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Yurt/Gher Construction 101

A guide to Building Yurts...or more specifically, how I built mine!

Based on Knowledge Gained from "Doing it Myself", and reading about it on-line.

I've now built three yurts, for myself and friends, and we go camping in Luxury in these a few times a year.

If you like the outdoors, but you hate having to crawl around in pokey little tents then this one's for you!

We sleep two of us in luxury in this tent, in a full queen-sized bed! Of course, sleeping on the floor, like a plastic tent, you could probably sleep 20 people, easily!. :-)

We have dedicated hanging space for our clothes so they don't crumple or anything, and lockable boxes for our belongings (or a lock on the door works too!)

When we invite other camping-inclined friends over for a party in our tent, we can confortably fit 15-20 people in, sitting around on cushions and lounging on the bed and on the rugs on the floor... now that's what I can a party tent! :-)

If you like pictures, please be sure to have a look at step 9 - it's got over 50 assembly photos on that step alone !

Step 1: Overview of the parts and process.!

I'm going to cut right to the chase, and assume you know the following (in principle):

1) What a yurt is, and what it's made from.
2) How all the components should look when together.
If you've ever seen a yurt in the flesh, or photo's, or read a bit about them, that's enough.

As you can see from the photo/s, there are a few major components, so I'm going to write about each of these in turn, with some background info, and how to make them, and after that I'll show you how it all comes together for the assembly!

  • Dimensions and background.
  • Timber Components
- wall
- roof
- door.

  • Metal Components
- roof hub
- bolts, pins, pegs.

  • canvas components
- wall
- roof
- roof cap

  • Assembly!

below are a few sample pictures of some components, just for intereste sake:
<p>Wow.......That&quot;s cool idea. Thank U)</p><div>I have my own website of building materials : <a href="http://domuse.com.ua/" rel="nofollow">http://domuse.com.ua/</a> </div><div>, so I like your idea ) )</div>
<p>I like the way you do your crown and use it as spikes into the rafters. you could possibly add a skylight of sorts to allow light in and defer rain or snow. Kuddo's for your instructable!!!</p>
<p>I like the way you do your crown and use it as spikes into the rafters. you could possibly add a skylight of sorts to allow light in and defer rain or snow. Kuddo's for your instructable!!!</p>
The only thing I would recommend is to drill the holes in the 2xs before ripping as that way the holes would be easier to keep lined up. Of course if you already said this ok.
<p>I was reading about Gers http://365pricefinder.com/blog/2016/03/24/mongolian-tour-want-know-visiting-mongolia/ a true lively place in Mongolia. </p>
<p>Great instructable! Very thorough. I love the design of this yurt though- it's actually much easier to build and put together because there aren't nearly as many parts. I slept in one in Joshua tree in 40 MPH wind once, it held up like a champ! <a href="http://www.notcot.com/archives/2008/03/the-nomad-yurt.php"> http://www.notcot.com/archives/2008/03/the-nomad-...</a></p>
<p>I am turkish from turkey thank you</p>
Very nice.
<p>WOW !</p><p>I think it may have taken you more time to write up this Instructable that to actually make the yurt. It's really quite complete.</p>
<p>Yurt testimonial here. I wanted one for camping in the desert, but before I did one of portable size, I built a 16 food diameter prototype first. Most of the lumber for the lattice came out of 2x6 decking that someone had donated to me. The rest I made of maybe a dozen 2/x4s at two bucks or so apiece. Lots of sawdust made ripping the lumber. The covering for the prototype was plastic advertising banners (free). I made the central ring out of wood. Some plywood and another two by four for that. Total cost easily under a hundred dollars. The yurt has been standing behind my shop for two years now and withstood 50 mile an hour winds. The main challenge of wind is that it creates lift over the top and want to lift off the roof. Also if you don't have good tiedowns, your roof canvas will do a lot of flapping. It took some trial and error to get that part worked out.</p><p>For camping, I built a ten foot diameter yurt and covered it with waxed canvas. Ten foot turned out to be a little cramped so I upgraded that to 12 foot (44% increase in floor space) by adding another lattice section. I simply extended the ten foot wall covering but had to make a new roof and a new center ring (tono). </p><p>Used that yurt in the Mojave Desert, which gets big winds on occasion. First day during setup wind pushed the yurt sideways. But I had cut a bunch of 1 foot sections of rebar to which I anchored the roof tiedowns and everything was cool after that. Still some flapping though which made sleeping a challenge. I suppose that heavy felt covering would be less prone to high winds than lighter canvas. </p><p>The other thing I learned about the canvas is that it shrinks more along the length than the width so on the 12 foot yurt I soaked the canvas in water and let it dry before doing any cutting. </p><p>Love the yurt and it is always a great conversation starter. Total weight of the 12 footer is about 180 pounds (not suitable for backpacking) but it fits inside a Pontiac vibe except for the wall lattice and the roof poles which go on the roof rack. On warm days we leave the roof canvas off for desert camping where there is little chance of rain. </p>
<p>I lived in Mongolia, and the correct term is a ger. This house/tent usually was built in a day by Mongolian nomads. The ger is the national home and most rural areas use it because its warm, cheap, and is portable. The insulation is regularly wool. The doors are extremely small, and are painted usually by the older family as a gift to the newer generation. Most doors are almost 20 years old! One family I encountered had a 100 year door but didn't use it because of decay. The hole at the top was usually covered by a thick wool blanket with a metal ringed hole for the chimney of the stove top. Nomads would cover the whole in winter and leave it open in the summer (basically all other season except summer are winter!). Thank you for making this intractable as it gave me past memories of the beautiful countryside! (Attached are photos a friend took. One of them is inside a ger and the other are mongolian wrestlers outside of a ger)</p>
<p>The correct term is ger if you are speaking of the Mongolian one. They used felt mainly, as well as wool (almost same thing)</p>
<p>Beautyfull! Wonderfull! </p><p>Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Beautyfull! Wonderfull! </p><p>Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>If only I was younger! Can't build one now, eyes are screwed up and the rest of me don't work either! Great job, beautiful yurt, I'd love to live in it!</p>
<p>Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!!!!! I have always loved Yurts and fascinated by their construction. Thank you David for a tutorial VERY well done :)</p>
<p>I wonder about making the lattice with 1/2&quot; to 1&quot; pvc pipe, drilled but instead being bolted, using long pop rivets. It might be expensive but it might also be pretty sturdy and still be lightweight. </p>
<p>I think that is a great idea. I would probably drill through the pvc so it will fit </p><div><p>1/4&quot; tubing. I would then insert screws to and wing nuts and maybe use two flat washers and a lock washer. A ni-lock nut could be used as well. Thanks for the suggestion.</p></div>
Cool. I dont have the patience or cash to completely make this, but I might make a more... "impromptu" version at camp.
Traditionally (ie as far bac as the 1600's), the mongolians actually made the timber structure of these tents out of saplings (and small trees), which were lashed together with twine/cord, or bark that had been stripped from the samlings themselves, so making an "impromptu" yurt yourself from your available surroundings can be done!. Of course, cutting down 50-100 small trees, stripping the branches, etc, and lashing/waeaving them all together is a fair bit of work. The result can be a beautiful semi-permanent structure though.
<p>My neighbor has given me permission to hack down a pile of bamboo on his property. LOTS of bamboo! It occurred to me, aside from the hoop greenhouse that's on my TO DO list, that one of these would be an option for a weekend build as well. :)</p>
<p>Native American tribes also made similar structures - wigwams and wickiups, both are best made with green or flexible sticks.</p>
<p>If you do not have the skills or the tools to cut the strips, ask for lathe at your local lumber yard. I may be a bit more expensive, but a lot less work.</p>
<p>I would love to see what all the disassembled parts look like on a trailer (or even just in a pile on the ground.) I.e. How hard is the yurt to pack up and move?</p>
<p>Would a rocket mass heater work in a yurt?</p>
Hi David, Very Imressive work you've done to document this! It seems that this yurt is covered with 1 layer of canvas, have you seen or thought to do one with the traditional felt? Having a small flock of sheep I was thinking a yurt would be a great fiber studio - would need windows tho. Do you think that windows could be incorporated into your process and how would you think to go about it? I would build this on a small deck. I'll have to look into the costs of something like Sunforger canvas since it would be up full time. For those thinking of using cheap tarp to keep costs down - they really need replacing often. We build pasture shelters using the strongest tarp available locally and they see only 1 year at best.
I forgot tot mention... Adding Windows is really easy, and is quite popular on all styles (modern and traditional), it's just a mtter of cutting a hole in the canvas where you want your window, and sewing a tie-over flap to cover the hole. if you were to simply cut a U shape (three of the 4 sides, leaving the top uncut), this flap will then "roll up", and can be rolled down again to close it. You will still need a way to "seal" the window, so either an extra strip of canvas (to cover the seam), or a zipper (for those looking for a modern approach), or both, would all work. THere is not normally any need to cut the lattice/wall timbers away from the window(unless you intend passing large objects through it) just the canvas, but you can do this too of you are careful about the overall structural integrity of the yurt.
<p>If you have the money, you can make windows out of marine grade ABS. Vendor's web site: http://www.perfectfit.com/256832/products/-Achilles-UV-Treated-Roll-Clear-VinylWith-Paper54-wide.html</p>
First of all, I would like to say that this is a truly exceptional instructional manual. I give it "two thumbs up"!!! I'm new here, but when I saw the post for this I just had to "take a peek" and boy, am I delighted I did! Thanks for all your hard work! I would just like to ask a question about sealing the window. I was wondering if you thought velcro stripping might work for that? God bless and good luck with your 4th yurt!
verlcro - no reason why it wouldn't.... any joining/window technique that can be used on fabric tents can be used on a yurt!.
Brilliant! I can envision a port hole window with a slightly larger flap and then ties to both hold the flap down or up. As for the felt - it may take a couple of years of collecting fleece but there is a youtube film on making a rug in the mongolian fashion which would certainly serve as a felting lesson. My thoughts are to keep the felt between the lattice and the waterproof outer fabric. Not traditional but practical (maybe).
If you live in a cold(ie snow) or windy and flat(ie stepps) area, then having extra insulation between you and the outside world is a definite plus! <br/><br/>Some of the ways I've seen previously used are:<br/><br/>1) wrap the latticework in bubble-wrap plastic sheet ( <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_Wrap">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_Wrap</a> ) a couple of inches thick, and then put the canvas over that. (so it's canvas-bubblewrap-lattice from the outside to the inside). This method will easily cope with extreme temperatures like snow.<br/><br/>2) use traditional felt externally, as thick as you require to cope with the weather requirements.<br/><br/>3) use internal hanging fabric non-waterproof walls, that allow the air-gap between the external canvas and the internal fabric to act as an insulation barrier. (so it's canvas-lattice-air-fabric from the outside to the inside). not as effective as option 1, but lighter, and easier to assemble.<br/><br/>Your solution is a variation on option 1 above, just replacing the bubble-wrap with felt, and Im sure it will work just fine.<br/><br/>My current solution is to use option 3, but only when the weather is inclement enough(ie when it's the middle of winter!) to need it.<br/> <br/>
I though long and hard about making one out of felt, but it's just not practical for me for a number of reasons: 1) felt was traditionally yak fur, and yak are smelly and oily. The oil is a natural waterproofer which is good, but the smell is aweful. Washing the smell away removes the oil too, so would require re-adding synthetic waterproofer/etc. This seemed like a lot of work. 2) Mongolian's have been known to boil the guts of a yack to render out the fats, and use these to waterproof the felt. I don't have ready access to yak guts, and I'm VERY glad I don't, this is just Gross (Ew!)! 3) Storage. To be structurally as strong/waterproof, the felt needs to be up to an inch thick, sometimes thicker. This is how the monguls used to do it. Storage for this amount of felt would be a problem for me, as it becomes very big very quickly. 4) The felt was normally made in "tiles" up to a meter or two square, and these tiles were tied-down onto the framework. the process of tying down donens of heavy felt tiles every time I want to assembly my yurt didn't appeal to me. Modern manufacturing techniques might solve this problem, but not all the others. 5) Commercially, Felt is really expensive in the quantities needed, and few people (myself included) have sheep/yak/goat and also the desire to make our own felt. I am in awe of anyone that is keen enough to actually do this. Please send me picture if you do!. :-)
<p>assembly pictures? where?</p>
<p>Nice! Only a couple of questions at this point, How much room do you need to store it? Any pictures of the walls folded up?</p>
I think David did a nice job on this. I intend to build one soon, so I'm looking at ALL examples. So there.
<p>I 15 and in school im in the home program and we dicided to construct a ongolian ger for a trip that we do evry year would one canvas cover last at least 5 years</p>
I have been rather astounded at the snarkiness and acid tone of some of the comments about David's yurt. It's an awesome feat of building that he didn't have to share; many of us are extremely glad he documented the process so well. <br>You guys who quibble and sniff about terminology just come off as pathetic. I don't see any of you publishing your &quot;correct&quot; versions anywhere here, especially in this kind of detail - are you just so hungry for some kind of validation that you have to p*ss on the welcome efforts of real makers like David? Just sayin'...
I love David's Yurt. I am interested in building one, though I am not sure where to source out the metal hub or some alternative.
David plainly said he works with metal and made it from several pieces of 2 different sized bolts. A metal shop should be able to weld one up for you
well said dzent1, I love the info here and I'm on to off the grid living, peace, love and unity!
Hear, hear!
<p>Mongolian Ger does not contain any metal pieces at all, however, it is great initiative and creativity by foreigner. 5 stars for your project!</p>
<p>Looks amazing!</p>
Thanks for sharing! Does anyone have a general idea what it would cost to build?
<p>I think it would be better if we have a video tutorial, Tks anyway</p>
<p>You have done an amazing job. It is great to see Mongolian traditional house is built by foreigners. It is not only a great experiment but also great entertainment. This Mongolian ger's main purpose is to be portable since Mongolians are nomads. Building ger requires more practice but you made it very easy. GOOD JOB AGAIN!!!!</p>

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