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How do you fit a square peg into a round hole?

by Daimen Hardie on June 26, 2014

Just add heat . . .

We’re resurrecting our homemade Yurt this summer to accommodate students and guests at CFI’s fledgling Rural Innovation Campus (aka Whaelghinbran Farm), and at the top of the refit list is a brand new Roof Wheel.  What happened to the first one you might ask?  Well, let’s just say it didn’t survive that mix of ambition, inexperience, and physics that is so unique to first time building projects.  It cracked the day we put it up.  But if there are no mistakes in life, only lessons, then we’re now studied enough to do it right the second time around. 

Despite its flawed roof wheel, CFI’s first yurt kept five farm apprentices warm and dry for an entire season - a testament to the resilience of this traditional building technique.  If that isn’t enough, a yurt will win you over with the simple beauty of its architecture.  The roof wheel supports and connects all of the roof poles symmetrically and replaces the need for interior posts.  This allows for a completely open living space, a space we think will be perfect for hosting workshops on campus.

First generation CFI yurt

If you dream of building your own yurt one day you may want to follow some roof wheel advice that we received from friends at Little Foot Yurts in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.  How do you make all those square holes (mortises) in the wheel? Burn them through with a red hot poker. It's a bit medieval, there’s no denying it.  But though there are other ways to build wheels these days, this technique is still one the best.  The fiery iron makes perfectly uniform mortises and seals the wood as it burns, extending the life of the wheel and in turn the yurt itself.

Our yurt should be ready to go soon.  If you're in the area, let us know if you'd like to help us raise it and we'll keep you posted.

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