Prototype Humidor

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Project by splintergroup posted 01-18-2022 04:50 PM 917 views 1 time favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A repeat client requested a humidor a few years back (I’ve been busy 8^), so I decided it’s about time.

I know about building boxes, but humidors are another animal. I’ve been reading up on the subject and decided to follow a design of Rick Allyn from a Fine Woodworking free plan and article (Dec 1997, #127).

Plenty of details to consider!

I consider Rick’s humidor very basic in that the box is plain and simple, but there are a number of fit and finish areas I wanted to test out before putting my spin on one.

My prototype uses Spanish cedar for the box walls, veneered on the outside with a 1/2” BB ply top and 1/4” plywood bottom.

Rick uses simple lap joints, I decided to spin up my lock miter bit for the extra strength in the corners.

I had some fiddleback kotibe I used for the sides before I realized that the pieces I had were too narrow for the top. Not wanting to spend time with a bookmatch or other techniques at this time, I used some mahogany that matched fairly well.

Something that had me worried was veneer on only one side of the Spanish cedar (warp city), but the article explained that the wood was quite stable so I went ahead and applied the kotibe to some 1/2” material for the box sides. No warping, excellent!

The top was balanced veneered on the inside with some Spanish cedar since I know that the BB plywood definitely could warp without an even balance of plies.

I assembled the box and cut the corners for some 1/4” banding from walnut. I used some ebony stubs at the top corners to hide the end grain versus mitering.

A finish of pre-cat lacquer was applied then chopped off the lid on the table saw for the best possible lid-to-base fit.

No issues with chipping the veneer since the cut was with the grain and the soft cedar cuts smoothly. I had the blade set to ever so slightly lower than the wall thickness. This allowed the box to stay together during the four cuts. An Exacto knife easily completed the cut to free the lid with no drama 8^)

I have a stash of Brusso quadrant hinges from the last time they were on sale so only $24 a set (still about double what I feel I should be spending for a box of this type, but I’d rather use them now than have a relative sell my entire Brusso stash for $0.25/hinge in some future estate sale).

I hate mortising for these things because any errors and the lid will not fit right.

Some careful router table setup and it went smoothly.

The inside of the box was lined on all six surfaces with 3/16” cedar per the plans.
People give me things so I installed a quad Boveda humidifier bag holder on the lid.

MadMark turned me on to the digital humidity/temp gauges which were stupid-cheap. A pack of six all showed the same humidity within +/- 2% and temps were all withing a degree.

I’m not entirely satisfied with my solution for mounting (looks funky), but that is what prototypes are for. Certainly don’t want to punch a hole through the box if I make it looking fancy enough.

I just made a slot that it can securely slide into by notching the box divider.

Anyway, It is currently being “primed” to the proper humidity so everything swells and settles and I can tweak the seal on the lid.

I’m plenty happy how it came together and now know what to do (and in what order) when I make one “for real”

Thanks for dropping in!

24 comments so far

View VanDesignWoodworkin's profile


1034 posts in 258 days

#1 posted 01-18-2022 04:58 PM

Wow, Splint, I know that I don’t have a project like that in me… what attention to detail that must take!

Man, it looks great… just great!

-- "What do you mean, 'Give me some wild cherry gall?' What do you think, this stuff grows on trees or something?"

View splintergroup's profile


6950 posts in 2681 days

#2 posted 01-18-2022 05:01 PM

Thanks Van!

There was a point I didn’t think I had it in me either 8^)

Forever trying to expand my comfort zone, though I’ll never be doing one of those dressers with the bulbous fronts!

View pottz's profile


25817 posts in 2443 days

#3 posted 01-18-2022 05:30 PM

i agree on the wow call it a simple box but most of us here know otherwise.the fit and finish in all your projects are always top notch.this one is no exception.nice work on the mortise for those hinges.client should be real pleased with that one.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


3220 posts in 1006 days

#4 posted 01-18-2022 05:49 PM

Loving the ebony detail, so sweet. Small details like those elevate a piece to a whole nuther level.

I hate morticing for quadrants too, which is why I dont! I know Brusso makes a template for them, but meh. Siderails are nearly as deluxe, and alot easier.

Nice work , Bro!

-- WWBBJ: the first to compare a woman´s cheek to a rose was a poet. The second, an idiot. Dali

View splintergroup's profile


6950 posts in 2681 days

#5 posted 01-18-2022 05:52 PM

Thank you Pottz.

Not sure who the client for this one will be, probably me, to replace my ammocanidore.

Since I make most of my stuff for resale, I keep track of materials cost. Much easier to price stuff that way (alas nothing for “labor”)

There is a bit above $100 in materials (wood, veneer, glues, finishes, tool wear etc.) so I know the next one will be able to have a price point that is not to crazy

View splintergroup's profile


6950 posts in 2681 days

#6 posted 01-18-2022 06:01 PM

Great to hear form you Brian!

I have a stash of the side rails, probably about half the cost over the quadrant. Still not sure as to strength since the ones I have don’t have the arc piece, just a shoulder on the knuckle that limits them to 95 degrees. These lids get heavy 8^)

I’ll have to see if I can find some side rails with the arc piece. A stop chain would probably get in the way.

I’ve eyeballed the Brusso template (also $$$), but it still requires a guide bushing on the router plate.
If I could find a 5/16” hinge mortise bit with the 1/2” bearing, I’d have no problem making a template. As it is, the shortest 5/16” bit I could find is about 1” which is just way too long for easy use with a template.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27701 posts in 4564 days

#7 posted 01-18-2022 07:04 PM

That is a great looking humidor, Bruce. I like the lock miter joints and the corner detail!!!!!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10289 posts in 2041 days

#8 posted 01-18-2022 07:08 PM

Good looking box, Splint. I’m with Brian little ebony stubs. Small touch, but definitely leveled up. I agree the mounting for the meter needs a tweak of some sort, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View EarlS's profile


5518 posts in 3807 days

#9 posted 01-18-2022 08:13 PM

The little details like ebony corners and walnut banding are what set your work apart from the rest of us. Another fine looking piece, prototype or not.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View splintergroup's profile


6950 posts in 2681 days

#10 posted 01-18-2022 08:45 PM

Thanks Jim!
The edge banding seems to be a common feature, a nice way to transition the veneering.

Dave, Earl, thanks!

With the banding around the edges, I realized that one of the design features on this model of a “traditional” humidor is the hopefully seamless seam in the veneer where the lid separates. A “flaw” in that design I see is the potential for the veneer to get chipped/flake with the exposed edge against the cedar.

I think I’ll try adding some similar banding inset before I cut the lid off. I’ll split the banding with the TS blade and leave a protected edge on the openings.

As to the meter, I might make some horizontal dividers that sandwich the meter, but it’ll eat up real estate in the interior. A round meter would be easier to deal with but I’d like to stay digital even though I hate things with batteries. I have a small round analog meter, always showed the preferred 73% RH. When I took it out to compare with the digitals, the house is at 13%, the digitals were all at 12-14%, and that analog still reads 73%

Gotta appreciate cheap measurement devices 8^)

View Brodan's profile


488 posts in 2761 days

#11 posted 01-19-2022 12:10 AM

Beautiful. Amazingly perfect. I also thing the banding and ebony take your project up above others.

-- Dan, TN

View recycle1943's profile


7004 posts in 3081 days

#12 posted 01-19-2022 12:17 AM

I made 2 of them this past year and easy and simple does not fit any portion of the build especially when the end result is as outstanding as this one is.
Great job !

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View splintergroup's profile


6950 posts in 2681 days

#13 posted 01-19-2022 12:25 AM

Dick. Dan, thanks!

It’s a learning process for me, hope the next one is even better 8^)

I think you have done what I’m aiming for Dick, your exteriors have the extras I’m just now thinking about!

View Sycamoray's profile


133 posts in 699 days

#14 posted 01-19-2022 01:24 AM

V nice. I like the clean lines, accented with the walnut & ebony. Your prototype looks better than many finished humidors at the store.

View Peteybadboy's profile


4840 posts in 3408 days

#15 posted 01-19-2022 11:51 AM


Really nice humidor. I followed that article for my first humidor.

What you call simple I call “classy” and “elegant” .

Nice work.

-- Petey

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