Friday, March 23, 2012

Three designs - steel stud, wood 2x4, 1/2 inch conduit

I've put together three different frames - one using steel studs, another using 2x4s, and one using 1/2 inch conduit. I've sold the two larger frames on craigslist, so I wanted to get some photos online before they're gone and I don't have them to refer to.

On all three, I found that adding 1/2 conduit spacers and a tension band around the bottom helped to make the whole thing much sturdier. I used the area and radius formulas for dodecagon (12 sided polygon) from wikipedia to compute the lengths for the pieces. Wherever possible, I set up lengths that would allow me to make one cut to get two pieces - i.e. vertical side piece + horizontal piece = 10" for the steel stud frame.

All three frames are strong and stable. I can hang from the center on all of them - approx 200 lbs.

 Steel stud frame

10 foot steel studs were purchased at Lowe's. The joints were cut out from two sheets of OSB glued together for thickness. The roof piece is 10 feet long. Horizontal piece is 55.5 inches and the vertical piece is 64.5 inches. Center height is 10 ft 6 in. Area is 225 square feet and the perimeter is 56 ft.
Labels for different parts

2x4 frame

The joints were made from steel studs and riveted together. The roof piece is 8 feet long. Horizontal piece is 43.5 inches and the vertical piece is 5 ft. Center height is 9 ft. Area is 155 square feet and the perimeter is 45 ft. The foil faced insulation is Prodex, purchased from

1/2 inch conduit

This is the design I'm focusing on at the moment. So, only two photos for now, but more to come. I'm focusing on this one because it's light, easy enough to put together for a one or two day campout, and should be quite inexpensive. The joints are made from 3/4 inch conduit welded together by a friend. The 1/2 inch conduit just slides into place. The roof pieces are 6 ft 10 in long. Horizontal pieces are 38 inches and the vertical pieces are 5 ft. Center height is 8.5 ft. Area is 107 square feet and the perimeter is 38 ft. I'm working on the cover now. When it's finished, I'll post the details and photos here.

conduit frame at left is quite a bit smaller than the steel stud frame

If you'd like more specifics on any of these, leave a comment. I'm planning to do detailed plans for the conduit version soon.


  1. Steel framing is made with a roll forming machine. There are lots of uses for these metal forming equipment and how they can build better framing components.

    Great article and look forward to more

  2. This is exactly the plan I am interested in! I want to make it much taller, and with pallet sized spaces (may accommodate two pallets wide) between the frame pieces. I would love specs on how much each of these cost you!!! Thanks!!!

  3. Hey Chad,
    Great to find your page...this is right along the lines of what I've been thinking.
    What gauge steel stud did you use? Is it a structural or load bearing gauge?...and how did you connect the rafters?...doesn't look like a traditional ring.
    Thanks for the page! It's quite inspiring!

    1. The steel studs were the standard Lowe's offering - a fairly light gauge. The center ring was made by leaving a tab extended from the two pieces of steel stud that were riveted together to make the sleeve. I drilled a hole in the tab and just used a steel bolt in the center to hold it together.

  4. Am very interested in more details about the conduit yurt!

    And, in particular, could you address:

    1. How to make the connectors.

    2. What you are using to connect the roof beams at the center since there appears to be no center ring, and how to make that piece.

    3. What your tension band is made of and how you secure it. (And do you use only one -- just below the roof? Or do you use a second one at the bottom (and expansion band) to keep the bottom from spreading under weight.

    4. What kind of covering -- temporary or permanent -- you recommend.

    5. How tall are your walls?

    5. I would like to add overhang -- for shedding water and guttering for water catchment, as well as for blocking summer sun and creating a porch-like sitting area / covered area all the way around. (Except it would be modified over the doors so one could easily walk in and out without bumping into the overhang.) Am thinking of attaching about a 3-1/2' overhang to the top of the walls, giving the appearance of an extended roof, and adding supports (to the ground) at each outside corner of each overhand section. Do you think that would work? Or will that put too much weight/load on the walls and wall supports?

    Thanks so much.

    Am experimenting with building a conduit-frame polygon structure right now. Have not yet settled on how to connect the roof structure pieces at the center -- so am particularly interested in hearing how you did yours. Am also concerned about snow load on the roof since I am in a climate where at least once every 10 years or so we get a 3' to 4' dump over a 24 to 36 hour period. Normal years we only get 2" to 8" at a time.

    Am wanting to clad this with something hardened and waterproof and to insulate it well for use as a permanent room -- guest house, workshop, office, etc. If my first one works out, will be making more like it. Or will refine and try again. Ultimately, hope to have several pods -- some connected, some stand-alone. Hope to learn from your experience.

    Thank you for any help you can offer or point me to.

  5. Overall comment - If you want a semi-permanent structure and 166 sq ft is large enough, you may want to consider a H13 hexayurt made from 2x4s and OSB. I've got a milking shed that I've insulated and it's held up well - on it's 3rd year. It warms up quickly with a small heat source and is strong enough I can walk on the roof.

    1. The connectors for the 1/2" conduit are made from welded 3/4" conduit. I have another larger yurt made from 3/4" conduit. The connectors for it are similar, but made from 3/4" square tubing that fits inside the conduit. I'll post some photos and drawings to give you a better idea.

    2. The center connector is one solid piece welded together. I'll post some photos to give you a better idea.

    3. I made a tension band from a 1" strap and a ratcheting tightener. I ended up using the strap on the top only and a light rope on the bottom.

    4. My smaller yurt with 1/2" conduit just has 2 12x20" tarps I wrap around the frame. The larger 3/4" conduit yurt has a rip-stop nylon shell that a friend custom made for me.

    5. 5' - 10' conduit cut in half.

    6. Overhang may be a bit tricky. Would have to experiment.

  6. Great article on the advances of industrial roll forming machine lines. It seems this technology is ever growing and meeting some tough demands.

  7. It's really appreciable message for everybody thanks for sharing this information.
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  8. Extremely awesome. Thank you for taking your time to do this. It is a lot of work to experiment and document what you are doing. I am particularly interested in the 2x4 wood design. I would like it with 9 foot height sides, with a slightly larger diameter of say 12 feet. The structure is for low cost housing in Africa. This is exactly what I was looking for.

  9. WOW -- I've been here before. And ... you answered questions I had asked. I must have forgotten to click "notify me." (And I don't think I noticed it today when I posted questions.)

    Just rediscovered this site and read it all, thinking I was seeing it for the first time. And asked you a bunch of questions -- some redundant since I asked them three years ago and you answered them then...

    Are you still at this? Are you making and selling kits?