Extreme Pumpkin Carving

“Extreme Pumpkin Carving”

by Vic hood & Jack A. Williams

A Book Review

It’s already just 2 months until Halloween and you’re all probably thinking about carving your Halloween pumpkins.  Well “Extreme Pumpkin Carving” is just the book to help you turn out one of the most outrageous big orange gourds in the neighborhood.

Front Cover

Back Cover

“Extreme Pumpkin Carving” is a fascinating book written by award-winning carvers Vic Hood and Jack A. Williams that will take your Halloween decorating to a new level!  This revised and expanded second edition of “Extreme Pumpkin Carving”, published by Fox Chapel Publishing in 2013 is a revised version of the book originally published in 2004.

Comprehensively written, this book covers everything you need to know to create the best jack-o-lantern on your block.  Filled from beginning to end with color photos this 103 page book takes you step by step through two projects…one being a little more difficult that the other.  The first four page cover selecting the right pumpkin and preserving your pumpkin.  There are also a list of interesting Pumpkin Facts and a captivating story about Halloween lore.

Sample Page

Included are 20 fabulous patterns which show not only the pattern but a color photo of the finished pumpkin.  Also, there are 23 color photos of examples of amazing finished Extreme Pumpkins, some of which were winners at state fairs and competitions around the country.

Sample Pattern


Finished Pumpkin


The one drawback I found with this book was that it doesn’t specifically cover the tools needed, although you can get somewhat of an idea of the tools being used from the photos.

For any carver who wants to take his pumpkin carving to the next level this fall “Extreme Pumpkin Carving” is a great book to help you get there.


Our first comment today comes  from Jerry Stennett about the use of walnut oil and other wood conditioners prior to painting.  This seems to be a wide open topic as many carvers have differing methods on what they use.  Jerry’s comment goes like this:

“Enjoying your blog. I have been carving bowls and spoons for past 4-5 years. Started carving figures( mostly santa ornaments) over past year or so including some of your patterns seen in Woodcarving Illustrated. Related to your comments about using walnut oil as the base layer of your carvings I was wondering if you dilute it with mineral spirits or do you use it straight? Do you paint acrylic paint directly over this layer? I have been using minwax wood conditioner with good results as suggested by Doug Linker. Thanks again for your efforts.
Jerry Stennett”

Thanks for your kind words, Jerry.  I’m glad you are enjoying my blog.  First off, we would love to see some photos of these terrific bowls, spoons and Santa ornaments you’ve been carving lately!  To answer your question about walnut oil, I do use it straight (undiluted) out of the bottle, and I let is sit for about 30 minutes before painting.

I didn’t know Doug Linker has been using Minwax Wood Conditioner.  I’ve always seen him (at least in the videos I’ve watched) paint directly over the wood.  I’m sure, though that the Minwax product works well too.

Our next comment comes from my friend Jakobo Santiago from the Canary Islands with a captivating explanation about how wood is cured there.  Jakobo writes:

“Hi there. How are the wood carvings going?
I’ve been doing a bit of research on curing wood in salt water. It is the traditional method of curing the wood where I live and it was used both to build boats and houses, docks or statues.
The process consists of submerging the freshly cut logs in the sea for a period of 6 months to 3 years, depending on the type of tree and its size (normally pine but other woods also).
With this process, it is achieved that all the fluids of the wood (at the cellular level) are replaced by salt water. Then they allowed the wood to dry for 3 months to 1 year in the sun.
In this way, the wood was protected with salt from the attack of fungi and insects, and its resistance and structural stability were increased. transporting freshly felled trees down rivers and storing them in backwaters or lakes serves the same function. Today this traditional technique is still used.
Hope you liked it!”

That is some compellingly interesting information, but if you think about the chemistry behind the process (I have a chemistry background) it all makes very good sense.  After this process I imagine the wood becomes rather hard to carve.  Do you find that it is harder to carve this treated wood rather than carving fresh cut pine or pine that has just been allowed to air dry for about 6 months?

Our next comment comes from Bob Nesbit in response to our recent topic on stropping.  Bob writes:

Enjoyed the article on stropping which gave me an idea. My strop is smooth on one side which I use Cape Forge stropping compound on and the other side is a rough leather. I use this side after stropping after the smooth side. I try the final strop on a smooth leather now and see if the results are better. Correct stropping is one of the most talked about subjects in our club, so thanks for the information.
Also enjoyed the older couple walking along the beach, as that is where my wife of 48 years and I are at. It sure would have looked different when we were in our 20’s.
Bob Nesbit”

Thank you for writing in, Bob.  Let us know how the change in your stropping method works out.  I’m interested to know.

Let the chips fly!  Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to click the ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the page to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going! 

And remember, we need your photos!  I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share and photos of your carvings will help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Perhaps we can start a carvers photo section!  Email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

One thought on “Extreme Pumpkin Carving

  1. I have carved pumpkins for yrs. I have carved every one in the book. I bought the book when it was first published. I used to carve my pumpkins with my wood carving tools. Now I carve with a knife and clay ribbon tools. I find they work better. Try carving a pumpkin it is fun to carve.


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