Anyone own a yurt?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Formerly of Kent
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    Anyone own a yurt?

    Specifically, a "camping" yurt? Or, thought about building one?

    A while back, my wife and I stayed in a relatively small yurt at a rather expensive resort for her friend's wedding. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a 16 foot diameter yurt. The overall construction of the yurt in question wasn't particularly special, and I'd bet my last dollar that it was built from a pre-fabricated, overpriced kit. Looking up various manufacturers of that kind of thing confirmed my suspicions.

    So, that got us thinking about building a yurt of our own. We've done quite a bit of backpacking, and I've lived out of a backpack as part of my job setting for pretty long stretches at various points in time. We understand the pros and cons of a tent, RTTs, etc. We also have a dog, and we also like to go camping with her sister + BIL their dog. To put it simply, we want to go camping in the mountains or desert at any time of year with minimal discomfort, maximum convenience, and the least amount of money spent to do it. To be able to set up camp in Moab/Breck/Durango for a long weekend, recreate, and then prepare ourselves to do it again the next day.

    The purpose of this thread is the catalog the work that we did, provide some hints or ideas for others, and get some input from anyone else who might have any.

    With that in mind, I had a couple of goals in mind when thinking about this project:

    1) Warmth/temperature control
    2) We want to be able to stand up inside
    3) Portability
    4) Easily transported on roof rack of 5 door car
    5) Easily set up and taken down by two short adults
    6) Sleep 4 adults + 2 dogs, minimum
    7) Cook inside, if desired
    8) Under $1000, total

    We eventually decided on a desired set of dimensions for the yurt. 11.5' diameter, 5' wall height, 25 degree roof slope, and just over 7' tall in the middle, which looks like this:

    Anyone own a yurt?-yurtdimensions.png

    From: https://simplydifferently.org/Yurt_N...t%20Calculator

    After that, material. My wife has been a woodworker since she was 8 years old, and she decided that poplar would be the material of choice. Strong, cheap-ish, and most importantly, generally very smooth in grain and knot free, which would be important when dealing with a lot of very thin, long pieces of wood. We decided that, for durability and ease of installation, we'd use T-nuts with matching bolts and washers.

    So, off to trusty lumber store. Now, anyone who has done any woodworking knows that if you're making a lot of cuts, you're basically lighting money on fire. Kind of unavoidable here. To rip of a 3/8" piece of poplar, even with a thin Kerf blade, you're turning 3/32 into saw dust. Now, think about doing that every time for 70+ pieces. What I'm trying to get at here is that it will require more wood than you think it will, unless you account for wastage in your calculations. I ended up buying about 40 BF of 6/4 poplar.

    Anyone own a yurt?-img_0405.jpg

    After ripping to 3/8" and then thickness planning every piece down to 5/16", I drilled holes at the calculated spacing. Then, we had to apply some weather proofing varnish to every piece. This actually ended up bringing out some of the better aesthetic qualities of poplar, IMO.
    Anyone own a yurt?-weatherproofing.jpg

    After that, we laid out one entire wall, and assembled it. Pounded the T-nuts into the wood, washer between each wooden lath, bolt them together. About 120 connections per wall. 5' wife for scale.
    Anyone own a yurt?-folded-size.jpg

    Now, see fully expanded wall:

    Anyone own a yurt?-expandedsize.jpg

    Two walls next to each other, for comparison. They are exactly the same, in terms of dimensions. Anyone own a yurt?-twowalls.jpg

    Now, the door frames. These are a rough draft that will serve as a temporary solution until we make final product. They are made out of regular old 2x4s. My wife is very particular about the way she designs and constructs things, but I won the argument, in favor of speed, and knocked them together in 15min. We will replace them with a stronger, lighter design later. My wife does joinery very well, so we will likely have door frames without bolts or screws in them when complete.

    Anyone own a yurt?-doortodoor.jpg

    What you can't see in any of these images is what connects the lattice/walls and the door, as well as holds them up at the right size (they can expand and contract, after all). I'll take a picture of that this weekend. It is basically a system of UHMWPE (dyneema) cords that compresses the walls in both the horizontal and vertical planes, to keep it from flattening out or getting too tall. By doing this, and using pieces of 3mm Dyneema cord with loops spliced into each end, all exactly the same length, I guaranteed a standard wall height around the entire stucture. I'll update this with pictures of the tensioning system this weekend.
    Death from Below.

  2. #2
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    Now, there are obviously a few steps remaining. I will update this post with pictures as everything comes together.

    A roof (structure), wall and roof coverings, and actual doors themselves.

    To link everything together, I built what the Mongolian herdsmen who live in these call a toono. I used a bunch of the scrap material left over from building the wall lattices, thickness planned them down to 3/16", and then built a wood steamer out of ABS pipe and my MIL's clothes steamer. We then bent 7 total pieces around an old 24" bicycle wheel, wrapping them around and clamping them on as we went. After a couple of hours in the sun, they were released from their bonds and held a nice bend, permanently. From there, we took the first piece, wrapped it around, glued it to itself, and then clamped it. Then kept on going until we had a roof wheel that, by my estimation, could support a car but only weighs a few pounds. I should note that we used Titebond III, which is their waterproof wood glue, for this process. This weekend, I will make a poplar and plexiglass cover for this wheel that will allow for ventilation, have a silicone jack for a chimney, and let a good amount of light into the abode.

    For the roof structure itself, we decided to go with bamboo. We bought 2 packages of 25 6'x1" diameter rods from Home Depot. Pending arrival.

    For the walls, we purchased canvas from Big Duck Canvas. Pending arrival.
    Death from Below.

  3. #3
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    Donít own one but Iíve stayed in some fancy ones out in Western, MD on occasion (heated floor, fireplace, nice bathroom, ...)

    It is cool listening to snow/rain/sleet falling on the roof at night.


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  4. #4
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    Roof material? Going with a wood stove inside?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Roof material? Going with a wood stove inside?
    We bought #12 canvas; about 11.5oz/sq yard. Waiting on it to arrive. We're planning to waterproof/make it very water resistant with a wax-based product when we get it stitched together.

    Trying to find the ideal wood stove. We've been using Biolite stoves for regular tent camping for a while now, and they work very well. But they won't work for this application. We'd like to be able to cook on it, maybe heat water for showers (via thermosiphon wrapped around chimney), and provide enough heat to keep the yurt warm down to 0 degrees or so.
    Death from Below.

  6. #6
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    Pretty awesome!
    Yurt ownership is on my list of things to do...

  7. #7
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    Cool story...been thinking about Yurts for years. Nice follow through of an idea into reality.

  8. #8
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    My friends back in Illinois made a few yurts. Pretty simple to construct.
    SCA folks.
    Help chart the mountains at www.appalachianbiketrails.org

  9. #9
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    Nice work! Canít wait to hear about your future adventures in your home made yurt. 👍🏻

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    We bought #12 canvas; about 11.5oz/sq yard. Waiting on it to arrive. We're planning to waterproof/make it very water resistant with a wax-based product when we get it stitched together.

    Trying to find the ideal wood stove. We've been using Biolite stoves for regular tent camping for a while now, and they work very well. But they won't work for this application. We'd like to be able to cook on it, maybe heat water for showers (via thermosiphon wrapped around chimney), and provide enough heat to keep the yurt warm down to 0 degrees or so.
    Got a plan for how the chimney goes through the roof? Metal flashing and some kind of non burning fiberglass material? Think about some CO2 safety as well. Seal check stove pipes and CO 2 detector?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Got a plan for how the chimney goes through the roof? Metal flashing and some kind of non burning fiberglass material? Think about some CO2 safety as well. Seal check stove pipes and CO 2 detector?
    Going to use a silicone stove jack. Basically metal flashing with a silicone seal inside of that, which you cut to size based on the diameter of the pipe.

    And, yeah, going to have a carbon dioxide/monoxide detector in there.

    Still trying to figure out how we want to configure the stove, pipe and how it will exit the roof. I've seen people with stove pipes that almost immediately exit the tent; that seems like a waste of thermal energy to me. If the idea of a stove is to heat a space, having as much pipe surface area INSIDE the tent makes sense, to me.

    So, having the stove centrally located makes sense. But, that would also get in the way, I think. One possible solution is to have the stove near-ish a wall (but not too close, of course) but have the stove pipe come up and then bend towards the roof ring, following the roof line/rafters.

    However, because the rafters get closer to each other the closer you get to the center, the chimney would either have to come out of the roof ring/toono (which would also complicate raising/lowering the ventilation system), or figure something else out.
    Death from Below.

  12. #12
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    Is it intended to be portable or permanent?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by eugenenine View Post
    Is it intended to be portable or permanent?
    Portable. Hoping set up time will be 30 minutes or less. I have some tricks up my sleeve for aiding set up speed.


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    Death from Below.

  14. #14
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    Slightly on subject, I accidentally bumped into the shift-pod things reading about cheap/temp housing for hurricane victims.

    Following the story and seeing a few sizes and how they go together for the price was pretty amazing. All I could think of was; I have no need or application for one but I still want one. Never seen anything like those before but now I see many, many options out there for the non-DIY'r.

    https://shiftpod.com/shiftpod/
    bachman must spread some Reputation around before giving it to himself again. :madman:


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