{October 31, 2012}   Juiced-Up Jack-o’-Lanterns

I love to carve pumpkins each Halloween. Up until this year, I’d been happy to use kitchen knives and the tiny implements that come in pumpkin carving kits to bring spooky squash designs to life. The tools’ serrated edges can saw through even thick pumpkin skin. And they’re especially handy for detail work. The main drawback? It takes a long time to complete a jack-o’-lantern when you’re cutting a few millimeters at a time.

After reading two books by Tom Nardone—“Extreme Pumpkins” and “Extreme Pumpkins II”—I decided to add a little juice to my carving equipment with the addition of power tools. Nardone recommends a jig saw, a reciprocating saw, a router and a drill. (Check out his cool web site for more information.)

I thought I’d start off slow, so I asked my husband if I could borrow his drill and jig saw. He said “sure,” but must have had second thoughts, because a few days later he presented me with my very own jig saw. (I don’t let the fact that it cost less than $15 diminish the thoughtfulness of his gift.)

I wanted to carve several pumpkins for a punkin’ chunkin’ party we hold each year, so Doug set up a work area in the garage and I started carving. It didn’t take long for me to admit I was in love with the jig saw. I smoothly cut the lid for a pumpkin in seconds. I couldn’t believe how easily it cut curves! And by pulling the blade out and repositioning it, it was a breeze to cut a mouthful of teeth for the Property Defender. What took an hour to carve last year was now done in minutes.

The power drill was a dream to work with as well. It was awesome for making the round eyes in the alien and “Gourdzilla” pumpkins as well as the round holes needed for the worm-infested pumpkin. I still used hand tools for the finer details, but the power tools trimmed hours off the job. I carved a half-dozen jack-o’-lanterns for the party in record time.

A few weeks later, I pulled out the power tools again when the boys had a friend over to carve pumpkins. They used the tiny saws for small areas while I used the jig saw to cut out the larger designs. (I haven’t learned the appropriate tool to remove and scrape out the pumpkin guts, so the boys got to handle that messy job.)

One “extreme” pumpkin from Nardone’s book that I didn’t find time to carve until today was the “Cannibal Pumpkin.” With the jig saw, I cut the mouth in about 2 minutes. Cutting the eyes took about 2 minutes each. With the drill, each nostril took maybe 30 seconds. The face for the “victim” (made from a mini pumpkin) was just as quick: three drill holes and it was done in 90 seconds.

But I found it tedious to use a paring knife to strip off the skin for the pupils and teeth. I think power tools have spoiled me, because I’m thinking of investing in a router for that job. Who knows what I’ll add to my tool box after that?

Want to learn more about my 47 and fearless project? Read my first post.


momtuft says:

Surely you can find a use for the PTO on the tractor? Maybe Doug could suggest a use or… get you your own!

I had to ask Doug what a PTO was. He laughed out loud when I read him your reply. He said that’s taking “extreme” to the next level. They’d have to be some really B-I-G pumpkins! But I bet you have him thinking about getting me my own tractor, only because it would mean he’d get to buy another tractor. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: