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Sauna Talk with Daryl Lamppa, third generation Finnish sauna stove maker

It was a warm day in Northern Minnesota.  I hopped into my fishing boat and headed about 5 miles across Lake Vermilion into the river inlet to Tower, Minnesota.

Heading by boat to Lamppa Manufacturing, Tower, Minnesota
Heading by boat to Lamppa Manufacturing, Tower, Minnesota

 

Daryl Lamppa picked me up at the dock, and we drove in his pick up truck to his corporate headquarters, a few blocks off Main Street, Tower, Minnesota.

Lamppa Manufacturing, Tower, Minnesota
Lamppa Manufacturing, Tower, Minnesota

Daryl was pretty animated this day.  He was excited to Sauna Talk and shoot the breeze about a day in the life of running a business that has had his family name on the front his entire life.

Daryl Lamppa, owner, Lamppa Manufacturing explaining to Sauna Talk listeners about how wood burns.
Daryl Lamppa, owner, Lamppa Manufacturing explaining how wood burns.

We were able to relax and get into our conversation without distractions or feeling rushed.  Regarding the chemical principle’s of burning wood: “without temperature, none of the reactions go forward”.  And old school sauna stoves that fed from the outside were inefficient in many respects, including the heat from the front part of the stove, that was “wasted to the world.”  I had a great time asking Daryl questions for Sauna Talk:

Glenn interviewing Daryl Lamppa for Sauna Talk.
Glenn interviewing Daryl Lamppa for Sauna Talk.  (The laptop is mine.  Note everything else).

One of the more special parts to this episode of Sauna Talk, was when Daryl told us about being reconnected to one of his Grandfather’s sauna stoves, at least 80 years old.  On the front, Daryl’s Grandfather welded in these words:

One of Daryl's Grandfather's original sauna stoves. The Sweat King. est. 1925.
One of Daryl’s Grandfather’s original sauna stoves. The Sweat King. est. 1925.

Daryl and I talked about many things, including:

  • What got you interested in how wood burns, and in making sauna stoves?
  • 35 years of tinkering with making a clean burning wood stove.
  • Tower, Minnesota.  February 4, 1996.  -60 f.
  • Daryl thinking “green” before there was the term green.
  • Lamppa Manufacturing:  selling direct to the customer, even before the internet.
  • The Kuuma Stove owners manual.  Hand drawn and hand written by Daryl Lamppa.

But back to his grandfather’s sauna stove.  This was a touching moment for me, to see Daryl’s Grandfather’s sauna stove sitting on the dock behind Daryl’s current masterpiece.  “If my Grandfather could see the stoves we are making today….”

The Kumma Stove as it ships today. Behind sits Dary'ls Grandfather's original sauna stove at least 80 years old.
The Kumma Stove as it ships today. Behind sits Daryl’s Grandfather’s original sauna stove, at least 80 years old.  (Sunlight in photo: accidentally wonderful). 

You don’t have to love sauna to appreciate this episode of Sauna Talk.  This is a story about a man of passion and pride.  A story of a guy who grew up doing what his father and his Father’s Father enjoyed doing:  making sauna stoves for people to enjoy sauna: a centuries old tradition of health and wellness.

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8 Comments on This Post

  1. I’ve been listening to your podcast for awhile now, and thanks to you I’ve developed quite a crush on the Kuuma sauna stoves. We’re looking to buy our next house soon, and “room to build a sauna” is on the list of what we’re looking for. Thank your for feeding my addiction (and keeping my connection to my Finnish heritage)

    One thing I’d ask, could you pump up the volume when putting the podcast online. I have to turn the volume all the way up on both my phone and my headphones to hear you at all. And if the people on the bus are talking, I can’t hear it at all.

    Thanks for a wonderful podcast.

  2. Colleen:

    Thanks for the kind words and i’m gonna (try to) pump up the podcast volume. Daryl’s podcast: it’s been a week and i’m still buzzing. I’m so grateful that i got Daryl to agree to be recorded. Every time I see him, in the 25 years that i’ve known him, I always wish I could document the interesting things he has to say. Prediction: NY Times will come to Tower, MN to do a story on him: A third generation Finnish sauna stove maker. Shit, i’ll just write it. And onto your sauna: when you get your house, i’ll help you.

  3. Great interview Glenn and Daryl. I’ve wanted a sauna my whole adult life and finally pulled the trigger a few years ago. I won’t go in to that experience here, but needless to say I’ve since sold that “closet”. I found SaunaTimes about two years ago and since have been enlightened. I was at a friends cabin in northern Michigan last fall where he has a wood burning sauna. What a difference! I have since broken ground on my 8 x 12 sauna and chose to go with the flooress design which was highlighted in one of your articles. I ordered my Kumma wood stove about a month ago and can’t wait for it to come. What a pleasure to order a product and talk to the man who will actually build it! Don’t change a thing Daryl. Wish me luck and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions for you Glenn in the coming weeks. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Thanks Glenn, great podcast, brought back memories when we built our sauna at Vermilion a few years back. I never thought of raking the coals to the front of the stove, have to give that a try.

  5. Great interview Glenn. I finally got a chance to listen to the whole podcast. I loved listening to the stories from Daryl

  6. I bought one in 2010 directly from Daryl (I drove to Tower from eastern Washington) but didn’t move home (Juneau,Alaska) until 2013. We finally built a sauna and installed the stove. It’s a wonderful device.
    If we ever decide that we need to relocate again I’m having one shipped where we end up.

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