This week I tried my hand at making a classic soldier Christmas nutcracker. Ultimately it turned out okay, but wow, this was very challenging!
I began by designing lathe turning templates for the various pieces. I am so glad I took the time to do this because it sped up the turning process and allowed me to make matching arms and legs.
To use these, I printed them out and spray mounted them to a piece of cardboard. The I cut out the white areas to create profiles of the nutcracker parts.
After rough turning a block of wood into an even, round shape, I made marks where each of the transitions would occur.
Using these pencil marks as guides, I turned the arms, legs and body, checking the template along the way.
Here are both the arms.
To ensure each the diameters were the same on each piece, I used an adjustable wrench to measure various points.
I turned the nutcracker’s body and hat in one piece.
Then I separated the head from the body and cut a notch in the body piece for the lever mechanism to fit into.
The nutcracker’s jaw, the part that “cracks” nuts was super tricky. I ended up making three attempts before getting one that worked correctly.
Once I was reasonably satisfied it would work, I drilled a holed through the body and the lever and tested the pivoting with a nail.
Next, I made a brim for the hat and glued it into place.
I used dowel pins to attach the legs to the body.
The I glued the legs to a block of wood and shaped a couple of tiny shoes.
The arms are attached with smaller dowels. I tested the fit here, but removed them for painting.
I permanently attached the swinging jaw with a nail and cut off its head to make it flush with the body.
Finally, I glued the arms, head, and hat in place and added a beard and hair.
Here are the templates I created for my nutcracker. The lathe templates will get you pretty close. For the jaw lever, I just traced the one I made. I suggest using it as a starting point, but you will probably have to adjust it. Good luck!