Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks

One of the greatest Halloween traditions is carving pumpkins. The practice began in 19th century Ireland when villagers used turnips and potatoes as their canvas, creating scary designs, lighting them with candles, and placing them in window sills and doorways. These organic lanterns were designed to ward off the evil spirit known as ‘Stingy Jack’. It wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in North America and discovered that the pumpkin which is unique to this continent was an equally effective lantern. That this modern-day tradition began in earnest.

Related: Workman’s Friend: a Spooky-Good Cream

Today, the different pumpkin varieties and the design ideas are unending. Whether you want to create a traditional face, an emoji, or something completely unique, there is a pumpkin out there for you. But with the satisfaction of making your creation, comes the mess and smell associated with cutting into this type of squash plant. That’s where Workman’s Friend can help. One of the best pumpkin carving tips is to apply a thin layer of our cream before you start carving. This will make the clean-up process go more easily.The following are a few other tips and tricks to make this year’s pumpkin the best yet.

Pumpkin Quality

They say a painter’s creation is only as good as its canvas. The same can be said for a carver and their pumpkin. The quality of your squash can make or break your design. A good pumpkin is one that has a hard exterior. This means it will be easier to cut into and manipulate. A soft or sponge-like pumpkin usually indicates it has probably already started to rot on the inside and won’t last longer than a few days before it collapses.

Cut an Angled Opening

Using a knife, (a boning one works best for this job) cut an opening at the top of the pumpkin. This aperture should be in a large circle shape and include the stem of the squash. Make sure you cut the opening on an angle instead of straight up and down. This means you’ll be able to open and close the lid without worrying if it will fall into the pumpkin.

Gut the Pumpkin

This is perhaps the messiest step in the carving process and where Workman’s Friend can be of most help. Before you roll up your sleeves and start removing any of the vegetable’s gooey pulp, apply a thin layer of our cream to your hands and forearms.

Though you can buy tools designed especially for gutting a pumpkin, a large ice cream scoop or large soup spoon work just as effectively. In a clawing motion with your tool, thin the inner wall of your entire pumpkin to 1 ¼-inch thick. This will make it so it will be easier to pierce the shell. It will also make it less hazardous when you burn a candle in the pumpkin, the pulp won’t burn.

Once you’re squash is gutted you can rinse and towel off your arms and hands and your clean.  The sticky and smelly pumpkin residue will be gone thanks to Workman’s Friend.

Pumpkin in the Carving Position

Some carvers prefer to lay flat on the floor face-to-face with their canvas in order to carve their design. However, most agree it is easier to carve features when the face is looking up at you. Do not cut the pumpkin on an angle. Instead use clean up-and-down slice marks to create the best look.  If you want to make more intricate designs, try investing in a pumpkin carving kit. It should provide you with different types of cutting tools, a marker, claw or scraper, not to mention different patterns.

Keep it Fresh

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to create an elaborate design on your pumpkin only to have it shrivel up and dry out a few days later. That’s why you need to keep your orange squash moist and fresh. A tip is to spread petroleum jelly on the cut edges to seal in the moisture. If your pumpkin still starts to shrivel, stick it face down in a tub of cold water for up to 8 hours. This will keep it looking fresh.

Jack O’ Lantern

The art of carving pumpkins has evolved drastically since the Irish started the practice using potatoes and turnips over 200 hundred years ago. What has remained the same is the tradition of carving spooky expressions and celebrating all that is Halloween. There are hundreds of tips and tricks to creating the perfect carved pumpkin. But perhaps one of the best ones is to protect yourself before you start creating by applying a thin layer of Workman’s Friend to your hands and arms. When all the gutting and carving is done, a simple rinse and wipe and you’re clean.The odor and stickiness is gone, you can get on with the most important part-trick-or-treating!


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is light-weight and odorless product. Apply a dime-sized portion of our non-greasy, formula on each hand. Then rub them together to ensure the cream has been properly absorbed.
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