As you all know, life is busy. In the pursuit of greener grass people run themselves ragged, basically eating and sleeping in between working. One way to combat that is to have no excuses time set aside to do things together. One of these times that my wife and I have established is making our annual nutcracker. While a project like this can be kind of daunting during my most busy time of the year, we have done so for the past 6 years! Our first nutcracker, Mr. Nutty, was inspired by my wife's love for the Nutcracker play. I surprised her on one of her visits 4 years before we got married with a clean workshop and a huge pile of split oak for the wood stove. She lit up when I told her what we where going to do.
The first step was heading out into the woods to find a good tree to work with, we found a standing dead tree about 4 inches round for a good 12 feet. We cut it down and drug it back to the shop and got started cutting it into nutcracker sized pieces. We have continued to use this same tree for each nutcracker and have one more nutcracker's worth! We also use other pieces of wood for smaller pieces and parts. The use of metal, leather, fabric, clay and other materials also makes the list. Each nutcracker has been turned on my old lathe by both my wife and I. Before turning we first decide the theme of the project and then without looking at the other, each draw our idea. Afterwards we look at out drawings and decide the best features and combine them into one magnificent nutcracker. The majority of the nutcracker is turned on the lathe with the balance of the parts made on other tools in the shop. Once parts start getting finished up, my wife starts painting on the cloths and other decorative elements. Assembly consists of drilling holes, using nails, epoxy and what ever else we need. First we assemble the nutcrackers chomper, arms and legs. Next comes gluing it into the base, attaching his shoes and doing some finishing work including gluing on his hair and making what ever clothing he may be wearing. In the end we have an incredible amount of time tied up in something you can buy for less than $10.......but saving money........or time, clearly isn't the idea.
Around Thanksgiving each year, we realize it's about that time again and start thinking of ideas. After Thanksgiving we get a tree and start brainstorming on paper and get started. They take about a week to make from the time the first piece of wood is turned. Thank you for taking the time to read these words and watch the video. I hope it sparks an idea in you as well to make your own nutcracker or other fun project with your family.
Here's our other nutcrackers in the order we made them, Enjoy!