Homemade Tent Poles

Homemade Tent PolesTent poles break, and sometimes not under the best of circumstances. While aluminum and fiberglass tent pole replacement kits are commonplace, they do you little good if you need them in the field. Also, many tents on the market come with no tent poles at all. Carving a homemade tent pole out of wood requires only a few simple tools and can be applied under most circumstances, but making a tent pole that will last is not as easy as it might seem.


Difficulty: Easy

Cutting and Shaping

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ash or oak timber
  • Measuring tape
  • Buck knife
  • Hand saw
  • Hand sanding block with medium-grit sandpaper
  • Paint brush
  • Polyurethane
Step 1
Lay out your old, broken tent pole and measure it for both length and width, or measure the sleeve in the tent where your homemade tent pole will go.
Step 2
Pick out an oak or ash pole from the lumber yard that is as close to your required width as possible, but without being smaller. You can always whittle the tent pole down, but you cannot make it thicker. If you are fashioning a replacement tent pole at the campground, search the forest for an oak or ash tree and examine the branches for a reasonably straight piece you can cut off and use. Oak and ash can be easily identified by their leaves.
Step 3
Whittle the wood down to the desired thickness with your buck knife, and saw off any extra length. If your tent pole is made from forest greenwood, whittle all the bark off.
Step 4
Measure and cut any necessary notches in the top end of the pole. For example, the replacement pole might have to fit into a plastic bridge joint and need a narrower top end for that purpose.
Step 5
Sand and smooth the pole so it does not catch on the tent fabric. Pay particular attention to removing any knots in the wood if you used a tree branch to make your homemade tent pole.


Step 1
Set your homemade tent pole in a dry place out of the sun to season if it came from forest greenwood. Drying the wood properly will help the pole last longer. This will take three to six months, depending on the climate. Warm and dry climates season wood faster than cool and wet climates.
Step 2
Apply at least two layers of polyurethane sealant to the tent pole, allowing each coat at least six hours to dry between applications. This will protect the wood from the weather.
Step 3
Staple a rubber cap to the homemade tent pole, or wrap it with duct tape. Where the tent pole meets the ground is where it will encounter the most moisture, so it needs extra protection.

Tips & Warnings

Wood selection is important. A hardwood that is too stiff will not bend like a tent pole should, while most softwoods will not bear the necessary load. Oak and ash are good woods for this kind of job, because they are strong and flexible. Ash, which has been a prime wood for making spear shafts throughout Western history, is the better choice of the two.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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