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Greetings ~

My wife has always wanted a Manger for a Christmas display. This dosn't seem like too much to ask for. But we have been married for over 40 years and still have no Manger. We have always wanted to buy one but, for some strange reason, never thought of it at the time.

A friend of her's awhile back bought the Manger figures from Goodwill for $2.00 to use for a project. But when she found out that my wife had always wanted one, she gave her the figures. But there was no Manger, just the figures. So, I decided to make the Manger and that is what this blog is all about, the building of the Manger.

I've seen plenty of Mangers online and in stores, etc. Most of them appear as a building of sorts. However, I do not believe that on the Arab desert there were fancy buildings to simply keep animals in. That's really what a Manger was...a stable for animals. They would have built a structure from materials that were there such as logs, dirt, whatever grass they could find and so on. So I didn't want to build a fancy Manger. It would have been easier because I have plenty of plywood and other stuff to use.

I remember when I was young, my mother had a Manger that she would put on the mantal every year at Christmas. My father had made it and it was a lot like the one here that I made. Very rustic. That memory stayed with me as I built this one.

So, let's get started!

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9-15-2015

9-15-2015
If you have a yard, you probably have trees. In my case, I have several large maple trees in the back yard that are always dropping branches. I have a brush pile out back and I burn these branches in our fire pit. But for the Manger project, I sorted through the pile and got a bunch of the straightest sticks I could find. First I selected several and "skinned" them, shaving off the bark and sanding down the knots.

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I cut a bunch of the branches 5 1/2 inches long.

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These sticks will be the roof of the Manger.

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All together, there are 20 sticks 5 1/2" long.

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The two roof supports are 10 1/4" long.

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I began gluing the sticks to the two support beams.

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They are all glued in place.

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Using a sheet of "train table grass", I glued it to a piece of 1/4" plywood that is finished on both sides.

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Thank Heaven I have enough clamps and weights.

9-16-2015

9-16-2015
Gluing on the back supports.

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The support posts.

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Once the support posts are all glued on, we stand it up.

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10-16-2015

10-16-2015
For the last month I had another project that I was working on. Now I can get back to the manger. I began by gluing on all the cross supports.

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I rounded the areas where I am gluing the sticks together so it will have a stonger bond.

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I am using my Dremel tool with a drum sander bit to round the sticks off.

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The drum sander bit.

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Then I begin gluing on the back sticks.

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Our dog came down to the workshop to check everything out and spent the day with me while I worked on the manger.

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The manger with a log fence at one side.

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All year long, as sticks fall out of the two enormous maple trees in the back yard, I pick them up and save the better ones in the basement for my modeling projects. The dry out pretty good down there.

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I simply take one of the sticks...

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...cut it to the length that I need...

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...sand off all of the knots...

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...then using, what I call my slitter knife, (because it was used on a slitter machine where I worked years ago)...

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...I shave off the bark.

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Then I simply glue the sticks in place.

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The back is done. Actually, this is only the manger framing. There will be a grassy covering all over it when it's finished.

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I use the pieces that I cut off as a log pile. I cut the end pieces to the same length and stack them. I figured that they probably had a fire around the manger for heat on those chilly nights.

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That's it for tonight.

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The dog and I are getting tired. I think we'll go upstairs now.

10-17-2015

10-17-2015
Today I'm doing the grass covering. First glue is smeared all over the wood sticks.

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Then all of the grass is layed on and pressed down.

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Kinda looks like something from Gilligan's Island.

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So, there it is. Made entirerly from sticks from our maple tree in the back yard.

Finished Manger, with the figures ~

Finished Manger, with the figures ~

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