Box 1748 Conway, NH 03818
Phone: (603) 447-2344 Fax: (603) 447-8377

Pole/setup instructions for small wall tents

The following is an explanation of what we do when we build a pole system for our wall tents. The reason we use the interior pole system is twofold. One, it is easier to transport and erect a tent with this configuration and, two, we could find no original documentation for exterior pole systems in evidence until the mid-19th century. We realize there are folks using the exterior pole system at rendezvous but that does not make it authentic. We think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy these tents are erected and how strong they are in a good windstorm. You will find two sets of instructions following, one set for the smaller wall tents with ridges seven feet tall and shorter, the second set for anything wider, longer or taller.

What you will need for LUMBER:
  Height Wall Height Ridgepole Uprights Perimeters (optional)
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 2′ 1 – 2″x4″x10′ 2 – 2″x2″x8′ 8 – 2″x2″x2’2″
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 3′ 1 – 2″x4″x10′ 2 – 2″x2″x8′ 8 – 2″x2″x3’2″
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 4′ 1 – 2″x4″x10′ 2 – 2″x2″x8′ 8 – 2″x2″x4’2″
8’6″ x 11’3″ 7′ 3′ 1 – 2″x4″x12′ 2 – 2″x2″x8′ 10 – 2″x2″x3’2″
8’6″ x 11’3″ 7′ 4′ 1 – 2″x4″x12′ 2 – 2″x2″x8′ 10 – 2″x2″x4’2″

WOOD: For ridge poles we use regular old spruce 2x4s that we spend a little extra time picking out. Look for the few in the pile that are the straightest with the fewest knots. Upright poles are a bit more work unless you can find 2x2s. 2x2s are actually 1 ½” x 1 ½”, perfect for most wedges. We use Douglas Fir but it took a great deal of time to locate a source. If you can’t find acceptable 2×2 stock you will have to use 2x4s. You will need one 2×4.

Pole sleeveRIDGEPOLE: Use the dimensions filled in below to mark and cut your stock to length. Next, set a table saw to cut the chamfer on the top two edges or, better still, use a router or shaper to configure the pole to this softer edge shape. If you have grommets in your tent you will want to look below to see what your “set back” is. Use this measurement to measure back from the bitter ends to the center of the holes in your ridge pole. (If you do not have grommets measure 1 ½”) Drill the two holes using a 9/16” bit. Sand and paint.

SLEEVES: Shortening your ridge pole is best done with a sleeve. The sleeves we supply are made to be placed over your pole with very little, if any, stock removal. After cutting your ridge into two pieces place a mark 7 ½” from each new cut end. Slide the sleeve over the cut end until it lines up with the mark. Drill a hole and place a nail or small screw into the sleeve to lock it place. Sand and paint.

UPRIGHT POLES: Set your table saw to the thickness of the 2×4 (1½”) and rip your 2×4 twice. This will yield boards that have a final dimension of 1½” x 1½”. We like the looks of a chamfered edge. First cut the vertical poles to the measured height of your tent minus the height of your ridgepole. Leave both ends in “the square” for about eight inches and use a router or shaper to chamfer the edges in between. Drill a 3/8” hole roughly 6” deep into the top end of each upright pole. Cut two 3/8” steel pins 12” (for a tent with grommets) or 9” (for a tent without grommets). Radius the ends of the pins and place in the drilled holes. Sand and paint.

WALL POLES: are constructed from the same 2x2s. Cut and build as described above for upright poles. Leave six inches in the square and chamfer the balance. Drill top for 3/8” steel pin. Place 9” pin in hole.

YOU CAN ESTIMATE THE DIMENSIONS OF YOUR POLES FROM THE CHART ABOVE. For example, your 8’6″ x 8’6″ wall tent with a 7′ overall height and 4′ walls, will have a ridgepole that is approximately 8’6″ long (give or take an inch or two). The overall height of the tent is 7′. To find the height of your upright poles, we first need to subtract the thickness of the ridgepole. From the chart, we can see that a 1750 uses a 2×4 for a ridgepole, which actually measures 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. By subtracting 3 1/2″ from 7′, we know that our upright poles will measure approximately 6’9″ (again, give or take a an inch or two). Grommet (3/8″) setback should be 1 1/2″ (give or take a 1/4″ or so).

BECAUSE EACH TENT IS UNIQUE, DO NOT cut your poles to final dimensions before you receive your tent. Leave an extra couple of inches on your uprights and ridgepole, until we can give you precise final dimensions. DO NOT drill your ridgepole for the hole placement for your upright pins.

PAINTING: It is necessary to seal the wood. We use paint. From the information that can be found, paint is the most appropriate finish. Any flat, or semi-gloss paint will do, but look for one with old colors. There are a number of companies that sell colonial color paints. Stulb Old Village paint is a favorite of ours. Their oil paints are incredibly tough.
You will also need:

8’6″ x 8’6″ STAKES: 14 Small, 8 Large DOGBONES: 8
8’6″ x 11’3″ STAKES: 16 Small, 10 Large DOGBONES: 10
What you will need for ROPE:
  Height Wall Height  
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 2′ w/poles: 8 sections @ 4′
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 3′ w/poles: 8 sections   @ 6’
8’6″ x 8’6″ 7′ 4′ w/poles: 8 sections   @ 7′
8’6″ x 11’3″ 7′ 3′ w/poles: 10 sections  @ 6′
8’6″ x 11’3″ 7′ 4′ w/ poles: 10 sections @ 7′


To set up your tent, lay the canvas in the location you want the standing tent. Locate the reinforcements on the front door. You will find one stake loop at the bottom center of each reinforcement. Stake the two reinforcements with one stake. Using large stakes, if you have them, do the following; pull the left front corner of the tent square and stake it. Pull the front right corner square and stake. Stake the right rear corner making sure the right side is tight, straight and makes a right angle at the front right corner. Stake the left rear corner making sure the left side is tight, straight and makes a right angle at the front left corner. If you do not have a rear door the wall will help to hold everything tight. If you do have a rear door, check to make sure a stake can be driven through the two rear door reinforcement stake loops. Do not place a stake in this position at this time.

Slide the ridgepole under the canvas, inside the tent. Put the rear vertical pole into the ridgepole. Put the front vertical pole into the ridgepole. Place the ridgepole into the ridge of the tent making sure, if you have grommets, to place the pins through the grommets. Now walk both vertical poles into position at the same time with two people (or alternate if working alone) until the vertical poles are vertical. Step back to make sure everything is square and snug. If it is not remove and restake to make the base square at this time.

If you are using wall poles, place a wall pole in place in one of the guyline loops near the center of the tent wall. Place a guyline over the protruding pin and, pulling from the tent at a ninety-degree angle, stake the guyline using a large stake. Repeat this on the opposite side of the tent. Place a pole in one or the front corner guyline loops. Place a guyline on the pin and pull away from the tent both to the side and front. Stake using a large stake. Repeat on the remaining three corners. Place the remainder of the poles and guylines in position and stake. Using small stakes, stake the bottom of the tent walls. Your tent canvas should be tight, not baggy and wrinkled. If it is not tight, fix it! You are not trying to stress the fabric, the object is to get the fabric tight enough to shed water and wind quickly.

If you are not using wall poles the operation above is completed using the guylines secured to the guyline loops.

When taking down and packing up your tent remember to remove as much vegetation and dirt from the canvas as possible.

It is always best to lay your tent out when you arrive home to ensure every part is dry before long term storage.

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