Robby Keown’s advice for Cordwood Owner/Builders: Start with a Sauna

Robby Keown attended a cordwood workshop in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and when he returned home he built this beautiful cedar cordwood sauna.  

Some details from Robby’s notes: the foundation is slab-on-grade with a thickened edge. I used stamps on the inside to get a wood plank effect. Two-block high knee wall that’s covered in natural stone. Timber-framed with reclaimed barn beams, recycled ply for the roof, with cedar shakes (I got free). Cordwood is 8-inch white cedar that I picked up for $50 a cord (I have a TON left). Mortar mix was the classic 3-2-1-1 modified with an extra half scoop of lime for color. 

My biggest tips would be to pick up a copy of Cordwood Construction Best Practices and learn your stuff, prep prep prep, and get a mixer!   Haha.



The hand-built arched door is made of walnut and cedar.

Robby used Shou-sugi-ban scorching technique on the posts, gables, and overhangs. He incorporated recycled cedar deck boards for the gables and overhangs.


This sauna bench would provide a firm underpinning for a sleeping bag or a mattress. 

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin, or home, please visit   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter, and if you are interested click on the book cover to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at  

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Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011, and 2015 Cordwood Conferences, and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print), and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”