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Sauna Benches

Building a set of Atticus-proof sauna benches is no simple matter. He's small, but he understands leverage.

The supply list called for 28 red cedar 2x4s (12-foot), a few cedar fence boards, and 2 boxes of 3" exterior screws. I began by establishing a rigid, level ledger on three walls. It consists of doubled-up 2x4s fastened to the wall studs. I then constructed two 22" wide x 10' long benches by sandwiching fence board spacers (1/2" x 3-1/2" x 5") between the 2x4s, placed on edge. Each row was screwed to the previous one. A third, shorter bench (55" x 22") forms the other leg of the L.

The goal was a clean look. I tried to keep the support structure off the floor and hidden from view. I wanted to make it easy to sweep and/or refinish the floor. There are a lot of sauna designs out there that seem to be all legs and braces, which can look busy and/or cheesy. Ideally, you want uncluttered benches that to appear to float (i.e, think like a Finn). Fully floating benches just wasn't going to work in this case, given the real world budget constraints, so I did my best to tuck the supports up underneath or push them out to the sides.

Technically, the upper bench is plenty strong without these angled supports, but I figured it would pay off to over-engineer it. Failure to account for the Atticus Factor (Xwtf) would undoubtedly lead to calamity of Alaskan proportions at some point down the road. The tripled up 2x4s are well proportioned to the thick horizontal "slabs". These angled braces are why I built a continuous ledger. I knew I wanted two braces centered on the long wall. But I also knew it was unlikely that they would fall on the studs. Resting them on the ledger allowed me to put them wherever I needed to in order to maintain an even spacing. Its a simple thing, but it matters.

One sauna ready to go. Just add a woodstove, hot rocks, a bucket of water, and up to 10 naked people of your choosing. Thanks Don and Annette for letting me build this for you!

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