Excellent pumpkin carving tools | How About Orange

October 21, 2013

Excellent pumpkin carving tools

When asked recently if I wanted to test a set of Grampa Bardeen's pumpkin carving tools, I declined. Then I read more about the product and was charmed by the quality and the story.

The family of grandpa Paul Bardeen has created a fabulous set of tools modeled after the ones he used to use. Blades and scoops come in various sizes for speedy cutting and finer details. The handles are some sort of very hard plastic, and all saw teeth are treated with Teflon to protect them and make them slide more easily. Every tool in the box is WAY safer than using knives. Which I have done in the past and will never go back.

Included in the carving kit are cutting patterns and poking tools to trace designs onto pumpkins. My favorite part was the newspaper insert with instructions and a family history with photos from the 1940s.

Last night I tried out the tool set. Instead of cutting around the stem of the pumpkin, I followed the suggestion in the instructions to cut a 5-6 inch hole in the bottom of the pumpkin. This way it's easy to set the pumpkin over a light source resting on a flat surface. And the top stays intact and looks nice.

I cut the bottom circle in half so I could push it in and then pull it out. Then the tedious, slimey part: scraping out the guts. The scooping/scraping tool worked great for that, though it does get a little slippery.

Try to refrain from eating the raw innards, though they do look delicious.

I wanted to make a design in which I could try the drilling tools. These come in three sizes and allow you to cut perfectly round holes by twisting the tool. So I sketched a very How About Orange design with retro-looking flowers, and drilled all the holes first. Piece of cake. My favorite part!

(Note— a fine-tip dry erase marker works great for drawing designs directly onto pumpkins, and it wipes off easily.)

After drilling holes, I cut the straight lines and larger shapes with the various saw tools. It works well to move the saws up and down like a sewing needle; they cut easily through the pumpkin rind.

I carved as the sun set, and when I finished, I set the pumpkin over a couple of LED flickering tea lights. Behold the cuteness!

And then I moved the pumpkin to an uneven part of the bench and turned my back for an instant. In that instant, the pumpkin tipped over, rolled off the bench, and smashed on the sidewalk.

I stared in horror, and then started giggling uncontrollably because there's something very satisfying about smashing a pumpkin, even accidentally.

It's okay. I'll make more and recruit the neighbors to help.

If you want to start a carving tradition with your family or friends, get Grampa Bardeen's carving kit here at Amazon. Find more info and carving tips at GrandpaBardeen.com. The set is high quality and will last for years and years, I'm guessing. You could use it all autumn long to make pretty lanterns for your porch steps or decorations for Thanksgiving. Carve simple leaf shapes or abstract designs, and your pumpkins don't have to be just for Halloween.

Update: A request has been made for a photo of the deceased pumpkin. Here it is. May it rest in peace.


Grandma G said...

Those look like super tools! Your pumpkin looked so pretty... good thing you got the pic before it crashed!

The innards are good roasted... well the seeds part, anyway. :)

alejandra said...

What a lovely pumpkin, those are super tools, wow!

Stacia, the Homey Owl said...

I adore the design you settled on. How pretty!

Nina said...

I don't think I have that many tools for anything!! I like the look of them, though - and your late pumpkin was pretty cool. Grandma G is right about the seeds, and apparently the stringy stuff can be used for making stock.

Bipasha said...

Oh now I know! I always wondered how people carve those tough gourds, I mean, I barely succeed in chopping them up for my recipes, my knives must suck :( your carved pumpkin-light turned out adorable!

Jill said...

Cute! I have to share my funny pumpkin story. When I was first married (26 years ago) we carved pumpkins and I was so excited to be domestic and make pumpkin bars with the fresh pumpkin. I told my Mom who asked me how long I cooked the pumpkin first. ???? Cook it? Why would I do that? I asked. Well, it's hard she told me, how could you blend it for the bars without cooking it? To which I replied, "Hard?, it's all soft and slimy and squishy!" Evidently, it's the shell of the pumpkin, cooked, that is used in the baked goods, not the slimy insides. I had no idea!! I had picked out all the seeds from it though. :) The bars were actually okay and a friend of ours ate half the pan.

Jessica Jones said...

Ha, great story!

I don't like roasted pumpkin seeds enough to bother making them, so I pitched all the guts. Little did I know I could make pumpkin bars with that stuff. Too funny.

Jamie Matsuoka said...


Jessica Jones said...


Josh said...

I think a simplified kit is in order, as I don't see a need for that any tools and it might drop the cost down to a level a larger amount of people would spend on pumpkin carving tools.

I mostly use ceramic sculpting tools i have around, these resemble them. I have an exacto knife style handle with a small saw blade in it, and then a large looped blade that skims out the inside too perfectly. It cuts the guts all off easily and you can skim the interior walls down thinner. (http://www.dickblick.com/products/kemper-ceramic-loop-tools/?wmcp=amazon&wmcid=feeds&wmckw=30328-1105)

a fun tip to light your pumpkin and really make it GLOW. I had a door inside an apartment hallway and there were kids downstairs that I thought would like to see pumpkins out. i didn't want to leave a flame unattended. So I got a lightbulb socket to plug adapter, a green CFL, and an extensions cord. Cut a hold in the back for the adapter, screw a bulb in and your pumpkin GLOWS so bright. You can use any color but it looked radioactive.

Jessica Jones said...

Excellent tips, Josh! Thanks! Your lighting idea sounds awesome.

(It's true this kit has some duplicate tools, so a few people can carve using the same size saw simultaneously. It's family-sized. )

Grandma G said...

I saw your update (thanks, Jamie). So sad... *SNIFF*


britt schmiesing said...

really pretty pumpkins. i love how people are taking them and making them so creative. not just ghouls and funny faces!

Caz said...

Beautiful pumpkin, and please try some roasted seeds, they're lovely with a bit of salt, olive oil and smoked paprika, event kids eat them!

Lisa P. said...

Nice! I love that you did one of your designs and also the pictures of you. Looks like some cool tools.

Homemade For Friends said...

Wow, nice work on the pumpkins! I'm going to have to try this for sure! If you roast the seeds afterwards, don't rinse them as the residual pumpkin flavor will make them even tastier :)
- Melissa

mrsrobinson said...

Oh my... why have I never thought about cutting from the base? Thank you so!

April Eight said...

Well, you took it in good stride like the designer you are. I do like the look of that tool set. I'm going to have to give them a try. Thanks for posting.

Xavier Dimorra said...

Beautiful work that you can do with those tools. I have done a lot of carving in many materials, including wax (for jewelry), and others. But I am very intrigued by these tools, specially because of your results, and recommendation. I might have to try them next Halloween. Great article, specially for us craft makers. Love the website.

Kristen Scioli said...

Murphy's Law strikes again!