin

Pumpkin carving

You will need

  • A pumpkin
  • A small saw or serrated knife (never a straight-edged knife)
  • A spoon or scoop
  • A marker pen to draw your pattern or a printed template and sellotape
  • A nail or drill bit (something with a sharp point)


  • A pumpkin carving kit (can usually be bought at supermarkets closer to Halloween or online from eBay or Amazon; expect to pay around £5, comes with small saws, a scoop, a drill and sometimes templates)

Pumpkin carving step by step

pumpkin carving step by step
Carve your very own pumpkin this Halloween. Image: Michelle Board

Step 1: Choose a pumpkin
Pick a healthy pumpkin with no nicks, bruises, cuts or soft spots. Anywhere from 8-12in (20-30cm) is ideal. Too small and it will be tricky to accurately cut out your design. Too big and it will be a lot of hard work to cut through.

Step 2: Cut the lid and scoop out the flesh
Cut a circular lid around the stalk. Do not make the cut completely vertical; instead angle your saw towards the centre of the circle. The lid will then sit in a bowl-shape and won’t fall into the middle. Scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds with a spoon or scoop.

Step 3: Plan your pattern
If you are planning a basic jack-o-lantern, you can just draw the pattern directly onto the skin with a marker pen. For more complicated patterns, sellotape a template onto the flattest side of the pumpkin.

Step 4: Mark out the pattern
If using a template, take a small drill bit or nail and poke holes around the pattern, transferring the design onto the pumpkin. The holes need to be about 1/4in (0.5cm) apart, closer in intricate parts.

Step 5: Start carving
Start with the smaller details of your design, sawing with a gentle back and forth motion. Be careful not to twist your saw or knife. Keep all the parts in place until the whole design is finished. When removing the pieces, start with the smaller ones first.

Step 6: Tidy up your design
Once you have removed all the pieces tidy up the edges of the pattern. Remove any flesh that hasn’t come away properly and sharpen up any pieces of the design that need it.

Download free templates:

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