Some of us have heard from family that the snows are falling up North. In anticipation of mounds and mounds of the white stuff in the coming months, here is a useful, if not somewhat obsessively intricate, how-to from the folks at Ready Made.
1. Mark off a 10’ x 8’ rectangle.
2. Stomp on the area to compress the snow (skis work well here), then smooth over the surface.
3. Use the saw to make one long, straight, deep cut parallel to one edge of the rectangle.
4. Shovel away the non-compacted snow so you have a shovel-wide trench the length of the rectangle. The trench should be a little deeper than the saw is long. This is where you’ll begin cutting blocks.
5. Take a break, have a swig of grog, and let the surface refreeze and harden for 20 minutes.
6. Cut your blocks. Stand at one end of the trench you made in the previous step and cut another long, straight, deep cut. Make it 6” in and parallel to the edge. These two cuts establish the inside and outside faces of your snow blocks.
7. Next, cut about 20” between the first cuts to define the length of the blocks. Your finished blocks will be roughly 6” wide x 20” long x 16” deep.
8. Now it’s time to cut the bottoms of the blocks. If the block is free on three of its sides (right, left, and back), you will notice it drop slightly when you finish this last cut. You’ve just made your first batch of blocks!
9. Carry them to your building site and cut another batch. You’ll need the corners, so take care not to chip them off. In all, it takes 30 to 40 blocks to make an igloo.
10. Create a foundation. Level the snow and mark a perfect circle approximately 6’ in diameter. (Tip: Hold a 3’ piece of string between two people and have one circle around the other.)
11. Lay a ring of blocks along the circle. Each block should fit snugly against its neighbor.
12. Use the saw to cut between adjacent faces so they fit tightly, and tilt each block slightly inward. Your cuts should always be pointed toward the central axis of the circle. From the top, your cuts will look like the spokes of a wheel.
13. Rub snow into the gaps between blocks to strengthen the joints.
14. Once the foundation is laid, saw off the tops of this first ring of blocks to make a continuous upwards spiral that gains one block height 360 degrees around. From this point onward, place the blocks one after another in an upward and inward spiral.
15. Stagger your vertical joints and rub loose snow into cracks to strengthen the structure. Each block must be custom-fitted to its neighbors. To do this, saw back and forth between blocks (to even them out) and let them settle into place for a perfect fit.
16. As you build up, notice how the block shape becomes more and more trapezoidal until the last few are actually triangles. Remember: Spokes on a wheel-keep all your cuts pointed toward the center.
17. Place the last block at the apex of your igloo. You can easily place it from the inside by covering the hole from the outside with a larger block, then sawing off the parts that don’t fit.
18. Saw between adjacent faces to make it drop into the correct place all on its own.
19. Make a door. Once the igloo is at least waist-high, excavate an entrance by digging under the foundation blocks and up into the floor. Top it off with more blocks as shown.
20. Cut a chimney at the top of the dome to serve as an air vent.
21. Decorate your snow palace. Smooth the inside walls of the igloo with your hands so any drips will run down the side. A candle or two will cozy up the interior with ample light and warmth. Roll out your sleeping bag and enjoy your new snow home.