When Is a Yurt NOT a Yurt?




About: My husband calls me his "agent of change". Always have to be building, playing or thinking about doing something. Sitting around is not an option.

So, The great thing about Yurts is that just about anyone can find the needed items to build themselves a dwelling in this style. And, as an added bonus, when it just doesn't work quite right the first time, it can be turned into a great portable fort instead :-

You can pull sticks out of the woods and use them, table saw slices off your grandmothers favorite futon imaybe not), or (like I did), scavenge throw away scraps from the next door neighbors garage door business.

There are endless possibilities for your basic building blocks. Some will work better then others, but trying things is half the fun?

So......... Here we go, the Yurt that wasn't.

One of the neatest things about these dwellings is the flexibility and inexpensiveness involved. Again.............

Here we go!

Step 1: Find Your Wood, Cut It Up, Lay It Down, and Drill It :- )

I used 8 ft pieces of scrap lumber that was cut about 2 inches wide.    Made about  60 of them for starters if I remember correctly (which is not a guarantee :-)      then used a hand drill to cut holes through a about 4 at a time.  

Making sure to keep the boards lined up while drilling.      So,   60 ish boards with holes drilled along them at intervals.

Measure about 9 inches from the ends of the lathe and drill your first hole.   Drill more holes at 15", 27 " and 38 " and so on.  

You should have about 3 inches left at the other end.     

(You can try drilling through the two by 4 before you slice it also,  I dont have good enough equipment (no drill press :-(  ),  but I am pretty sure it would save some time and effort in the long run.    

You can see an example of how to lay out the boards after they have been drilled.   You need a VERY large open space to do this part.  This is also the time to call in your family, neighbors etc... to help you out.   It takes ALOT of tying!    

Step 2: Lay Em Out and Tie Em Up!

This is where the REAL fun begins  One of the fun things about this project is it can be very inclusive.  Young , old, and individuals with disabilities can play a part in putting this establishment together.   Individuals with disabilities can be included easily,  and everyone can get a feeling of accomplishment.  

Get some polypropelene rope (I think thats what it is called),  It has to be the kind that you can harden the end of by burning.    Cut about a galizzion pieces of it (ok, maybe just a million).   Cut into 8 inch pieces and burn one end.    That is the end you put through the holes.  After you tie it off you can cut off any extra and burn the end again.  

Step 3: TADA!!!!!!!!! Looking Good for a Few Minutes :-)

Find a friend to stand it up when you have tied everything off.   Tie some ski's poles etc... to the ends to form a doorway, and you ALMOST have a yurt.        We SHALL see!

Step 4: To Roof or Not to Roof?

Make sure you have a little helper like I did.  Its much more fun!   (The furry one that is :-)   Also,  dont forget the bug dope!  Unless you enjoy seeing your daughter cringing under her coat as you erect your Taj Mahal!      

So,  yes,  note to self.  The whole point of this instructable is that things dont always turn out quite how you expect,  but you can salvage and come up with something fun anyway.  Ergo the "fort".       So,  My roof (rings and strange whirlygig of twigs), was an utter disaster.   I did however enjoy having a giant "pinwheel" nailed to a tree in my yard for several months.  That was a perk of the roof not working.  I am sure my neighbors enjoyed it also :-)      Yes,  well,  I digress once more!

Step 5: Bag the Roof! But Still Optimistic :-)

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,   its got to work somehow right?   Wait for it :-)   

                                                                    I mean ALL that work cant be for Naught!

Step 6: Wait for It.................................................. Darn!

Not SO Optimistic anymore! Winter was coming and I had had enough fun. It was a great project though and I am looking forward to trying it again with a bit stiffer wall material. Learned alot! and now its "Fort Fodder".

On another more optimistic note, it is surprising how useful a tall fencey (not a word, I know :-) can be. It is great for keeping moose out of gardens, Making a quick addition to the side of a shed (to cover with a tarp and hide garage sale items), or to lend to the neighbor for lord only knows what. (I am pretty sure it had to do with wild animals getting into her compost pile. Grizzly bear types that were quite undeterred I might add. But THAT'S another story :-)



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    8 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I think you are on to something. Unfortunately where I live (Chugiak, Alaska) nothing grows fast enought to keep ahead of the next winter. Maybe though, you have me thinking a bit :-) Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    There are people living year round in yurts in Alaska. Look um up on youtube.


    3 years ago

    A few things you missed. A band or CABLE around the top of the wall when erected . This is what gives the walls their strength. Without it you GET what you GOT. Don't be discouraged . You can find ALL KINDS of videos on that wonderful thing called the internet . Do a little research , and give it another try. I'm sure the next attempt will be much more successful. HAVE FUN


    4 years ago

    I've not built a yurt, yet. However, all my research on yurts informs me that oneof the things that gives them stability is a cloth band, or rope, around the top and bottom of the wall sections, khana, that prevents the roof poles from pushing the top of the wall outwards and collapsing the structure. It is the dynamic tension of the roof poles pushing outwards and the retaining band/ropes pulling inwards which gives a yurt's frame the strength to stand up against high winds, snow loads and other challenges of the Siberian Tundra. I think the absence of the retaining band/rope may be the cause of your yurt's collapse.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I think the 'failed yurt' would make an awesome 'green fort' in the summer!

    Use 5 "T-posts" (used for fencing) to keep walls from falling in (or out). (One at each side of the 'doorway', then the other 3 spaced evenly around the rest of the circumference.) Make the 'pointy roof' by firmly attaching the ends of 5 'poles' (pvc, bamboo, whatever) together creating a sort of a 'teepee' frame. Attach the bottom end of each 'roof pole' the top of each "T-post".

    Then plant quick growing climbing plants.....pole beans, morning glories, etc around the 'fort'.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    If you Succeed at making a Yurt I would love to see it. I am always on the lookout for an easy Yurt Instructable.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Yea, thats probably part of the challenge. Mostly I used sub standard wood slats that were way to flexible. Not alot of intrinsic strength. Good information for next time :-)


    4 years ago on Step 6

    I think your basic concept is good, but you may be trying for too tall of structure for the diameter. Try reducing you wall height by about half. That will lower the center of gravity and make your walls more stable.