Cordwood Sauna in Givens, West Virginia

Patrick sent some wonderful pictures of his family building a cordwood sauna in the hills of West Virginia.  Since my wife’s family is from WV, it piqued my interested.  Then Patrick told me he was Finnish (I lived in Finland from 72 to 74) & I was hooked.

Kish 1

Since he was building in an area with a great view, but no access to a concrete truck, he decided on a post and pier foundation.  Cordwood is rather heavy (500 pounds per lineal foot) and so Patrick beefed up everything to handle the weight.

The post framework, using pressure treated posts is buried well below frostline and anchored with a concrete slurry.

The post framework, using pressure treated posts is buried well below frostline and anchored with a concrete slurry.

The family has taken their first saunas (if you know anything about Finn’s you know a sauna is a very important ingredient in producing a happy Finlander:0)   Here are a few photos of Patrick and his clan on this St. Patrick’s Day!

Katy is an enthusiastic cordwood mason and has the next log end ready for Dad to mortar.

Garnet (Katy) is an enthusiastic cordwood mason and has the next log end ready for Dad to mortar.

Patrick was kind enough to send me a little history of his family.  Nothing like a family project to bring the brood together.  The changing room is next in line for cordwood infill.

An outer and inner row of mortar and sawdust insulation down the center.  This sauna is gonna keep its heat inside!

An outer and inner row of mortar and sawdust insulation down the center. This sauna is gonna keep its heat inside!

When you bring home a truckload of sawdust for the building of the sauna, what better way to sample the wares:0)

When you bring home a truckload of sawdust for the building of the sauna, what better way to sample the wares:0)

Karen and Everett dig into the mortar bucket to get the next handful of mud.  Playing in the mud is so much fun!

Karen and Everett dig into the mortar bucket to get the next handful of mud. Playing in the mud is so much fun!

In Finland everyone has a "sauna aika" or sauna time, who wouldn't want to be splashed with water, switched with birch branches and loofa-ed to clean the pores.  While you're at it throw a "makkara" (sausage) on the hot rocks for feasting after cleansing.

In Finland everyone has a “sauna aika” or sauna time once or twice a week and seriously, who wouldn’t want to be doused with water, switched with birch branches and loofa-ed to clean the pores. While you’re at it throw a “makkara” (sausage) on the hot rocks for feasting!

While you're at it, when life gives you a 2 x 4 and your Irish, Finnish and Hungarian, why not play a little air guitar in between batches of mortar?

While you’re at it, when life gives you a 1 x 4 and your Irish *by name), Finnish and Hungarian, why not play a little air guitar in between batches of mortar?

I’d like to thank Patrick and his family (Karen, Garnet & Everett) for allowing me to share their cordwood sauna journey.  Here is a little more of Patrick’s heritage.

“Grew up in  a the small Lake Erie town of Fairport Harbor, Ohio which was predominantly Finns and Hungarians.  Mom (Koski) Was Finn and Dan (Kish) was Hungarian.  My Great grandparent on my mothers’ side immigrated to Fairport from Toysa, Finland in 1920.  I spent endless hours in the sauna located in my great grandmothers basement while the warm nissu bread she made awaited our exit. The summer months  as a child where spent visiting Finnish relatives at their cabin on LakePenage in Ontario where the joys  of the rustic backwoods sauna on a cold lake where learned.  As the only one in the family that didn’t have a sauna , Karen and I decided to step it up and are pleasantly pleased, to say the least, we as a family (Me, Karen, Garnet and Everett) have put built  so far. Hungarian heritage isn’t so bad either especially when it comes to the food (chicken paprikash and Hungarian goulash)”

If you are interested in learning more about cordwood construction please go to www.cordwoodconstruction.org

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One response to “Cordwood Sauna in Givens, West Virginia

  1. I wonder how sauna heat and humidy affect cordwood?

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