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Furnishing a Sauna Suite

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Blog series by DustyMark updated 05-04-2021 04:53 PM 17 parts 8500 reads 5 comments total

Part 1: Overall Plan

12-09-2020 09:30 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

”Finnish” the Basement with a Sauna We designed and had our home built in 2014. We anticipated finishing about 500 square feet of the basement eventually, so we had the basement plumbing roughed in during the initial build. I began finishing the basement, as a DIY project, about a year ago. In our part of the county, we only needed an electrical permit. The focal area is the sauna. It’s a very useful 5’ x 7’ size with heat-efficient 7’ ceiling...

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Part 2: Building the Cedar Sauna Benches

12-09-2020 09:57 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Support Cleats The sauna can hold four people, so the benches need to be strong enough to support their weight. The author suggested building support boards in the framing to anchor the bench support cleats. I measured and sketched their exact locations before closing up the walls. Here are the support cleats for the left side. ...and the right side. These are fastened with #10×3 1/2” GRK deck screws. Notice the upper vent. The lower vent is located under the ...

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Part 3: Sand and Oil the Sauna Benches

12-10-2020 09:14 AM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Sanding I was surprised how well the western red cedar cleaned up as I sanded the benches. I walked through the grits from 80 to 120 to 220. My original thought was to focus on the tops and maybe not even oil the underside. However, I ended up giving them a close to furniture-grade sanding job and oiled them completely. Paraffin Oil I’m leaving the walls unfinished to keep the awesome cedar scent. However, the high use areas such as benches, foot rests, back rest, and d...

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Part 4: Sauna Stove Guard

12-11-2020 04:53 AM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Milestone I passed my final electrical inspection with no corrections! Not bad for a thoroughly-researched DIY project… Big Improvement I made a stove guard similar to one sold by a high-end sauna manufacturer that features one rail an inch below the lip of the stove. It was mounted solidly to adjacent walls. I was a little uneasy that if someone lost their balance and grabbed it, that it would rip out of the wall. Mary was concerned that one rail wouldn’t be enough t...

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Part 5: Duckboard Flooring

12-12-2020 05:28 AM by DustyMark | 3 comments »

Pretty Simple There’s nothing fancy on this project. The objective is to walk on splinter-free cedar, as you enter and exit the sauna, instead of a cold concrete floor. I used two 3/4” thick by 2” wide by 58”long runners to support 14 floorboards that are 3/4” thick by 3 1/2” wide by 23 1/2” long. Each floorboard is attached with stainless steel screws from beneath. Assembly I oiled all the pieces before assembly and lined them up ag...

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Part 6: Top Bench Back Rest and Foot Rests

12-14-2020 10:06 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

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 t...

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Part 7: End Back Rests

12-16-2020 03:49 AM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Similar Construction These end back rests are of similar construction to the top bench back rest. I used seven slats like the top bench back rest. Situational awareness “One”, Mark “Zero!” Installed After sitting with these a bit, we decided to recline them 12 degrees. I cut the angles at the top and bottom of the frame with a Japanese pull saw. During installation, I fastened the bottom to the bench and the top to the wall with screws....

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Part 8: Processing Rough Lumber

01-24-2021 02:01 AM by DustyMark | 2 comments »

Back to Woodworking We finished tiling the shower and installing the shower door recently. It’s back to furnishing the sauna suite! Wow, tiling took a lot longer than I thought it would, but we did make it more complicated by including two double-opening niches! The Shower/Changing Room I’m focusing my efforts on completing the benches and table in the shower/changing room before proceeding to the the vanity base in the toilet room. View looking in from the e...

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Part 9: Routing Leg Mortises

01-26-2021 02:38 AM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Router Jig or Mortise Machine? With all the wood cut to basic dimensions, it was time to begin joinery. I’m making the mortises in the legs for the two benches and the table in a batch. Would I use the mortise machine or my ancient/effective plunge router jig? I did a test cut in one leg and discovered that my 5/16” spiral upcut bit was up to the task. It didn’t burn the ash (I usually use cherry which burns pretty easily.) and I was able to plunge 3/4” deep...

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Part 10: Suction-Fit Tenons

02-10-2021 10:02 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

My Technique I’m a hobbyist, not a production shop, so my approach to cutting tenons to achieve a suction-fit might seem tedious. I cut the tenons with the sliding table and tenon jig on my table saw, a band saw and then bevel the edges of the tenons with a file. This technique only works well if your stock is absolutely true, square, and the exact same thickness. Table Saw Work My stock is 13/16” thick and I chose 5/16” mortises. That required a 1/4” d...

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Part 11: Assembling Bench Frames

02-12-2021 08:22 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Glue Legs I applied a liberal amount of polyurethane construction adhesive to the mortise and the tenon. I used a total of six clamps to hold the frame as the glue cured. Peg Tenons After removing the clamps, I used 5/16” dowels to peg the tenons. These provide a mechanical safety in case the glue joint fails. A flush cut saw cleans up the extra dowel nicely. Build Braces These benches must hold the weight of two adults. Pocket screws weren’t a goo...

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Part 12: Screw Cleats and an Extra Set of Legs

02-13-2021 04:40 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Screw Cleats I considered two approaches for fastening the top slats to the benches. 1) Screw from the top and cover screw heads with wood plugs. 2) Make wood cleats and screw from underneath. I chose the second option since I didn’t want to deal with end-grain wood plugs on benches that would see a lot of water exposure in the shower room. The cleats attach to the braces using a tongue and groove joint. Close-up of a screw cleat. Gluing the screw cleats to en...

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Part 13: Attaching Bench Slats

02-17-2021 07:28 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Screws and Glue The top slats are attached with screws and glued to the rails, braces, and screw cleats. The screw cleats provide a good glue surface and make attaching the slats easy. The outside cleats get one screw through each cleat along the inside edge and are glued to everything they touch. This is a strong glue joint since it’s long grain to long grain. Good Results I’m happy with the way the benches turned out. I still need to pin the tenons...

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Part 14: Back Rests

03-06-2021 05:30 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Braces The back rests for the shower/changing room are similar to those in the sauna. These are made of ash. I used the same template to make the braces. The final thickness of the brace is 1 1/4”. That’s enough to keep each brace from racking on the wall. Stud spacing didn’t work to my favor, so I used screw-in drywall anchors to hold the braces to the wall. The braces are ready to receive the slats. I pre-finished all the pieces and plan to shoo...

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Part 15: Bench Back Rest Slats

03-07-2021 09:16 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Nailing the Slats I nailed the slats to the braces with 2” 15-gauge stainless steel finish nails. I experimented on some scrap and gave up on my plan of using two nails per joint. There was too much risk of blowing out/splitting the braces. We used 15/16” spacer blocks to attain even slat spacing. I opted to run the back wall back rest all the way across and then run the side wall back rest just short of it by about 1/2”. I wasn’t sure how it would ...

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Part 16: Capturing a Shelf Inside Tapered Legs

04-02-2021 09:53 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Lots of Other Projects I set the sauna furniture aside to work on other projects. I built a similar table to this with a drawer for my step daughter as a wedding present, configured my wife’s new fishing kayak, and made some modifications to the fishing configuration for my Wood Duck Double kayak I built last year. With those projects completed, I’m in the home stretch of completing the sauna suite furniture. Cutting Shelf Mortises I’ve made four of these tables a...

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Part 17: Vanity Base - Post and Frame Construction

05-04-2021 04:53 PM by DustyMark | 0 comments »

Approach This is the last piece of furniture to complete furnishing the sauna suite. The vanity base starts out quite similar to the changing room benches or the table from previous blog entries. It features rails fastened to legs via mortise and tenon joints. To make it a cabinet, panels are added between the frame pieces. This is a lower rail and shows a 3/8” deep groove for the side panel on the top and a 1/4” deep groove for the bottom of the cabinet in the ...

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