You don’t have to gut your pumpkin. I don’t hollow all mine out. It’s an extra step that is easily the messiest part of the process. But if you think you’d like to light it, it’s much better to gut it beforehand. You can also have a strong light inside while carving to help give you an impression where the thin parts of the rind are. I haven’t tried this myself, but it makes sense, eh? DO NOT use a gutted pumpkin for a hampster habitat as a hamster will eat his way out! Use whatever gutting tool you like. But keep in mind, you need the rind to remain thick. You can’t afford to thin it down. Some gutting tools are designed specifically to thin the wall since that is beneficial for the 2-dimensional style of carving. I use an gutting tool that is essentially a piece of flat orange plastic with teeth to one side. I haven’t seen them for sale in years but it was made for pumpkin scraping. I’d say any pumpkin scraping tool will work. Just don’t scrape too much! Here’s a tip…Pumpkin juice is acidic and carving is vigorous. If you don’t wear rubber gloves for gutting or wash your hands periodically, you’ll likely have sensitive cuticles later. This is particularly true if you’re going to carve several pumpkins. Keep a dish or pail of water to rinse your tools and hands in. It’s also a good idea to carve with clean hands for the sake of not introducing bacteria into the carved surface and promoting faster decay.
I like to use the polygon shaped lid. It’s easy to control the knife and the lid stays put better. Don’t forget to angle the blade in. Always point the blade toward the center of the pumpkin when lid cutting. If you have a pumpkin that won’t stand up, cutting the opening on the bottom can allow you to help the pumpkin stand upright better.