Pumpkin Carving Saws





Introduction: Pumpkin Carving Saws

About: By day, Jeff is the Jack of All Robots at Clearpath Robotics. By night, a mad scientist / hacker / artist / industrial designer wannabe!

So! You want to kick your pumpkin carving game up a notch and try your hand at one of those fancy complex patterns? Good for you! It's easy! But that's beyond the goal of this Instructable. One thing that you will absolutely need, however, is some precision pumpkin carving saws.

Fortunately, there's no need to go out and buy one of those kitschy pumpkin carving kits - you can make your own saws that perform better and cost less money!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

All the materials you need to make the saws can be bought at your local hardware store, though you may have everything you need in your workshop already:

3/8" - 7/16" wood dowel (I used poplar because it's inexpensive, but it really doesn't matter)
5" scroll saw blades, 15-20 tpi (teeth per inch), pinned or unpinned ends
JB Weld or some other high-strength epoxy
spray paint (optional)

For the jigs, you'll need some scrap pieces of 2x4 and some wood screws.

The required tools are also pretty basic:

A wood saw (I used a scroll saw)
A drill press (preferred, though you could do it with a hand held drill)
side cutters

Step 2: Cut the Handles

Well, it doesn't much easier than this. Cut as many pieces as you like from the wood dowel, to the desired length. I made my handles 1.75" long.

Step 3: Make a Jig for Drilling the Handles

Not many steps in this Instructable require much precision, but it is important that the hole for the blade is properly aligned with the handle. For that reason, a jig is very helpful for this step.

The jig is simple enough; a hole drilled in a stack of scrap 2x4 pieces. I stacked a short piece on top of a longer one, and fastened them together with screws. Then, I drilled a 1/2" hole in the center using a drill press. The diameter of the hole should be only slightly larger than the diameter of the handles you're using. The depth of the hole should be about 1/4"-1/2" shallower than the length of the handle (in my case, 1.5" deep)

If you are making a lot of saws, you may also want to make a drying rack. It's just another 2x4 with a bunch of holes in it.

Step 4: Drill the Holes for the Blades

For the hole drilled in the handle, select a bit that is equal or slightly larger than the width of the end of the saw blade. The blades I'm using required a 1/8" bit.

Clamp your jig to the drill press table, so that the hole is exactly centered below the drill bit. Set the depth stop so that the drilled hole is equal to the length of the end of the saw blade (about 1/2").

Now, drill some holes! You may have to hold the handle with your fingers so that it doesn't rotate inside the jig.

Step 5: Cut the Blades

One 5" scroll saw blade is long enough to make two pumpkin saw blades. Using side cutters, cut the scroll saw blade exactly in half. If you like, you can also finish the end of the blade by cutting off the corner at a 45 degree angle. This will make it easier to push the end of the blade into the pumpkin.

Step 6: Glue the Blades Into the Handles

Start by mixing up some epoxy. I chose JB Weld for this job, since it bonds anything to everything. More importantly, it won't deform when subjected to pressure like other glues do.

Now, just dip the end of the saw blade into the epoxy, and shove it into the hole in the handle. If the glue you're using is more runny, then glob a little into the hole and push in the blade. You may need to use a pair of pliers to grip the blade if the fit is tight.

Once the blade is inserted all the way into the hole, adjust it to make sure it's parallel with the handle. Then set it in the jig to dry. If you notice the epoxy is sinking into the hole and leaving a crater, glob in a bit more.

Step 7: Paint the Handles

This step isn't absolutely necessary, but it helps protect the wood. Pumpkins are pretty wet, and you will want to clean your saws after you're done using them. A layer of paint will prevent the wood from absorbing too much moisture.

I used a coat of Krylon spray paint to paint my handles, but anything water-resistant will do. You could even dip the handles in PlastiDip if you like.

Once the saws are painted, they're ready to use!

Step 8: Variations and Tips

You can make a stronger pumpkin carving saw by using a jigsaw blade instead of a scroll saw blade. Instead of drilling a hole for the blade, cut a slit the same thickness as the blade. Then, just glue it in place. This saw is great for quickly cutting the top off the pumpkin, or even cutting off the stem!


Feed the blade of the saw into the pumpkin by holding it close to the tip and pushing it through the skin of the pumpkin.

When using the saw make short, fast strokes. It will cut faster and the pumpkin won't move as much (this is important when cutting intricate parts of the pattern).

For simple parts of the pattern, you may apply more pressure in the direction of travel for faster cuts. For intricate parts of the pattern, use a very light touch and fast strokes.

Cut 90 degree angles by maintaining rapid strokes while rotating the blade. Once the new direction is established, continue cutting as usual.

Finish each cut by reducing the angle of the blade so that when the saw blade is fully inserted, the tip of the blade is further forward than where it enters the handle.

Step 9: Samples!

Here are some patterns I carved using home made saws, and patterns from Zombie Pumpkins. Zombie Pumpkins is, without a doubt, the absolute best place to get pumpkin patterns. Go there. It's awesome.



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    Legal a sua idéia para as minhas serras quebradas!!! Obrigado!!!

    Very nice your idea for my breaked saws!!! Thank you!

    Legal a sua idéia para as minhas serras quebradas!!! Obrigado!!!

    Very nice your idea for my breaked saws!!! Thank you!

    I got a pair of 18tpi jigsaw blades at Walmart. They were Black and Decker metal cutting ones with a hole in the shank, for less than $2. They're narrow and nicely rigid. I used a hacksaw to cut a 3/4" deep notch at one end of a piece of 1" square rod. The hacksaw blade is slightly thinner than the jigsaw blade so the fit is snug. I then drilled and countersunk a hole from the side of the handle to engage the hole in the blade. I pushed JB Weld into the notch (with something thin I had lying around), put in the blade, and ran a wood screw through the hole. I didn't like the idea of the blade being held in place just with JB Weld.

    Next day I sanded the handle (with a home-made sanding disc in a drill) to bevel the edges and finished the wood with water-diluted water-resistant wood glue (Titebond II; now it's drying--I'll probably put another coat or two on it).

    4 replies

    Wow, sounds good to me! I hope you took pictures of the build process!

    Sorry, no photos of the build process, but the product is here:

    Nice. If you like, I can post that image to my instructable (and give you credit, of course!)

    Go ahead. That's great!

     omg that witch is awesome how do u do that stuff

    1 reply

    I used a cutting disk for my Dremel and sliced down the middle of the dowel about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.  Then, I used Gorilla glue, slopped it in the cut and on the blade.  Let it dry for 24 hours and then I used a sanding stone on my dremel to clean up the mess.  None of my "homemade" saws broke and I did a fair number of pumpkins.  I went to Home Depot and got an assortment of jigsaws in different sizes and that did the trick.  I used a small drill bit to make the holes for eyes etc rather than the little plastic drivers that come with the kit.  I then cleaned everything up, oiled the saws and the handles and everything is ready for next year or whenever I decide I want to carve a watermelon, pumpkin etc.  Works great for not very much money and a little time.

    1 reply

    Yep, that'll work, too!  I used that method (by cutting a slit using a scroll saw) on the larger blades that I mounted a jigsaw blade into.  I also use real drills for holes, they work really well.

    I love it! my favorite ones are the second picture and the last :D

    1 reply

    Thanks!  :)

    I've got a ton of saw from commercial pumpkin carving kits. Are these better?

    1 reply

    Depends on the brand.  The Pumpkin Masters blades are nice, butthere are lots of cheapo blades that are relatively dull and will onlylast a season (if that).  The benefit of DIY blades is that theyare far cheaper and you can customize both the blade and the handle toyour liking.

    Nice pumpkins! Are saws better than knives?

    2 replies

     Much, much better. It's like the difference between a chainsaw and a scroll saw.

    Oh, and thanks!

    And what is the difference...? Haha just kidding! Nice job on these, JB Weld is really nice.

    Not as technical as yours, but when I was younger, my dad chopped up a saw blade into ~4 inch lengths and wrapped one end in electrical tape. We were kind of lazy. Things cut like butter, though. I couldn't have done my Zoolander pumpkin without them.

    1 reply

    Hey, whatever works! I used store-bought blades until they eventually all broke or were lent to other people. Making them yourself is cheaper. ;)