Spiffing up your Campsite...

On a Matter of

Indoor Pavilions


Charles Oakley, Esq.

Worthy Lords and Ladies

Some time ago while attending a Winter event I began to ponder the possibility of bringing some of our Summer pageantry to the indoor venues that we use during the less accommodating seasons of our calendar. To this end I have constructed a lightweight pavilion specifically for indoor use.. which I now present to you.

Before proceeding with these plans however, I would like to offer these thoughts on the subject of indoor structures. While I have received very favorable responses regarding the one I have made, I can see how the natural enthusiasm that abounds within our game must be constrained a bit if you decide to indulge yourself by building your own pavilion.

Consider that many of our indoor sites are somewhat small. To this end I have made my pavilion have a foot print of 5 ft. x 5 ft. and would encourage all who decide to experiment with these plans to do likewise... While the pavilion does not take up much room in your vehicle, it can take up considerable room at a limited space site. Deciding to go to 8 ft. by 8 ft. or 10 ft. by 20 ft.... even for a large household... may start to impact on the enjoyment of others. In addition... these are best set up along a wall or in some area that will not impact the ability of our friends to view and enjoy the activities that they came to participate in.

Please use common sense in designing your indoor pavilion... and once you have it constructed... if you are unfamiliar with the site you intend to take it to, you might consider giving the Event Steward a call... just to make sure....

Thank you...

Charles Oakley, Esq.

Once upon a time there was this guy.... and this guy had this way cool pavilion that he would take out to events and would live in during the various faires and pageants of the summer months. Then, the temperatures would grow cold and this guy would have to abandon his nice pavilion and he would attend faires and tourneys in gyms and other public buildings... and while these faires and pageants were fun... they were missing the color and flavor of those held during the summer months....

Anyway... that is about how this whole idea came about.. Now, I have heard from this or that individual comments that suggest that at one time or another they had seen something along these lines before. This is entirely possible... good ideas (and some bad ones...) tend to be re-created from time to time. But this plan is from my own experimentation... improvements are invited.

The Indoor Pavilion:

The basic design concept for this pavilion was to make something that was:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Compact
  3. Reasonably cheap
  4. Easy to transport and erect

To this end, I employed a "tinker-toy" method of constructing the underlying framework of the pavilion. None of the parts are glued together except for the base which must be solid and stable unit.

The construction of the pavilion can be separated into two parts... the construction of the frame and the tent or fabric portion of the pavilion. I will address each of these separately.

The pavilion presented is based on a 5' x 5' pavilion. The height you can determine... but remember that the ceiling in your house is 8' tall.... this a common ceiling height in most modern buildings.... 10' is also fairly common in public spaces.... above that... well....

The Pavilion Frame:

The frame is constructed of easily acquired materials... most hardware stores should have what you need... The only tools you will need is a drill (a drill press is desirable because the holes should be as straight as possible...) and a jigsaw (sometimes called a saber saw). As you can see from Figure 1,

most of the parts involved are pretty straight forward. Parts B, D, and E are just dowel rods (or closet rods in the case of B & E). Parts A, C and F are made from pieces of 4" x 4" pine/fir (cheap stuff).

The round base (G) is made from 1/4" fibreboard. You can use plywood or any other structurally stiff material for the base but chose wisely... this is the key piece that keeps your pavilion from falling over!

So that we can all talk the same language as we begin our construction, lets define the pieces:

A: Cone (6" x 4" x 4"0
B: Upper pole (1 1/4" x 32")
C: Hub (10" x 4" x 4")
D: Spreader arms (3/4" x 42 ½") (4 pieces)
E: Lower pole (1 1/4" x 65")
F: Receiver (12" x 4" x 4")
G: Round base (1/4" thick by 27" diam. circle)
.... ummm... and about 230" of 1/4" white cotton clothesline...

The Cone:

Figure 2 shows a "cut away" of the cone construction as I did it on my pavilion. The optional hole on the top of the cone is to take a dowel that a:) will help to hold the fabric centered... a basically good idea, and b:) will provide a spike for you to mount a pennon pole of some sort at the peak of your pavilion (more height though!!!)

The bottom hole is about 2" deep and of whatever diameter you choose to use for your center pole.

The cone shape at the top will help to support the fabric without having sharp edges that can tear it. I shaped mine on a lathe... similar results can be achieved using chisels or draw knives.

The Hub:

Again... the holes in the top and bottom are the diameter of your center pole... the holes bored around the center of the hub (the 3/4" diameter holes) are to receive the spreader arms. These holes are drilled about 1 ½" in depth....

Remember that Figure 3 is a cutaway view... there are four spreader arms.

As you might be able to tell from the drawing, I have turned the ends of the Hub on my pavilion... you donít have to if you donít have access to a lathe or want to do that much chisel work...

The Receiver/Round Base:

The receiver/base assembly is probably the most critical part of the pavilion from a structural point of view. Although the receiver is nothing more than a piece of 4 x 4 material with a hole drilled in the top (yep... diameter of your center pole and 2" deep...).... It is critical that it be secured to the round base in such a manner that there is no wobble in the assembly.

Although there are any number of possible ways to create this assembly, Figure 4 shows a reasonable design for this construction.... Note that there are 4 - 3" long wood screws that come up through the fiberboard base and into the 4" x 4" receiver.... By placing 4 screws (one in each corner of the base...) and gluing the receiver to the fiberboard as well, the attachment should have little risk of coming apart.

The Upper and Lower Poles and the spreader arms:

The dimensions I have given in the parts list are for the pavilion as I have constructed it... If you change any of the dimensions other things will, of course change too.

If you should decide to make the footprint of your pavilion larger than 5' x 5' then you will need longer spreader arms...

The diameters given are, again, what I have used. I find that they are structurally sufficient without being unacceptably heavy...

Oh, yea... In Figure 1 there is a detail that shows a notch at the end of each spreader arm... This would be a good time to create those notches!!! (Hint: they should be just under 1/4" in width... this will allow the cotton clothes line to fit into them snugly...)

The Pavilion Fabric:

Now... when my lady and I built our pavilion we had this idea that we could create sloped sides. Furthermore, we decided that if we placed our belongings on a "ground flap" that would extend around the interior of the pavilion (about 1 ft. of excess material at the bottom of each wall), we could hold the sides out and achieve our dream.... Well, it kindaí works... but not well enough to bother with trying to cut all those angles... so I will recommend that you follow the following procedure to make straight sides... that is what we end up with most of the time anyway...

If you do feel like exploring the geometries of sloped sides you will find two possible benefits...

1:) The sides will hang "fuller" because of the extra material at the bottom... it can be a kind of cool look if it works right...

2:) The pavilion can have a sort of natural "expansion capability". If you find that there is plenty of room at the site youíre setting it up in you can "stake out" the base... otherwise the sides will hang straight down and take up a mere 5Ď x 5'.

The first step here is to get the pieces cut out.... In the simplest form there will be roof pieces and wall pieces...

Now... you will need a door on one side of your pavilion. To make this wall/door section you will need two pieces of material... one will be ½ of the width of your standard wall section... the other will be ½ the width plus a foot or so for an overlap on the inside of the doorway.

Wall Pieces:

If you stay with the 5' x 5' "standard", you have the option of either finding material in a 60" width and making each wall section as a single piece or piece together material such that you can create panels that are 60" (remember to include seam allowances) wide by whatever length you need.

The length can be determined by setting up your frame (with the spreaders) and measuring the distance from the spreader to the ground. To this distance, add ½" for the seam at the top of the wall, 9" to 12" for a "ground flap" and perhaps another ½" for the lower hem. You will need 3 wall sections of this type....

Figure 5 illustrates the assembly of the wall sections.... All of the upper edges will be sewn into the roof.

If you are intending to stencil, silkscreen or otherwise embellish your pavilion, it is recommended that you do it before you sew up your fabric!!

Ceiling Pieces:

Cutting the ceiling pieces is a bit trickier than the walls... now, those of you who are experienced with such things will probably not have any problems but some of us like to suffer a lot... soooo... here is the method I used.

The trick is to determine the height of the line that goes from the midpoint between B1 and B2 in Figure 6. Now we know, in the case of the pavilion described in these plans. That the distance between B1 and B2 is 5 feet. But... as the cleric I studied under was rather weak in math, I learned that the best way to figure stuff out was to measure... therefore... SET UP YOUR FRAME!

Once you have the frame set up, measure the distance between B1 and B2 (as shown in the upper portion of Figure 7). If you have build your pavilion according to the measurements given in this plan, the distance should be very close to 5 feet (give or take a bit...)

Then... find the half way point on a line between B1 and B2 and measure from that point to point A. On your fabric, layout a triangle as shown in figure 6.... Now... if you measure the length from the point B1 to A on your fabric... and from B2 to A on your fabric... it should be very close to the distance from B1 to A on the frame and from B2 to A on the frame...

If it isnít... start your measurements all over. The nice thing about this is that once you get one side measured... all of the sides will be alike. When you cut out your pieces however, add an extra ½ inch for a seam allowance.... But... If you top fits a bit too tight... just trim (slightly... ever so slightly) the spreaders until the fit is snug but not pulling excessively on the material.

You really need to measure your top... I could give measurements here but if you cut your upper pole a bit long, drilled your holes a bit shallow or a bit deep or anyone of a dozen possible things... well, all the measurements would change anyway... So, go through the drill and commence with the measuring... Again... if you are planning any decoration... do it before you sew up the roof..


To construct your pavilion, sew the wall sections together on the long seams. Sew the ceiling panels together on the diagonal seams. (Note: leave a small hole at the peak so that the spike can come through the material...). Then, sew the walls to the ceiling... Handling this much fabric can be a challenge but it is do-able....

Other Things...

I would like to recommend adding a bit of canvas at the peak to re-enforce the seams at the top of the pavilion... when my lady and I put ours together she accomplished this by making a dagged cap (see the cover picture) of canvas and then sewing the ceiling piece to it...

In addition, you might want to consider dagging around the eves of the pavilion... if you choose to do this, construct your dags following the pattern of your choice and then sew the walls, ceiling and dags together in a single step.

Have fun and make stuff -

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