Yurt Bones: The Wood Materials

I’ve seen yurt walls made of bamboo, willow poles, steel, pvc pipe, and rigid insulation. A lot of yurt blogs show them using bamboo of 1 or 1.5 inch diameter, which can be great for lightness and speed since no sanding or really any varnishing is needed. The other favorite

Bamboo khana and uni (www.simplydifferent.org)
Bamboo khana and uni (www.simplydifferent.org)

option is hardwood canes, poles, or basically sanded, oiled sticks. This only works well with hardwoods (willow, hazel) which are strong enough to withstand the weight and do not rot as easily especially when taken care of, and will therefore last you a lifetime! To give it a try: Here are some instructions. With softwoods, aka conifers, you need to have nice straight poles with good varnish from sawn timber. Though most people would suggest cedar as a first choice since it has some of the best rot-resistance, but it can be brittle. Douglas-fir is pretty dang good for rot resistance and strength and flexibility. Last choice is pine. Which is, of course, what I ended up using since it’s cheapest.

Douglas-fir Khana
Willow Khana









I bought 1″x 2″ (technically 1.5″x0.75″) 8ft long pine laths (referred to as furring strip) from bigbox derpstore for the wall (khana). It took me 4 hours of digging through what was available in the store to find good enough laths. Not only did I want straight, unwarped, clean boards, but ones as free of knots and faults as possible. At one store I went to they had let the wood get wet outside and it was covered in black mildew as soon as you opened up the packs. No one should hesitate to have someone cut open timber packs and tear up the pile to look for the best boards, they know they’re carrying crap and everyone does it. I just made sure to re-stack everything neatly once I was done and not be rude.

Wall poles! Heavier than they look, and giving me a good idea of what my roof rake can handle!
Wall poles! Heavier than they look, and giving me a good idea of what my roof rack can handle!

For the roof poles I bought 2″ x 3″ (1.5″ x 2.5″) 8ft long studs, which I eventually sent through the table saw to rip them in half. I could have most likely used something smaller, but I wanted something extra sturdy so I could use less roof poles than normal so I wouldn’t have extras when I switched from the 16ft from the 12ft yurt. Same thing with the sorting and picking the best ones with the least damage.

The door is 2x4s of 8 ft length, stud material though I did a grade higher than lowest simply because if the door snaps or breaks the walls will come down, and it was only 2 boards.

Finally, the crown is 1″ x 4″ boards, of which I did the nice, clear fir board instead of cheap pine or plywood. Since it’s the keystone these seemed worth it, but it was most likely overkill. I used bits of the ends from the pine lath for other pieces in the crown.


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