Friday, April 8, 2011

Hollander's How to Build a Sauna

In 1979 Carlton Hollander published How To Build a Sauna.  This book has many illustrations of construction details, but only a handful of actual photographs.  In his book he attempts to cover all aspects of construction.  Hollander makes the point that a dressing room is important for the enjoyment of a sauna (33), which I agree with.  Other rooms such as a shower room, storage room, and relaxation room can be combined with either the sauna room or dressing room and do not require a separate space, though Hollander includes these in his building layouts.  The need for an easily accessible wood storage area is also mentioned and should not be overlooked when siting the sauna's location.  Hollander quotes the Finnish Building Information Institution as recommending that the stoveroom allow for 105 cubic feet per bather (36), which he describes as a very generous allowance, and certainly not an absolute.  His recommendation to cut an inch from the bottom of the stoveroom door to allow for ventilation (40) is the same as Glenn Auerbach's at Sauna Times, which makes me wonder if Glenn didn't use this book as a reference for his own sauna. 

The cold water immersion tub (43) is frequently described by Hollander, and it seems he considers it an important part of the experience.  Keeping a large tub of water from freezing throughout a Fairbanks winter is not impossible, and would make a very interesting addition.  His description of insulating the floor seems out of date and incomplete to me, and the illustration (65) he uses was not clear enough to inspire confidence in a complete novice like me.  I did like his description of the the properties and types of wood to be used in the interior paneling, treating this portion of the sauna like a piece of furniture (77).  He recommended two foot wide benches as a comfortable width (97).  No where else had I read of using pyrogallic acid for chemically staining the interior wood of the sauna (103), which is interesting but also unnecessary.  A short bibliography at the end listed four sources, all of which being older than this book undoubtedly contain dated information that I would consult only after having read some of the newer books that still await my attention. 

Hollander's book is an introduction to sauna building which filled a niche when published, and it still focuses more on the basic building than a lot of more recent books do.  For example, the illustration of a hanging post foundation (58) is very good advice.  The same basic foundation is also described in the March/April 2011 issue of Mother Earth News, attesting to the timelessness of some basic carpentry techniques.

No comments:

Post a Comment