Build a Yurt Part 1: wall lattices
Welcome to Part 1 of a series of posts showing you how to build a Yurt. Traditionally of Mongolia, we will be building a variation though very similar. We are building two yurts to replace our old ones that have been used by ecotourism guests over the last few years.
The new yurts will be available to stay at Crann Og Eco Farm during the spring, summer and autumn months. In Part 1 we start with the making of wall lattice slats with locally sourced milled timber for speed and a finer quality interior finish.
We will be making 5ft (1.52m) tall wall lattices which require slats to be cut to 78” (1.98m) in length. Our two yurts will be of two sizes, one 14ft (4.2m) and one 18ft (5.5m) diameter. For the larger of the two yurts we need approximately 90 full size slats of 78”, and a few shorter ones. But we’ll come back to that later. For the smaller yurt we have cut the same number of slats as no doubt there will be some breakages during construction due to knots or splits in the timber.
Next step is to drill all the holes for tying the slats together to form the wall lattices. We will be using 4mm diameter hemp cord and have drilled our holes at 5mm diameter to make tying easier and allow some tolerance, so that slats can rotate around the cord when opened or compressed for storage concertina style, rather than twisting it.
Holes need to be drilled accurately and in the same position on each slat piece, otherwise your lattices will not work and will look terrible! This will compromise overall structural integrity of the yurt also. On each slat holes must be drilled 50mm from the top, 100mm from the bottom and at 300mm centres between these two holes. You guessed it, that’s a lot of holes! And yes, that could take a lot of time indeed.
So our resident pro Paul made a ‘Jig’ that enabled him to drill up to 9 slat pieces in one pass, three rows by three deep, clamped together to prevent movement and to straighten any bent timbers. This ensured that all the slat pieces have their holes in the same place and speeds up the process considerably. The time taken to make a good Jig is well worth the time and effort it saves overall.
Each of the hole spacings is marked on the jig and a vertical timber off-cut fixed to act as a vertical guide so that all the holes pass through the slats in the same position and angle. It’s also really important to be using nice sharp drill bit(s) so that you get nice clean holes. After each nine slats have all their holes drilled, de-clamp them from the jig and quickly sand paper the drill holes by hand to tidy them up.
Next it’s time to shape the tops of the slats to better receive the roof poles and to smooth them so as not to damage the roof canvas when it is placed over the structure. Again Paul made a pattern for the end of the slats, marking each individually. Then the shaping was done, first using a quality jig-saw and then finished off with a belt sander. The sander was turned upside down and strongly fixed in position to prevent movement and ensure safe use. This allows fast hands-free sanding and allowed us to process all the wall slats in very little time.
Coming up soon in Part 2 is the making of the roof poles, including making the Jig, chamfering and tapering the poles with a power planer, and end sanding to protect the canvas.