Intro: Pumpkin Carver
What do you do when you need to carve up a pumpkin and only have a knife? Well you end up with the kind of Jack o' lanterns I made as a kid. Simple and crude. This is a tool I have found to help me with the most intricate of designs and I can't blame the tools for my failures anymore.
Basically you just need a small jigsaw blade, it will end up looking like one of those tools you get at the supermarket to carve pumpkins but this one will actually work. I like the blades that are for detail work but not with superfine teeth. You don't need the most expensive blades on the market, you aren't cutting wood. This inscrutable is just showing you how I put a handle on a jigsaw blade. Handle designs are infinite, this one works for me.
Step 1: Materials
So I lost the pumpkin carvers I had made a few years ago, I am sure that I will find them at a completely inappropriate time like Xmas ( who carves Santa into a pumpkin for Xmas?) Went to the store and picked up a couple of jigsaw blades from a brand I didn't recognize but looked like they would do the job. 5 bucks later I was out the door. Scrap piece of wood for a handle, flexibility is key here, use what you have or can scrounge. and the last bit is a piece of metal that I find everywhere here on the roads, it comes from the street sweepers and they break off and lie in the road waiting for a new purpose. This time I am using it to burn a slot into the wood handle, you know primitive style. I am using it because it is available to me, if you don't have this round your area, improvise with what you have.
Step 2: Burn in the Slot
So the heart of this process is fire, good ol fire. Don't burn your house down please. The process is simple, heat metal, burn wood, repeat. I'm using a gas stove for my heat source and it works pretty well, there is some smoke but not much so this can be done inside without a problem. I have found that if you can drill a pilot hole to the depth you want the process will go much faster, but be careful, the blade is less than a 1/16 thick and if you are using a bigger bit you will create a lot of slop.
Fun fact: Chuck a finish nail into your drill and get small holes without expensive bits, its the small bits that break all the time anyway.
Just heat up the metal and push it in and try to make a shape that will fit your profile. You need to reheat when the smoke clears. As you can see in the pictures I check frequently to see where I need to burn out more. When you finally get it seated here come the next step, put a nail in it, of you can go the epoxy route. I prefer nails, I don't have to wait 5 minutes.
Step 3: Attach the Blade to the Handle
To put a rivet or bar stock through the blade and attach it to the handle I used a finish nail that was a little over 1/16 thick, it was a little loose with the next size up bit that I had but was manageable. Just make sure the bit is in the handle and fully seated before you drill a hole through both, clamps are handy if you got em. If I need a tighter fit in the future I can always try epoxy. You can use whatever is available to you, the key to keep in mind is not to put the hole too close to the edge of the wood, end grain will tear out easily. I put the hole back 3/8 from the end and I am sure it will never tear out from the stress of cutting up pumpkins.
After you place the nail, cut it off flush and file smooth.
Finish with mineral oil if pressed for time like I was or polyurethane if you plan in advance. Pumpkin guts get everywhere and a finish helps clean them off.
Step 4: Afterthoughts
This tool works great as is, you can just push it into the pumpkin without a pilot hole and make a design. If you don't have the time for this you can try for a simpler handle, maybe just a vicegrip latched on to the blade? I have used this to cut wood, not just pumpkins for various projects and it has survived well. Jigsaws are faster of course but I don't currently have one so you work with what you have.
I leave you with a few examples made with this tool over the past few years