Rosewood Humidor - Cuban Origin Cedar

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Project by Ed Pirnik posted 03-09-2011 05:14 PM 4794 views 7 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

At long last, I’ve finished a new humidor. This one has an interesting twist.

The sides are built from solid Honduran mahogany with a 3/4-in. multi-ply top and a 1/4-in. multi-ply bottom. Rosewood veneer covers the shell. Edge banding is wenge and the inlay is holly. Hinges are of the side rail variety. As for the finish – about 12-15 (can’t remember) coats of lacquer followed by a few coats of paste wax.

Now for the lining – like all humidors, this one is lined with Spanish cedar. The difference is that part of my lining is comprised of cedar I got from Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province. All the liner pieces have had their end grain sealed with a few coats of shellac to limit end grain moisture absorbtion.

I’m about to start work on another model which will incorporate a lid lift cast from cast iron chunks that fellow off one of the 18th century canons lining “El Moro,” the old Spanish fort that keeps watch over the entrance to the Bay of Havana. I’m getting really into the idea of incorporating found objects or objects that have great meaning into my work.

As for the performance of the humidor (anyone here building them?) I got it up to 65% humidity and then took the moistened sponge I had kept inside (to humidify it) out. It’s been a couple of days so far and it’s still at 65% – seems like I’ve got a good seal. At first I thought it didn’t have enought friction when opening the lid (I feared it would lose moisture too quickly) but it seems ok for now.


-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

16 comments so far

View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 3846 days

#1 posted 03-09-2011 05:51 PM

Very nice. Clean and Classy look with appealing contrasts and colors.

Are there any good websites you could recommend for info on how to build a good humidor and what one needs to watch out for? It’s something I would like to build once, but only if I read up first on how to make one that actually fulfills the purpose well.


View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 3847 days

#2 posted 03-09-2011 05:54 PM

Hi there,

Indeed, I would highly recommend this old article from Fine Woodworking. It’s what I based my first humidors off of. I made a couple of changes to it however:
- instead of using MDF for the lid, I use high quality 3/4-in. multi-ply
- I also seal all the end grain of the spanish cedar liner pieces with shellac (careful not to coat the actual faces of the liner pieces – this helps with stability
- I also chose side rail hinges instead of quadrant hinges since they are easier to install and are super-solid – just be sure you invest in some good hinges (about $40) – it’s worth it. Why spend 100 bucks building a beautiful object only to install sub-par $15 hinges? Know what I mean?
Cheers and good luck!

-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View Ken90712's profile


17973 posts in 4205 days

#3 posted 03-09-2011 06:43 PM

Well done, very clean lines. Where is the humidifier and guage going?

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 3847 days

#4 posted 03-09-2011 07:11 PM

I’ll install a digital gauge and humidifier right on the lid – just haven’t bought them yet. I’ve been testing the humidity levels with a big 3-inch diameter analog hygrometer I have for testing only.


-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 3846 days

#5 posted 03-09-2011 08:00 PM

@Ed Pirnik

Thanks for the tip on the fine woodworking article. I googled it and it is actually available as a free download, which made me happy.
As far as your changes go, they seem like intelligent improvements. I only use plywood myself and never MDF for my works. Not out of snobbery about how it’s a man-made material and just dust+glue , but because I put value on the fact that I build things to be repairable and anyone who has tried to veneer MDF with hide glue and then remove it again will probably agree that it’s not exactly something to recommend.
About the hinges I have to fully agree. If you build high quality work that is worth something, you should not shy away from giving it hardware that is adequate as well. Sadly I have yet to find an online-store here in Europe that sells good hinges. So I’ve not incorporated any in my work yet. I wanted to get some hidden SOSS hinges recently, but could only find them in places that sell in bulk. Sometimes it seems not so easy to find a store even in our advanced age of information and the internet.

Next thing I’d need into would probably be humidifiers and get a hygrometer for testing as well.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5235 days

#6 posted 03-09-2011 08:48 PM

Beautiful work, Ed. 1st class in every respect!

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

View Ian Hawthorne's profile

Ian Hawthorne

297 posts in 3665 days

#7 posted 03-09-2011 09:24 PM

Very nice. Perfect wood combi.



-- Worlds Best Box Hardware!

View Tom Huntley's profile

Tom Huntley

58 posts in 4256 days

#8 posted 03-09-2011 09:28 PM

Ed, Thanks for your earlier comments on my “jaws” jig. Comming from you, that is indeed a compliment! I felt I should return the favor after I saw your humidor. I used to smoke cigars years ago, but now maybe once per year is about it. That said, I must tell you I appreciate your humidor for it’s simple elegance! Absolutely stunning! Incidentally, I’m told the best way to test humidity is to put in a fresh Macanudo on Monday, and see how you enjoy it on Friday.

-- Tom Huntley - Rochester Hills, Michigan

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 3847 days

#9 posted 03-09-2011 09:41 PM

Thanks Tom – incidentally, I’ve got a couple of Dominicans (CT wrapper) cooking there right now. LOL



-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4513 days

#10 posted 03-10-2011 06:32 AM

Smoooooooth, sleeeeeeeeeek, and Elegant !
Very nice for sure!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View McLeanVA's profile


493 posts in 4451 days

#11 posted 03-10-2011 05:43 PM

That humidor is gorgeous. Wow. I love the clean edges to it. The grains are incredible, the inlay is the perfect transitional blend between the woods, and I’m now running out of awesome things to say about it. Nice work.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View Frank Boer's profile

Frank Boer

51 posts in 5130 days

#12 posted 03-10-2011 10:06 PM

I’m working on a large and intricate marquetry ultra high-quality humidor myself, which is taking ages but hey,.. it’s a hobby right? ;)

Love yours – looks very pro (better??)

You can be proud!

-- Frank Boer, Holland

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 3847 days

#13 posted 03-22-2011 10:39 PM

Thanks Frank and everyone. I truly appreciate your supportive comments!
Cheers all,

-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3710 days

#14 posted 03-22-2011 10:50 PM

It’s astoundingly gorgeous. I’m embarrassed about mine now.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View lcpl fogle's profile

lcpl fogle

6 posts in 3627 days

#15 posted 04-04-2011 12:59 AM

im an avad cigar smoker myself and i must say this is probably one of the best if not the best humidor ive ever seen. congrats on the nice work.

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