Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt

When most people hear the word “yurt,” they think of one of these.

Nomadic tents known as Yurt at the Issyk Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Or maybe one of these.

Yaks in the plains of Mongolia

While it’s true that most yurts are constructed with wood framing (or sticks) and covered with animal skins (like yak) and/or canvas, a more solidly built yurt is also a traditional building design, such as this one.

Wooden Mongolian yurt

I built and/or consulted on several wood-panelized yurts of various sizes in the years before I retired in 2011. I decided that a fun retirement project would be to build my own version of a wood-framed panelized yurt on our property. Here’s one of the yurts I built in recent years, with help from a team of strong arms. Mine is a similar design.


Yurt under construction near Eugene, Oregon

For my yurt, I began by building a foundation.


Then I built 12 floor panels.


Then I built 12 wall panels.


Then I built 12 roof panels.


I cut and finished 12 rafters.


I constructed a huge wooden ring, which houses the skylight dome. All of this work spanned many months, between other projects. But with all the pieces done, it was time to put it all together.


This week, our neighbor came over to help install the floor panels. It took us about an hour.


The walls are next, and then the wall cable, and then the tower….well, there are a few steps to get to completion, and it will take however long it takes. I will keep you posted.

And FYI, we are writing a book about the entire process so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Stay tuned as we progress, and be sure to watch for news on the book. Here is the tentative cover, designed by Robin Koontz. That’s a yurt that I built in Florence, Oregon.


Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz
ISBN-13: 978-0692957370
ISBN-10: 0692957375

Thanks for stopping by! The first three photos are owned by, the rest were taken by Robin Koontz. Cover design by Robin Koontz, copyright 2017.


Wildlife Shelters

Birdhouse I’ve built a lot of bird houses over the years, following one basic design and using cedar when I have it, and only varying the size a bit. The box is easy to make and installs with a screw on the inside back and one into the bottom of the back. I hinge the front with a bent nail or other metal device, making the house simple to hang as well as clean out in the winter. I have these all around the garden and on posts throughout the pasture. Cavity dwelling birds are for the most part insect eaters. Nice to have around in the summertime!

nestboxThis is an illustration from my spousal unit’s book The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book which has a few other designs for houses and feeders as well.

I’ve also built a number of houses for our duck pond and have had wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and the occasional screech owl make use of them. A wooden hinge on the back of the box attaches to a rope or cable around the tree (run inside hose or plastic pipe). I loosen the rope/cable up every few years as the tree grows.

These larger boxes are pre-loaded with wood chips as ducks and owls don’t bring in nesting material other than their own feathers. I also add a piece of hardware cloth to the entry so the little ducklings can climb out easily.

I built a larger, deeper box especially for the flying squirrels that kept trying to live inside the roof vents of my old house. I blocked entry to their caves, then I figured I owed them an alternative. It SquirrelBoxStuffworked well, both for flying squirrels, Douglas squirrels, and chipmunks. A honeybee swarm also took it over the year I was selling the house. I let my bee-keeping neighbor take it away and when he convinced the bees to move into one of his structures, I got the box back and hung it at our new place.

We’ve had fun knocking first then sticking a camera inside a box to snap a photo. We like to see if it’s being or has been used, and several times we’ve found someone at home. Here are a few photos for your amusement. If you have questions just give me a shout. Meanwhile let’s do what we can to enhance what’s left of the wild areas so these critters can keep on keepin’ on.

Pictured: Hooded merganser, box interior with eggs, wood duck hen and baby, wood duck hen about to bite the camera, tree swallow babies, screech owl and baby.




SwallowBebes OwlsMarch

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2016 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Photographic Journaling

I’m not exactly someone who keeps a formal journal, but I keep a lot of records. They are for reference or just as a way to look back and remember what I did that day, that month, that year.

One of the many helpful advantages of digital photography is the ability to take and store photographic records. It’s easy and virtually free, once you have the device, to document and store the process for any project. Publishing the book Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge was an afterthought after I finished building my bridge, but luckily my spousal unit had recorded most of the steps, using our first digital camera. That old beast used 3-1/2 inch floppy disks (remember those?) and the photos were low resolution. But with some computer magic, we had enough photos to chronicle the steps I used to construct the bridge. Many photos were taken just for fun and our own life journal, but others were for reference.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince my first bridge was a “Golden Gate” style suspension bridge, the stringers were of varying lengths with obvious repeats on each side. I installed the connection “eyes” to the stringers and organized them using a numbering system. That way, when I attached them to the two main cables, it was an easy chore to sort and install, using cable clamps.

I assembled everything on dry land. Then I just attached the two cables (with stringers attached) to the four posts. I could then easily install the cable locking system components and the decking.
My more recent project is our house. I put in a lot of blocking so that there were plenty of places to connect cabinets, towel racks, grab bars, whatever. Then I photographed all the walls before covering them. That way, when it was time to hang cabinets, I referred back to the photos to recall just where I put the blocking.

This photo shows the backside of the kitchen wall with blocking for the cabinets. My only regret was that I didn’t write exactly how far the blocks were from the ceiling or floor – large lettering would be easy to read in a photo – but I was able to locate them pretty accurately using my electrical boxes for reference.


Thanks for stopping by! If you want more information about my bridge, you can view a video and also read through the archives of this blog. If that’s not enough, be sure to buy my book! Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2014 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.