Carving pumpkins with a drill

Lit jack-o'-lantern carved with a drill, photo

I’ve been dying to try drilling pumpkins for two years, and I finally did it. It’s fun, but after drilling three pumpkins, my hand got tired from holding the drill. But it was worth it. Those daisies are sitting in a jar full of water inside the pumpkin. How, then, did I light the pumpkin, you ask? Glow sticks. It worked, but it took lots of them to achieve the same brightness as one tealight. Battery-operated tealights might be a better solution. By the way, these would also make a great holiday centerpiece.

How to carve pumpkins with a drill

  • pumpkins

  • glow sticks (see note in #9 below. I used 12-hour Cyalume Safety Lightsticks from Redwood Trading Post)

  • flowers (I recommend daisies, mums, or another long-lasting flower)

  • painter’s tape

  • votives

  • glass jar

  • drill

  • drill bits (I used these sizes: 3/16, 1/4, 7/16)

  • scissors

  • carving knife

  • scooping spoon

Supplies for carving pumpkins with a drill, photo

1. Decide what pattern you want to drill into each pumpkin. You could use a marker to plan your pattern. Start drilling. For the small pumpkin, I used a 7/16 bit for the centers of the flowers, and a ¼ bit for the petals.

Drilling flowers in the small pumkin, photo

2. Use your fingernails to remove little flaps of pumpkin still attached. For the medium pumpkin, I used 7/16 and 3/16 bits. This was the easiest pattern to execute, because all you have to do is follow the ridges of the pumpkin.

Drilling a vertical pattern in the large pumpkin, photo

3. Use painter’s tape as a guide for patterns that need straight lines. For this one, I used 7/16 and 3/16 bits.

Using tape to guide the drill pattern, photo

4. After you’ve drilled all the patterns, clean off the loose pieces of pumpkin.

All three pumpkins drilled, photo

5. Carve the lids out and scoop out the insides. Run the drill bits through the holes again, if necessary, to clear out pumpkin debris.

Carve the lid and scoop out the pumpkin, photo

6. For the pumpkin with flowers in the top, place a jar of water inside the pumpkin. Replace the lid.

Jar of water inside the pumpkin, photo

7. Drill holes in the lid for each blossom. Make sure they are angled toward the water jar. Cut all your stems the same length and strip off the leaves.

Holes in the lid for each blossom, photo

8. Insert a flower in each hole, making sure the stem is sitting in the water.

Blossoms inserted in the holes, photo

9. Light your pumpkins. I used votives in the two smaller pumpkins, and about six glow sticks in the one with the flowers. Six lightsticks weren’t as bright as a single votive (orange or green are brighter than white), so I would recommend drilling a more intricate pattern to let out more light. If you use a votive, I suggest removing the lids — unless you want charred pumpkins.

Crafty Nest pumpkins carved with a drill, photo

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