Setting up your tipi


Making the tripod: Lay your canvas out flat with the inside facing down. Lay two stocky poles, across the centre, from the tongue to the edge of the canvas. The butts of the poles should stick out about nine inches from the canvas edge. Take a third stocky pole, the door pole, and lay it as shown, so that it crosses the first two poles at the bottom of the tongue, again the butt sticking out nine inches. The door pole is then swung around on top of the first two whilst someone holds it in place at the crossing point. Usually the butt of the door pole sticks out further than the others, by about 12 -15 inches. The three poles are tied at the crossing point with one end of the anchor rope First do a clove hitch and then wind the short end of the rope around the poles twice and tie off to the long end with a reef knot.  

The prevailing wind in Britain generally comes from the South-West, so the tipi is pitched facing away from this, usually towards the East. However when you go somewhere new check and find out where the wind generally comes from and pitch accordingly, you do not want the wind coming in the door. Move your tripod bundle to the back of your pitching spot and,assuming your door will face East put them down with the butts in the South, the tips of the poles pointing North. The door pole (D) should still be on top of the bundle so take the butt of it and carefully swing it to the East.





Putting up the tripod: One person puts their foot against the butts of the two back poles. Starting at the tips someone walks underneath them raising them higher until they are upright. Take the inside pole of the two just lifted and walk back with it until the tripod is stable. If you stand at the door pole the two back poles should cross to the right of this pole. Learning how to space the tripod poles of your tipi is to some extent trial and error, but a good starting point would be to choose a distance about two foot smaller that your own tipi size. i.e.. if you have an eighteen foot lodge then space the poles about sixteen foot apart from each other. The rest of the framework will be put on the crossing point to the right of the door pole. Starting with a sturdy pole for the right door pole (1) then place the poles (2,3,4,) from this to the North tripod pole.(N). Next back at the left door pole, (D) place the poles (5,6,7,8) between this and the south tripod pole (S). All of these poles are put in the front of this crossing point, the first going on top of the last on the other side. Then place the back poles (9,10,11) in the back of the same cross, leaving a gap in between for the lifting pole (the one with the canvas on it) (L). Take the anchor rope, come outside the framework and walk around four times in a clockwise direction flicking the rope upwards and occasionally pulling until all the poles are neatly bound at the crossing point. Bring the rope back inside the framework.

Putting the canvas on: Fold the cover into a neat bundle. First fold over the smoke flaps to stop

them from being trapped. Then, with someone holding the tongue take one corner of the door strip and fold it to the centre . Do the same on the other side and repeat until the bundle is about three feet wide at the bottom. Roll the whole bundle over and now you have the inside of the cover upwards and the canvas showing is the centre of the back of the cover where the lifting pole will be. Pull the canvas flat between the tongue and the bottom of the back of the cover and place the sturdy lifting pole on top. Have the butt sticking out 9 inches from the bottom of the cover. Lash the tongue onto the pole. The bundle with pole on top is then laid down at the back of the framework with the butt of the lifting pole in the space which was left between the two back poles. The pole and cover is lifted in the same way as the tripod - someone puts their foot on the

butt of the lifting pole whilst another person lifts the pole and cover around the lashing point and then walks underneath it until the lifting pole is upright. Adjust the lifting pole until the bottom of the tongue is sitting in line with the top of the rope at the crown knot. Unfold the cover around the framework so that the door strips are between the two door poles.

Lacing up: Lacing pin from the top to the bottom. The distance between the holes of each pair are wider on one door strip than the other. The wider spacing strip is overlapped on top of the other. If you cannot reach the top lacing pin hole take a piece of wood and lash it to the door poles to stand on, or sit on someones shoulders, or wrap the anchor rope around the door poles to make a ‘ladder’.

Shaping the tipi: Go inside the tipi. Make sure you know which are the tripod poles and the lifting pole. These should not be moved in or out to tighten the cover but can be moved around the circumference to give the right spacing between the poles. The rest of the poles can be moved in any direction. Remember the tipi is egg - shaped so move poles out,so the cover is just lifted off the ground all around. Make the door hole square to the front. If all looks fine move the poles out further so that the canvas does not sag between the poles but neither is it tightly stretched. The cover doesn’t need to be pegged down at this stage as it gets in the way of putting in the lining and adjusting the final spacing of the poles. However, if it is very windy peg it, likewise secure the anchor rope to stop the poles blowing over.

The Lining: The lining rope goes around the outside of the poles at a level about six inches above the door hole. It is tightened when the lining is tied onto it. Start by passing it behind the lifting pole. It has a loop at one end which the free end is passes through and tied off on itself. The lining has ties on its top edge and these are fixed to the lining rope. Begin tying beside the door pole making sure the pegging loops are on the outside. The inner door panel will be the last one tied. It is easier to tie and peg each panel individually as you go around - especially if there are two people - one tying onto the lining rope while the other pegs. The poles are put approximately into their final position now by lining them up with the seams of the lining panels. When you have secured it all the way around, the lining rope can be tightened to take out any sag in the lining. Make sure that there is a gap between the top of the lining and each pole.  

Pegging down the cover: These pegs are heavier than those used for the lining. Put the peg through the pegging loop on the cover and turn the peg to twist the cord so that it grips the peg. For an elegant shape to the tipi the peg is banged into the ground at the point where the bottom of the cover is neither pulled or pushed out of its natural shape. The cover will now feel quite tight although it will loosen after a few days. When necessary the anchor rope is usually tied off on two strong and long crossed pegs just behind the fire hearth.  

Smoke Flaps: The smoke flap poles can be put up at any time after lacing the cover. There is a loop sewn onto the corner of the smoke flap. The poles have a small cross stick tied a few feet down from the top to catch the loop.

Outer Door: The outer door is separate from the cover and is attached using the lacing pins. It is laced onto the cover on the lacing pin which allows the bottom of the door to rest on the ground so keeping out unwanted draughts.


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