Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Japanese Toolbox-Style Humidor - Part III: The Cigar Till

I actually like making dovetails. I wonder why I don't do it more often? I can't think of the last project I used this joint. I suppose it's time.
Sawing tails first.
Now that my Japanese toolbox-style humidor has a Spanish cedar lining, I turn my attention to the till. I need a box that sits on top of the lining I just installed, and that also permits airflow above and below the cigars that live in it. I chose to make what is essentially a small open box with strips of cedar going diagonally glued to the bottom.

I set my marking gauge so the width of the side pieces would go from the top of the lining to just under where the lid of the box winds up. With that measurement, I ripped some pieces from the bits of Spanish cedar that I resawed earlier, and cut the pieces to length.
Cute little buggers.
With that done, it was just a matter of marking out the dovetails and cutting them.

Easy, right?

I found this to be a real challenge in such small dimensions. Also, I didn't have a proper dovetail saw here. For some reason I took my new dovetail saw to Germany and left it there.
Work holding for cutting the pins using my Dick saw.
With a little patience, a lot of pairing and a lot more time than I thought I'd need, they were done.
Joints are ready to glue up.
First I thought I'd drill some holes in the end pieces to make the till easier to grab and lift out. Plus I think they look cool. That was relatively straight forward, except that one of the end pieces split in half when I started boring the hole. A little glue and I can't even tell where the crack was.
I'm happy with the dovetails.
This next picture is perhaps a better explanation of what I am doing. This box will sit directly on top of the short lining. If I had run the lining all the way up, then the till would have had to be even narrower in order to sit inside of this lining.
This way, I get a little extra capacity in the till for longer cigars.
All that is left is to glue on some diagonal strips to the bottom of this box and I'm done.


I forgot to include the thickness of the applied bottom. If I do it this way, the lid of the box won't be able to go in.

I can't cut the box down, as the dovetails are already done and I'll compromise the strength of the dovetails if I do that.

The option I decided to go with was to lap the strips into the bottom of the drawer.
I know, this looks like I'm going to wreck my box.
It was a bit scary cutting into my box like this, but at the least I figured I'd learn something.

Mostly I learned that I need to think my plan out to the end before starting.
Close up of the cut I'm making.
It was fairly easy to measure out and mark the cuts. I did my best to be accurate with these.
All of the cuts made and coped out.
I cleared the waste with my fret saw and a paring chisel. Once I was sure everything fit, I glued it up.
Now it's starting to look right.
All of the pieces I glued in were a bit oversize. My plan was to plane them down to size after glue up so they would slide smoothly on the track. To see where I was, I just dropped the till into the box upside down.
Seeing how much needs to come off of the bottom pieces.

It was then just a matter of planing them to the desired length.
Almost done. I just chamfered all of the sharp edges.
I did have some leftover strips that I was able to make into moveable tray dividers. They are a friction fit. They fit in either the till or in the main compartment of the box.
Till in place with moveable dividers.
Let's load this sucker up!
I put a few cigars in the bottom compartment. The space on the left is for my hygrometer until I decide exactly how I want to mount it.
There's more than plenty of room in this box for lots of cigars. I estimate three to four boxes of cigars would fit in this box easily.
Room for lots of cigars, and keeping them organized.
Overall I'd say this is one of the most enjoyable projects I've done. It's weird that the inside of the humidor took longer than constructing the actual box, but that was part of the fun.

I kind of want to make another one.

If you haven't read the first two parts of this build, you can find them here:

Part I
Part II


  1. That is a big saw for those tiny dovetails.
    Is it possible to put 150 mm hack saw blades in your coping saw?
    They are about 6 mm wide which makes it easier then coping saw blades to saw straight.
    Otherwise, a junior hack saw is quite cheap (starting at under 2 Euro).
    I remember Jonas using a hack saw to cut wood aboard a ship.
    Hack saw blades have high TPI.

    1. Hi Sylvain, thanks for the comment. I have a couple of cheap hacksaws laying around, but I have to say I didn't think of using them. I think the ones I have have very fine teeth, but a wavy tooth line which would make them inaccurate for this kind of cut. The good thing was that none of these cuts were very deep. This saw worked not-too-badly. The big disadvantage was it was difficult to see when I got to my baseline. Many of my cuts were left a little short.

  2. Should have started by saying it is nice looking (I mean it).

    1. Haha, Thanks, Sylvain! I really do appreciate it.


  3. By curiosity, have looked at Leroy-Merlin Alicante, it seems they have wood saw blades which can be used in a junior hacksaw.
    Now, many cheap fine tooth saws are undulated, I guess it is easier to do then setting the teeth one per one.