Heres a wood tub that can be used indoors or outside, with or without electricity, and most all building materials can be purchased from your local lumberyard and/or boating supply store. Similar in some ways to the Rectangular Wood Tub, the hexagon shape more closely resembles a round stave tub, but it also lends itself to easy modification so it can be built in any practical size. The plywood tub can be small and 2-person cozy, tall and narrow for a solo therapy soaking tub, or short and wide for a family tub or pool for the kids. The tub can be built to fit into a particular space, or freestanding and even portable. The hexagon shape, occurring in nature as the cells in beehives and also in crystals, lends itself to simple construction techniques and goes together easily.
The tub uses the same epoxy techniques we use on surfaces and the structural chines of our boats. Plywood from 1/2" to 1" thick, depending on the size of the tub, can be coated and sealed with epoxy and optional fiberglass cloth to produce a sanitary surface that can be scrubbed for cleaning and maintenance. Unlike timber stave tubs the epoxy sealed surface will not absorb water and shrink or swell which also provides a higher level of sanitation to prevent the growth or encouragement of bacteria. Trim wood of teak, maple, walnut, or softwoods like fir and spruce can be added to the tub for contrast.
The panels are joined with thickened epoxy fillets to produce a structural shaped molding or fillet, and fiberglass tape can also be applied to exterior seams for extra support. No critical joiner work or carpentry is required and individual tub panels can be built and pre-finished on the workbench making final assembly even easier.
The tub can also be fitted with conventional jets and heaters plumbed right into the sides, or your choice of wood-burning heaters, which make the tub ideal for remote locations.
Optional insulation can be applied for improved heat retention--either sheet foam glued to the exterior or spray-on foam, and a hinged insulated cover can be added to maintain temperature.
For the ultimate in hot tubbing simplicity, fill the tub with a hose connected to a hot water tap or use a wood burner, and enjoy a soak in fresh water free of chemicals. Then instead of wasting the water, rig a hose bib for a drain in the side or bottom of the tub and water the lawn and trees.
One builder loads his 2 person tub into the back of his truck and hauls it to parties, where he fills it with a hose or with a bucket brigade from a creek and fires up the submersible Snorkel wood burning hot tub heater, all in the back of his truck. When the parties over he siphons out the water and has a relaxed drive home. When my daughter was very small we set one of our wood-heated tubs alongside the horse corral, which was especially fun on starry nights and in the winter when it was snowing, and the horses loved the company.
The tub makes a fun family project with an enjoyable end result, and the plans are written for amateur builders. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Building plans include blueprints and step-by-step directions, material sources and options, including a jig layout to help assemble the six sided tub.
Comments from builders:
....I built your rectangular tub last year and the kids took it over so now I’m going to do the hex tub for myself. I like the portability of these tubs, and so do the kids. The wood burning heater works OK but I also rigged a hose from the house water heater so I can fill it hot in a few minutes, then I keep it hot with the wood burner. I saw one of your hot tubs in Popular Science about 10 years ago and I’m finally building it. Loren. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
Paul... I built your hex tub to fit into our new bathroom. I lowered the sides and made it 5 feet wide, and with the teak moldings it really looks nice. I installed large radius epoxy fillets in the corners and coated everything with epoxy and it scrubs out easy. We used mahogany ply and it just looks beautiful. Phil Delmonico. Long Beach, CA
...I’m having fun rigging my own wood heated water system...so far I have a passive siphon system that sucks cold water from the bottom of the tub and then to a series of copper tubes that go through the firebox of my old wood stove then back into the tub. I have the wood stove right alongside the tub, and to my neighbors this lash-up looks like a condenser for a moonshine still. But it works…..or maybe it’s a work in progress as I keep making it better! Let me know if these pictures work for you. Perry. Nashville, TN.
...I won’t go into detail on what happened at my last overnight hot tub party but your tub worked out really well. I do need to build a bigger tub however so I’m ordering the rectangular tub plans. Marcus. Enid, Oklahoma
Paul...we built a tall skinny solo hex tub for therapy as my wife has hip and back problems, and I installed a small water heater alongside the tub just to deliver instant hot water for her soak sessions. The tub is small enough so I only have to fill it about half full then when she gets in the level rises to her neck. Shes allergic to chemicals so after each soak I just open the hose connection in the bottom of the tub and use the water on the garden, so nothing is wasted. I’m glad I used epoxy on the plywood because the hard surface scrubs up easy and so much cleaner than a plain wood tub, and installed the jets right in the side of the tub. A real water saver and a lot better than that huge fiberglass thing I fought with for years. Antoine. Eugene, OR