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Project by sawdust55109 posted 10-17-2010 12:57 AM 3598 views 10 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Most of the projects we WW’s do are usually for someone else or for the house in general.
I felt I needed a break from the “Honey Do” list and wanted to take some time and build something for myself.
After showing this to a couple of out of state woodworkers who were new to the world of sawdust, they asked me to go over some techniques and the jigs I used on this project.

I told them I would post this and explain some of the mistakes and struggles on the project in the hope that others can avoid my mistakes.
This was the first time I have ever worked with thin sheet veneer so there was a bit of a learning curve but nothing that was extremely difficult.
The humidor carcass is made from Peruvian Walnut. The top and feet are Wenge and Spanish Cedar was used on the inside. Ebony was used for the miter keys.

The Wenge and Cedar started as 8/4. Once cut to dimensions the basic box was mitered and glued.
When making the center design, I cut some strips of walnut and maple veneer and then jointed them in a jig at the router table.

The jig is made from scraps with jointed faces. The veneer gets sandwiched between and then is run down the router using a spiral bit. I first used a standard flush cutting bit with two straight flutes but found some pieces had tear-out so I switched to a spiral and got great results.

The design of the star was first made on PowerPoint and printed out. I cut one segment of the star out of MDF and used it as a pattern to trace on the glued-up strips.
Just put the top and bottom points of the MDF over the maple and walnut joint and trace. Tin snips cut these parts out of the strip. Each strip yeilded three star points.

The pattern was placed over a piece of saran wrap and then the peices were glued together. Blue tape was used as a clamp.
This star ended up on the oputside of the box.

Here you can see the strips of veneer cut from the sheets in the upper left. The upper right show the pieces jointed and glued. In the middle is the MDF pattern and a small piece of the star.

You’ll notice two star designs. One inside and one out. The first one I made was the five point but I made a mistake in the choice of wood the design was glued to.


My choice of 1/8” ply caused and edge to compress when I was tapping it into the inlay recess.
That’s when I decided to flip the top over and put the 5 point on the inside and try another design on the outside.
I printed another star and then rotated it to make a ten point star.
This was inserted and glued into a cutout of Waterfall Bubinga veneer.
You should now have a big piece of veneer with a star in the middle.
This was then glued to a piece of 1/8” Ipe which was sanded to a near circle at the belt sander then glued to the recess in the top. (the Ipe was planed down from a leftover deck plank.)

Now that the box was glued up it was time to add the miter keys. These keys really strengthen the joints.
As with most of my jigs, this miter key jig was made from pieces in the bin. It slides along a board clamped to the table. There is an 1/8” spiral bit in the router.

To make the different locations of the keys use different sized spacers in the jig.

To get the thin stock for the keys, I use a sled on the planer. This is just a piece of MDF with cleats on each end to hold it in place.
You can get some incredibly thin stock using this.

One of my biggest problems with all small boxes are the hinge installations. If your off by 1/32” or even a 1/64th your lid won’t line up correctly with the sides and front.

Plus if your too deep or shallow with the hinge mortises the box won’t close. I’m always nervous on this step. These Brusso hinge templates really help.

I made a mistake on the depth by going the same thickness as the hinge,
The box wouldn’t close correctly so I and ended up passing the box and lid through the drum sander to get the correct depth. I shaved a little off and then the hinged worked great.

Here is the hinge jig.

A neat trick I learned from a wily old box vet was to get a scrap piece of belt from my local cabinet shop’s Time-Saver and glue it to some flat plywood, You can then flat sand the top and bottom so your lid fits nice and the bottom doesn’t rock when you set it down.

Finally, we get to the finish.
One of my problems with finishing is the long dry time on certain recipes. This finish is 1/3 BLO, 1/3 varnish and 1/3 naptha.

To be able to keep going in the shop on the next project while the finish was drying, I made this jig.

It’s basically a five sided box with holes cut in the sides.
(more left over Ipe from the deck. These were extra spindles)

Over the holes I put some heat register filters.
This will allow air flow and I can even use a fan on it to speed the dry time without getting dust inside.

The bottom of the jig has a 5/8” foam strip so the weight presses down and seals the bottom.
The inside walls are also caulked to seal the plexi-glass edges to keep dust from sneaking in.

Seemed to work great and will be used on all my other small projects.

I now have an official place to store the cigars that are used mostly after a project is done.
You get to relax and stare at the handy work hoping no one will see all the mistakes you forgot to tell them about. :)

Sorry for the long post…

7 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5193 days

#1 posted 10-17-2010 02:01 AM

Great box and great tutorial!

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

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 4798 days

#2 posted 10-17-2010 02:56 AM

That’s smart. Great build and a great jig. Outstanding post.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 3808 days

#3 posted 10-17-2010 03:05 AM

how did you put the humidity level dial into the case.
i have a humidor and i was going to do it but i thought maybe it needs to be lined with ceder because the case is thicker than the gauge.

-- Ben L

View tomd's profile


2221 posts in 4745 days

#4 posted 10-17-2010 04:13 AM

Wonderful box, well done.

-- Tom D

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4884 days

#5 posted 10-17-2010 11:04 AM


You did a nice job on this humidor. The inlays look great. May I ask why you did not line the lid with spanish cedar?


-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 4225 days

#6 posted 10-17-2010 03:58 PM

nice build – great inlay and write up

-- -erik & christy-

View sawdust55109's profile


64 posts in 3824 days

#7 posted 10-17-2010 06:00 PM

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

Hi Ben, The dial was put in after the cedar was installed. The box sides are 5/8” and the cedar is 1/4”.
The dial is 3/4” thick so the dial doesn’t stick through on the inside. It’s fine to have some space between the meter and the inside.

Good question Bruce. The box smells absolutely awesomewhen opened. I love the peppery smell of Spanish Cedar. I didn’t think the lid needed the cedar because what’s there now is almost overpowering.
It also serves as a reminder to me and keeps me humble in seeing the first star design and the mistakes made.

-To get redemption from those stubborn wood working projects that fight you, put them in your smoker and smile when nature takes its course. -

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