There may be similar products out there, but it seems the main one you'll find is the "Creative Versa-Tool
" which is made by a company called Walnut Hallow
. This company mostly focuses on wood crafting projects
It's their plug-in tool that we're interested in - and there are variations on their product, some with a focus on scrapbooking or textiles. But their Versa-tool is the most... well... versatile, because it seems to come with the best range of interchangeable tips.
If you wanted to save a few dollars, you might be able to buy a Creative Woodburning Pen
which is basically the same product, but without all the extras. In this case, you'd still need to by the proper blades separately.
When you add in the costs of blades, and shipping (if the Woodburning Pen isn't available in the store) it actually still might be be more economical to pick up the full Versa-Tool set at your local Michaels with a 40% off coupon. You'll also get a nice plastic storage case this way too.
The attachment we're concerned with is the "Hot Knife Point
." Looks just like your typical x-acto hobby knife. The full Versa-Tool kit comes with one of these blade tips, but if you ever needed more, you can buy also them separately. They look like this:
They screw into the end of the tool on threads. Obviously don't try changing the attachments while the tool is switched on and hot. Speaking of which, when you're carving a foam pumpkin, the blade can become unscrewed, since you are sometimes twisting the tool slightly as you carve around curves. So I like to keep a small pair of pliers nearby, which I can use to grip the hot blade gently, and screw it back in tighter.
You'll get the smoothest carving if you wait for the blade to get really hot. It's easy to get impatient and want to try it right away. But give it several minutes to heat up, while you prep the rest of your carving area. Maybe you can transfer the pattern while the blade warms up. When not in use, the tool has a small metal stand for propping it up.
And once the blade it hot, start cutting along the lines of your design. It should literally move through the foam like a hot knife through butter. There's usually not much need to move the tool up and down (like you do when carving with a typical pumpkin carving saw-tool).
Another important tip is to keep moving, or pull the blade out when you finish a line. If you let the hot blade sit too long in one spot, the foam might burn or the surface paint might peel. Supposedly it gets at hot as 950° F so DO NOT touch the metal areas of the tool to your skin unless you want to hear the sizzling and smell of cooked meat... your own.
This tool is best suited for carving the artificial pumpkins at Michaels. The foam is the proper thickness and density. I don't know if a Versa-Tool would be much good on a foam pumpkin that is more brittle or thick, such as Funkins and others.
For a Michaels foam pumpkin, be aware of how thick the walls of the pumpkin are, to make sure you're going deep enough. You you push the blade in all the way, the flat end of the tool (where the attachment screws in) could leave a little burn mark on the surface. But if you only cut with the very tip of the blade, you might not cut the pieces all the way out, and you'd then have to go over your lines again.
As I describe every aspect, I might be making this sound complicated. It's mostly all common sense. I've seen people struggling to cut crumbly foam with a saw blade, and when I hand them a Versa-Tool and say "here, try this" they start zooming along instantly, saying, "wow, this makes it easy!"
This tool is available at Michaels
, Walnut Hallow
and many other places that sell craft hobby supplies.