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Author Topic: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub  (Read 36175 times)

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Offline Mark Enomoto

  • Posts: 259
Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« on: November 24, 2008, 05:32 AM »
Has anyone attempted to make a Japanese style soaking tub? Are there cheaper alternatives to Hinoki or Alaskan Cedar?

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Offline waynew

  • Posts: 69
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2008, 08:41 PM »
Havn't built it yet but its part of my renovation plans. Have you thought of using western red cedar? I have a hot tub made of WRC and I plan to use the wood from that hot tub for the Japanese style bath.

Wood species

Wayne
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Offline Mark Enomoto

  • Posts: 259
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2010, 06:27 PM »
Is Western Red Cedar the stuff the make Lindal cedar homes with? I know of a recycle place that has roof decking that is cedar that I could re-machine for the sides maybe.

Offline iacopo

  • Posts: 1
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 11:16 AM »
If you are interested in details/maintenance advice for japanese bathtub ofuros please check http://www.bartokdesign.com/japan/
Here are some pictures of the lamination and joining process: http://www.bartokdesign.com/japan/3-hottub_manufacture/hinoki-bath-tub-assembling_and_joining.php
Anyway - sorry to be frank - but I think it is very difficult to build a wooden tub DIY.
It is not only about building the shape, it needs to hold water and contain the pressure.
Additionally wood is a live material and if wood fibers and internal tensions are not kept into consideration it will warp immediately.

Offline Eli

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Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 05:55 PM »
Difficult is putting a guy on the moon and bringing him back alive.

Building a wooden box that holds water (however much soul it must contain) is just another project. [big grin]

There are a couple of good books on the subject. Keep in mind that it is a whole method of bathing, not just building. You must already be clean when you enter the tub, no soap can be used. Since all the actual washing is done outside the tub, the whole bathroom is built like a big shower stall, with drainage planes and a floor drain. Hinoki is the best wood but not the only wood you can use. You'd want to use really clear WRC. The reason Hinoki is favored is the oil that it releases when filled with heated water. Many cedars do that.

You can do it. We want to see pictures.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline Mark Enomoto

  • Posts: 259
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2011, 08:24 PM »
Oh I've got no grand delusions that I could actually make this thing for any length of time but shamefully I've got some mean tools to pull the job off nor am I trying to be a cheapskate and DIY it myself... I know and appreciate what it takes to do good quality work and I'm willing to pay for it. This project is more therapy for me to let off some stress and steam, though if this thing catastrophically fails I guess it will just generate more stress if not humor for the rest of the family.

Those bartok tubs are beautiful but for our family and kids that track mud into the house, its a bit too nice for our stage in life right now. A galvanized horse trough would probably be enough for my kids until they left the house and then bartok would be a sensible investment.

Thanks for the advice. The pictures are great and alway good to see someone carrying on the tradition of craft rather than "crap" :-)

Offline GhostFist

  • Posts: 1285
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2011, 09:35 PM »
Not that I'd ever built one but I'd certainly give it a go as a project. As far as the relation to wood and water goes, see "boats". It really is just a box ultimately, if there's any special considerations regarding seasoning or joinery I'm sure we can look it up and get this project off the ground. I say build the bastard!

Offline BMH

  • Posts: 320
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2011, 09:51 PM »
This is a picture of an outdoor ofuro that I would like to build. I am slowly trying to figure out the construction and joinery and will do a trial with some cheap wood before trying it with some cedar.

http://www.formatura.ca/sub16.html

Bruce

Offline GhostFist

  • Posts: 1285
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2011, 10:04 PM »
Hinoki Wood Ofuro From Japan


In this vid you can catch a glimpse of how they are joining their pieces, to me it looks like a simple jointed edge strengthened with large dowels. I've been flipping through various sites trying to piece together how these are finished and sealed and it seems that they apply no finish to them whatsoever. That being said, again they recommend using no soap in them. they also say due to their size they are difficult to heat just off your hot water tank and suggest some spa equipment. Just some things to consider. I'll post relevant links as I come across them I wanna see one of these built. Don't have the space or I'd do one myself.

Offline Eli

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Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 06:33 AM »
No finish, they are scrubbed with a brush. Never left totally dry, always either a few inches of water or a bucket of water in the bottom, preferably also wood, under the lid (also wood). They are not left full either. One tub of water is expected to clean everyone and it is filled off the tap unless you happen to build it near a natural hot spring.

I am also in the horse trough stage of life with children as well. Maybe I'll build them a really nice horse trough. You could do worse than tiling the whole bathroom, installing a floor drain and plumbing a shower head into the corner. If it doesn't work, lose the tub.

Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline Eli

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Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2011, 06:36 AM »
Also in some designs, Hinoki bark is used as a gasket material between sides and bottom.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline fritter63

  • Posts: 1173
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2011, 12:57 PM »
Has anyone attempted to make a Japanese style soaking tub? Are there cheaper alternatives to Hinoki or Alaskan Cedar?


Are you only wanting a wood tub? They are beautiful, but fear a lot of upkeep (I still have memories of the super hip "hot tubs" from the
70s, my parents were always cleaning it).

I was inspired by the book The Japanese Bath while building our house, so I quickly re-orged
the layout in the master bath to include a japanese style soaking tub. Since the wood ones were out of the question price
wise, I chose to go with the Americh Beverly 4040 (which is featured in a few of the pictures in that book). It's acrylic (I think,
but low maintenance). Cost was about $1100. I just tiled right over the top as was shown in the book, and now it looks like a cool natural water hole in nature. The cool thing is it's a "sitting tub", 32" deep with a seat, you can fill it up to your neck in water (if you have time to wait!). It looks small, but you CAN get two people in there. Don't ask me how I know that..... Here is a picture of the finished product, I can send you more details of how I framed for it if you want.




Offline Eli

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Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 07:22 PM »
Very nice solution.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline Mark Enomoto

  • Posts: 259
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2011, 02:51 AM »
I've had two homes with what my kids called the "O" tub which was an acrylic round tub, 42" deep made by ARP: http://www.arpbathtubs.com/product.php?id=38  The kids loved em and would end up filling it up with suds and overflowing it :-) Back about 10 years ago these were under $1000 and made right in the Pacific NW down in Tacoma.

The house we are in right now is from the 60's and the bathrooms are too small to fit this in w/o some major remodeling and Papa's throne going offline for who knows how long I can solder a fitting properly... maybe a great adventure for our entire family :-)

I think one of the best "ofuros" I've ever sat in was deep in the Kohala rainforest at an old ditch workers cabin. Nothing fancy. Redwood box with a copper pan for the bottom which you stoked from the outside with wood. After a long day of slogging through mud and brush... this was a true treat.

Maybe just making stuff is the end in itself rather than attempting a fine piece of woodworking. After all, when the job is done, so is the fun :-)

Offline GhostFist

  • Posts: 1285
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 07:50 AM »
 It's the challenge in woodworking that I enjoy. Woodworking can make me feel like the dumbest idiot in the world when I'm stuck but then you have these moments when you feel like a god amongst mortals when something fits just perfect. I've been intimidated by projects in the past and avoided them, then I've taken on some seemingly scary stuff and to my surprise managed to pull it off. It's all about perseverance really, you have to commit to achieving your goals in the project and you'll get it done in the end. Through the process you'll learn as well and that's where the satisfaction comes in, for me at least, you've done something that you thought you couldn't do, you've made the impossible.

I don't think that many projects come out 100% the way you envision  them when you're attempting to make something new, it's working with your "mistakes" that gets it all done in the end. I don't think there's a carpenter in existence that doesn't slightly botch something up during the process of building, being efficient is working with these screw ups that more than likely only you will notice anyway (depending how extreme of course). Look at it this way, no two people sign their name the same way and this individuality goes with woodworking as well, how you hold and work a tool is unique to you and the end result is something that you and only you could have made exactly that way. UNless of course you're a 3-d scanner or some kind of hybrid man/CNC machine.

Offline Eli

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Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2011, 04:49 PM »
Couldn't have said it better GF
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline extiger

  • Posts: 254
Re: Making a Japanese Ofuro soaking tub
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2011, 11:00 PM »
Rot from the moisture seemed the biggest hazard while I lived in Japan. My inn had a circular affair, which was really a coopered oval barrel wrapped the thick copper wire to support the staves.

Depending on their schedule, the innkeepers would drain it after a day of usage. At times they'd leave the water in for 2 days. Decades later and having some woodworking experience, I think drying out wasn't an issue. The soft wood would swell immediately when it was filled and nothing leaked into the tile basin in which the tub rested. The things are coopered, so the staves expand and self-seak at the joints. No compound is used.

My and my wife visited many country inns. Most tubs were tile. But a few had those wood tubs with a copper firebox under the bottom.

They would fill the thing with water, light a fire and wait a bit. A chimney at the rear was piped to the outside. I currently live in a Japanese neighborhood near Westwood, California. The markets are bristling with magazines advertising a variety of tubs. Even the ones heated by firewood. Do a Google search for Japanese ad magazines in and around Los Angeles.