Building A Sauna Cabin With Logs In The Wilderness Alone With My Dog

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In this inspirational “minimal talking” video from My Self Reliance we see the build of a sauna cabin in the snowy Canadian Wilderness. This is a long video – nearly 2 hours – but the soothing, satisfying sounds of the woodwork are very relaxing; you could have it playing in the background.

Shawn James, the builder, has already built the main log cabin on the property. He also builds an outdoor forest kitchen and more. His work is high quality and traditionally stylish. This is a wonderful wilderness retreat!

The first stage of course is cutting the logs, removing side branches and de-barking them. Saddle notches are chopped out with an axe, facilitated by saw cuts which make the work much easier. Each log’s notch is measured individually using a divider and fitted to the diameter of the log below it – with a chisel being used for “fine tuning” of the notch until it’s just right. His work is impressive and you can see from the minimal gaps between the logs just how well he’s got it down.

The lowest course of logs are charred before putting them in. This improves their rot-resistance; as they are laying directly on the ground.

It must be seriously cold there. We see him huff in a serious-looking wood burning stove and get a blaze going. With the walls part way done, they will reflect some of the heat and create a cozy work space. We learn from the footnotes that he built the cabin bit by bit over the course of 12 months. Amazing patience to set the camera up every time, for so many shots.


One of the great challenges is getting the roof poles into position. They are the biggest and heaviest poles and he has a system to hoist them into place. The roof is solid wood, using rough 2×6 planks nailed into position. It’s built like a tank!

Once the flue for the wood burning stove is in, roofing sheet is rolled into position. I can’t quite see what the material is that is being used but looks like some kind of tar paper. Crazy to see him digging the snow out of the inside of the cabin. I’m guessing the windows are reclaimed. It’s good to see him collect moss and use it to cover the roof and stuff into the cracks between the logs. Natural materials all the way!

Once he’s framed out the inside of the cabin and added the planks (cedar?) it’s starting to look really fancy. The woodburner is of course a special type that has a water tank at the back and a space above the stove to heat rocks – for the steam!

Finishing touches include a rail around the deck area, steps up to the front door, a hand-hammered hand basin for the wash room and – of course – some giant antlers. And then it’s time to enjoy the steam…

Building A Sauna Cabin With Logs In The Wilderness Alone With My Dog
Building A Sauna Cabin With Logs In The Wilderness Alone With My Dog – Graphic © off-grid.info. Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmIoEFZ0-KM

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