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Building a Sauna - pics of the stove

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by BobUrban, May 10, 2013.

  1. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    I did not know where to put this but I thought there may be some interest from forum members so this seemed like the safest spot to share.

    I have been playing with the idea in my head for some time and still cannot decide if I am going to mod my old shed or just buy a new one for the project but in the mean time I spent a day in the fab shop and whipped out this little hot box to put heat in the sauna.

    Just a 12x12x24" square tube I cut off a drop. The door has a damper intake that works on a dial made from a structural steel bolt and nut. I put a removable 1/2 baffle in to divert the outflow and force the heat across the top panel to warm the rock tray and used 4 structual bolts and nuts for the legs to make them adjustable for leveling. In the pics it just has about 3 or 4' of 8" set on top for the test fire and she is burning clean - no smoke!! For the sauna I will probably run 5" stove pipe or even a piece of 5x1/4 pipe that I have at the shop. All in all I think it will work well for quick, hot fires that last an hour or two at a time.

    Just a summer project so I will continue to update as I make progress as long as there is interest. Should be fun next winter getting a good sweat on!!
    Sauna stove.JPG sauna stove2.JPG
    swagler85, Sisu, ScotO and 1 other person like this.

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  2. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    That should be an interesting project.

    A friend of mine made a sweatlodge out of maple saplings and a plastic tarps. He would build a fire in it and lift flaps. After the fire was hot, he would heat large rocks and let the fire die down. He poured water on the hot rocks and basked in the heat. He did it mostly in the fall and winter.

    Nice metal stock you have there btw.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I love a good project.......looks to me this one has the makings for something cool....er, I mean HOT..
    Looking forward to updates on this project, for sure. Love the firebox, Bob!
  4. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    Please post more pics.
  5. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    Looks good. I would put a sheet of stainless on the stovetop to reinforce where the rocks will be placed and also protect from the water being poured on them. If the stove gets too hot (red) it might lose some strength, causing it to sag with the rocks ontop. I would also make a stainless steel water reservoir that fits on the side. Hot water is always nice to have in a sauna.

    Since you are drawing combustion air from the sauna room, make sure to leave a little gap at the bottom of the door to the sauna. You need some fresh air to feed the fire and for safety.

    Also make sure your rock selection is from an igneous or metamorphic type. Anything with a water content can explode.

    How are your vihta making skills?
  6. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Back from the great northwoods and back at the sauna project. Please forgive my ignorance Sisu but what the heck is "vihta"?

    I am planning to put vents in the bottom and top of hte sauna as well as an egress window for bothe safety and the ability to see out.

    I have the sauna at our camp in the UP to refer to as far as the build goes but this will be a bit of trial and error until I get it dialed in. I may add a steel plate up top but I am not super worried warpage because of the tube size and gage. For the rocks I have not decided yet but may use cuts and drops from the bricks I use to build the hearth. They are certainly safe to heat.

    Because this is going to be a few steps from my home I am not super concerned with the water heater. We put a really nice system on the sauna at camp for showering but I can just go inside and take a shower with this one.

    I am just not sure if the shed I have currently will be the sauna or if I will be buying/building a new one???
  7. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    The vihta is a Finnish word for a birch "switch" made of birch leaves. It is used to hit yourself, while in the sauna. It has an antiseptic and massage action for the skin. Smells nice too. 513277287_0a74251335.jpg

    A vent at the top shouldn't be necessary; as a window and bottom vent should suffice, if you need to release heat and moisture. We usually get the sauna up to 100-110 degrees Celsius, before we go in.

    I would caution against using bricks as sauna stone. If the bricks are porous, they could allow moisture/water in, especially when you pour water on them. The resulting steam could cause them to explode.

    Let me know if you need any more advice. I have built a few, used a lot, and witnessed/responded to one burning down. But that is a story for another day......
  8. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    Nothing screams relaxing to me like self flagellation with a bouquet of birch limbs at 120 degrees!
    swagler85 likes this.
  9. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    Don't knock it until you have tried it! Or maybe you have?! :)
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Consider adding a convective jacket to the stove to both reduce clearances and increase safety to bare flesh.
  11. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    Depending on the size of the shed I use to built it I am already thinking along those lines Begreen - I have to get the shed build or bought first to determine the location for the stove and necessary clearances.

    Kind of into a couple projects right now so it may be a couple weeks before I get back on the sauna - I just want it completed by fall and I picked up a nice dual axle trailer the other day than needs some structural stengthening, rails and a floor put on it. Because it is completely bare(just frame and axles) I will be able to customize it to my desired specs. Going to be a 4 wheeler/wood hauler in the near future.

    SO many projects and so little time
    pyroholic likes this.

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