The Candle Window: A Finnish building tradition revisited along Hwy. 61

Hundreds of thousands of traditional saunas are functioning just fine without electricity, along lake shores and rural countrysides of Europe.  As most have been around before the introduction of electricity, they have been built free from the umbilical chord of conduit, 12 gauge wire, sub panels, and electrical inspectors with clipboards and frowns.

And with a nod towards zen of simplicity, these structures are lit by the moonlight, the smiles of its users, and most often by a simple candle.  A candle in the changing room can provide ample light in the hot room thanks to a simple yet ingenious idea: a window.  When building your own authentic Finnish sauna, be it a backyard sauna, cabin sauna, or even an electric stove powered sauna in your basement, consider giving a nod to this tradition by installing a window within the common wall of sauna and changing room.  Your window ledge in the changing room: perfect spot for a candle.

Then, perhaps after a hectic work week, or maybe amongst a collection of close friends, or family, you are free to take a sauna as people have for centuries.  No phones, no music, nothing.  Just a single source candle, radiating soft light throughout.

Illuminated simplicity.

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4 thoughts on “The Candle Window: A Finnish building tradition revisited along Hwy. 61”

  1. Weird question but… Any tips for dealing with the wax drippage? We are in the process of building our sauna, trying to foresee all issues!

  2. Hello Glenn,
    I have my studs on 16” centre’s, does this mean a frame windows to those existing studs or do I add cripple, to support the header? This should be explained and I have looked for this information for a few weeks now feeling more and more special needs all the time!) can you walk me through the stud wall candle window and window door design or tell me where to find this with diagrams or photos for these. Daran

  3. Daran,

    If you have my DIY sauna build ebook you’ll see all this cripple, king, header business detailed (in English, for the casual builder). If you frame for windows within your joist cavities, well, it’ll be an easier road to hoe. If not, a little sawzall action and reframing is very doable, as I’ve done this many times, and first couple times, didn’t know shit from shinola but limped my way through it. And you can too, Daran.

    Oh, one more thing. Don’t be afraid to frame everything up, then get some cardboard or pizza box and simulate your windows (and sauna benches for that matter). Field verification at its finest.

    Wishing you good sauna action!

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