How to Build a Lean-To

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Want to build a lean-to? This can be a great way of building a temporary shelter when out in the field. A lean-to can also be used as a hide when birdwatching or hunting or just somewhere to store your belongings to keep the weather off of them.

The materials you will need can be mostly obtained around the area in which you wish to build your lean-to but some twine, a knife or an axe will make the job much easier to complete.

The first thing you need to do is decide where you will build your lean-to or shelter. Flat ground is a must if you intend sleeping in the lean-to and it is better not to build it at the bottom of a slope as you risk flooding should you experience heavy rain.

To avoid the extra effort of building side poles for your lean-to and digging post holes it is far easier to find two trees distanced apart just enough to provide the length of your shelter. However if there are no trees about or you prefer the extra work then you will need to build sides as well.

The lean-to you are to build in this how-to assumes that you will be using trees for the side uprights. The two trees you have chosen need to be strong enough to support the weight of the structure you are building and tall enough to accommodate the lean-to height that you need. It is best to choose two trees about 6 feet apart, any longer and it will be harder to find the right materials to do the job.

Now that you have your two trees, you need to find a branch long enough to be lashed to those trees with a little spare in length. Once you have this branch, trim off all side branches until it is just a pole. Now lash this pole, using your twine, at the height you need your shelter to be between the standing trees.

You now need to find four branches that will be used to provide the depth of your lean-to. So that you understand the purpose of these branches, they are to be tied at one end to the crossbar and will come to the ground behind the shelter. the length of branch you choose determines how far back your shelter goes. Lash one of these branches on the crossbar against the tree, one to each side, after cleaning off any side branches. Then place the other two branches equidistant between the two end branches, this then gives you four angled branches coming from the crossbar to the ground at an angle.

Now you will need three more branches the same length as the crossbar. Again clean off any sidebranches. One of these poles needs to be lashed to the angled branches making sure one is on the ground holding all the angled branches in place and then lash the other two branches above the ground pole again equidistantly apart. You now have a grid securely tied to the crosspole.

For additional strength to your shelter, you can tie a pole between the bottom of the angled grid and the tree at each side so that from the side the shape of a triangle is formed.

Now of course you want to cover the grid you have made. You can use any materials that come to hand, leafed branches, rushes or any other suitable material. Work from the bottom of the grid, layering as you go so that if it should rain the water will run off as opposed to simply dropping through your roof to the floor of your shelter. You can use the support poles of the grid to secure some of the roofing material but most of it will stay in place unless there are high winds.

Lastly, fill in the sides with the same covering material and your basic lean-to is finished. To finish it off why not build a fire pit close to the open side of your lean-to with a fire screen the other side of the fire so that heat is reflected into the shelter.

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