HOW TO BUILD A YURT
Scroll all the way down for DOWNLOADABLE PATTERNS.
Below you will find one way of building yurts. There are countless others going back millenia. This particular design comes from my experience of climate and culture (21st-century northern New England); of family and livelihood; the available money, materials, and skills; and my particular needs over years of yurt living. Yours will differ. For decades I have put off writing these instructions because I question the wisdom of enabling folks to turn off their brains and follow blindly. But one has to start somewhere! So consider your climate, source the most appropriate (and greenest) materials, evaluate your needs and your budget, stir in your own particular set of skills, and enjoy! If your experience is anything like mine, you will not emerge unchanged.
Watch the video on the the raising page for more (and better) visuals than shown here.
Sapling Frame: 17', 20', 25' with 6' Wall Peeled or not: your choice. Peel if using white birch, red oak, or spruce/fir. See /saplings page for more info. Want to build a taller wall? Try the YURT CALCULATOR at simplydifferently.org.
2 to 2-1/2” dia. Sweep less than half the diameter.
Remove nubs. Rip in half on table saw. No fence. Use caution and Wear PPE. Work the wood green! Dry saplings are hard and squirrely.
Qty of full 82” lattice members before ripping in half: 59 (17’) or 73 (20’) or 91 (25’).
Also make enders: 2 pieces at 72”, 2 at 52”, 2 at 32”, and 2 at 12”.
Small ends up. Drill holes 10” apart. End holes are 1” from either end.
Drill 1/8” dia if using #21 bonded nylon twine, or at 3/16” for #550 p-cord.
Drill top holes 3/16” for the 8-32 x 2-1/2” machine screws that will hold up the tension cable.
Lattice wall will roll into a 2.5’ dia cylinder and weigh 300-800 lbs.
Sweep should be less than the diameter. Rafters can wiggle but must return to where they started.
Remove any nubs which will abraid cover. Leave branches for hooks if desired.
17’ 32 Rafters. 85” long. Tips 1-1/2” - 2”. Butts 2-1/4”.
20’ 40 Rafters. 105” long. Tips 1-3/4” - 2-1/4”. Butts 2-1/2”.
25’ 56 Rafters. 140” long. Tips 2” - 2-1/4”. Butts 2-3/4”.
Cut 1” tenons. Effective tenon length two inches.
With a chain saw, cut a 3/8” wide by 3/8” deep slot in bottom to accept cable, perpendicular to the bow.
3/16” aircraft cable. Nests in between the lattice pieces, set atop the 8-32 x 2-1/2" machine screws that hold the tops together. See right side of picture below)
These measurements will give you 36" of overlap. Secure with 3 cable clamps.
17' 55’ 10-1/4” 20' 65’ 3-3/8” 25' 80’ 11-3/4”
--Note the holed jig set atop the piece being drilled.
--Go halfway...flip...meet at the middle...don't use a fence...be careful!
I've never been able to rive lattice without the grain spiraling down the tree, but Ben Danner of Maine has succeeded, as shown here.
Sapling Frame: 14' with 5' wall.
24 Rafters: 71” long. tips 1-1/2”, butts 2-1/4 to 2-1/2”. 1” tenon. Effective tenon length two inches. 3/8 wide by 3/8 deep slot in bottom (to accept cable) (use a chain saw) cut perpendicularly to any bow in the piece. Remove any nubs which will abraid cover, but leave branches for hooks if desired. Rafters can wiggle but must return to where it started.
--Above: Six Foot Wall for a 25' yurt. --Below: Five Foot Wall.
Door and Jamb
Jamb: Made of 2x4’s (rabbet out 1/2" x 1-3/4” to create the stop) and 1x6’s. Header and threshold each 46” long. Cut both 1x and 2x Side pieces at 69-5/8”.
Door. 32 x 69 (57" for 5' door in 14' yurt) x 1-3/4" thick. Build however you want.
Awning (not shown) 3/4 x 5-1/2 x 40". Cut 2"x4" notches out of each end. Awning hangs out over door about 3-5/8".
<---Rabbeting door jambs.
Roof Ring: 5' O.D. for 17', 20', or 25' yurt. (Italics: 14' ring is 4' O.D.)
-Start with four (three) store-bought 2x8x8's
-Cut out 16 (12) arcs as shown in pattern.
-Glue and screw two layers together. Screw from the top. PLAN WHERE YOUR HOLES WILL BE: Drill bits and hidden screws do not mix well!
-Create the bevel with a hatchet or electric hand plane. Bevel goes from the joint between the layers to a circle 7/8"(1-1/8") in from your outside edge. This will yield 60 degrees, for your 30 degree roof rafters.
-Drill 1" holes (32, 40, or 56) (24) at 30 degrees for your rafters. Note the level taped to the drill.
-Drill a couple more holes on lower face to use during raising.
Note: if using milled 2x6 rafters (2x4 for small yurts), build the ring THREE layers thick instead. No bevel or holes will be needed. The tops of your rafters will have a plumb cut. Your rafter length will be a little less due to no tenon. Attach with toe-screws or drill for 3/8" steel peg tenons.
--tracing roof ring patterns on 2x8.
--assembling roof ring.
Skylight: 5' O.D.
(Italics: 14' skylight is 4' O.D.)
-Base is built similarly to roof ring, using four store-bought 1x6x8's.
-Cut out 16 (14) arcs as shown in pattern.
-Glue and screw together. Keep screws away from back of bevel zone to prevent nicks in your tools. Bevel with hand plane or draw knife. Inside of bevel should be 1-1/8" (1-3/8") in from outside.
--4' Skylight center circle showing lower and upper spokes.
--Completed 5' Skylights before adding chimneys.
-Build eight spokes. See pattern. Use 1-3/4" (1-3/8") pine stock. Four with upper tenons and four with lowers. Rabbet 3/8" x 7/8" (3/8" x 3/4") to accept polycarbonate.
-Build center circle: four upper pieces and four lowers. 1-1/8" pine stock. See pattern.
-Glass with 1/8" UV-resistant polycarbonate. See pattern. Caulk with 3 tubes of clear Lexel.
-(below) Clad spokes with eight strips of .01" copper 2-3/4" wide. Use or improvise a crimping tool to create the necessary curve.
--Assembling a 5' skylight. Note cutting copper spoke cladding in the background.
Outer Roof Cover --(see FAQ page for discussion of alternate roofing materials)
-Build from 40mil Duro-last. Order a blank from us (unfortunately Duro-last won't sell directly). If you are using our specs above, use the dimensions shown below to cut it out. If you are using your own yurt dimensions, drag the blank up on to your raised frame and use it as a 'mannequin.' Mark and cut the perimeter, central hole, and overlap. Take it down and weld the seams with HH66 glue (works ok) or a Leister heat welder (works best - $300 on eBay). Weld on a 12" eave flap of duro-last. Don't forget to fashion a door awning by taking 4' of the flap and welding it to the roof 'cone' so that it overlaps the flap by 5" on either side.
Close up of heat welding on duro-last roof awning.
You can pick up a Leister heat welder for $300 on ebay, or use HH-66 glue instead. Can you just use one of those cheap paint-stripping heat guns from the hardware store? I don't know. If you try it and find out, please tell us!
--17' roof cover with keyhole cut out. Triangular 'tooth' at left is just a tag.
Outer Wall Cover
-Gets much less UV than the roof, so can be thinner. Basically, the wall is just a long rectangle.
-Sewn into the wall wherever you like.
-Use 'pet screen' from your hardware store. 30 gauge clear vinyl from Marine Vinyl Fabric held on by 2" nylon hook-and-loop 'velcro.'
-The screen and the hook side are sewn to the wall. The clear and the loop side are outside.
-You can sew paracord ties at the top to hold the window open when you roll it up.
--Mildew on the yurt wall comes off with warm water and a mild detergent. But it's not hurting anyone.
Inner Roof Liner
-Make the liner from curtain blackout material. It's cheap, fire-rated, and comes in white
-Before you weld the outer roof cover, use it as a pattern and trace out your roof liner.
--tracing 'pie' shapes to cut out roof liner
-Make from foil-faced bubblewrap. Tape pieces together with foil tape.
-Fold your finished inner roof liner in quarters and use as a pattern to make pie-shaped sections of roof insulation.
--working with the wind to put the roof insulation on
Wall Insulation and Liner
-Same materials as the roof insulation and liner.
-Hangs from the tension cable.
-Cut out any windows after raising.
--Sewing velcro tabs onto the inside of the wall insulation/liner. It will hang from the tension cable.
-A 1/8" cable goes through vees sewn into the top inside of the roof flap. The outer wall cover hangs from this
-Webbing at top and bottom of wall: 2" nylon webbing from Strapworks. Secure at door with 5/8" stainless screw-snaps from Sailrite, and connect in the back with D-rings from Strapworks. Belt loops to hold webbing are sewn into the eave flap and near the bottom of the wall.
-Attach paracord tie-downs from the eave belt loops to 4" boat cleats attached under the platform.
-A 1/4" nylon clothesline goes through the 1/2" brass grommets punched into the bottom of the outer wall. When cinched up under the platform, this holds the yurt down.
--Paracord tied to boat cleat. Cinching clothsline runs around underneath.
Chimney Through the Skylight
-The chimney consists of a custom-made stainless storm collar (see pics) and these four Selkirk (formerly Metalbestos) pieces:
-Dripless Stove Pipe Adapter 6T-DSA; Finish Support Package 6T-FSP; Two-foot pipe section 6UT-24; and Round Top 6T-CT.
--Skylight with chimney strapped down to travel.
Completed Skylight with chimney.
Some 'blueprint' yurt drawings of a 25' yurt with 5' wall. Zoom in to see details.
$35. Paypal me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will email you a link to the Drive folder with skylight and roof ring patterns.
Later, send me a photo of you living inside your yurt, I will give you a full refund.