This grainy image of a guy in a cowboy hat in a small box is the vision that inspired Elemental Works.
After shopping the market for a small one or two person conventional hot tub, I just couldn’t find a product out there that was what I was looking for. I have a very small private area outside that a conventional large hot tub would completely fill up. I also was not intersted in jets or fancy features- just soaking in hot water up to my neck.
I rented a house for a few years with a conventional hot tub. It was always a kind of chemistry experiment, adding in the bromine, trying to keep at lower levels or it would burn my skin and nose, or having to shock the water with chemicals if it got funky.
I found the image above when researching DIY hot tub plans, and the accompanying article, with its clever insights about just wanting a simple hot soak, pointed me in the direction of furos, or ofuros, the rectangular Japanese soaking tubs.
At first glance it seems like you may have your knees in your mouth, but this is not the case, due to your natural buoyancy — you feel so good you just don’t care.
Try to remember, did you ever take a tub all alone and not feel self-conscious and wasteful?
The author designed his tub to sit within a regular bathtub, to be filled and drained per use. I still wanted something to go outdoors, but really liked the idea of using a small amount of water that can be filled and drained more frequently than a full sized hot tub. My requirements were taking shape:
- Small enough to fit in my private outdoor space without dominating it. Say about 25″ wide x 45″ long.
- Tall enough to soak in up to my next. About 26-27″.
- Can hold hot water continuously like a normal hot tub.
- No chlorine. Just drain and refill when the water turns.
The DIY hot tub world has a variety of creative and strange builds out there, most common using stock tanks. I wasn’t interested in that direction, though, ever since I changed out our koi pond from a stock tank to a 5’x5′ box made from 4x4s and pond liner. The stock tank didn’t have the finished look I wanted, and soaking in a stock tank just doesn’t didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to build my own ofuro out of wood, first trying with plywood and then one with cedar. Building a wood box that holds water. Sounded simple enough….