- The size and shape of your design will determine whether you need a tall narrower pumpkin or a round one.
- Decide your design in advance and choose your pumpkin accordingly. Choose a pumpkin that is smooth as possible, and free of scratches, dents or gouges, unless you plan to incorporate them into your finished design.
- You can make the transferred dots of your pattern easier to see by rubbing flour into them. The flour will fill the holes and turn them white.
- To make sharp corners, always remove the saw completely and re-insert it at a different angle.
- To remove cut pieces, push them out from the inside with your finger or a poker. To make removing large pieces easier, and to avoid damage to your design, cut them into smaller chunks before trying to remove them.
- Toothpicks are good for adding extra features like ears or noses.
- If you're having trouble with your candles going out, try using a small oil-burning lamp or liquid candle.
- Plant Hangers make a great way of displaying jack o lanterns. A wonderfully spooky display is to use several plant hangers of different lengths in a grouping, so that in the dark, it looks like several glowing faces floating in mid air.
- Photographing Jack O Lanterns is a bit tricky. A flash won't work, but if the candle in the pumpkin is the only light source, the photo will only show the design and not the pumpkin. To show both design and pumpkin, try using a single light source, slightly forward and above of the Jack O Lantern.
- Washing the inside with a mild bleach solution will slow the process of decay.
- Coat the cut edges of the pumpkins with petroleum jelly to help them last longer. The longer the candle is left burning, the quicker the pumpkin will decompose.
- Electric lights work well instead of candles. Use a 25-watt candelabra bulb for maximum brightness; lower wattage if you plan to leave it on a long time.
- If you really want to make your creations last, put them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator when not on display.
- You can re-attach and repair broken pieces with toothpicks or straight pins.
- Discourage squirrels and other critters from making a meal of your pumpkin by sprinkling it with liberally with Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper.
- Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice inside your Jack O' Lantern to give the air a spice aroma!
- Don't throw out the seeds! They make a delicious, nutritious snack. Follow this link for the recipe.
For Large Volume Pumpkin Carving - Jerry Squires, a readers from Boise, Idaho who carves at least 60 pumpkins each year (thereby earning his home the affection nickname of "The Pumpkin House") sent in this tip for volume carvers:
A shop vacuum can be used to both scrape and remove the pumpkin interior. Place a wand extension attachment on the end of the shop vacuum hose. Then place the other end of the wand into the pumpkin. Scrape the sides and bottom of the inside of the pumpkin with the wand. This saves a large amount of time and effort.