I recently purchased a Grandpa’s Goody Getter Nutcracker to crack all the black walnuts I’ve been harvesting. There are lots of other good choices out there, but this is what I ended up with and I wanted to share my experiences with it.
First off, the overall impressions. It’s a big, goofy-looking device, but it seems well built. The operation is pretty smooth, except for I get a little resistance when I try to open the jaws all the way. This is very slight but noticeable, and it only seems to come into play on the largest nuts. I like that it automatically adjusts the bottom ram so that the nut sits tight to the top ram. This way, none of the motion of the cracking stroke is wasted, and it allows the device to wring out every bit of mechanical advantage it can. I also like the return springs, which bring the device back to the ready position with just a little nudge, and also provide a little resistance to aid in precise cracking. If mounted to a board, they do recommend clamping it down to a sturdy table. I can attest that while it’s not necessary, the ease of cracking and the quality of the crack both improve noticeably when the device is anchored down as securely as possible. This makes a big difference when you’re cracking a bunch of nuts at once.
As for actually cracking the nuts, it works great. I tested it on the wild black walnuts, as well as some named varieties of black walnut and hickory that @barkslip was kind enough to supply me with. I was going to take video, but it was super noisy outside that day. So, you’ll have to make do with pictures.
First, here is an idea of the range of nuts I was testing. From left to right, we have one of the larger wild black walnuts, a Pounds 2 black walnut, two different sizes of shagbark hickory, and a Holterman shellbark hickory. According to Dax, Pounds 2 is usually much larger, but its size was impacted by the pollen parent that year. The Goody Getter was able to bust open all of these nuts without any trouble.
Here are the results of cracking the black walnuts. Wild on the left, Pounds 2 on the right. Pounds 2 definitely had smoother kernels that were a bit easier to extract, but they were otherwise pretty similar in cracking difficulty and how much additional fiddling I needed to get all the kernel pieces out.
I tried the hickory nuts both in the sideways orientation recommended by Dax and the end-end orientation specified by the manufacturer. Either way worked pretty well. I think sideways was slightly more likely to result in intact halves, and end-end usually required slightly less fiddling. In all the hickory nut pictures, the sideways crack is on the left, and the end-end crack is on the right.
Here are the results of cracking Holterman (first crack, followed by extracted pieces):
Here are the results for Scholl shellbark:
Here are the results for the large and small shagbarks:
All in all, I think this is a pretty great nutcracker. It’s not cheap, but I expect it will last a good long while. I’ll add some links below to video reviews of other comparable nutcrackers.