How to make a Tipi

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rancid crabtree
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How to make a Tipi

Post by rancid crabtree » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:23 pm

Here is how I built a Tipi for use on camping trips. I don't have pictures of the process of cutting, peeling and smoothing the poles. My two Son's and I harvested the 25 foot pines in a small stand in the middle of a cedar swamp. The pines were growing so thick that they only had branches near the tip. They all grew very straight and tall as they had to compete for the sun light. I think thinning them out did the remaining trees a favor. At least I hope so. Here are the poles right after peeling as I get ready to transport them from the family farm back to my place.

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Here they are drying in the sun. Each day, I would give them a quarter turn as they dried. I had not yet smoothed the poles and removed the little branch stubs

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During the drying time, I began to sew the part of the Tipi and the liner. This is the Tipi liner which I made from sewing together a bunch of canvas, painters drop cloths. each was cut into a sort of pie section and when laid flat on the grass it looks like the letter "C" Here it is installed.

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The bottom flaps of the liner lay on the ground and are covered with whatever is used as a floor for the Tipi. It could be hides or canvas but this liner keeps the bugs and dust out as well as the wind during regular Tipi living. It also helps create the draft needed to allow for a small fire to be made in the Tipi. The top pf the liner is held in place with a rope that is tied around all the poles and the bottom in held by tying off to stakes in the ground.

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I painted a scene on the liner. It is supposed to look like a painted hide but I did a rather poor job on the outline.

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This Tipi is 14 feet across at the bottom and has 25 foot tall poles. I took 33 yards of Waterproofed and fireproofed cotton canvas to do the job.

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In order to layout the pattern on the canvas, I first needed to join a few large sections of the canvas together. I used a 60's vintage Singer and at times had to go through up to 6 layers of the canvas.

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Once sewn. I could mark out the pattern on the canvas and cut out the pattern.

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Then it was back to the sewing machine to fold and hem all the cut edges to keep them from fraying. This included the opening for the door

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The area for the lifting pole.

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and the pockets for the smoke flap poles.

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This is what it looks like on the ground.

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Then it's time to put it up. Three poles are set and marked as the ones that will form the tripod. They are lashed together and set up and the rest of the poles are set in the "V" created by the intersecting poles. All work is done on the ground. No ladder is needed.

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Then all the poles are held together by circling around and around and tying off the rope to one of the poles so the process can be reversed when taking the Tipi down.

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rancid crabtree
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by rancid crabtree » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:24 pm

The last pole is used to lift the canvas in place and is called the lifting pole. The canvas is tied to the lifting pole and then lifted and leaned against the rest of the poles.

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Then the canvas is walked around the frame of poles.

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While the canvas is still loose, the lacing pins are installed.

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To tighten and stretch the canvas to give the tipi a full and tight look, all the bases of the poles are moved outwards. The canvas is held tight by tying it off to stakes. To keep the canvas from ripping, small stones are lashed into the canvas with ropes and it's those ropes that are used to tie it down. The outer Tipi does not go all the way to the ground. This creates an area for air to come up and in between the outer Tipi and the inner liner. As the air warms, it rises. It acts like the attic of your house and it's this circulation that carries the smoke up and out.

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The next step is to insert the smoke poles. These poles are shorter than the other poles and allow for adjusting the smoke flaps based on wind direction and allows for closing them all together in case of rain.

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The bottom of the smoke flaps are tied off to something to direct the wind or left untied in calm.

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Here they are closed for the night and this picture reminds me that I forgot to mention painting the Tipi

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I painted the Tipi with exterior house paint that was watered down. On the base, I painted bison along one side and wolves along the other and climbing from the base to the top I added wolf paws and a sun.

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On the door, I added a bison skull and feathers.

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It makes a great night light.

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Here is your view as you wake up in the morning.

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The entire process of erecting the Tipi takes an hour and a half and can be done alone and without a ladder. I have spent many nights in it and it sleeps 6 adults.
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Raincrow » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:07 pm

Wow,

Great job describing the process. Very informative. :D

Thanks,

Terry
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by BowHuntingFool » Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:42 pm

Once again, kick azzz!!!!! thats pretty cool.
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by SHADE » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:07 am

I have said it before and will say it again, "You are an amazing craftsman Rancid Crabtree".

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Olschool » Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:33 am

Brings back lots of memories for me, I grew up in Wichita Ks and my boy scout troop used tipi's instead of tents. Two people make the setup faster, we used to win races against other troops getting our tipi up before their tents
THANKS!

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Many Hats » Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:17 am

Great job on making the Tipi, and showing how to do the setup.
I have a 22 footer, and have set it up many times alone, of course it's easyer
to do with two people. It has been used on tv to show upcoming living history
events many times. There is nothing better, then camping in a Tipi. The best is
when you can stay in it for 2 weeks, to a month at a time.
Ours is going to get set up as soon as the weather gets better, although, I
have had it set up in 4 feet of snow, and was comfortable in it.
Once again, GREAT JOB! :)

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by oldpaths » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:46 pm

Nice job Rancid,Ithink you done great job on the art work!
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Stumblin Wolf » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:50 am

Thats probably the best lookin tipi I have seen in 15 years! Great Job!

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Johnny B. Good » Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:05 am

"PURE DEAD BRILLIANT"!! ;)

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KnightsTouch
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by KnightsTouch » Thu May 20, 2010 10:27 am

Nice! Very nice. Good job and I enjoyed this post.

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TradRag's son
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by TradRag's son » Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:10 pm

that's a cool tipi :dance:

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Aeronut
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Aeronut » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:17 pm

Good build-along Ranc....

Mine is a 16'. I didn't make it though and I need to get some new poles for it.

Yeah, they make a neat night light.
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by Good Stuff » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:24 am

you've got skills!

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by VTer » Sat Aug 07, 2010 3:51 pm

Good looking tipi! Thanks for the build-along, very inspiring! How long did it take you to do all the sewing?
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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by JMartin » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:42 am

WOW. That's amazing! How many Tipi's have you built? I mean, that looks like a professional job, excellent!

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Re: How to make a Tipi

Post by arrowflynn » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:30 pm

I had a16 foot tipi i still have it poles are long gone i got it from blue star in montana when my kids were little used to set up at archery shoots inoregon even hauled it up to canada in it we would build asmall fireas ashelter they sure have alot of karma now i will have to cut some poles

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