Small Projects #47: Walnut and Spanish Humidor with Hydrometer & C° gauge

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Blog entry by Madmark2 posted 05-24-2021 02:39 AM 1336 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 46: Prism Stand Part 47 of Small Projects series Part 48: Jatoba Strong Box Finished! »

Used to smoke cigars, but after my 3rd MI, 4th stent & pacemaker its mostly a memory. Never smoked enough to make buying a box of cigars worthwhile but have always wanted a humidor.

Completed project.

I found hydrometer’s for cheap at Walmart and bought a couple.

1-3/4” x 1” LCD hydrometer with C° indicator.

I bought some Spanish cedar and I have some walnut on hand and so a plan was born.

I smoked Panatellas and they’re 7” to 7”-1/2” long and a 34 to 36 gauge (17/32” to 9/16” dia).

The cedar is 5-1/4” wide (rough) so on a good day I’ll be able to get a 5” wide piece. The walnut is over 6” so figuring on using ~1/4” stock yields an outer size of 8-1/2” x 6” and 3-1/2” high. The plan is to use a lexan lid.

The Spanish cedar inner liner will have the bottom raised up a bit above the outer walnut box. The idea is to perforate the cedar false bottom and leave 1/2” below the cedar bottom for better airflow

Essentially a humidor is a box inside a box. I’m building the outer walnut box first and then making a Spanish cedar inner box.

Walnut Outer Box:
I have a 2’ length of fat 1×6 walnut with a knot and a bad check starting 2” in from one edge and running about 1/2 the length. Fortunately the dimensions I decided upon were such that I could cut the check out and minimize the knot visibility. It was an ugly knot with chunks missing and not really suitable for being featured.

The full thickness pieces were resawn to 11/32” with little scrap.

Resaw setup, blade is up 1-3/4” and fence is 11/32”

Sides/end pieces resawn. Bottom is wider and needs 2nd pass to complete.

The slabs were crosscut to length and grooved for the lid. Since the thickness wasn’t controlled, and I usually set the lexan lid dado to half the side thickness, I needed to precisely measure the side thickness and set the blade height to half that.

Material is 0.3675” thick, blade is set to 0.184”.

One end dado is 3/32” to match the lexan thickness and will give a snug fit. The side dados are 1/8” for easy sliding. The remaining end is cut flush with the bottom of the side dados.

The thickness of the sides wasn’t really critical so instead of cutting the bottom to measure, I cut it to length self referentially. First I set the miter fence stop to the length of the side. Then, using both ends as a spacer, I trimmed the bottom to length.

In the same manner I used the bottom, which had previously been cut to width, to set the miter fence stop and the cut the ends to length.

Self referential measurements gives exact fit.

The initial dry fit was spot on, but before I could glue, the 1” x 1-3/4” rectangular hole for the hydrometer needed to be made.

I started by laying out the rectangular hole in the center of the end. With a freehand drill I made a hole near the center of the layout. A little scrollsaw work roughed out the hole and the detail sander, pocket knife and file quickly perfected the fit.

From layout to final fit.

Now that the hole has been cut its time to sand the interior side of the pieces to 120 grit. Since the interior will have a cedar inner lining the interior finish isn’t critical.

Insides are sanded.

To get the “right” amount of glue I run a bead and then level it with a piece of scrap lexan. This gives an even, 100% coverage, layer with little squeezeout.

The “right” amount of glue gives 100% coverage with just a little squeezeout.

The day ends with the outer walnut box under clamps.

Under clamps overnight.

Spanish cedar interior:

In the morning the glue was completely dry.

The outside was sanded to 120 grit and the lexan lid was cut to fit.

Lexan lid is all but invisible when closed.

The leading edge of the lexan had a bevel sanded into one side. The corners were sanded to about a 1/8” radius to make insertion easier. The bevel rides up on the edge of the end dado and presses the lexan up into the dado holding it in place.

The fit on the lid is just right. Loose enough to slide easily yet latches into place and holds when fully closed. The lexan is 3/32” in a 1/8” dado so the air migration path is very limited

Thinking about it, the interior didn’t have to be built as a glued up box. Rather the Spanish cedar could be cut as if for a box, but just inserted and glued to the inside of the existing walnut box. This greatly simplified construction.

The Spanish cedar lining was sanded smooth to 120 grit. The inside top edges were eased to prevent snagging on the cigar wrappers. The Spanish cedar is left unfinished so it can breathe.

The Spanish cedar floor is propped up on a couple of spacers made from a scrap of sapele. These were sized to set the top edge of the Spanish cedar floor to be even with the bottom of the hygrometer opening.

Hygrometer hole is level with floor.

A pattern of 5/8” holes was drilled on an 1-1/2” grid in the Spanish cedar floor to allow air movement under and around the cigars.

The floor was left floating, held in place by the two end liner pieces.

The liner sides go full depth but the liner ends stop at the top of the floor.

The outside is final sanded to 220 grit. I’m out of poly so I’m just going to slather it with wax (outside only) until I can restock.

The bottom is stamped with the shop stamp and dated.

All done but finish.

After a couple slatherings of Johnson’s Paste Wax the finished humidor appears as:


  • Hydrometer — $7
  • Walnut — 1 bf @ $25/bf = $25 (Rockler pricing)
  • Spanish cedar — 1/2 bf @ $56/bf = $28 (Rockler pricing)
  • Lexan — $5
  • Sapele cleats — shop stock
  • Felt feet — 4 @ $0.06 ea. = $0.25

Total: $65.25

  • Walnut box — 2 hrs @ $20/hr = $40
  • Cedar liner — 1-1/2 hrs @ $20/hr = $30

Project Totals: $65.25 + $70 = $135

MSRP: $269.99


Looking at it on the shelf it looked good but was a little … meh. It needed something and that something is a bead and a half along the bottom edge. It gave it a bit of lightness and elegance it sorely needed. What do you think?

A little detail adds a lot, no?

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

7 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


5390 posts in 3232 days

#1 posted 05-24-2021 07:52 PM

Nicely done !

View splintergroup's profile


5864 posts in 2466 days

#2 posted 05-24-2021 08:26 PM

Looks easy to build but fully functional, the lid really saves on the spendy hinges and the work involved in installing them 8^)

My interest was piqued when you showed these meters a few days back. I searched the local WallyWorld but no dice (I did see them on Amazon however).

Do they seem properly calibrated?

Of course the pessimist in me thinks it will crap out and you wont be able to find a replacement to properly fill the hole, but that’s just me 8^)

Fine work!

View Madmark2's profile


3096 posts in 1832 days

#3 posted 05-24-2021 08:38 PM

Thats why I bought TWO!

Walmart link is HERE

Calibration I know not. There doesn’t seem to be anything to adjust. They respond quickly when cupped in the hand and blown on.

The lexan shows off the cigars. It also fits snugly in the slots and should have low air exchange.

I try to avoid metal wherever and whenever possible. Hinged lids have all sorts of issues primary of which is they’re damn near impossible to mount on 1/4” stock. If you know of any that will mount in 1/4” stock let me know. And I don’t mean surface mount.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View splintergroup's profile


5864 posts in 2466 days

#4 posted 05-24-2021 09:58 PM

I hear ya re. the hinges! Only solution I have found for thin stock is to go through the sides (pins, knife hinges, etc.)

I like how you priced out based on Rockler wood pricing, narrows the profit margin for when the tax man commeth (if they are really desperate 8^)

What do you have in mind for humidification?

View Madmark2's profile


3096 posts in 1832 days

#5 posted 05-25-2021 01:28 AM

They have humidity packet you put in the humidor and it holds the setting. I had thought of putting a sponge under the floor but I didn’t have one the right size and I didn’t want to block the air holes.

I’ve got enough of everything to build a 2nd one.

I was thinking of taking it to a smoke shop and buying a few cigars to make it functional instead of decorative. At the same time get some feedback if this kind of thing could sell.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View splintergroup's profile


5864 posts in 2466 days

#6 posted 05-25-2021 02:55 PM

I’m familiar with the packets, good solution.

The prices of cheap import humidor boxes at these shops are typically ridiculous, if not down right absurd. Vinyl veneers over particle board.

Even if they demand a 50% commission, you’d still be able to make a nice profit and offer the buyers something that actually has value.

View jake6105's profile


28 posts in 646 days

#7 posted 06-17-2021 10:10 AM

That’s a fine looking humidor. Thanks for sharing your build, I have been putting off starting one up of my own and now I’ve got a bit more motivation.

-- Jake, Indiana

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