Creating a wood manger is a fun yet meaningful craft for Christmas. You can hang it on the tree, display one anywhere you want, in a nativity scene, or use it for a larger item like the Tale of Three Trees centerpiece/mantelpiece I did here (tutorial here).
They are easy to make (children can help), are inexpensive, and don’t take much time (20 minutes or so).
What You’ll Need:
Skinny Sticks 5 inches or longer
1 sheet paper & pencil
Fake or real straw (optional)
1- Lay 7 sticks horizontally and tape them with masking tape temporarily. Cut each of the finished ends off so that the length of the manger measures 4 inches.
2- Then take a glue gun and glue in about 1/4 inch on each side (this is for the one side of the manger) and glue a stick to the line of glue. For the other half of the manger measure in and glue 1/2 inch. By staggering the measurements on both sides the legs will fit and not hit each other.
3-Next glue another skinny stick on top of the one leg to strengthen the legs of the manger. Cut the legs down to measure equal lengths I cut them at 3.5 inches long.
4- Next temporarily use masking tape to tape the manger together to form a V. Lay it sideways on a paper and trace the shape. Cut the paper out.
5-Take the cut out pattern that you made and trace the shape onto extra sticks lain next to each other and temporally taped. NOTE- I made a manger before this one that was larger. The photo below represents the V support triangles traced from the larger manger. Please just use it as a way to get an idea of what I’m taking about, not as an exact. The V you will make for this smaller manger won’t use as many sticks and will be much smaller.
Add support beams for this V shaped structure and glue one in the middle and one on each side (see how the manager V with 3 supports looks in the final shot).I liked having the pieces with the braces facing out, but you can easily face them in.
6-STOP HERE and determine if you want to stain the manger or not. This is a picture of the manger stained, and a picture of the manger unstained.
To stain it I simply took a Minwax staining cloth (maple) found here and went over it. It only took a few minutes and I think the stain adds to the look. Just be sure to stain the manger pieces before gluing the cross triangle pieces in. This first unstained manger I made I tried staining but since I had already glued it the stain couldn’t stain the wood under the glue and it doesn’t look very professional. The third manger I made (the one pictured that is stained) I stained before glueing and it turned out much better.
6- Once it is stained or you have decided not to stain the manger glue the two triangle cross pieces in.
7- Add straw or fake craft straw. You are finished.