Humidors #3: Humidor #1 Red Oak with Walnut veneer

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Blog entry by McPheel posted 01-17-2016 09:14 PM 2177 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: First design concept Part 3 of Humidors series Part 4: Humidor # 2 - Learning from my mistakes (Bubinga and Walnut) »

In continuation with my previous post, I began this experience with a trip to Windsor Plywood to source the necessary materials. I ended up finding a nice piece of quarter sawn Spanish Cedar which was 4/4 by 6” – 8’ long, finished on 2 faces; a nice piece of quarter sawn Red Oak which was 4/4 by 6” – 6’ long, finished on all sides; A full sheet of birch plywood and a roll of Walnut veneer. I took a trip over to Lee Valley to get some quadrant hinges and also found a nice pack of Walnut Burl Veneer.

I Cut a 2’ 4” piece from each and checked for twisting, planning and flattening where necessary until both boards were flat and square with no twist. I couldn’t believe how nice the Spanish cedar was to plane, you could almost see right through the shavings.

Next I found the centre of each board with my marking gauge and cut a line which I used to setup my table saw fence so the line fell on the middle of the blade.

I sanded the two pieces of Red Oak and set them aside, I repeated the resaw on both pieces of the Spanish Cedar to produce 4 1/8” thick boards for lining the box. I sanded all these until they were smooth and free of saw marks and resin (You can see a little bit of resin on the Spanish Cedar in the picture below).

Next was the veneering process, I had never done this before and took a few tips from the wood working master class channel on YouTube ( I found some left over carpet in my basement, cut some pieces to size and mounted them on some scrap MDF with double sided carpet tape. I made two sets, one for rectangular pieces (Sides) and one for square pieces (Top / Bottom).

I spread some glue on my boards with a roller until I had an even film that was slightly tacky than positioned my veneer on a cloth (to protect it), turned my board upside down and stuck it to the part of the veneer I wanted to be on my board. than I stuck it between my two carpet boards with some wax paper from the kitchen to stop it from sticking to the carpet. I used a combination of clamps all around the setup until I was satisfied enough pressure was being applied all around.

When I took the clamps off and trimmed off the excess, I was very pleased with the results.
I had never done any veneer work before and expected a catastrophic failure, this success gave me the confidence to incorporate the technique into many future projects.

I repeated the veneering process with the Walnut Burl on the plywood for the lid. I loved the way this turned out with the book matched pieces of veneer.

I ran each piece through the table saw to cut some rebates for the basic box joinery, I noticed afterwards that my saw was about a 1/16 to high and made for some poor joints. This is a mistake I will not make again!

I clamped the whole piece up and let it dry

After I took the clamps off I cut the 1/4” rebates to accept the Red Oak Edging.

I tried ebonizing the Oak edging which worked surprisingly well due to the high tannin levels in the oak, I tried it on a few other types of wood and the only one that worked better was the Walnut which turned Jet black (I will do a separate blog entry on the ebonizing process)

I glued the edging in place and really liked the look of the black against the Walnut veneer, it gave a really cool rustic look. Unfortunately the edging sat proud of the box a little bit and I had to flush trim it on the router which took the ebonized finish off. I didn’t mind the look of the Red Oak edging either so I left it this way rather than trying to ebonize the edging in place and risk a drip onto the walnut.

I let it dry, rounded the edges on the router (which slipped a fraction of an inch at some point causing an ugly line on one side of the edging), than I cut the lid off at 1.5”.

Next I finished the inside with some shellac to prevent cupping due to the veneer on only one side. While the finish was curing I cut all the Spanish cedar pieces to size for the insert and sealed the end grain with a light coat of shellac, this will promote even moisture absorption due to the fact that end grain absorbs moisture faster than face grain. The face grain will remain unfinished, we do not want to taint the cigars with chemicals.

I installed the Spanish Cedar into the box with a few dabs of glue which I applied to some small spots inside the box that I had sanded the finish off of.

The fit was incredibly satisfying and a nice puff of air came out when you put the lid on the box. I finished the outside of the box with a few coats of boiled linseed oil and finally with a couple coats of shellac which I applied with a French polish method (a few cotton balls balled up in a piece of cheese cloth). I completed the exterior with a piece of black felt that I glued to the base of the box (Covering up the plywood and creating a nice touch to the design)

Now for the sad part. I spent a lot of time trying to install the quadrant hinges, which were not only my first quadrant hinges but my first box hinges period (aside from door hinges). I took my time and carved out the recess to accept the face of the hinge and the mortise to accept the arm of the hinge. When I closed the lid, the top and bottom did not align perfectly but rather ended up being about a 16th of an inch off, this looks really ugly but in the end the box charged up with humidity nicely and maintains a perfect 70% with zero fluctuation. This one can be my humidor and will serve as a visual lesson of what not to do. It will also hold at least 100 cigars and keep them in ideal conditions which is the real goal anyways.

Any tricks or tips on Quadrant Hinge installation would be greatly appreciated.

-- Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing - Nick Offerman

1 comment so far

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 4201 days

#1 posted 01-18-2016 12:24 AM

Question: Did you venure one side or both sides of the core wood? That may be the problem. You have to make a sandwich. You may have a problem with the type of glue you used.

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