How To Carve Pumpkins Using Power Tools

How To Carve Pumpkins Using Power Tools
You can carve a pumpkin with a kitchen knife but why would you want to? Extreme advocates the use of power tools for the purpose of pumpkin carving. In this section we will provide some advice on when to use your:

Jig Saw - Almost Always. I use my jig saw the way that other people use a kitchen knife or pumpkin carving tool. The jig saw is perfect for all sorts of intricate cuts. It can cut large areas quickly and can turn corners precisely. A jigsaw is meant to carve pumpkins.

I use a couple of different jigsaws, but I'm not picky. A cordless one keeps you from cutting your own power cord, but it isn't required. You certainly don't need a big jig saw, even the cheapest ones will easily carve a pumpkin. I use the longest blade I can find, which is usually designed to cut wood. Most inexpensive jig saws will come with a blade that will carve pumpkins very well.

Drill - Sometimes I use a drill to make holes in a pumpkin. It is surprising how much better a round hole looks than an awkwardly cut hole. For this reason I like to use a drill to make the center of eyeballs, or other holes in a pumpkin. It only takes a second and I already own the drill.

I recently also created a tool that allows me to use my drill to scrape all of the goop out of the center of the pumpkin. I call this thing the pumpkin gooper. It probably doesn't save much time when compared to using an ice cream scoop, but it is fun.

Sawzall - At least once per pumpkin. I use a Sawzall or reciprocating saw at least once per pumpkin. I always use it to remove the cap or bottom of the pumpkin. The pumpkin is thickest at the top and bottom and those areas are toughest to get through. A reciprocating saw works wonders.

I also use a Sawzall when carving really large pumpkins. Afterall, a sawzall is like a really large jigsaw, so when the pumpkin gets too big for the jigsaw, I grab the Sawzall.

Router - All The Time. When I want to remove the skin of the pumpkin without going all the way through, I use a tool called a router. If you don't have one, I understand, but if you do, you should consider trying it. A round will remove the skin of a pumpkin right now. Of course, it will also fling it in your face, so wear safety glasses.
Angle Grinder - Once in a while I will want to alter the shape of a pumpkin. Perhaps I want to make a chin, a forehead, or large eye sockets. If so, I will use an angle grinder. It is sort of like a giant sander. The angle grinder removes the pumpkin flesh and sends it somewhere. It seems to actually vaporize it so that it ends up in my lungs, but who said art was easy?

Dremel Tool - For detail work a dremel tool is hard to beat, unfortunately, they can be a bit difficult to control. I use the dremel stylus which is held securely like a pencil. It is small and light and spins really fast, this allows some fairly detailed carving. I use the Dremel Tool when a TV show requests that I do a logo for them or when I am supposed to carve the likeness of someone famous. Using a dremel for this takes a long time, but not nearly as much time as actually carving the pumpkin with a set of chisels.

Chain Saw - I tried it once. It didn't work out. When a chain saw cuts through a log, it sends a spray of sawdust as wide as its saw blade. This sawdust ends up on the ground in the woods. When a chain saw cuts through a pumpkin it sends a spray of pulp just as wide... onto my garage wall, making a huge mess.

Torch or plasma cutter - Never - Pumpkins are made mostly of water, so they just start turning to steam...slowly.

In Summary -Carving pumpkins with power tools is a huge time saver and work enabler. You will be able to carve more pumpkins, more easily, in less time than using hand tools. I suggest that if you own any of the power tools listed above that you try carving with them this year. You may never go back.

Of course, I still use a few hand tools. I have a pumpkin gooper attachment for my hand drill, but more often than not, I use an ice cream scoop. I also use dry-erase markers and small pumpkin carving tool to complete cuts that I miss with the power tools. If you don't have a Sawzall and you want to carve a giant pumpkin, I suggest you invest 5-8 dollars in a drywall saw. They are available at the hardware store and they make those big, thick rough cuts really easy.

It may seem like I use power tools for pumpkin carving just to be macho, but really, it is just easier and a lot more fun.