Delta Shade

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Designed by Bogdanov and Bogdanov in 2006
Puddle forum: Delta Shade

The Delta Shade is a shade structure designed to resist high winds, be affordable, easy to assemble and protect you from the sun with flair.

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The Low Shade is an alternative to the Delta Shade.

Delta Shade in Argentina (Jan. 2010)

A version of the first design (V-shaped legs) with a new type of triangulation. We used four triangles of plywood (see details in photos below) instead of one large rectangular plywood piece. This solution was not strong enough for the summer winds and thunderstorms of the Mendoza region.
There is still the problem of the shade fabric getting worn and eventually being cut at the inner frame junction even though this time we cut the plywood at 45 degrees. Next time, let's try to create a smooth area by using a 4 in. plumbing plastic pipe to cover the 2x4 and the plywood at this junction.

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Delta Shade for Astral Carpet Lounge, Figment, New York City (Jun. 27, 2008 - Oct. 12, 2008)

The first attempt at a 12' wide delta. It survived on the island for 3 1/2 months in rain and high wind!!
Large drums filled with water were used as anchor points.
Heavy duty rope was used for the diagonal supports.
The crossbeam to which the fabric was attached underwent significant bending during that period. After the first month or so, Ed rotated these sandwiched beams so that the major stress was on the long dimension of the 1x4s (which were made using a 4' and an 8' 1x4 to get the full 12' length), and screwed the beam into the delta crossbeam to prevent it from rotating.

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Eight Delta Shades at Burning Man, Nevada (Aug-Sep 2007)

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Supplies for 8 Delta Shades

(96) wood studs 2x4 x8'
(32) wood studs 2x4 x10'
(32) wood studs 1x4 x10'
(8) sheets of 3/4" plywood
(16) rolls of tape (preferably pink/orange)
(32) 3'x3' pieces of fabric (remnants fine)
(8) 10'x35' shade cloth (preferably pink/orange)
(64) 15' ratchet straps or (5) 100' half-inch rope
(32) 3' metal stakes (with holes)
(600) 1 5/8' screws
(600) 2 1/2' screws

Additional Supplies:
(6) wood studs 2x4 x10' (Ocean)
(12) wood studs 2x4 x8' (Ocean)
(6) wood studs 2x4 x12' (Bignick)

Delta Shades at Figment (July 8, 2007)

This design uses only twelve equilateral 12"x12"x12" 1/2' plywood triangles. For the desert you will need to use twice this amount of equilateral triangles i.e. six per 8'x8'x8' triangles instead of just three.
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Delta Shades at Burning Man (Aug-Sep 2006)

The first Delta Shades were built and erected for the Hut of The GlamTech Warrior by JudgeCal and Seven at Disorient, Burning Man 2006.
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Building a Delta Shade


Length: 25' Height: 8' Width: 10'
Those are suggested dimensions. Bigger dimensions using available 2x4 studs could be 10' tall and 12' wide (large dimensions are not recommended in high-wind areas).


Materials needed to build a Delta Shade 10 foot wide by 20 foot long.

(12) wood studs 2x4 x8' ($50)
(4) wood studs 2x4 x10' ($20)
(4) wood studs 1x4 x10' ($10)
(1) sheet of 3/4" plywood (the cheap kind, such as CDX sheathing, is fine) ($30)
(2) rolls of (preferably pink/orange) tape ($5)
(4) T-shirts (you can get them back when you disassemble the Delta Shade)
(1) shade cloth (preferably pink/orange) 10'x35' ($80) or 4 mil polyethylene sheet if low-wind situation ($20)
(8) 15' ratchet straps ($40) or 100' half-inch rope ($8)
(4) 3' metal stakes ($5)
(50) 1 5/8' screws ($5)
(50) 2 1/2' screws ($5)

Total cost (approx.): $200-$250

You can find all of the above at Home Depot but we like to order our shade cloth here.

Tools you will need

Necessary (Recommended)
Wood Saw (Jigsaw)
Wood Saw (Circular saw)
Philips screwdriver (Screwgun with philips head and 5/8th" wood bit)
Something hard and heavy to hammer the stakes into the ground (Sledgehammer)

Note: if you cut the plywood pieces in advance (highly recommended) you will not need a saw during the installation.

How to

A Delta Shade can be assembled by one person alone but it is recommended to be at least 3 people (5 is the easiest) to build and assemble your Delta Shade. It will take one person with experience plus a crew of four about 1 hour to build and assemble a Delta Shade once materials and tools are gathered. An experienced crew of four can assemble a Delta Shade in 20 minutes.

Delta Shade assembly steps (.mov 5.4MB). This animation is a quick presentation of Delta Shade assembly. Some dimensions and number of items were updated since this animation was made. The latest information is available on this wiki page.

1. Cut twenty-four equilateral (12"x12"x12") triangles of 1/2" plywood OR 24x 8"x8"x8" of 3/4' plywood (13.5" triangles if you use the cutting plan below).
2. Cut eight L-shaped 18"x18" (curved in the center) in 3/4" plywood (24" x 21" if using the cutting plan below).
(For Cdjilnik's method using a single sheet of 3/4" CDX ply, see this cutting plan and instructions to produce items 1 and 2 with minimum waste and more strength for your Delta Shade).

3. Screw six triangles and three 2x4 x8' together to create a 8'x8'x8' triangle. The plywood triangles go beyond the 2x4 stud and create the points of the resulting 8'x8'x8' triangle. Repeat three times to get a total of four 8'x8'x8' triangles.
4. Assemble two 2x4 x10' to two 8'x8'x8' triangles connecting them together using four L-shaped plywood. Make sure the right angles are squared. Repeat one time to get a total of two frames. Be gentle with your frames. They need to be triangulated (step #5) to gain strength.

5. On each frame, drill one 5/8" holes in the four equilateral triangles closest to the L-shapes. The holes should be centered and a 1/2" from the side of the 12"x12"x12" triangle that faces the center of the 8'x8'x8' triangle.
6. Hook one end of the ratchet strap in the hole created in step #5 and hook the other end of the same ratchet strap in the diagonally opposite hole. Tighten gently, use the ratchet to straighten the strap, not to pull on the opposite corners, especially when only one ratchet-strap is in place. Repeat for 3 other ratchet straps to triangulate both frames. Adjust ratchet-straps so they are all the same length. Do not apply too much force to the ratchet as they could easily bend the 2x4 x10' studs and eventually weaken your Delta Shade.

7. Lay shade cloth on the ground. Roll one 1x4 x10' four times at one small end of the cloth. Screw a free 1x4 x10' stud to the one wrapped inside the cloth. The goal is to sandwich the cloth tightly between the two 1x4 x10' studs in order to distribute the stress. Repeat at the other end of the shade cloth.

8. Wrap a T-shirt (or similar-sized cloth) around the L-shaped plywood piece and the end of the 2x4 x10' stud and hold it in place with some packing tape. Do the same for the L-shaped plywood at the other end of that 2x4 x10' stud. Cover the outer edge of the 10' stud with packing tape. Repeat on the other frame.
9. On each frame, use more packing tape to cover the edge that will be in contact with the shade cloth on the 2x4 x10' stud opposite to the one protected in step #8.

10. Align both frames, taped T-shirts ends facing out, ready to receive the shade cloth.
11. Install each end of the shade cloth-wrapped 1x4 x10' studs in the two nooks created by the L-shaped plywood pieces on both frames.
12. Adjust the angle of each frame to the desired effect. If this is your first time, try to place one side of each frame perpendicular to the ground. You can get creative with this angle later. The structure should now be balanced and one person at each end should only have to gently hold the delta shade in place.

13. Hook one end of each of the four remaining ratchet straps (you can also use ropes instead of ratchet straps) to the highest angle of each frame. Pull it gently to the ground making sure that part of the ratchet strap touches the out-most edge/angle of the delta shade.
14. Drive a stake into the ground where the ratchet strap meets the ground. Hook the other end of the four ratchet straps to the stakes. Adjust each ratchet strap.
15. Enjoy your new Delta Shade!!!
16. Make sure you check and readjust the tension of the four anchor points daily, especially in windy environments.