Furnishing a Sauna Suite #6: Top Bench Back Rest and Foot Rests

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 12-14-2020 10:06 PM 544 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Duckboard Flooring Part 6 of Furnishing a Sauna Suite series Part 7: End Back Rests »

Back Rest

These little projects take sauna comfort to the next level. I’m fussy with ergonomics for seating and prototyped the back rest from scrap wood.

The first prototype didn’t support my very lower back well. NOTE: I draw these curves with a flexible piece of plywood that I hold in place while my wife traces the curve onto the wood. This method always results in a fair curve that’s pleasing to the eye.

I flattened the curve a bit on the bottom and the second prototype was comfortable for me and my wife. It might not suit all of our guests, but it’s our sauna!

I made four supports of cedar 2 by 4 that define the curve and screw to the wall. I planed the slats down to 9/16” to give a little flex to the back rest. The wood was quite clear, so I felt comfortable planing the slats thinner. I fastened the slats to the supports with 2” long, 15-gauge, stainless steel finishing nails shot with a pneumatic nail gun. The top two slats were fastened in the sauna after fastening the braces to the wall since the nails protruded into the wall a bit.

The slats are 1 5/8” wide with 13/16” spacing. I sanded them to 220 grit and applied two coats of paraffin oil. I’m pleased with the results.

Foot Rests

It’s nice to lay down for about half the time in the sauna. I like to put my feet up for this. The author suggested foot rests to support your feet more comfortably.

I came up with a simple design of a horizontal 2 by 4 piece screwed to a 2 by 4 support cleat. The horizontal piece is shaped to a 1 1/2” radius. I used my handheld power planer to remove most of the material and followed that up with a smoothing plane. The cedar shaped easily.

Preparing to screw the cleat to the foot rest.

Close-up of the top bench foot rest. Notice the footprints on the wall from four saunas without foot rests?

Lower bench foot rest.

This view captures both foot rests and the back rest. The sauna thermometer is a nice reference if the stove’s temp sensor goes bad. (Our first one was bad out of the box.) The 15-minute sand timer helps set some reasonable personal limits to avoid cooking your brain!


Mary wants a pair of portable back rests that will make it more comfortable to sit with your back against the right wall with your feet on the bench.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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