Saturday, April 27, 2013

Simple Shelter Skills 
     Think back to the days of making a fort in the dining room with some sheets or turning a closet into home base for you and all your G.I.Joe's.  You had some wicked simple shelter skills.  You still do.
     Replace the sheets and blankets of your rainy day play shelter with a tarp.  Replace the dining room table as the uprights with poles, or a small tree.  Add in some tent stakes and you have simple shelter skills just as you did when you were a kid.  Get out your tarp, a roll of twine or a hank of 550 cord and play in your yard.  There are many configurations.  Knowing how to make a shelter in different shapes can help you adjust one tarp to the needs of one or several under the same tarp.    
For fun, on a warm summer night, sleep in your tarp.  This too can teach you if you need to adjust your structure design.  I have a son who is always cold.  Tarp sleeping would mean he needs insulation under him.  Another person may be the one who is always hot and throwing off the covers.  You would want a more airy configuration.  Always keep in mind getting in and out in a hurry and your ability to see.
      A lean to is a simple shelter of two uprights supporting a cross beam and struts leaning from the crossbeam to the ground.  Think Triangle closed in on one side.  Please click on the site this sample photo is from.  This is the final product.  There are photos of every step along the way.  It's also a good read.  

     A lean to in the field, made up of material found in the field, is a shelter that blends and disappears into the field.  You can augment the lean to with a tarp if you expect rain, snow or other foul weather, but the first best character of a lean to is it's ability to blend.

     Don't let the idea that this is a structure or building stop you from trying to learn this skill.  It is still a simple grade school skill set after you cut down or gather up the poles.  Lashing the poles together is merely wrapping around one and across to the other then repeating the wrapping and knotting at the end.
     After you have practiced the lashing of poles at joints for a lean to, you can try lashing three three equal length poles side by side as they lay beside each other.  When the lashing is tight and tied, pull apart the three poles to create a tripod.  You don't have to stretch hide to make a tepee but, you can.  

     Once you have added the intermediate poles, you can lash on branches or stretch a tarp to shelter you from the weather.  

you can make this shelter 
     Having practiced this skill once or twice, myself, it is a temptation to improve if you can.  I did.  I used 1" by 2" furring strips eight feet high.  The hardest part of this was finding six furring strips that were straight and not full of knots.  I drilled holes in the wood strips and laced them together with leather laces.  Between each strip I strung on a wooden bead from the craft store.  So, it was knot, lace through wood, lace through bead, lace through wood strip until done.  I left a length of leather about three feet long hanging at the end.  This way I was able to store the poles as a unit tied together but laying in a neat stack and pull them out to spread the frame.  I used the lacing at the end to lash the poles together before draping the structure with a canvas I cut from an old boat cover.  

     With three coats of exterior latex paint to seal the canvas and make it tanned skin color, my grandson and I painted native designs on it and we used it as his personal shelter at two Powwows, and three summers play in his back yard.  I believe it is still in his mom's garage.  You too can make this shelter for a favored child or grandchild.  You can use canvas boat covering or even sheets if you are staying indoors.  

     If you don't need a little tepee in your life, remember the lashing and lean to skills.  You can build on them and see in the following photos how these basic skills have sheltered humans for eons.

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