Failed Humidor

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Project by TheCaver posted 03-10-2009 03:04 AM 3421 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a simple humidor with a lift lid, nothing too fancy, but my first attempt at burl veneer and solid mitered edge bandings.

The main box is 3/4 cherry, which is a bit thicker than what I planned. I wanted it heavy and less susceptible to moisture even though it would be lined, but in hindsight, its a bit much. The sides are visually overwhelming in proportion to the lining.

The veneer is a bookmatched maple burl, which was kind of a pain to work with, but I managed not to completely destroy it :)

The bandings are padauk but I think I approached this part incorrectly. Several procedural mistakes here of particular note; I should have taped/dampened the edges of the veneered top while I routed the 1/4 by 1/4 rabbets as tiny crumbs tore out which was nearly a disaster. The box was very slightly out of square (maybe 1/32 or so) which caused tiny variations where the routed rabbets met. Some cleanup with a shoulder plane was necessary, but I’m seeking suggestions on how to avoid this. In the end, it was no big deal as long as the ends of the rabbets were even.

The lining of course is Spanish Cedar which was resawn from a nice 5/4 piece I picked up awhile back. In the end, I built this for me, so I got kind of lazy :)

The finish is oil under a few coats of a #2 cut of shellac. The top was rubbed out up to rottenstone, and the sides left as is…followed by some Black Bison wax.

It will barely (?) suffice for the trickle of Havana Romeo Y Julietas I get from time to time…..I am of course open to critique….


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

16 comments so far

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 4591 days

#1 posted 03-10-2009 03:12 AM

I have had good luck with the green masking tape on the wood I am going to cut or rout. It seems to save the ragged edges.

You are the only person in the universe who will notice the rabbets, my best advise is to not be as critical. You have solid skills, and the project is a work of art.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4432 days

#2 posted 03-10-2009 03:33 AM

I agree. I can point out flaws in every one of my projects. This looks great.

-- Happy woodworking!

View DavidH's profile


519 posts in 4301 days

#3 posted 03-10-2009 03:47 AM

i like it, im going to be starting my own box project soon and i can only hope that im within 1/32 of square :)

-- David - Houston, Texas. (

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4054 days

#4 posted 03-10-2009 03:53 AM

Nice humidor Caver, I really like the banding…...... I agree also in regards to being critical. We are all sometimes to critical of our ownselves…........ sometimes that is good because it means we really care about the level of our workmanship, but we sometimes have to realize that “most” other people wouldn’t even begin to notice. Now, if I would just listen to myself!!!!
Very nice job, I haven’t tried the banding like this before, but I think I am going to have to.

Thanks for sharing

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 4397 days

#5 posted 03-10-2009 04:03 AM

Thanks Gene, indeed, you should try it. The banding is not purely decorative, it actually serves to protect the veneer or potentially soft primary woods (cypress, or solid spanish cedar for instance).

Also, as I said, as long as the ends of the rabbets meet after cleanup, it will look perfect….

As for the critique, I find it helpful to document the things that went wrong, getting the big stuff right is easy, as they say, the devil is in the details….not that I believe in devils :{P


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 4397 days

#6 posted 03-10-2009 04:03 AM

Oh and David, if your box is more than a 32nd out of square, a big a$$ clamp can normally fix that :)


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View APLJaK's profile


61 posts in 3925 days

#7 posted 03-10-2009 04:05 AM

flip your ruler over to the side with 1/8” graduations and it will be right on! Seriously, nice job. I doubt any of us has built a ‘flawless’ project. I certainly haven’t.

-- APLJaK Woodworking, Okanagan Valley, BC

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3942 days

#8 posted 03-10-2009 04:27 AM

Wow, some of you guys on LJs amaze me, you included JC. If this is a failed attempt, then I’ve definitely failed miserably in everything I’ve attempted to build. It looks really great in the pictures.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4776 days

#9 posted 03-10-2009 04:52 AM

JC, I think it looks great. I agree that the 3/4 material is a bit too thick, but you knew that. :-)

As for the rabbets… from what you are saying it sounds like you rabbetted the pieces prior to assembly? I would have assembled the box, done the initial sanding, the cut the rabbets. That way, there would be no issue of the parts not mating right at the rabbets.

Great humidor.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 4002 days

#10 posted 03-10-2009 05:10 AM

“Failed Humidor” my ass…

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 4397 days

#11 posted 03-10-2009 05:28 AM

Thanks for the comments guys…

Charlie, yes, the weight of the piece is perfect in my hands, but visually, it looks like a door to a bank vault :( I have no idea what I was thinking….

I did, in fact, rout the rabbets after assembly, however, since the box was a little tweaked, one side sat slightly higher than the other, but this error was doubled from low side to high side x 2….Since I had veneer on the top, I could not level the top of the box as I normally do. The lower rabbets were fine….Lucky I had just gotten a shiny new LN shoulder plane :)

Next time, I might be able to prevent this by assembling the box upside down so that any variation is on the bottom side…..that, or build it perfectly square to begin with :)

Thanks for your honest comments/critique everyone….I do like hearing what can be improved and have a thick skin when it comes to design….so don’t be shy!


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4329 days

#12 posted 03-10-2009 07:05 AM

JC, I hear the NTSB is giving your box a 5 star crash safety ratting for the cigars inside. (g) Very nice work from the composition to the finish. Put it on your desk, fill it with good cigars and be very proud. Again, nice work!


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4300 days

#13 posted 03-10-2009 05:10 PM

I wish my failures were this nice…

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4373 days

#14 posted 03-11-2009 03:10 AM

Nice JC,

I like your straight approach. If all our work were perfect there wouldn’t be anything to strive for and (at least for me) that would be boring.

I can’t comment on your techniques because I have never made a box, but I do enjoy a nice cigar every now and then and to my un-trained eye that box looks fantastique.

-- Scott - Chico California

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 4397 days

#15 posted 03-11-2009 03:54 AM

Thanks guys….

Tom, I deserve that! This thing is a tank….its almost embarrassing :) I’ll do much better next time….

Chico, the level of detail on your projects inspire me. You and Tom in particular have moved beyond getting something square and matching the wood colors, adding in the subtle details and craftsmanship that make a project truly a cut above the rest into the realm of fine furniture, aka Tommy MacDonald….this humidor does not exemplify that ideal to be sure, but I pushed myself into uncharted territory and didn’t destroy it in the process, so I consider that a minor success. Thanks again for your inspirational work.


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

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