Sunday, November 15, 2009

Update on my Yurt

I spent this weekend working on my yurt again. I got a lot done, and I'm really happy about that! But I've also been working on it sporadically during the past few weeks after I get home from school. After I finished putting together the crown, I sanded it down to even all of the jumps out of the wood, then filled in the holes and gaps. I got a type of wood putty that resembled tile grout, but it was light brown. It was hard putting the putty into the gaps, since it was very course and sandy (not like putty at all) and at first I was really upset at myself for not opening the little bottle up at the store to check its consistency. But the stuff dried very fast, and sanded down well, and didn't crack or anything yet. So overall I'm pretty happy with how the grout/putty turned out.

Sealing the Yurt Crown
I am sealing the crown after I sanded and puttied it.

Since last time, I decided to paint the crown in a traditional Mongolian design, bright red, orange, blues, pinks, and yellows. That is why I am sealing it instead of varnishing it, because I will paint right over it in the next few weeks. Come to think of it, I may hold off on painting it until I finish the frame of the yurt and put it up once as a test.

After the wood sealer was dry on the crown, I drilled holes into it for the 36 roof poles to slide into. The roof angle is 30 degrees, so all of the holes had to be drilled at an angle, and made for quite a hard time fighting with the drill press. One hand was turning the wheel to bring the drill down, the other hand was holding the angle finder to make sure I was drilling at the correct angle, and both my legs were bent, supporting the wheel securely. Too bad Romy wasn't there to take a picture. I must of looked funny!

Yurt Crown with Drilled Holes
The yurt crown with 36 holes drilled into it.

The crown now is basically finished, except for some decorative touches (like the painting and some bowed sticks I will add later to support the rain dome). So next I moved on to finish the roof poles. Since they were still rough (all I did last time was round them out), I had to cut each of them to 6 ft. This wasn't too hard, but it was time consuming. Some ends were split, so those were the ends I cut off. Other ends had knots in them, so I also chose to cut those off too.

Yurt Poles Cut to 6ft
All 36 roof poles are now 6 ft long.

To attach the roof poles to the crown, I decided to go with a 3 inch long dowel pin that is 1/2 inch thick. I cut those to size from a long dowel rod I bought at OSH (a hardware store). That was much cheaper than ordering real fluted dowel pins from a supplier. I only needed about 40 dowel pins, but usually large dowel pins like that are sold in bags of 100! Anyways, 2 inches of the dowel pin goes inside the end of the poles, and 1 inch will stick into the crown. The dowel pins are now part of the roof poles. But to make drilling easier for myself, I first drilled a 2.5 inch deep hole into one end of each pole (1/2 inch thick) and then cut the same end off each pole at an angle, to accommodate the slope of the roof. In the process, about 1/2 and inch was sheared off, which is why I had to drill the hole 2.5 inches deep at first instead of 2 inches. It is much easier to drill into a perpendicular surface than into one that is angled at 30 degrees!

Yurt Poles with Holes
The holes for the dowel pins are drilled into each end of the yurt roof poles.

As an added complication, since the yurt crown is a polygon instead of a true circle, some of the poles come at an angle to the crown (I'm not talking about the angle of the roof slope). There is only one roof pole per polygon side that comes in straight on, and that's the one right in the middle of each polygon section. The other two come in at opposing 10 degree angles. So I had to cut each pole either straight on with a 30 degree slant, or +10 degrees with a 30 degree slope, or -10 degrees with a 30 degree slope. Consequently, I labeled the end of each pole so that it will be easier to build it.

Yurt Poles with Dowels
Each roof pole is labeled and cut with its corresponding angle.

I also cut a notch into the other end of the poles for the wall attachment, but I will save explaining that for another post.