Carve a Thanksgiving turkey in seven easy steps. Ruocaled/Creative Commons

Carving a turkey can be an unwieldy, messy job. But it's an unavoidable task for a proper Thanksgiving feast, so here's your all-in-one guide to carving a turkey, in seven easy steps that include how to make cuts, in what order, what tools you'll need and other helpful tips. For a two-minute video demo, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

1. Let your turkey sit for at least 20 minutes out of the oven. While you wait, ready a sharp, straight-edged knife, a carving fork, a large cutting board and a serving platter. If you cooked any stuffing inside the bird, remove it just before carving.

2. Place the bird on the cutting board with the breast and the legs facing up. Hold the first drumstick with one hand and slice through the skin between the leg and the breast, cutting through the joint connecting them. Repeat for the other side.

3. Separate the leg and the thigh by cutting at the joint, working the knife around any points of resistance. Repeat for the other leg. You can cut the newly separated thighs into slices about of a quarter-inch if you wish.

4. Back to the bird. Use one hand to hold a wing as you cut through the joint connecting the wing from the body. Repeat for the other side, adjusting the knife if it hits tough spots. The cutting board will likely be oily at this point, and the bird may slide around.

5. To carve the breast, start by slice directly downwards until you hit bone. Then begin to angle the knife slightly toward one side and gently slice away the breast meat in one large chunk, keeping the blade following the contours of the chest as closely as possible. When you have finished with one side, do the same with the other. One tip is to use your non-knife-wielding hand to gently pull the meat away from the carcass as you carve with the knife. You can also use a carving fork to hold the carcass steady as you cut.

6. Lay both breasts, skin-side up, on the cutting board and slice them diagonally and against the grain of the meat, making sure to leave a strip of skin on top of each cut.

7. Arrange the cuts of meat on a platter, and serve hot!

Confused about any of the steps? Watch someone do it right here: