Strategy is key for both chess-playing and pumpkin-carving. As you map out your moves, here are a few carving tips to keep in mind. Carving a pumpkin is easier if the pumpkin side that you're carving has been scraped thin, but not so thin that it breaks; around 1" thickness provides a good ratio of cutting-ease to pumpkin-strength. For greater stability while carving, we recommend carving sections from the center outward. It's also wise to leave all cutout sections in place until you've finished carving; this increases the pumpkin's surface strength and decreases the likelihood of breakage.
1. Hollow out your pumpkin by cutting a circle in the pumpkin's underside and scraping out the messy seeds and stringy bits. Following the tip above, scrape the pumpkin side that you're intending to carve to around 1" thickness.
2. Attach your printed chess piece stencil to the pumpkin with tape, smoothing the paper as much as possible. Use a large nail to poke holes along the stencil lines. Keep nail holes close together, no more than 1/8" apart, for the most-detailed carving results. Detach the paper stencil.
3. Carve along the nail holes with a specialty pumpkin-carving knife (found in Halloween supply stores). Saw gently from dot to dot, following our carving tips above. To release cutout shapes, nudge them out by pushing on them from inside the pumpkin.
4. Light up your chess piece design by placing a flameless candle in the pumpkin's interior.