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Revisiting the Yurt

Revisiting the Yurt

If you haven’t been a reader here for very long, you might not know that back in 2013, I made a 16 foot diameter yurt (ger) with my husband. I wanted to try “large” felting and decided a yurt would be a good idea. It was a real learning experience and a ton of work but I had a good time and we ended up with a yurt (ger). Click on any of the links in the post to read the original post which goes into the details of how it was made.

The yurt began with buying 200 pounds of wool in March of 2013 and getting it processed. You can read all about it in my post “Wool Gathering”.

Then we moved on to building the frame. “Yurt Beginnings” explains how we handled the lattice walls.

We continued working on the walls with drilling, sanding and figuring out how it all went together in a big lattice puzzle. In my post, “Sanding and Being Confused”, you can read more.  Then another update about the wall is in the post “Wall Success”.

Then in August, I finally started felting. The photo above shows my sample for thickness and shrinkage which you can read about here. 


Next we started working on the roof structure which is called a tono.  We were on 51 days and counting for constructing the yurt.  Somehow, I’m getting tired just rereading these posts.


Finally, we got into the large format felting. We made our first wall panel and with the help of the tractor, we got it felted and fulled. 


Then because it was so much work, I recruited more labor. We had a felting party! And then we had a day of felting in the rain.

Next up was painting the wood structure orange which is a traditional color for Mongolian gers (yurts).

We were feverishly working into October to try and get this enormous task completed. It was getting cold and as you can see, I got a little muddy. But we were getting closer to the end being in sight.

One of my favorite things about building this yurt was the community involvement. I even had a youngster named Kostya who was born in Kazakhstan who came to learn about the process. 

And we did it! Our yurt raising party was held at the end of October and it worked. We had a yurt. It was really satisfying to complete the project and honestly, looking back now, I’m not sure where I got the energy. Of course I was a bit younger then but I guess determination and perseverance can get you anywhere. I hoped you enjoyed the reminiscence with me.

Yurt Update – Felting a Wall Panel

Yurt Update – Felting a Wall Panel

Dennis and I started felting a wall panel this past weekend. It was a ton of work but now that we have the process down, I think it will go faster (keep your fingers crossed!). This post has a ton of photos so I hope you make it to the end.

Respite StationI set up this tent and my massage table with a water thermos for breaks. I am having a few neck and back issues so I need to take frequent breaks.

Ready to StartI started with a 12 foot by 16 foot tarp and 4 batts of wool.

Field DraggerThis is the field dragger that goes behind the tractor. We will attach the felt roll to the back of this to roll it around the field.

Size MarkedFirst I measured and taped off what size I needed the wool to be before shrinkage. I was working on the idea that the felt would shrink 6-10%. The sample felted down by 6%.

Corners Marked

I just marked the edges and corners with blue tape.

6" ShortI was really disappointed that one batt didn’t cover the entire width. It was short about 6 inches.

Batt in ThirdsThe batts come folded up in thirds and then rolled. So I spread out the batt.

Need 6" MoreAnd then I had to take a portion of another batt and cover the extra 6″.

Cutting the BattSo I cut the batt and lined up the pieces along the edge.

First Layer Laid OutI did overlap slightly and spread the batt a little thinly at the edges so it wouldn’t be a big lump where the two batts attached during felting.

Watering Can with SoapI filled this 5 gallon watering can with cold water from the hose and soap.

Still Adding WaterAnd sprinkled about 5-6 cans on.

Removing AirCovered it with plastic and tried to get some air out. That didn’t work too well.

Hosing It DownSo I took off the plastic and sprayed it with the hose.

As Wet as It GetsHere’s the first layer after being wet down. You can see that it wasn’t all completely wet.

Second Layer at Right AngleNext I add a second layer of batt in the opposite direction.

Finishing Off the Second LayerThat had to be pieced and cut as well.

Second Layer Complete

So here’s both layers and I added more water with the hose after this photo.

Stompin' On ItThen we walked on it.

Straightening the EdgesNext I made sure the edges were relatively straight.

Adding More WaterWhere the edges weren’t completely wet, I sprayed them into submission.

Covered and Ready to RollCovered it with thin plastic,

Folding in the Tarp

folded the tarp in on both sides,

PVC Pipe in PlaceAnd then we’re ready to roll around the PVC pipe.

RollingHere I am starting to roll. I told Dennis at this point that it looks like I am all by myself and working really hard. But he helped, I promise. Just no photos as he had the camera most of the time.

RolledWe got it all rolled up,

Cable through PVC Pipe to TowYou can see the cable that will attach the roll to the tractor,

Outer Tarp for Protectionand then we decided we should put another tarp on the outside to keep the dirt away from the felt.

Tying It UpThen I tied it with rope.

Tractor ReadyThis was the way we tied it the first time and it didn’t hold well. After that, I cut the rope into equal pieces and just tied each one instead of wrapping longer pieces of rope.

Attaching to the TractorThen Dennis attached a chain to the end of the field dragger,

Hooking Up the Cablehooked the cable to the chain and,

It didn’t work, sigh…

Sawing Off the End of the PVC Pipe

So after a trip to the ranch supply store, we cut off the end of the bigger PVC pipe,

Making Another Cabletook an old cable we had and made loops on each end,

Putting Cable Through Smaller PVC Pipegot a skinnier PVC pipe and put the cable through it,

Ready to Try Rolling Again

and put the smaller PVC pipe into the larger one. And drum roll please –

It worked!!

After First Roll

As you can see in the video, the roll of felt moved on the PVC pipe. So we unrolled to check on the felt and it had started to felt.

Not Felted Yet

But it certainly didn’t pass the pinch test!

Adding Yet More WaterI added more water and we pulled it behind the tractor 5-6 more times around the field. I opened it and it was still not completely fulled. We quit for the day and just left the felt covered down in the field overnight. On Sunday, we started again, redid how we attached it to the tractor and found that the reason the roll was shifting was because the cable attachment kept moving. So we just attached it with chains which didn’t move and it worked great.

The Finished Felt Wall PanelHere’s the finished piece. It shrunk about a foot in each direction which was what I wanted. Yippee! It worked.

Bringing the Roll HomeAnd here’s Dennis triumphantly bringing the rolled felt up to the house. It took two days to dry. I have 3 more wall panels and 4 roof panels to finish. I decided I need reinforcements. The next felting session is planned for August 25th. Do you want to come help?? Please??

Yurt Update – Finally a Little Bit of Felting

Yurt Update – Finally a Little Bit of Felting

I finally started on felting for the yurt. Not much, but a sample to figure out shrinkage.

Wool BattThis is one of the batts rolled out on the living room floor. That is a yardstick so you can see about how big it is. It looks grey here but it’s really brown.

Wool LayoutHere’s my sample square ready to felt. I used two layers of batt so I can make sure it will be thick and heavy enough to keep out the weather.

Wool Layout ThicknessIt was almost 6″ thick.

Yurt Felt SampleAnd here’s the final sample after felting. It is very thick and sturdy. The wool felted easily but it only shrank 6%. That seems minimal to me. I’m used to 30% so I hope that it doesn’t shrink differently when I do a large wall piece. But after a bunch of math, I figured out that I might just have enough wool for the walls and the roof. Now, we just have to work out exactly how we’re going to pull the big rolled bundle behind the tractor. There is talk from my husband about field draggers, PVC pipe, chain etc. But that’s his job. I’m rolling the felt up around the PVC pipe and he’s going to do all the connecting to the tractor and pulling it around the field.

Short Wall Slats with 45 degree Angle Cut for DoorWe’re also still working on the frame and I still have some sanding yet to do. These are the final pieces that I needed to cut shorter for the walls. The ends needed to be cut at a 45 degree angle  as they will be butting up against the door frame.

Cutting the TonoThe next part we started working on is called the tono. It is the center section of the roof where all the roof poles insert. Luckily, we already had this set up for our router. It is to make circles. It is kind of like using a string and pencil to draw a circle.

Tono CutHere’s one of the circles completely cut.

Remaining BoardWe saved the extra piece to make the rest of the tono.

Cutting the Inner CircleThen we needed to cut another circle within the circle. More measuring and the nail is what holds the plastic jig in the center.

Inner Circle Cut


Here it is as we finished cutting the inner circle out.

Proud Hubby


Doesn’t he look proud!

First Tono LayerHere is the first layer cut out. We made three all together that we will glue together to make the wood thick enough for the holes for the roof pole ends.

Cutting Other Tono PartsThen there are pieces that arch up over the flat tono circle. We rigged up a way to use the old center circle and made an arc cut with the router. Now we just have to cut the ends and this piece will be the arch over the circle. It’s a little hard to picture but I’ll show you more photos when we have it together.

So the wall felting will begin in the next two weeks. If you’re in the area and you’d like to join in, let me know and I’ll give you the schedule. I’d love to have you join us!






Yurt Update – Sanding and Being Easily Confused

Yurt Update – Sanding and Being Easily Confused

We’ve been working away on the yurt since my last post. We finished drilling all the holes and then  there was a scare because I figured out that I had cut all the pieces the wrong size. I had thought something was wrong when we were drilling the holes and the last one was right at the end of the board. So I looked back at the book and the length was supposed to be 78″. I had cut them to 7′ long. Luckily, that means they are supposed to be 6.5′ long. So they were too long. But that’s much better than too short. So I cut them all down to 6.5′ long. Next up, sanding.

Just to be clear, we are making what is called a Mongolian ger. The word ger rhymes with air. Mongolians do not call their dwellings yurts. But since most people know these type of dwellings as yurts, I think it will be simpler to keep calling it a yurt.

Belt SanderWhen I wrote my last post, Ann had suggested that I use a stationary belt sander. We have a hand-held one but not a stationary one. So Dennis rigged up a way to use the hand-held sander upside down. It is clamped on to a piece of plywood on a saw horse.

Making Out Belt Sander Stationary

The small piece of wood on the right hand side of the photo is used to keep the sander button pushed down. Normally, you have to hold it down the entire time you are sanding. But that wouldn’t work in this position. So the wood holds the button down for me. I’m sure this whole process is not the way you are supposed to use a belt sander. Perhaps I should have a warning of “Don’t try this at home.” 🙂

SandingSo here I am sanding a wall rod. It takes between 5-7 minutes to sand one rod and I only have 110. I’ve done 20.

Sanding Wall RodThis really does make the sanding much easier. Thanks Ann for your idea. It works perfectly.

Sanding the EndI even sand the ends. I want everything to be nice and smooth before we paint the rods. I am wearing ear protection and my glasses but next time I am going to wear a mask. The sander puts all kinds of saw dust into the air.

Laying out the wallNext, I have to figure out how to put the walls together. I laid out the boards and the middle ones make perfect sense. It’s just when you get to the ends, that you have to figure out what part of the boards need to be cut off and in what direction.

Figuring Out the EndsAs you can see, the edges are not right because I haven’t cut the boards shorter. The book says we need 8 up (6), 8 down (6), 7 up (3), 7 down (3) etc. After laying the boards out, I think I have it figured out but I really don’t want to cut them wrong. So I guess I’ll do one wall first so I don’t cut them all wrong. So it’s just a bit confusing and being easily confused doesn’t help the matter! There will be four wall sections when we’re finished. Wish me luck!

After I get one wall section completed, I can begin the felting process. I need to know the exact dimensions that need to be covered before I can make the felt walls. I would hate to do all this work and end up with the wrong size. So felting will begin soon, I promise.

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