Modern tepee construction requires a large piece of canvas and 12 wooden poles that are about 3 feet longer than the width of the canvas. About 45 feet of manila or straw rope is needed to secure the poles. Other materials include sandpaper, a pocket knife, linseed oil and turpentine.
To build a modern tepee large enough to safely contain a fire, the canvas covering needs to be about 15 feet wide by 30 feet long. Tepee poles may be purchased or made from legally-obtained felling wood. To prepare the poles, rough patches are removed using a pocket knife and sandpaper and the wood is treated with a 50/50 mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. Natural rope, such as manila or straw rope, is recommended to secure the poles, as synthetic ropes tend to slip. The canvas at the bottom of the tepee may be tied to wooden stakes driven into the ground for extra support and porcupine quills may be used to secure an open tent flap.
Traditional tepees are covered with tanned buffalo or deer skins and support poles are made from trees that grow straight, such as cedar, lodgepole pine or spruce. Dew cloths are tied to the support poles inside the tepee to prevent drafts and to keep water from running down the poles during wet weather.