I have for some years been trying half heartedly to make one piece nutcrackers as seen in "Treen for the table" by Jonathan Levi. Until a couple of months ago I have only been using dry ash and not steaming it properly. The bent piece has been splitting out, even with using a supporting strap. Anyway I got some willow, just cut, and decided to try again and wow, no need to stream the wood just bend it round into place and tie it off.
Finished willow nutcrackers, the coin is an English £1. The cord is made from willow bark
The wood is split from the log, axed down into an even plank and then drawknifed. The bark is taken off carefully, I try not to cut into the wood as this is the bit that gets bent. I have a template which is placed on the wood and drawn around as in the photo. The middle is cut out with a bandsaw or copping saw and with willow it is just bent, with ash (far left in the photo) I steamed the wood and then bent it. I tie them to keep them in place. Carving is best done when the wood is still green.
They work very well and are a great looking piece of traditional treen. I would say that they would not last forever, especially if heavily used and history bears this out as there are only a few surviving examples of this type of nutcracker.
I do have a few for sale, contact me for details.