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AKA - S.M. Barrett
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I finally know what makes a good set of handcarving tools for a quality Jack O'Lantern, at least for me.

The main tool? A drywall saw, 6 inch blade, 5 bucks at Lowes or any other hardware store. Sometimes called a keyhole saw or a wall saw, this thing goes through rind and flesh like I go through coffee. Want fast lids, big eyes and toothy grins? This is the implement of back-to-basics jack carving.

I used and still own Pumpkinmasters saws, but the thin tiny blades, square points and miniature handles can cramp a grown man's hand in five minutes. They are nice to have for detail work, but they never were good at long range cuts like the mouth and the lid.
A drywall saw made all that go away. get the smallest you can find, usually 6 inch blade.

Scooping has been an issue for me. I'm not the type to put a mix attachment on an electric drill and "power gut" a pumpkin, though it looks fun. I'm hands on.
Well, spoons and ice cream scoops were marginally effective.
The Pumpkinmasters plastic scoop was miles better, but still left something to be desired.
The Monster scoop from Michael's? Way too big to be comfortable. Good at removing string, not good at cleaning the interior wall.
Someone here suggested scissors for removing string, and I intend to keep some around for backup ('cause that's a smart idea), but the biggest problem was trying to find one tool that would do it all. Problem is, degutting and cleaning the inside walls are two different jobs.
So...
Best solution thus far has been the Pumpkinmasters plastic scoop + a pottery wire tool.
Lots of pottery tools have shaped open wire on a wooden handle for sculpting clay. Some are larger and stronger, made with flattened bars of steel with edges. That's what you want, either a ring or a pear-shaped one.
(the guys at zombiespumpkins.com taught me this trick).
Once the majority of strings are removed, the interior can be shaved down with a pottery wire sculptor real fast.

I still have little pumpkinmasters saws and carvers and gouges and such, and they sometimes see use, but I've noticed that with a drywall saw, a wire sculpting tool and a plastic, edged scoop, I can do almost anything I want.


Which brings me to this question. What are the unique tools you use for carving your Jack O' Lantern?
 

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I use a drimel, mini wood carving kit, and an all metal baby spoon. The key hole saw does sound like a great idea because I know how well they go through dry wall. I am going to have to try out the pottery wire tool though if it makes cleaning the pumpkin out a lot easier.
 

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The Goddess of Screams
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518 Posts
I don't. too big a pain in the ass. Butttt....with your suggestions...I should try it. It really never seems like true Halloween without a few honest to God JOL around...
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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7,520 Posts
I use an array of artist's tools... lino cutters, clay carving tools... leftover from college.

My fave is a double ended tool for engraving and carving in printmaking.
Scraper / Burnisher Combo Scraper / Burnisher Combo [L321-03] : E C Lyons Company, Printmaking Tools
It's got a point on one end that is diamond sharp. Good for incising lines in the rind to be carved away, small points (drive it right through the rind) and the other end is sort of an oval that comes to a point and the edges are sharp. Can carve out divots and works well in tight spots to cut and clean.

I don't use them as much anymore as we do the pumpkins pretty basic - no fancy carving anymore since we run out of time.
 

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Undead Handyman
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557 Posts
I also use drywall saws and I still use my Pumpkin Masters scoops on smaller pumpkins. For medium to friggin huge pumpkins I use old Baskin-Robbins plastic ice cream lids as scoops. Honestly, I don't know if their lids are still made of plastic. Mine are at least ten years old and unless I actually needed new scoopers I'd go to Ben & Jerry's for ice cream.
 
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