How to Build a Wooden Tub

James B. Carp

Wooden tubs are attractive and versatile. While they cannot be built to the same dimensions as a standard bathtub, wooden tubs are comfortable and can be placed wherever is convenient. Wooden tubs are sturdy and long lasting when properly constructed.

Decorative bark hiding the metal straps can add to the rustic appeal of your wooden tub.
  1. Construct the tub bottom. Using 2x4 or 2x6 tongue and groove cedar planks, build a round bottom for your tub. Make a panel of the cedar planks by joining the tongue and grooves together so that they are as large as the diameter of your tub bottom. Screw the first and last plank into a board along the panel to hold all the planks in place. Cut the circular bottom out of the panel of planks and permanently join them by screwing each plank into three 4x6 joists along the bottom of the panel. You now have a solid piece bottom of the tub.

  2. Prepare the staves. Staves are the straight pieces which will define the outside of your tub. One option is to calculate the exact angle to cut the sides of the staves at so that when they form a cylinder the edges rest flush with one another. The other option is to use a router to make one edge of each stave rounded convexly and the other edge rounded concavely so that they will join properly at any angle. Carve out a concave channel 4 inches above the bottom of each stave -- the tub bottom will fit tightly in the channel. The staves should be 4 inches longer than the height you want your tub.

  3. Place the staves so that the tub bottom sits inside the channel at the lower end of the staves. Be sure that the joint between each stave is tight, and that the staves make a full circle around the tub bottom. Hold the staves in place with rope or a ratcheting strap.

  4. Replace the ratcheting strap with two metal straps. Both straps will go around the exterior of the cylinder formed by the staves. One will go immediately outside the tub floor, and the other will be 6 inches below the top of the tub. Make sure both straps are tight and hold the shape of the cylinder.

  5. Fill the tub with water. It is normal for a new tub to leak for the first 12 to 36 hours. Keep putting more water in, as it leaks out. Soon the cedar planks will swell from absorbing water and stop leaking.