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Wildflower sauna blossoms on the North Shore of Lake Huron

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Guest post series continues: Please welcome Gilbert who build Wildflower sauna that blossoms on the North Shore of Lake Huron. Welcome Gilbert!

I am in a remote area and Internet service is questionable. But I wanted to say thank you! I bought your ebook and just finished the Sauna build. I am not a builder and never did anything like this but I’m proof you can learn anything. 

Wildflower sauna, cool down room

‘Opening Day’ was Sunday, June 9, and regular use since.

1 to 10 rating is a solid 11.

Custom treatments adorn the Wildflower Sauna

My sauna is everything I hoped for and more. My wife and I both have back issues and we immediately noticed improvement. Better sleep. Less stress. Squeaky clean, pink skin. Added weeks to the lake swimming ‘season’. And added weeks to ‘cottage season’ as the early or late cold weather enhances the sauna experience. And there’s just something unexplainable about a bucket and brush bath outside in your birthday suit with a lake plunge to wrap up! 

Neighboring cottages are starting to open up so we will probably don bathing suits and enjoy the community aspects of sauna. 

Much to learn but there is no shortage of heat!!!!

Few and fortunate are those who make a positive difference in this world. You are one of those people and we are better for it.

Wildflower sauna, hot room copper surround

10 things I learned that might be helpful to others:

  1. Buy the ebook!  Then use the excellent search function on Saunatimes for alternatives or to fill in gaps. 
  2. I am glad I built from the ground up and didn’t try to modify a prefab shed. Much more substantial and everything fits. 
  3. Fine Homebuilding website offers an excellent series of videos on steps to build a shed. Also, get the book Working Alone: Tips & Techniques for Solo Building by John Carroll. Your project will last longer than your ‘volunteers’. 
  4. Buy the Kuuma stove!  Amazing!  And yes, extra bracing under the floor. 
  5. Steeper roof pitches are harder to build for amateurs and solo builders. You hang on with 1 hand and try to build with the other. 6:12 much easier. 
  6. Awning (crank out) windows are awesome!  You can open them even in a driving rain. 
  7. Confused?  Not sure?  Draw it out full size on the subfloor or a sheet of plywood and you’ll know exact dimensions. 
  8. Skim coating the floor. Keep it runny!  Too thick is hard to finish!
  9. Take your time, especially to get the foundation and floor square and level. Makes everything else easier. Also chop saws/power mitre saw and air nailer are huge time savers. Be safe and use safety glasses. 
  10. Put a good fire extinguisher in the warming room near exterior door. Ya never know and better safe than sorry. 
Wildflower sauna, exterior
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7 Comments

7 thoughts on “Wildflower sauna blossoms on the North Shore of Lake Huron”

  1. Hi,

    Congratulations on completing the Wildflower Sauna! Your story is truly inspiring, especially for someone like me who’s never built anything major. I’m curious about the Kuuma stove you mentioned—how do you find its performance in terms of heat distribution and fuel efficiency? Also, do you have any tips for maintaining it to ensure it lasts?

    Your experience and insights have been incredibly motivating, and I’m considering starting a similar project. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Let’s see if Gil catches this comment and chimes in.. He tells me that he’s mainly off grid, and de social media-ized which i give great bows towards. Anyhow, at risk of sounding like a Kuuma salesman, heat distribution: when you feel good heat, it’s all over, and the Kuuma heats the entire room, evenly, thoroughly, and thusly right to thy bones. (type “jazz trio” in search bar above). Fuel efficiency: I’ve been using the Kuuma for 30 plus years. Many saunas are a matter of four sticks of wood and a little kindling. I know of no other stove that runs as cleanly and efficiently.. controlled burn, heat directed to the rocks (vs. up the chimney). More on that here. Rock on to you! Sauna onwards and upwards!

  3. I’m back to civilization briefly. Glenn is absolutely right on the Kuuma. And he isn’t a salesman – any Kuuma owner will tell you the same. The Kuuma is built like a veritable tank and is super efficient. There are never any sparks up the chimney and once it’s going what little smoke is white! I fill the LLBean pack basket with stove wood for a sauna session and never use it all. And the pack isn’t that big. Glenn is right again that once you have a bed of coals, only add 1 stick of firewood! I added two and shortly after we were all standing outside with the sauna door open hahaha!

    As for maintenance, the only thing I can think of is empty the ashes and don’t back into a Kuuma with your truck. The truck will be the loser. Extremely well built and even the shipping crate was a work of art. Felt like a sin to knock the crate apart but of course I wanted to meet my new stove.

    Just a thought but not sure how a Kuuma would do in a barrel sauna. I think it would take up a lot of room, may crunch through the floor, and would probably overpower it. Probably some experts on this forum that can speak from experience. I don’t expect to ever have that expertise as I am very happy with Glenn’s design. Cheers. Gil

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Kuuma stove! It sounds like a solid choice for heat distribution and efficiency. Your insights are really helpful as I plan my sauna project. Appreciate it!

  5. Gil,

    Kudos on this project! How do you feel about custom build stoves, that are available online? I like Kuuma, but I see custom units have custom neck depth, so you can feed the wood from the outside, keeping interior clean and reduce fire hazard.

  6. Hi Olaf,

    Great question! I’m no fire marshal but I am a civil engineer. I don’t like placing hot things where I can’t seem them and letting them get up to mischief in dark places. The Kuuma stove has the solid steel firebox , then an air space Kuuma heat shield, then the air space copper heat shield, then the fireproof tile board all before you get to things that melt or burn. I sleep better at night with all those ‘belts and suspenders’ working together.

    As for cleanliness, you really don’t burn much wood so it’s not like you are moving cordage and dropping tons of dirt. And you don’t carry the wood that far so not much drops in transit. And get the ash pan! Cleaning is quick and easy.

    I was concerned about the space between the firebox door and my duckboards on the floor. No sparks or hot ashes ever come out the door, the floor is relatively ciool and the duckboards tend to be wet from water buckets and wet feet. I stopped worrying about it but you could flip your duckboards up every time you tend the fire which isn’t that often.

    So I never saw enough added benefit to the ‘custom’ stove options. Build simple, build strong, move on. Just my opinions. Cheers.

  7. Hi Olaf,

    Great question! I don’t like placing hot things where they can cause mischief in dark places. The Kuuma has the solid steel firebox , an air space Kuuma heat shield, the air space copper heat shield, and the fireproof tile board all before you get to things that melt or burn. I sleep better with all those pieces working together.

    As for cleanliness, you really don’t burn much wood, you don’t carry it that far, you don’t carry the wood that far, and get the ash pan! Cleaning is quick and easy.

    I never saw enough added benefit to the ‘custom’ stove options. Build simple, build strong, move on. Just my opinions. Cheers.

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