'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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A few years back, my son Chris acquired a liking to fine hand made cigars.  He began accumulating a few of them and had purchased a small cigar humidor for storing all his recently accumulated stogies.

I thought that if he was going to enjoy all those stogies, he was probably going to be needing a larger humidor in which to store them.  His birthday, which is September 30th, had been fast approaching so about the first of August of last year (2014), I decided that I would make him one he could keep forever.

Having never built one of these before, I quickly began some research on the Net on some tips for building one.  I found a really good article by Rick Allyn that was printed on the Fine Woodworking web site that was written and published in their November/December 1997 issue.  I used this article as my guide and began to order the materials that it would take to build the humidor.  What attracted me to this design was how it was accented with contrasting wood in its trim.

In the article, the author built the humidor out of solid Spanish Cedar that had been veneered with a heavily grained material which I couldn't readily identify.  I chose to use African Mahogany, Black Walnut trim and then line the humidor in Spanish Cedar.

That is the preliminary "blah, blah, blah" before I get into the process of building Chris' Humidor which turned out as in the picture below.  If you care to follow along on the build process, the steps immediately follow the photo.

Chris' Finished African Mahogany Humidor

I began the project after locating an African Mahogany board from my favorite supplier, L R Nisley & Sons Woodworking, near Goshen, Indiana. I took the board into the shop and let it acclimate to the shop for a couple of days. I followed the dimensions in the above mentioned article pretty much to the "T" whereas the exterior (or outer) box needed to be milled to a thickness of 9/16".
As you will see later, there will be, in effect, an inner box made from Spanish Cedar that will line this outer box, if you will.  The picture on the right shows running the outer box board stock through my Dewalt thickness planer to get the boards down to this 9/16" thickness. Planing rough cut boards to correct thickness
Ripping board to correct overall width. After finishing the planing to thickness, the board needed to be ripped to the overall width for the box sides. I placed the board on my table saw and cut it to a dimension of 5 inches wide as shown here on the left.
At this point, the board needed to be brought to the router table and, using a dado head, I cut ½" deep rabbets ¼" wide along both sides of the long edges of the board. These were cut to accept both the eventual top and bottom pieces of the main outer box after all four sides were assembled. You can see a couple of those steps in the photos below.
 
This view shows how I cut the width down to 5 inches.
Routing Top and Bottom Dados in the board
This is a photo of the Mahogany board after the dados were cut.
Finished Mahogany board after dados were cut

The next step was to cut the sides and the ends to the proper lengths.  In this case it was 11 ½" for the front and back pieces and 9" for the end pieces.  After completion, the end pieces were taken to my router table to cut rabbets along their ends to accept the front and back pieces and their thickness of 9/16". You can see a couple of photos of that operation below.
 
This view shows how I cut the rabbets on the end pieces. 
Cutting rabbets on the ned pieces.
This photo shows both of the end pieces after the rabbets were cut.
End boards showing finished rabbet cuts.

Masked dado edges prior to glueup.
The next step was to place some painters masking tape along the edges of the dados on what would be the inside edges of the box to prevent glue seepage from sticking on the surfaces during the glueup.  This can be seen in the photo on the right.

Next, I cut the pieces that were to be used for the top and bottom of the main box and milled them to a thickness of ½".  I used a fairly figured piece of walnut for the top and some birch veneered plywood for the bottom. These needed to be sized both in width and length prior to gluing together the front, back and ends of the box. The photos below show them installed or being installed.
 

This photo shows the box with both the top and bottom panels inserted immediately after the glueup and with the clamps in place.Box after installing top, bottom and sides clamped after glueup
This photo shows the box after the glueup and removed from the clamps.

This photo shows the box after removing the clamps

Sanding Rough Box EdgesNext, I clamped the box to my workbench to hold it still while I sanded all the uneven edges that was left after the glueup.  This needed to be done because I wanted it to have perfect edges before taking it to the router table to cut rabbets on all the edges.  These rabbets were cut to accept ¼ X ¼ grooves for the walnut trim that I intended to install. You can see what this looked like after clamped on the bench in the photo on the left. 

Routing the inlay grooves in the box top.I wanted to put some ½" wide inlaid trim across both directions on the lid of the box. So, after sanding all the edges smooth around the box, I took it to the router table. With a ½ inch dado router bit installed, I cut a 1/32" deep groove across both the width and the length of the top about 2 inches in from the edges. That would allow me to glue in the trim which I purchased from Rockler Woodworking & Hardware.  Of course, I ran this across the router table with the box turned upside down. You can see what this all looked like in the photo on the right.

The next thing I had to do was to install the accent strips into the top surface of the box.  You can see some of those steps in the photos below.
 
This view shows the dado grooves after cutting them on the router table.
Box top showing routed inlay grooves.
This view shows the accent strips laying on the box top prior to gluing.
View showing accent strips laying on box top.
This view shows the inlay strips after the glue had dried.
This photo shows the box after gluing in the accent strips.
And finally, this views shows how I sanded the strips down evenly.
View showing how I sanded the inlaid strips smooth.

The next step was to cut ¼ X ¼ rabbets on all twelve edges of the box to allow for the installation of walnut edge banding.  You can see me doing this on the router table in the photo below.

Cutting rabbets around all the box edges.
Clamping edge banding to rabbets on the box. After the rabbets were cut, I ran some pieces of walnut through my planer to get them down to 1/4 inch thickness.  I made several strips of these pieces to make sure I had enough to glue into the just finished rabbets in the box.  I then began gluing them in.  You can see a view of what a part of this process looked like in the left.
After gluing up all the edge trim pieces into the box and they had dried, I took the box back to the router and with a 1/4 inch roundover router bit, rounded off all corner edges of the entire box.  You can see the box sitting on the router table during this process in the photo on the right. Rounding the edge banding on the router table.

Wow!  A lot of energy spent so far and now it was time to "slice" open the box to make the lid and lower box into two pieces. I accomplished this by setting the table saw blade to a height about 1/64" less that the wall thickness of the box and sliced the box around all four sides.  I then used a carpet knife to slice open the remaining stock.  Obviously this was done to prevent binding in the saw when being cut!  The photo below is how it looked after that was completed and I had applied some blue painters tape to protect the edges.

View of the box after separating the top from the bottom.
View showing mortises cut into top & bottom pieces.
When I finished sanding the edges of the newly sawn in half box to remove the saw blade marks, I began to cut the mortises for the Brusso Solid Brass Quadrant Hinges that I wanted to install into the humidor. You can see the top and the bottom after these were cut into each piece in the left photo.  I used a 1/4" forstner bit in the drill press to rough out the mortises and finish shaping them with a chisel. 

At this point I applied a coat of Watco Danish Oil to the outside of both the lid and the lower box.  After wiping off any excess oil (about half an hour later) I waited a couple more hours for the oil to penetrate. While waiting on the oil to thoroughly dry, I milled the Spanish Cedar stock to 3/16" thick for all the linings (both bottom section and inside the lid).  I also made a piece 3/8" thick piece to serve as a divider in the lower section. I did not apply any finish to the inside of the lid or box nor on any of the cedar.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't ruin the effect of what Spanish Cedar is supposed to do and that is to keep the humidity at the right percent when the box is closed. Now it was time to line the main box with Spanish Cedar. You can see some of this process in the three photos below.
 
Clamping the cedar lining to the inside of the box.Clamping Cedar to inside of box.
View showing the cedar divider installed inside the lower box.
Another view of clamping in the cedar lining inside the box.
This photo shows the cedar after clamping to the inside of the lid.View showing cedar installed inside the lid.

A couple of things......First, before installing the cedar lining, I sprayed clear lacquer on the insides of both the lid and the lower box to slow down the absorption of moister into the joints and to reduce the stress in those joints (that's why you see the blue painters tape on the box edges in one of the previous photos).  Secondly, the front and back pieces in both the top and bottom were cut to fit snugly but the end pieces of both were cut to leave a 1/8" gap allowing for cross-grain movement.  I might mention that I only used a strip of glue down the center of each piece to hold in place until clamped.  I didn't want to glue the entire back surface preventing movement. Also, the pieces in the lower box were cut to extend above the sides of the main box by 3/16" and about 1/4" recessed in the lid.  I also put a bevel on the protruding edges of the lower linings. This would all allow for a tight seal when closing.


After the linings had dried, I checked to make sure that the Watco Danish Oil on the exterior of both the lid and box had been left set for 72 hours.  Then over each of the next three days I applied a coat of Minwax Satin Hand Rubbed Poly for a total of three coats, using #0000 fine steel wool between each coat. 

The finished humidor both open and closed views can be seen here below:

Finished box shown opened.
Finished box shown closed.
That's about it!  I had a tremendous time making this humidor and my son was happy to beyond description.  I learned patience along the way and was able to experience doing a couple of things that I had never before accomplished.  If you're still with me in all this, I would welcome any and all comments both negative and positive with this project.

Until next time.............
Dave
dave@oldaveswoodshop.com
 

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