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A cluttered storage shed in Northern Minnesota gets turned into an authentic sauna

Guest post series continues.   Enter Tom:  

Thanks to your sauna e-book we have a new sauna at our place in Itasca County.  The cluttered, big box store shed (it came that way with the cabin we bought last year)  is now a wonderful cedar lined, very well insulated, well designed sauna with a Kuuma Stove.  Thanks for the book. We couldn’t have built the sauna without it!   If you ever find yourself in Marcell, MN, you’re welcome to stop by and see what you helped create.

What compelled you to build your own sauna?

I’m half Finnish and took a lot of  saunas in my youth visiting relatives in the UP of Michigan. Real saunas with wood burning stoves and often kerosene  lanterns for light.   My wife and I both enjoy them and decided a sauna outside our newly purchased little cabin in northern Minnesota would be a better use of an 8 x 12 ft shed than storing crap we really don’t need.

How did you find saunatimes? And give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out.

I found Saunatimes by simply googling information on saunas and tips/hints on building them.  All I knew at the beginning of the project was that we had a shed that might make a good sauna.  The entire DIY e-book was helpful.  We would have had a very difficult time building without it; even though my builder friend, Jon, is pretty skilled at this kind of thing.  Neither of us had built a sauna before.   I can’t list just a couple of examples of how the book helped. It was ALL very helpful.

What were your biggest challenges for your sauna build?

The biggest challenge we had was the roof line.  Our shed is a pre-fab building (the kind you might buy at Home Depot) sitting on a concrete slab.   The shed has a gambrel roof which made placement of the chimney (and stove) a bit tricky for heat clearance purposes.  We managed to work around it but it did make things a bit more challenging.  We also added a drain on the lakeside of the sauna instead of what is describe in the book.  The concrete slab has a very slight tilt toward the lake so we put a gutter/drain system in the sauna floor against the wall and out the back of the sauna..
working with existing roof line for hot room

 What aspect to your sauna are you most proud of?

Turning an ordinary shed (with mice) that included a wide, roll-up aluminum door into an charming sauna is what we are most proud of…it just looks good!  And so does all the cedar we purchased locally.  The entire inside:  dressing room, hot room, doors. duck board floor, and benches are tongue and groove cedar.   The only thing that isn’t is the fireproofing around the stove.  We also made our way to Tower and purchased a small Kuuma stove with a glass door…we like the light it gives off in the hot room.   But damn they are heavy!

Any regrets?

My only regret is the lighting.  I wanted to replicate the saunas I knew in my youth.   A lamp window between the hot room and dressing room.  A great idea but because of the slanted roof/ceiling I wish we had made it deeper.   Oil burning lamps give off too much heat and even a bit of smoke–even small lamps with low flames–and the top of the window cove area with the glass has discolored.  The opening is a little too small.  We’ve begun using an LED lantern which I really didn’t want to do.  Still don’t.

If  you could bring a mobile sauna to anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

If I could take a mobile sauna to anywhere in the world it would be to Virrat, Finland.   I have distant relatives there.  I’ve never met them but it would be fun to take a sauna in Finland with a Finn.

“de massing” hot room with arched ceiling.
Thanks again, Glenn, for your book.

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