ajoBlog Project Yurt

Pennsic XL – Our Summer Adventure

We spent a week with the kids at Pennsic XL, in Pennsylvania. We had a great time, and plenty of sun, good food, and much to do. Everything from heavy medieval combat to vagabond roadside musicians, and everything in between!

Emelie and Oskar did great, slept like champs, and held up well with camping, peeing in a hole, and napping in a stroller (for Oskar, anyways…) Emelie lit up the camp with her energy, and Oskar was never shy when handed around like a prized possession. Well, maybe a little bit…

Here are some photos of us, living in the Middle Ages:

Project Yurt

Mongolian Ger – A Study

I was at Pennsic all last week, and had the opportunity to take pictures of, and measure a real ger from Mongolia. The company ( was part of the merchants at Pennsic Marketplace. Below follows some notes, measurements, and photos.


  • Overall Size – 20′ Diameter Ger (yurt)
  • 81 roof poles
  • 5 khana sections (wall sections)
  • Center Height – 93″ @ roof ring
  • Wall Height – 60″
  • Wall Angle ~ 100°
  • Khana Slats spacing – 6.5″ (tied at 13″)
  • Door Height – 60″
  • Door Width – 26.5″
  • Door Frame, both sides – 12″
  • Khana Slats Length – ~78″ – 80″ (full slat)
  • Khana slat dimension – 1.5″ x 0.5″
  • Roof Poles Length (uni) – ~96″
  • Roof Ring (toono) – 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 60″ inner diameter



ajoBlog Project Yurt

Pictures of the ger (yurt) so far…

Here are some of the pictures we took the other day while troubleshooting in the backyard. We had to figure some things with the roof structure, and build a roof ring support structure due to the weight of the roof ring.

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Yurt Research – Sharing my Evernotes

Here’s everything so far that I have about yurts and gers. I’m scanning additional notes from myself, photos etc. as I go along, but for now, here’s the Evernote folder:

Have fun, and happy building!

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Project Yurt – Khana Notes

I’ve started in earnest on the big yurt (Mongolian ger), and it’s sizing up to be a 16 foot diameter yurt. I went to Terry’s lumber in Peninsula today to get the pieces for the khana, as I decided against ripping two-by material, and instead using 1x2s that I’ll router the edges off of.

Some background:

16 ft diameter yurt = circumference of 50 some feet. If the khana slats are spaced at 12 inches (using 1x2s should be no problem), that will yield 100 slats (1x2s). The door will measure 3 ft (already built, more notes, schematics and pics later), so in essence the yurt will actually be 16ft+ when done.

Here are the materials list for the khana, 16ft diameter:

  • 1x2x8ft – 100

The reason it’s 100, is that that will get divided in half (to produce the khana), spaced at 12 inches, making 50 ft of khana. I’ll be making mine in two sections, each measuring 25 ft, for ease of transportation. More on this later…

Actually… I made some slight miscalculations, and it turns out I had neglected to calculate the hypotenuse for a square with 12″ sides. According to the Pythagorean theorem, that hypotenuse is square root of 288, which is ~17″. So, with a spacing up top of the khana, where each section comes together, of 17″, instead of 12″, I now need less khana routered (a good thing), and will have to adjust some things… if I had continued with 50 sections (crosses), and 100 khana slats, the yurt would have ended out being 22′ in diameter. A sizable, yet too large of a dwelling for us!

So, now that we have appreciated maths ability to help in construction, onwards we go!

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Yurt FAQ

What is a Yurt?

Yurt is the name commonly used to refer to a Mongolian Felt Tent or Ger. Mongolians do not usually appreciate the term because it is most often used by Western invaders. So, in spite of this page’s title, we will attempt to use Ger where ever possible.
A Ger is really more than a tent. The Mongols live in them year round and tend to prefer them to other forms of housing. The design has been developed for generations to suit the needs of its inhabitants. It can be warm in arctic cold, yet cool in summer. The structure can collapse small enough to fit on one draft animal and can be set up again in a half an hour.

What are the different elements of a ger?

Lattice Walls (qana)These walls are formed by several individual sections of cris crossed lattice work, much like baby gate. These wall sections were constructed of wooden poles joined together with leather lacing at the crossings. The number of crossings along the top would usually be from ten to fifteen. The number of crossings along the length of a pole would usually be thirteen, a number of spiritual significance. The wall sections are usually butted, meaning they end square with the use of shorter poles.

Each wall section can obviously be collapsed to take up very little room.


The door, with the two ends of the qana coming to meet on either side of its wooden framing, can be strikingly modern in appearance. It is usually constructed completely of wood but sometimes incorporates felt as well. The door’s threshold is believed to contain the spirit of the house and it is forbidden, and a great offense to the ger’s owner, to step on it.

Roof Ring (toghona)

The roof ring is the most complex element in ger construction. It is usually a hoop of wood containing slots or holes that the roof poles can lock into. The interior of the ring can contain many different designs but must be relatively open to allow smoke and air flow. During bad weather is it covered with a piece of felt or hide (called an eruke).

Roof Poles (uni)

Roof poles are simply the wooden beams that form the roof skeleton.  They are usually shaved down on one side to allow them hook into the roof ring. The other end of a roof pole is laid against the top of the qana or its lashings.

Felt (isegei)

Like all ger materials, this is manufactured local to Mongolia. In the states, we’d probably call this canvas. During really cold times of year, many layers might be used, including animal hides. This covering is secured using ropes. The ropes and felt are made from hair, human and other.

From multiple sources… hard to track down original, but it’s not mine!

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Khana sections drill positions

Working on the most beneficial, and efficient, and sturdiest, way to drill the khana sections. I’m using 1x2x8ft routered to a nice shape, so they’re pretty sturdy… here are my options (and I’m probably sticking with either 12″ solution, as that makes the math easier when figuring the circumference, number of roof poles, etc.

ajoBlog Project Yurt

What’s a yurt?

Here’s a picture of a yurt. I’m building one sort of like it, but a bit taller, and using more modern materials.