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From the Factory to the Customer: The Journey of a Barrel Sauna

Have you ever been curious about the manufacturing process of an Almost Heaven Sauna? Well, this week we’d like to invite you to take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a cedar Barrel Sauna at our West Virginia factory.

Step 1: Preparing the lumber

It goes without saying that the lumber used in our cedar Barrel Saunas is of the utmost importance. For our Barrel Saunas, we use solid sections of red cedar because it is naturally resistant to the elements, and our suppliers help us maintain an inventory of beautiful, high-grade cedar in both clear and rustic options.

The Almost Heaven Saunas factory has two machines for planning the lumber for all the saunas built at our factory. Our craftsmen hand-feed each board one at a time through the machines, watching them go in as unfinished boards and then come out smooth and even.

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Step 2: Stations

Once the lumber has been planned, it gets taken upstairs to the primary production floor where many things happen all at once. There’s a glass station where the sauna doors are framed. At the bench station, someone is busy assembling the seats for the sauna – two full-length benches for standard barrel saunas and two additional smaller exterior benches for the canopy barrel saunas.

Down the middle of the room, craftsmen trim cedar staves down to the right size – 4’, 5’, 6’, and 8’ lengths – and cut a croze on each end of the stave. (The croze is the groove that the round end sections fit into.)

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Nearby is the assembly station for the round end sections. First the craftsmen select staves in varying lengths and lay them side by side, fitting them together by way of their ball-and-socket profile and securing them in place. Once they’ve assembled the framework, they lift the whole thing onto a cutting machine that they use to trim the sides to create a perfect circumference. At some point, the hinges and the glass door are installed on the front round section and the LED light bar is positioned on the rear round section.

Step 3: Packing and wrapping

When all the lumber components have been measured, cut, and assembled, they’re handed off to the packaging team. The rear and front round end sections are packaged together in a large 6’x6’ box. Most of the cut and crozed staves will fit into one long box, and any remaining staves that don’t fit are packaged into a second long box along with the cradle base supports, the stainless steel banding kits, the sauna stones, the bucket and ladle, the thermometer, the heater fence kit, the temp sensor cover, etc. The Finnish-style heater is separately packaged in its own box. The boxes are placed on a pallet, banded in place, mummified in shrink wrap, and labeled.

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Step 4: Pick-up and delivery

Towards the tail-end of the day, a truck or two will arrive and back up to the loading dock. The fruit of that day’s production will be loaded and sent on its way. Some saunas will head west to popular sauna markets along the Pacific Coast. Some will head north to customers who are preparing for yet another brutal winter. Some will even head south, and some will head east to Atlantic ports where they’ll be loaded on ships and sent across the ocean.

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Wherever an Almost Heaven Sauna ends up, they all started from a single point, a rural corner of West Virginia.

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June 27, 2016 •