Saturday, 6 February 2010

Parachute Shelter Making

The winter Woodland Workshop development work continues with a new parachute shelter for cleaving and splitting on rainy day courses.



This is probably the MK10 design of our shelters and, as ever, each time we put one up we learn a bit more and simplify. I can't take all of the credit on this one though - the design is based on an idea by Jasper (my eldest son) to hang the parachutes from a central 'mast' and to tension it with a large metal ring (or two as it turned out). 

I'm pleased to say it's been a great success: it stays dry and taught in the rain and just gently sways in the wind (despite being held down at three opposing points).

The whole structure took just one day to erect with Adam's invaluable help, together with a quad bike and pulleys to do the hoisting. If I'm honest I can't really call this one work - just adult den building I guess!


  1. That's a great idea for a shelter Guy! We're using the Mike Abbott style shelter and love it. We've also just built a bender and put a whacking great woodburner in it. Been perfect in this weather!

    warmest hugs,

    ( @hen4 on twitter )

  2. Hi Hen, Thanks - many failures 1st - the best way to learn. Would love to see your shelters too - we have made some of Mike's smaller A frame shelters - brilliant design which I am sure he has spent ages refining. We now have a woodburner in the dining Tipi - lovely and snug now!

  3. Here's the link to the pics of the bender:

    and here's the shelter:

    We've just got round to replacing the ridge pole of the shelter as the old one wasn't straight. Other than that its like the day we made it. had LOTS of use too.

    Hoping the bender lasts as well!

  4. Going to watch you tonight on TV! Nice blog!

  5. Guy, Just watched the BBC program, great stuff. A fine authentic blend of the romantic and the nitty gritty of a traditional craft. I have a birch woodland in Scotland which does it's own thing mostly but I'm now fired up to get much more connected. The parachute shelter is brilliant, especially beautiful at might. Could you share any more tips on how you did it? Cheers


  6. Hi Andrew
    Thanks re the kind words about Mastercrafts last night.
    The parachutes are army surplus, I removed one panel to make them steeper so the rain runs off properly. Our main ones are stretched from a central chimney pole out to living willow posts. This new one is my sons idea of simply hanging them from a central pole and tensioning with the weight of rolled metal rings that I had made up by a local metalworker - simple!

  7. Hi Guy
    I also watched mastercrafts last night .Which I really enjoyed, I dabble with a few things and carve signs from slabs of green oak. After watching what you do down there I shall be trying to work green a bit more.Cheers:)Brian

  8. Excellent prog. The Mallinson stock is on the rise!

  9. Hi Guy

    Great programme (Mastercrafts).

    Fascinated by your shelter, but why two parachutes (making it double skinned)?

  10. Hi David
    We use two layers as the 1st layer creates a mist and the second catches it - rather like an old fashioned tent with a fly sheet.

  11. Hi. I love the parachute 'tenty' thing, but wonder where the metal ring is sourced from? Or do u have to get them specially fabricated? Nigel

  12. Hi Nigel, yes I had the rings rolled my a local metalworker/fabrication company whi have a ring rolling machine.
    cheers Guy

  13. Hi Guy
    We loved watching you work on Mastercrafts, I hope one day to join you on one of your courses.

    We are thinking of setting up a parachute shelter for our Handfasting ceremony. We are celebrating 21years of marriage together.
    I've been trailing the web & you by far have the best shelters made from parachutes.
    I wondered why you used 2 parachutes?
    What is the frame made from that supports the skirt of the parachute?
    Where do you sauce your parachutes? I can find green ones, but not white ones!

    Many thanks
    John & Keri