Kids Love Nutcrackers

Nutcrackers attract collectors of all ages and delight children around the world!

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Leavenworth, WA 98826

What materials are used to make nutcrackers?

When you hear the word nutcracker you think of the wood turned nutcracker from Germany—the one you see in nearly every store at Christmas time—the one whose body parts are turned on a lathe--the one with the big teeth and grim expression.   But there are many more kinds of nut cracking devices, and many different materials used to make them.  So let’s investigate…….


NUTCRACKER MADE OF STONE Early peoples broke nutshells with rocks or “nutting stones”.  They would place the nut in a pitted stone to hold it in place and strike it with another stone called a “hammer stone”.  In the autumn they would camp near the nut trees so they could gather the nuts as they fell before the squirrels or other animals would get them.


Wooden Toy Soldier Nutcracker Linden is the wood must often used to make the wooden toy soldier nutcracker as it is easy to turn on the lathe, but birch, beech and other woods are also used.  Softer woods such as pine or fir are not as durable and it takes a strong wood to make a nutcracker!   For turning the wood on a lathe, it must have an even and clear grain.  It must not have knots as that will dull the cutting blade.
Nutcracker Made of Different Woods Boxwood is the favorite wood of carvers.  It is a golden color, easy to carve, and very durable.  Nutcrackers carved 400 to 500 years ago are still beautiful today.  Other woods used by carvers are beech, maple, walnut, linden, rosewood or fruitwoods.  There are some nutcrackers carved of ebony, a wood so hard it will not float in water.


Nutcrackers made of Bronze Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin and is one of the oldest metals used for nutcrackers.  A museum in Taren, Italy, displays a bronze nutcracker shaped as a pair of hands that was created over 2500 years ago.  The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum displays a bronze nutcracker from Roman times.
Nutcrackers made of Brass Brass, an alloy of zinc and copper, has been used t make nutcrackers since the 15th century and you can tell brass items by their beautiful golden color.  You can still find many nutcrackers that were made in England In the 18th and 19th centuries when  Birmingham was the center for brass production.
Nutcrackers made of Iron Iron nutcrackers have been made for many centuries.  The nutcrackers in this picture were made by pouring hot liquid iron into a mold. These are called “cast iron”.   Other nutcrackers may be “hand wrought” which means the metal is manually beaten into the desired shape.  A man working with iron is called a blacksmith.
Nutcrackers Made of Steel Steel is iron that has most of its impurities removed and has a high carbon content which makes it much stronger than iron.  Stainless steel has chromium added so it will not rust.  You will see the shine on these nutcrackers pictured.
Silver  is too soft a metal to withstand the pressure needed to crack a nut so there are very few of them made of solid silver.  However there are many iron and brass nutcrackers that are coated or “plated” with silver.  Other nutcrackers are plated with nickel or chrome to give the appearance of silver.
Nutcrackers made of Aluminum Aluminum  is a newer metal that not developed until the 19th century.  It is a light-weight metal that is strong, easily worked, resists corrosion, and has a pleasing silver-white color.  It is used in many different ways from the foil we use in the kitchen to the bodies of airplanes.   And yes, you can find many nutcrackers made out of aluminum.


Nutcrackers made of Ivory Ivory is not a strong material so it is usually used for screw nutcrackers where pressure is applied more gently.  Most ivory nutcrackers are from elephant tusks, but tusks from walrus and narwhal are also made.  Many lever table nutcrackers use ivory to decorate the handles, and ivory trim is sometimes used on carved nutcrackers.


Nutcrackers made of Porcelain Although many table nutcrackers are said to be made of porcelain, only the base and frame are porcelain with actual working parts being made of metal.  Several porcelain factories made these nutcrackers during the Victorian times, including the famous Meissen workshops.


Nutcrackers made of Plastics Plastic is the term generally used for the new synthetic materials.  They are strong, light-weight, and can be made in many attractive colors.  Several manufacturers are making nutcrackers especially for children in interesting designs and bold colors.




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735 Front Street, Leavenworth, WA 98826


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