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Lamppa Kuuma

Most folks in Tower, MN will tell you that February 4, 1996 didn’t feel much different than any other cold winter day. Yet for meteorologists and weather enthusiasts around the country, this day is marked in history as the coldest day in North America, -60f. To get a handle on just how cold this is, consider:

  • 60 degrees f. – golf weather, maybe a long sleeve shirt.
  • 0 degrees f. – f*** ing cold! Unexposed skin subject to frostbite in minutes.
  • -60 degrees f. – UNFATHOMABLY cold.

A Cold Climate with Lots of Innovation

Tower, Minnesota is the climate where three generations of Lamppa’s have been building sauna stoves. 3rd generation Daryl has spent countless hours and many years refining the design of Lamppa’s wood burning sauna stove, called, simply, The Kuuma (Finnish word for hot).

Authentic and Efficient

Daryl Lamppa’s dedication to design and function is matched with his authenticity. He was building “green” before it was a marketing word. He understands exactly how wood burns, and the fact that 70% of a wood’s BTU potential is in the smoke. Further, smoke escaping up the chimney is dangerous. Smoke leads to creosote build up, a leading cause of fires. Facing this issue head on, Daryl kept working to maximize gasification, the burning of smoke. His stoves are very safe and very efficient.

Authentic wood burning sauna enthusiasts are amazed at how, with a few sticks of firewood, a Kuuma stove can throw so much heat for such a long time. Further, looking up at the smoke stack, it’s often hard to tell if the stove is on or off, as once the stove is up to temperature, there is no smoke coming out the chimney.

A Factory Set Back in Time

Lamppa Manufacturing is a production facility set back in time. It is a no frills, purely functional production center. Raw steel comes in through one door, and Daryl’s staff of a few long standing employees manually cut each piece, welding, assembling, until what appears out the same door is a work of high quality with beautiful simplicity. This is how factories functioned through the industrial age. Lamppa’s factory floor boasts nothing shiny or new, just tried and true machinery.

Quality is Easy to See

One only has to look at the welds: straight, true, uniform, to understand the attention to detail and craftsmanship. The Kuuma stove is a beast. 1/4″ steel. Sure, thinner steel could work, but Daryl isn’t into maximizing gross profit, just wood burning efficiency. The stove will outlive most people. A Kuuma will never end up in a landfill.

Humble and Unmoved by Hype

Like discovering a fabulous restaurant, one is torn with keeping it a secret, or sharing the enthusiasm with others. I am reminded of Joe Seliga, now deceased, a master canoe builder from Ely, MN. In his one stall garage just up the road from Lamppa Manufacturing, Joe spent most of his life building handcrafted canoes of impeccable quality and design. I visited Joe one day soon after folks from New York Times Magazine ventured out to write a story about his craft. He got a chuckle about the photographer taking shots of his paint dripped cement floor. Joe Seliga was humble and unmoved by being “discovered” nationally.

These are artists and craftsmen. Folks dedicating their life to a skill. Perfecting their design. Working in a rural environment free from marketing hot air and noisy SUVs. Maximizing efficiency through excellent design. Building with their hands. Putting their name on their product. Standing behind their product, and proud of what gets shipped out the back door.

Why Lamppa Kuuma is the Best Wood Burning Sauna Stove

Look out Hollywood! Daryl Lamppa is turning down offers from Hollywood to stay on board as CEO, Chairman, and chief welding operator for Lamppa Manufacturing. This is great news for us sauna enthusiasts. Below is his Hollywood screen test, where he details the Kuuma sauna stoves. We have detailed the quality and performance of the Kuuma sauna stove many times (here and here) as we are loyal fans.

Investing in a Kuuma sauna stove is one of those rare treats. It enhances the sauna experience for many reasons:

  • The sauna stove performs perfectly every time.
  • The quality is unmatched anywhere in the world.
  • Daryl’s pride and workmanship is felt with every sauna.
  • The stove is built like a tank. It will outlive you.
  • Three generations of sauna building have helped perfect its design.

In a world of outsourcing, mass production, cutting costs, consider for a moment how rare is it today to find a quality product and actually talk to the man who not only had a hand in its construction but who actually designed it!?

Like hand made kitchen cabinets, or your favorite microbrew, or a Silega canoe, it’s one of those rare purchases where you smile every time you look at it and thank whoever or however you found out about it. Whatever the freight is to get one delivered to your sauna build, just do it. You’ll be thanking us by the end of your first sauna round.

How to Operate the Kuuma Stove

This stove is our best friend. This sauna stove is 400 lbs., and has been designed and refined over 3 generations of Lamppa sauna builders. The Kuuma stove burns super efficiently. Because of the efficient burn, when the stove is tuned properly, we need to use less wood than with other sauna stoves, while producing maximum heat.

Preparing the Firebox

It is important that the firebox is free from ash. Use the ash rake to pull all ash to the front and down the air chambers into the ash pan below. Empty the ash pan. Ash can smolder for hours, sometimes days, so be extra careful when disposing ash. Dispose ash in a non combustible receptacle vs. a standard garbage can.

Starting a Fire

Keep the ash pan door open. Pull damper lever (middle lever) all the way up. This allows for maximum oxygen within the firebox.

A crumpled up piece of newspaper and a handful of dry kindling is all that is needed to get a fire going. 2-3 sticks of firewood may be added once a good fire is going.

Alternatively, many are having huge success with the “upside down fire technique.” More information here.

Once the fire is roaring, after about 2 minutes or so, close the ash pan. Add a couple more sticks of dry, seasoned firewood. Lay firewood in parallel, along the bottom of the firebox on top of existing wood and coals. Unlike a campfire, the Kuuma stove is designed to allow for plenty of air flow surrounding the wood.

Tending to the Fire

About 20 minutes after ignition, the firebox should be very active and all wood should be well ignited. You should be seeing no smoke up the chimney. At this time, you can begin to damper down the middle lever, which controls the air intake.

After about 45 minutes from ignition, the sauna hot room should be about 130-140f. As the stove heats and the fire becomes hungry for more wood, use the ash rake to pull hot coals from the back of the fire box to the front, then lay on a stick or two of firewood, again in parallel and on top of the coals. Pulling coals forward is a very important procedure. As the Kuuma stove burns from front to back, bringing coals to the front enhances the burn rate and efficiency (Kuuma means “hot” in Finnish!).

Maintaining Hot Room Temperature

Once the sauna hot room is up to desired temperature, “tune” the stove by lowering the damper to just a bit above the closed position. This reduces air flow and burn rate, but counterintuitively produces more heat. 70% of the heat in a stick of firewood is from the gasses from combustion. We capture this energy by turning smoke into flame. A well tuned Kuuma produces “the dancing blue flame.” A mature fire with the damper slightly open produces the most heat while consuming the least amount of wood, keeping the heat within the hot room vs. going up the chimney.

Also, one can tend to a Kuuma sauna from the outside, just by observing the chimney. A clean burn means zero smoke is being emitted from the chimney. We are looking to achieve no smoke and only heat trails emitting from the chimney. The Kuuma should burn smoke free starting about 10 minutes after ignition and throughout the entire sauna session. (With the upside down fire technique, we are able to reduce the smoke up the chimney to virtually zero). Seeing smoke means the fire needs tending. More oxygen and pulling coals forward are the two primary solutions to a smokey fire.

If a fire has been neglected and only a few coals are left in the firebox, we can perform “sauna stove CPR” and resurrect matters by pulling any remaining coals forward, adding a few sticks of firewood as detailed above, and opening the ash pan for a few minutes. This will reignite and re-energize the fire. This is the only time when we should consider the ash pan being open during a sauna session.

Towards the End of a Sauna Session

One more sauna round? Should we add one more log? Pull the coals forward, then decide if you need another log. Chances are you may not need another log. The mature hot coals provide a lot of heat, and more immediate heat. By pulling the coals forward, the Kuuma stove produces very little ash. Many sauna veterans need not have to empty their Kuuma ash pans but once every dozen or so sauna sessions.

In addition to seeing the sauna stove fire, sauna veterans become tuned to listening to their sauna stoves. With a well tended fire, as we pull coals forward and toss on another log, we will notice the stove responding with a “tck, tck, tck.” This is the sound of expanding metal from our sauna stoves as it reacts to increasing heat in the fire box.

Looking for a great instruction manual on stove operation? Having guests over to use your sauna? Looking to AirBnB your place? This one pager is a fantastic piece to print, laminate, and post outside your sauna. (Thanks John!) Click here and print:

Sauna Instructions as pdf.

Sauna Instructions as Word file.

There is a lot to take in with burning wood in our sauna stoves. Some of us get really into the process of wood heat and tending to our sauna stoves.

4 Bonus Tips for Operating your Kuuma Wood Fired Sauna Stove

  • Use dry seasoned firewood.
  • Use dry kindling.
  • Pull your coals forward before tossing on a stick of firewood.
  • Damper down as you get close to “serving temp.”
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53 thoughts on “The Kuuma Sauna Stove”

  1. Glenn,

    I was planning on lining my 6×8 sauna with cedar T&G but I recently came across a good deal on some clear cedar plywood. Do you know anyone who has used this material for the interior of the sauna? My concern is that there is a possibility to de-laminate. Any advice would be great!


  2. i’m with you Kory. You nailed it (cough). De-laminate is a concern, despite what the mfr. may say about the strength of the glue. T&G is the proven winner.

  3. Glenn,
    If all goes to plan I should be rolling my new small Kumma into my hot room next week. When looking at the instructions pdf I noticed that they refer to the flu damper. In your photos that I have seen I don’t recall seeing a damper on your stoves. Up to now I was not planning on installing one either but now I am curious as to whether or not I should….. Pros/Cons? Does it make much of a difference?

  4. Glenn,
    The picture you show of stove here, how old is this stove? Looks all rusty. Wonder if it’s a bad paint job or what? Looking to purchase one, but if after few years of use it looks like that, than I want to stay away from it. Please let us know, thanks.

  5. In your build plans, it doesn’t y’all much about position/angle of stove. What do you recommend? My assumption is the stove door would be perpendicular to the hot room door, allowing for the door to open to feed the fire. Is that correct?

  6. David:

    Yes, in the ebook, we don’t get too detailed about stove position/angle and setbacks as these depend upon the stove mfr. requirements. That said, you’re spot on with your description. More times than not, as you detail, the sauna position is best that the stove door opens perpendicular to the hot room door. The open area just inside the hot room is dual function. It allows for the coming and going, as well as proper clearance and access to the stove for loading.

  7. Hey Glenn,

    Sorry if you’ve already covered this elsewhere. I am looking for the dimensions of a small kuuma with heat shields and water tank. Basically, what are the dimensions of the footprint and the stove’s pipe exit in reference to them? Obviously, nothing will be as precise as making a template off the stove when it actually arrives, but having a good idea of the footprint would be really useful for starting the build. I’ve seen the dimensions of the stove by itself, but nothing about the size of the shields or the water tank, or how far forward from the back of the stove the chimney vents. Thanks for any help!

  8. We’ve snowmobiled to Fortune Bay Resort two years in a row now. The first year we were one of first to use
    their mobile sauna with a Kuuma stove which at that time was located at the front entry. Great heat after a hundred mile ride and we even got filmed for a marketing video. Last season it was moved down to the
    marina which was about a half a mile away. The ride back in just our swimming trunks was one of the best cool downs I’ve done. Great stove and a great place to stay just talk to Garrett who has the right connections to

  9. I’d like to add that I have worked in metal fabrication industry for over 47 years and these stoves are built. I’m very impressed with the craftsmanship and quality and the heat they put out.

  10. Hi GA,

    I’ve helped with more than a few horse trailer saunas. In a few of the instances the procedure has been:
    1. closed cel spray foam.
    2. super premium glue and self tap screws, 1×2 firing strips to existing framing.
    3. t&g.

    Now, the off gassing police (as opposed to the more German style aufgussing police) may want to blow their whistle on this method, in which case, we’ve applied foil between the existing framing and nailers.

    I like this, as our wall cavity is open one time, and we can hermetically seal this one time.

    Now, the “trap moisture” police (as opposed to some other style police) may want to blow their whistle on this method, in which case, we point out that the skin of our trailer won’t let in moisture, and the well sealed foil barrier won’t let moisture in, so we can sleep at night with this.

    So, this probably isn’t addressing exactly what you’re asking, but above is what I know best and others may chime in.

  11. Greetings, thanks for all the information.
    We are currently building a sauna in a horse trailer and in the beginning stages. The inside has been stripped, rust treated, and is ready for insulation and framing. I have Reflectix ready to go, however, I have a few questions. The ceiling is metal. Should I put the Reflectix on the metal and not use any other insulation? We were going to cover the roof in the framing, but have limited room to move, as it is 30 sq/ft and 6’4 high ceiling. Is the Reflectix sufficient?
    We bought the book which is great, however some aspects are coming from the point of view of a wooden framed construction, whereas our shell is a bit different.
    I’ll put some pictures up to give you an idea.
    The side wall is wood about 3/4 the way up. Is it best to put the Reflectix right onto the wood? It’s been sanded and treated.
    I’ll have a few more questions along the way. Thanks everyone, we’re pretty excited to for the journey ahead!

    – G.A

  12. I’m building a backyard sauna using your book for guidance. Thank you BTW!! Building the shed myself, which is nearly done. Now planning ceiling, stove & pipe placement. I built a low pitch (1/12) lean-to roof and appear to have a rafter in the path of a straight chimney. A couple questions:
    1) another recent post in ST suggested a low pitch (<6/12?) does not leave enough attic space for the insulation box. Is that true?
    2) With the rafter and possible attic space issue, should I consider a 90 degree turn and through wall chimney kit? Any concerns with that approach? It seems easier to box out the wall than mess with the roof.

    Thanks for your suggestions!


  13. Stephan:

    I’ve been there! A rafter in the path of the straight chimney feels just like getting a flat tire on your bike ride. Bummer! But just like with a tire patch kit, we can fix it! And the fix is in the spirit of:

    “we build our saunas one time, and get to enjoy them the rest of our lives.”

    1. low pitch insulation: If we frame with 2×6, we can get R19 between the joist cavities. If we want to think crazy, how about 1/2″ polyiso atop our roof sheeting, thereby a little more oomph up there? And thermal break for good measure. Warning: free range organic orthodox tradesmen police poo poo polyiso. (note recent post, and it’s worth thinking).

    2. 90 degree turn in stove pipe and go through the wall: I’ve never done this! I avoid 90 degree turns like I avoid the extra hot sauce as Chipotle. It doesn’t sit well with me. I see it as a liability to try to get a draw going every time I fire up my sauna stove, with that twist and turn. Now some may have great results with the 90 degree program, but I’m a straight up vertical chimney type guy (stubborn mule).

    What I would do:
    1. Print the template for your Kuuma stove. Link to print the PDF is here.
    2. Mark and plumb bob for the center point for your chimney pipe.
    3. Build a 12″x12″ box out of same framing material as your roof framing (2×6 or 2×4)
    4. Hold the box and mark where you’ll need to cut that rafter.
    5. Take 5 Wim Hof Breaths.
    6. Cut your rafter. Sawzall.
    7. Cross brace frame to your two adjacent rafters, to properly support your broken rafter.
    8. Screw in your 12″x12″ box.
    9. Cut out your roof sheeting with Sawzall.
    10. Keep rocking with stove install.

    I know how much it sucks to have to mess with your rafters. Again, i’ve been there!

    But you can do this.

    And every time you fire up your sauna stove, then settle into round one on your bench and see your straight up chimney pipe, you’ll be happy you did the A job. BONUS: nobody will ever know there is a broken rafter up there (except you).

  14. I like to start with smaller/thinner pieces of wood with thicker pieces added on top once the fire is roaring. Once the initial burn brings down the pile, I add another armful of wood (I have a medium Kuuma.) Although not necessary with the Kuuma, I use a chimney damper. I close down the damper part way (maybe 2/3 shut) at between 180 and 200 (I like a very hot sauna), then close the air intake on the stove down to about 1/3 open. I think this helps keep the heat inside the stove, vs. allowing it to go up the chimney and out of the sauna. This usually really brings the heat up in a hurry and results in a peak temp of 210 to 220+ in my sauna, which will last for two hours or more without adding wood. I find raking the coals forward once the hot fire begins to die down tends to lower the temp slightly, but provides a mellow heat from the “dancing blue flames”. An interesting observation is that when I increase internal ventilation by sliding my windows open more than a crack, the stove seems to run even hotter given better oxygen intake.

  15. Hello neighbor,
    Excited to find this blog! I just purchased a house with a sauna (electric heater) in the basement in south Mpls. I don’t believe the heater is working and would like to have a full inspection to checkout everything. I’m having a hard time finding who could do that. Do you have any recommendations for sauna inspection/repair companies in the metro area? I appreciate any help, really anxious to get everything working before the cold comes!


  16. I’m trying to buy a cedar vent chute on your site and it keeps giving me an error message saying that I need to select a shipping method. Please advise.

  17. Hi Glenn,
    Have been firing up the ” Pirts O’ Plex ” ( Latvian for Sauna Plex) since we completed it in November. After reading this ” 7 Step ” blog I have to ask if step 5, ” leave everything alone, damper open for 45 minutes ) does or does not conflict with your previous ( and the Kuuma instructions ) to only burn wide open for 5 – 10 minutes before lowering to normal burn position D.

    ” DO NOT OPERATE STOVE ON THE HIGHEST SETTING ( DRAFT LEVER ALL THE WAY UP FOR A LONG PERIOD ) THIS WILL RESULT IN EXCESSIVE HEATING OF THE STOVE AND COULD DAMAGE THE UNIT. ” Per the Kuuma instruction manual and same as the instructions you gave me when we picked up the stove. Seems they would think 45 minutes would be a ” long period. ” What am I missing?

  18. Hi Jacob:

    Dale at Lamppa Mfr. in Tower, MN can detail for you the long chimney run/constraints. We do this all the time with the Vapor Fire wood burning furnace. He’ll be a wealth of information for you.

    In terms of building your sauna within your brick home, I want to encourage you to begin thinking about enveloping your hot room in its own thermal envelope. If in a basement with any kind of damp environment, we want to be thinking about rigid insulation (vs rockwool or standard batting), and 250°f. rated poly-iso foil or foil vapor barrier, and air gap and paneling.

    You can follow along within the ebook Sauna Build: From Start to Finnish.

  19. Hi Glenn and Everyone. Jake here, from Vermont. I have a 2 story, 180 year, brick old home with a three-chamber fireplace with flues running to each floor (upper, ground, and cellar). The home is cold during the winter (with uninsulated walls), and I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to meet stove installation standards and run a six inch insulated stainless steel liner through the cellar’s chimney flue chamber to a chimney cap (about a 35′ ft run) and build a fire-safe interior sauna in the cellar. The cellar runs around 38 degrees in the winter, so capturing leftover heat from the Sauna is appealing. At one time, the cellar’s unlined flue appears to have been used for a wood or coal furnace, but has since been converted to hot water heat. I have seen some Nordic cottage/camp designs with the sauna integrated into a living structure (not a stand-alone building). If you know of a stove that could function with a long chimney run or examples where this has been done, I’d love to learn about it.

  20. Glenn,
    I live in Roseville, MN. I am converting a shed into a sauna and was going to install the 16CK wood stove – from FinnSisu… made by FinnLeo. I checked with the Roseville permit office and this was their response:

    Thanks for the installation instructions for the unit you’ve chosen. In searching for documentation on the units testing and listing with an approved agency I have attempted to contact Finn Sisu and was unable to reach them as the voice mail box was full. I instead called Finnleo directly and was told by I believe an engineer within the company that the unit selected 16CK has no testing or listing. He did pass me on to another individual for further confirmation if there was testing or not and I left message for him to call me back.

    It is prohibited in the state mechanical code to install an unlisted device of any kind no matter the fuel type or its purpose. This would include a wood fired sauna stove. I will wait for the return call from Finnleo, but wanted to give you a heads up on the latest information.

    SO… I am in a bit of a quandary. Maybe I shouldn’t have checked with the city and just flown under the radar. But I did… and I am surprised that a stove made in Cokato is not legal in MN! Can you help me figure this out?
    Thank you .

  21. Hi Doug:

    Bummer about all this. We are working on an article right now that will be of interest to you. It’s a guest post from Jeff C. an electrical engineer who is extremely knowledgeable regarding electric sauna heaters, sizing, etc. Please stay tuned on this. PS.. Jeff C. wrote a two part article that if you haven’t yet read, please do so here.

  22. Hi Kari:

    Seasoning a new Kuuma: We like to do an “outside burn” before install. For this, you can set the ash grate in place and get a fire going in the fire box. Typically, I won’t add the fire brick at this time. Then over the course of a couple hours, add wood and get a bigger and bigger fire going.

    Couple other things:
    stove window: the yucky paint fumes will collect on the window. This is a bummer as it’s super hard to clean. That said, I’ve had good luck burning off the ash on the window with an ever increasing hot fire. I have also “cured” the Kuuma with the door open. I’ve set fire brick in front of the door opening to help encourage a hot fire. You can try a combination of this.
    stove pipe: It’s a good idea to cure with the stove pipe in place, outside. This will “cure” the stove pipe also, and you’ll get a hotter burn.
    ash pan: closed (of course, or the wrath of Daryl will be upon you).

  23. Hi Glenn,
    We’re going to (finally) hook up our small Kuuma stove this weekend. I thought I had seen an article at some point about how to cure it, but can’t find anything on your site or the stove site. What’s the best way to break in the stove?


  24. Hi Glenn
    I have Kuuma stove water tank boiling problem bringing humidity level really high. Any suggestions? Temperature is 220-240F

  25. Hi Scott:

    I wouldn’t put a large Kuuma into a 6×8 hot room. It’d be like putting in a jet engine instead of a ceiling fan to ventilate your changing room.

    And unless you’re thinking of setting up a Canoe Outfitters lodge, it probably is going the wrong direction to build a 10×12 hot room to size your room to the large Kuuma. Selling a Kuuma is no problem, they don’t show up much on the secondary market and when they do, they’re gone the next day. So, I’d encourage moving that stove through and investing in a small, ash pan, glass window, heat shields. You can order one through me, same price as at the factory, if this helps you along.

    Wishing you good sauna,

  26. Hi Slava,

    You’re keeping the lid on the Kuuma side water tank I trust?

    You must be one of those Russian sauna guys where anything less than 220f. and you’re reaching for a spring jacket, right?

    If steam is getting out of your water tank, boiling like a kettle on your stove, the only other solution is to run your water tank dry. I know this is a buzz kill, and against the intent of the side water tank, but that level of heat and high water temp. isn’t practical to the function of the Kuuma water tank.

    Both my Kuumas have water tanks. My sauna sessions (2-3 hrs. 200f.) don’t reach the level of temp. to start boiling the water in the water tank. Towards the final rounds, the water gets hot, but not “let’s make a cup of tea” hot, so, you’re taking things up a notch for sure.

    (Note to self: if Slava invites me to sauna, remember to sit in ice bath for 20 minutes before I show up).

  27. Hi, I have a question. I have the opportunity to buy the large kuuma stove from someone local who never finished their sauna. Can a the stove be too big for the sauna. We’re thinking of a max of 6×8.

  28. I live in northern Nevada and don’t have a lot of choices of wood to gather and burn in my sauna, we do have a lot of juniper around but not sure if it is a good choice.
    I am a contractor, therefore I have a lot of scrap Doug fir 2×4 and am using it but seems to burn real quick.
    Any pros and cons on either species would be appreciated

  29. Hi Wade:

    I’ve burned whatever I’ve had access to for decades. Sure Birch and some ash or oak blend is the best, but the Kuuma stove has a damper, so when burning 2×4’s you’ll be able to damper down, restricting oxygen, and it’ll provide a slower, cleaner burn vs the *poof* hot and fast action from construction lumber.

    I had a great winter a few years ago, working my way through 2 SUV loads worth of 2x8s that my buddy was getting rid of. They were moving from their warehouse, and the 2x8s had been used for pallet racking. Hadn’t seen the light of day in over 40 years. I had such a good time with that wood. All cut to length and ready to rock, efficiently cubed in my garage.

    Fire up the Kuuma and bam! Mega BTU action and round one in 20 mins.

  30. Well, I’ve taken about every sauna in every sauna stove available, and I stand by the 400 lb. stove..,

    Hope this helps, Nora!

  31. Hi!
    We are building a wet sauna and are researching a wood fired stove. The hot room is 8 feet wide by 7 feet deep. We are looking for a stove that is not 400 lbs,! Also, we want steel construction so it will last awhile. Any recommendations? Thanks!

  32. Hi Glenn,

    Aside from the official setbacks for a small Kuuma, for an uninsured shed, what would you say is a reasonable, off the record, setback from:

    – Water tank to a cedar bench?
    – Water tank to non combustible with a 1″ gap?
    – Heat shield to non-combustible with a 1″ gap?
    – Heat shield to cedar bench?

    Many Thanks,

  33. Matt, well, being that I am typing this on Saunatimes, well, there is no “off the record” setback.

    There is a nod, nod, wink, wink though. I will say, in the cobbler’s kid’s shoe department, that both my saunas – cabin and backyard – do not prescribe to UL setback requirements. That’s 1996 and 2003, respectively, and thousands of sauna sessions.

    Water tank to cedar bench: very close.
    Water tank to non-combustibles with 1″ gap: very very close.
    Heat shield to non-combustible with 1″ gap: close.
    Heat shield to cedar bench: pretty close.

    We want to be practical, and safe. And that’s the way I have approached my sauna buildings. When I build for others, and sell Kuumas, I recite the official setback requirements. (7″ from heat shield to wall).

    Don’t mean to be vague about it, and you can look on Saunatimes YouTube and you’ll see my saunas.. Good sauna Matt!

  34. Mark,

    I hear you. Not only are there a lot of poorly made thermometers out there, but most are a rip off.

    Stay tuned. Give me 30-60 days, please, as I’m on a mission from God. If I had $1.00 for everyone who has asked me about a good sauna thermometer, I could buy us a couple cases of beer, and enough gas to deploy a mobile sauna in the foothills of Aspen CO, adjacent to a snow melt mountain stream. We’ll get there!

  35. Glen, I recently completed building a sauna based on your plans. From the ground up. Ittook forever but it turned out sweet. It gets crazy hot in there. My fist sauna in it it was 220 degrees. I know now that’s just a bit outside the normal range. I have now made the correct adjustments to the stove. I also found out that you can melt the coating on your eye glasses in a sauna. I have a question on sauna thermometers. I bought two and tested them out in the sauna. The first one cracked the glass during that first sauna and the second one was cheaply made. I sent both of them back. Do you have any recommendations on sauna thermometers? Seems like there are a lot of poorly made ones out there. Thanks, Mark

  36. Glen, Thanks for looking into the thermometers. Also I tried to order a side heat shield from the website but it wont let me process it. I can pick it up as I live near you. I have a small Kuuma Stove and I don’t want to burn my legs anymore. Mark

  37. Stephan,

    To go around a rafter where your chimney should go, you could try using two 15 degree angle parts on the chimney. Adding short sections in between the angles you can generate any offset you need. This is also good for fine tuning the stove location after the chimney is in place – by rotating the chimney assembly and adjusting the angle parts you can move the stove front/back and side to side. I have done this twice, works great.


  38. Glenn writes “I talk with many people and have never known anyone who has regretted purchasing a Kuuma wood burning sauna stove.”

    I’m frugal, and enjoy fabricating. When I started building, I thought I’d try building one of those propane tank stoves, or adapt a cheapy from northern tools. My partner researched and talked me into the kuuma, which we picked up from Glenn. This was easily the best choice we made (other than deciding to build a sauna, of course).

    We used an oven thermometer at first, before finding something more aesthetically pleasing online.

  39. I’m planning on building a 6’x6′ sauna and I am wondering which Kuuma you’d recommend? 2 walls of the sauna will be interior, 2 exterior. There will be a changing room and a compost toilet also in the structure.
    I just bought your Ebook to make everything a bit easier with my planning. I love your idea of open floor onto gravel for air flow and drainage. To keep the underneath a bit warmer though, I’m going to do a rubble trench around the perimeter, that is insulated down 4′. Then 12” of #5 on the inside of the trench. French drain the whole thing. Any thoughts or know of anyone who has insulated their floor in any other fashion??

  40. 6’x6′ is the very minimum i’d be thinking. My Minneapolis backyard sauna, built in 2003, is 6’3″x6’4″ as I shoe horned it into our backyard garage new build. I wanted the hot room small, and the cool down area ample, as my most common use is winter, when it’s colder than a well digger’s you know what.

    It’s a great feeling to trudge out our backdoor on a 0°f. winter afternoon, 20 steps to the backyard sauna and fire up the Kuuma. There can be ice in the side saddle water tank, but 50-60 mins. after ignition, I can confidently trudge back outside nude-ed up, with nothing but a water bottle and a smile, and hit the hot room at 160°f and rising fast.

    Anyhow, rambling on, if you want to insulate your floor, best plan I’ve encountered is ripping 4×8 sheets of rigid with a table saw to fit between floor joist cavities, setting flush up to subfloor. This process is detailed in Sauna Build Start to Finnish.

  41. Bought a Kuuma Woodburner with the optional hot water coil and wonder if anyone has info on plumbing that into a shower?

  42. Hey Glenn. Kuuma question: I’ve seen pictures of some Kuumas with rocks stacked really high, like leaning up against the chimney pipe and sometimes over the tops of heat shields on the side. Is this sort of rock stacking something you endorse? Or at least something you don’t disapprove of? Wondering if I should pile my Kuuma a little more robustly than I have it now. Stove is great, BTW, just looking to maximize that good heat. Thanks!

  43. Hi Ben:

    I’ve piled rocks atop my Kuuma exactly as you describe. I think it’s awesome. Lämpömassa is up 18%, and the heat time doesn’t seem to be affected. At Lamppa Mfr, we were discussing a cage for chimney pipe surround, but then it’s a whole new (potential) mess with UL. (The Kuuma is the only UL certified sauna stove). So, if the rock cage were to be available, after market, it would be in breach of Section 4, subheading B of UL Code whatever for wood stoves.

    I hear you. The stove is great. I had a fellow Finn sauna nut visiting this past week, and he left the hot room each time with a big smile on his face.

  44. Hi Deb:

    Yes, for sure. Rock that damper wide open for 45 minutes. I tend to leave the Kuuma damper all the way up until I come back to my sauna and settle into round one.

    Then, isn’t it awesome when you damper it down and you hear the “click, click, click” which signifies that all that heat is now radiating through the stove, rock, and everywhere? This is when, say 150°f., starts to “click, click, click” things up to 170°f., 180°f. and beyond!

    The magic of the Kuuma is upon us!

    Local wood source in the metro: Deb, I’ve been through firewood vendors here in town over the years almost as much as lawn service companies (and our lawn still looks like s***. Main reason is that my wife insists upon free range organic lawn care .. which I cannot at all argue with!).

    Anyhow, firewood is very important, as you know. Some firewood is way too dried out for good sauna btu production. It burns too fast in the Kuuma. I have been plowing through an awesome stash of ash. You should be able to find a lot of ash around town these days. I like big, mean chunks of ash. The Kuuma attacks it like a garbage disposal.

    Deb, you may have also read: upside down fire. how much firewood.

  45. Hi,
    Wondering about something that was mentioned in a previous post, but didn’t see a response. You suggest leaving the damper open for 45 minutes. Kuuma instructions say to burn wide open for 5 – 10 minutes before lowering damper. Is it okay to leave the damper wide open for 45 minutes?
    Our stove is in (finally!) and we have had a few fires as we finish up the benches, changing room door, etc. Seems like we MUST keep the damper open for a long time to get the fire really going. I am no professional fire builder (yet) which may be the problem. Also, any recommendation on a local wood source in the metro would be appreciated.

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