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Building Yurt Off Grid

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Old 04-11-2020, 07:25 AM   #1
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Default Building yurt off grid

Hi I just joined, I’m planning on buying a cover from Mongolia on eBay and building a frame to fit it.

I live off grid now I have solar power for battery tools and a generator but ideally want to use it as little as possible. I can get 38mm by 12mm 3m pine from a local timber place for cheap so was going to just use that size for the wall slats and cut them to length or get them to do it rather than get a table saw and cut down bigger timber to make the slats.

I’m not sure of how to steam bend it off grid obviously the easiest way would be to just run something off the generator but has anyone done it using a fire?

Any advice welcome if I’m completely on the wrong track please let me know!


Last edited by Robyn; 04-11-2020 at 07:32 AM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 04-11-2020, 11:09 AM   #2
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

Never done it. Try watching 'steam bending yurt lath' or some such on youtube? I have seen a few vids where yurt lath comes steaming hot out of the hot box and quickly woven between three poles driven vertically into the ground. The hot laths are alternated into a basket weave pattern, to keep the bending poles from taking a set as laths are added. The bending poles are equidistant and the distance between the outer two is about a foot or so less than lath length. The thicker the poles and the closer they are spaced to eachother the greater the bend.

As for bending lath with dry heat, I have not done that either. Heat from a torch works great on arrows, but arrows are less than three feet. If you got one of those big 'groundskeeper' or 'tar heating' propane torches -the type with the BIG burner head, and quickly ran that along the lath, that would heat it up right quick. I have done alot of grain flaming on wood to accentuate the grain, and those boards heat up fast. You gotta eep the totch moving fast.

Also, if you have the option, get lath that has as few knots as possible. An encased knot running the entire width is a prime candidate for breakage. Small pencil sized through knots that aren't encased should hold up ok as long as no wider than a third of the lath. Pin knots to 1/4" are no problem on 1.5" wide laths. Just so you know, cheap wood is frequently full of knots. Pick over your wood.

That's all I got. It is gonna be a learning experience. Have fun. Good luck. Be safe.
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Old 04-11-2020, 11:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

Do the yurt walls not bend in if you donít bend them? Iíd rather not if possible
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

Robyn, that is good thinking. Yes, the yurt wall bends inward at the center, into a hyperbolid shape. That shape kinda bothered me when I made my first yurt, but I quickly adjusted to the 'look'. A bent lath will make a straight wall when erected. The thicker the lath, the more likely it will bend inward. My laths were 5/16ths and twisted pretty easily. A 1/2" 12mm lath is gonna resist that twist to a greater degree.

Related, yurt lath that is alot more vertically oriented when erected, forming diamond crosses not squares, makes for a straighter wall. There is less twist and bend.

If I did it again for a permanent home, using 3/4" laths, I would steam bend them for that reason. Mongolian walls are straight when erected, and at a 90 degree angle, which to my eye is definitely the most pleasing look.
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

Completely off topic. If you are considering the yurt as your prime residence, I suggest lath crosses tighter than 12" centers. This certainly adds to both cost and labor, but looks better, and is stronger. Plus smaller critters would have difficulty getting into your home with tight centers.

My 12'6", 14', and 15'9"

camping yurts

were all on 12" centers. I always thought that if I made a permanent home from a yurt, I would do no larger than 9" centers. A lot of Mongolian yurts I have seen in video have center to center distance substantially under that, possibly as small as 6" c to c. Good luck.
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Old 04-12-2020, 06:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

I should have said Iím not building it to live in, I live in a caravan and normally work building glamping areas at festivals so obviously my work is on hold for the foreseeable future.

I want to build a few to rent out at festivals once my work is back I figure I may as well use the unwanted free time constructively.

So no snow load and they arenít up longer than a couple of weeks at a time they need to be relatively easily transportable. But not too lightweight they need to last and I donít need to be able to put it up singlehanded

This first one doesnít have to be how I do all of them so I might try doing it without bending and see how it looks when itís done
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Old 04-12-2020, 10:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

OK thanks for the details. I have built three

camping yurts

, and they might work perfectly for what you want to accomplish. Go here:

Clan Yama Kaminari yurt

Click on 'make it-yurt' on the main page. These camping yurts are great for quick build and take down. I suggest just making your own roof and wall covers, explained in the details.

If you order a cover, and you are building the ring, door frame, and wall, you will need to know the pitch of the roof. Or the company that you order the cover from needs to send you those details. Example, not any old 16' cover is gonna fit any old 16' frame. That's a fact about yurts people do not know. All this stuff is explained in the Kaminari yurt construction details.

You can also make your own cover, as I did. I suggest using cordage for lath ties, no bolts. Trying to bolt together wall frames in the field would be a >massive pita<. Trust me on that. Just make two or three sections, and lap them and tie with rope. Just like Mongolians do. Watch a few Mongolian yurt builds on youtube and see how they join the frames. Have fun good luck.
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Old 04-12-2020, 10:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

I canít find anything googling do you have a link
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Old 04-12-2020, 10:35 AM   #9
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The yurt build suggests buying wall lath at 1/4", well under 12mm. You can use 12mm lath, but it is definitely not going to bend and twist as easily as the 1/4 or 5/16ths thick pieces. So that hyperoild shape is going to be more pronounced.

I'm a carpenter and ripped my wall lath from clear studs. They are 5/16ths thick which is about 7-8mm. You can definitely build the kaminari yurt with 12mm lath. You would have to widen the seat cut on the rafters to accomodate the wider lath thickness.


For a fact my lath at 5/16ths is plenty strong. I bolted my yurts to the platform and it withstood winds to about 80 mph. So lath at 12mm that has no encased full width knots, is gonna withstand big wind.

Best stop here before I talk you into total confusion.
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Old 04-12-2020, 10:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Building yurt off grid

OK click on this and paste in your search box.

BUILDING A MONGOLIAN YURT-SOLARIPEDIA

That is the Kaminari yurt plan. For some reason clan yama Kaminari has dropped the ball on yurt build.
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