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The sauna building journey helps the sauna builder enjoy the destination

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“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

– Greg Anderson.

Sauna builders understand the journey.

Our enjoyment of the sauna building journey begins with our first step: a #2 pencil and a piece of paper.  We take a sip of coffee and begin to conceptualize what is at our cabin or backyard.   Then we start imagining what can be:


  • “Hey, we can nestle in the sauna building right by that stand of white pine over on that side of the property.”
  • “Let’s put some windows along the West side so we can watch the sunset from the changing room.”
  • “A deck along the front by the lake is a must.  Maybe we go with a patio door?  Hey, where’d my pencil go?”


  • “Those ratty raspberry bushes behind the garage are useless.  Can we bump out the garage and put the sauna in that corner?”
  • “If you sit right here, nobody can see us.  I think this is where we could put the outdoor shower.”
  • “That stupid hot tub you won in the raffle never gets used and it smells like a chemistry experiment.  How about we put it on Craigslist and put the sauna right here?

Like those drawings that used to delight us in our youth -“find the frog in this picture” – we look at the drawing of our property, imagine our health and wellness retreat, and creative opportunities start to appear.

Then we read about the nuts in bolts in the do it yourself ebook, and all of a sudden, conversation becomes:

“shit, yea, I can do this!”

We get a shed company to frame up our sauna building or we do it ourselves.  We bring our tools into our new structure and start drilling holes for electrical wires.  We carve out a couple hours here, and a couple hours there.  We crack a beer in the afternoon and sweep up from the day and write down on a clipboard what we’re going to do tomorrow.

We realize a window is too small and we cut out the bigger opening with our Sawzall and think “damn, that wasn’t hard at all.”  We reframe with a jack, cripple, and king stud and figure we don’t need to bother learning these names to know how to frame a window in a wall.  (then we hear Dylan singing “you don’t have a to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”)

Insulation is next and just when we start getting tired of cutting the lengths and filling the joist cavities, we find that we’re done with this stage.  We foil bubble wrap our hot room and notice that even thought it’s cold as hell outside the heat from the work light is making the room warm.  We take off our jacket as we tape the seams and a friend comes over.

Our friend looks around and asks: “You did this all by yourself?”  And you say, “shit, yea, I built this.”

We find ourselves daydreaming at work, rediscovering a lost feeling from our youth: excited anticipation.

At our desk, we stare at the clock too many times and then say “fuck it” and get the hell out of there, stealing a few hours for ourselves building our new health and wellness sanctuary.

We cut into our first cedar board and are overwhelmed with the sweet, distinctive smell.  Like Chanel #5 waifing off the neck of our first girlfriend, we fall in love again.  “I love the smell of cedar in the morning..”  We start to get silly and joyful and excited.  We discover more feelings from our youth.

Our sauna build becomes like a 1,000 mile bike journey:  It seemed so daunting at the beginning but now we don’t want it to end.

The stove arrives, and we stop everything to get it installed.  Plenty of scrap wood to get ‘er going.  It’s snowing outside and the glow of fire from our new sauna stove is dancing off the cedar walls.   Wood heat is like no other heat.  We feel it in our bones.

A tear forms in our eye, and it’s not from the sawdust.  We realize that our tear of emotion is from the enjoyment of our journey.

bricking in sauna stove



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8 thoughts on “The sauna building journey helps the sauna builder enjoy the destination”

  1. Thank you for this timely post, as I contemplate finishing my new sauna’s foundation on a cold day. Rain and snow are coming, so I will suit up, and see if I can get the last of it done before the storm (and then go to my friends sauna afterward).

    “No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work – no man does – but I like what is in the work – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

  2. I have a choice; I can go to Lowes and buy the rest of the drywall I need to complete the 2 story garage I just finished building, siding and painting, or I can ignore that nonsense a little longer and go buy framing materials for a sauna. After reading this and sending my contribution for the e-book, you know I’m going out to dig footings. It’s October in Northern Michigan, it’ll snow in the next 20 days. Footings first. Just start! By the time the snow is 2 feet deep I’ll be able to fire up a stove, right!?

  3. Right! The garage drywall can wait. And depending on your building size and soil where you’re at, you could “float” your building. Lots of people set their 8×12 “sheds” on grade, with block vs. the “A job” of digging footings. But sounds like you know what you’re doing, the book will help you, and we applaud your decision!

  4. Hi Tariq:

    Got it! Ebook sent. I’m on your team.

    “Unless i’m on a ladder or on the sauna bench, once I receive your donation, I will be automatically notified and I will send you the ebook via the email you indicate, directly within hours of when you order.”

  5. Hi Glenn! I’m looking forward to getting the ebook and commencing my suana build. I will going with a 7 X 12 backyard plan here in Big Lake and am confident I will be able to adjust your directions to this footprint.

    thanks in advance!


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