I had a request to make a wood nativity for my sister-in-law’s Willow Tree nativity figurines. I love getting requests and coming up with a design to create something. Here is how I made a DIY wood nativity from some scrap wood I had around the house. You can adapt the design to whatever size you need, but this is a great size for the Willow Tree figurines.
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Step 1: Cut The Base
I started with a rough cut pine board that I already had in the garage. The piece was 7.5″ wide, 7/8″ deep, and I cut it down to 14″ long using a miter saw. You can use whatever type of wood you want, but I liked the look of the rough cut board to give the nativity a rustic feel. I also got Tony to cut some wood strips on the table saw that were 7/8″ by 7/8″ by about 14″ long.
Step 2: Cut the frame pieces
Next I cut down the frame pieces. For the supports I cut a 45 degree angle on one end using the miter saw. I cut the total length at 6 1/4″. The roof frame pieces I cut a total length of 10″, with a 45 degree angle at each end.
Step 3: Sand all pieces
I did a light sand to all the pieces first using 80 grit sandpaper, and finishing with 150 grit. It doesn’t really matter what grit sandpaper you use, but the purpose is just to remove splinters and to break the corners. I wanted to leave the wood a little bit rough, so just a very light sand is all that’s needed.
Step 4: Put together the frame
Step 5: Attach frame pieces to the base
I fastened the frame pieces to the base by pre-drilling a hole from the bottom of the base, adding a dab of wood glue, and screwing up from the bottom. This way there are no visible screws and makes the whole frame very sturdy.
Step 6: Roof and back wall
For the roof and back wall, I had some scrap tongue and groove cedar pieces. Tony picked these up at a yard sale, um ten years ago. We’ve moved them from house to house, and finally I found a use for them.
I cut the pieces 11 inches long for the back wall, and glued and clamped them together. The glue didn’t hold very well, but it was enough that I could measure and cut the shape of the back wall and roof pieces. After cutting I lightly sanded all the rough edges.
Step 7: Stain
I stained all the pieces separately using a white rag and Minwax dark walnut stain. The two types of wood stained a slightly different color, but I think it gives it a nice contrast.
Step 8: Nail back wall and roof pieces
Attach the back wall pieces using some wood glue first. Then use some small finishing nails and nail the roof and wall pieces into the frame structure. The total inside dimensions of this wood nativity ended up being about 11 inches tall, and 10″ wide. Depending on what figurines you have you can adjust the dimensions, but this nativity was designed specifically for the Willow Tree figurines. The open sides allow for a little extra room for the animals, but otherwise they all fit pretty well in there.
DIY Wood Nativity
We don’t actually have the Willow Tree figurines, but the kids played with the nativity for a while with our own age appropriate Fisher Price people. And there you have it! What do you use for your nativity set? Did you make your own? Is this something you could see yourself making?
Here is how it looks with the Willow Tree nativity figurines