Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Japanese Toolbox-Style Humidor

The finished humidor.

I've recently found myself with a box of fine cigars. The great thing about cigars is that it's a great thing to do socially. I.e., you sit around with good friends who also smoke cigars, and contemplate how good life is. That's really all you can do while smoking a cigar.
A fine cigar with a great friend in a good beer garden. What could be better?

I've never smoked cigarettes. I'm sorry, but that seems to be a filthy habit. I shake my head when I see smokers outside in the snow getting their nicotine fix. That doesn't look like any fun at all. I have no problem going all winter without a cigar. In fact, I enjoy smoking only once or twice a year these days.

Rant over.

I tried to just put a humidifier in the box my cigars came in, but it turned out to be hard on the box. Those boxes are for presenting cigars, and the joinery isn't up to the demands of the differences in humidity. Plus, I was having a hard time keeping the humidity up to 55%. Good cigars need it a bit more humid, around 70% is ideal.

I looked around and had enough left over laminated pine to make a small Japanese toolbox style container, so that's what I did.
Drilling pilot holes for the nails.
I built a Japanese toolbox once before, and I borrowed heavily from Greg Merritt's fine tutorial. I did this one nearly the same, only to a smaller scale.

Measurements of this box were determined according to how much wood I had available, with the stipulation that it was big enough to put the cigar box I have inside.
I used Roman nails, except on the bottom where I used regular cut nails.
Really, I should have cut dadoes in the wood to house the joints, but I didn't do that on the last one of these I made, and it is holding up fine with heavy loads. This box is just meant to sit and hold dead leaves.

One thing that I changed was the handles. The handles should be solid blocks that go from the outside of the end wall to the very outside edge. I didn't happen to have anything appropriate, so I used 18mm stock and just bumped it out to be flush with the end.
I changed the handle to get away with thinner stock.
I think that this will be no problem for this small box, but if you make a bigger box for heavier loads, it could be worth it to laminate something together to make a solid block for the handle.

I was so proud of my nailing skill up to this point, as I hadn't marred the surface of the box yet. Well, that ended when trying to attach the end caps.
This is the Frenchiest of all French marks. So far, I've left it. Perhaps someday I'll saw it out and attempt a repair. For now, it's just a sign that says, "Hand Made."
Marking where to drill pilot holes.
I think last time I left the cross battens on the lid a little over-length, then trimmed them to perfection after they were nailed on. This time I cut them to length first, and struggled getting everything lined up. Eventually I got there.

Since this is not a work box, but something that will sit on furniture, I needed a way to keep the nails on the bottom from scratching whatever it is sitting on. I happened to have a thin piece of scrap sycamore, so I ripped it in half and glued the strips to the bottom. These will keep the nails away from the surface of whatever it sits on without looking like I added feet.
My clever feet.
It turned out kind of cute, I think. The Frau thinks the lid looks like the letter "N," which is the initial of her last name. Don't be surprised if this humidor eventually turns into a jewelry box.
The little one next to it's older brother.
These two boxes are made of the same wood. The older one has about nine months worth of sunshine which darkened it considerably. Neither of them has any finish at all, other than planed surfaces and a bit of polissoiring. After chamfering off all of the sharp edges, it is done.
Cigars go in there.
I have no Spanish cedar here to line it with, but I do in Munich. Someday it will get a proper lining to make the cigars happy. For now, I'll just leave the whole box in the bottom and hope the humidity doesn't cause the lid to swell shut.

Tonight I leave for a short trip to Munich. That means more work on the trestle table. This was a good warm-up. Stay tuned!


  1. While I don't condone the contents, I always love seeing these boxes getting made, they are so simple yet functional. I've made couple for unorthodox purposes and if I ever get the project finished, maybe I will even write a blog about it (gasp!) look forward to seeing more trestle table work soon!

    1. Thanks, Jeremy! I'd love to read a blog post about what you are doing with your boxes.

  2. Nice sauna box for your cigars :-)
    If you ever go in the Caribbean, you can take in the whole cigar experience ; Rhum, cigar and coffee. Each has its own part to play in the experience.

    Bob, who has been "down there" to escape our winters

    1. Ah, that sounds nice, Bob. I've been told in Cuba they smoke cigars green, whereas they are well cured by the time we get them here. That might be an interesting experience. I haven't been able to get into rum with cigars. Perhaps I just haven't tried the right ones yet. I like a good single malt with a cigar, and I LOVVVVVVVE a 100% blue agave tequila with a smoke. Coffee's good, too, if I'm driving.