Humidors #4: Humidor # 2 - Learning from my mistakes (Bubinga and Walnut)

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Blog entry by McPheel posted 01-18-2016 04:08 PM 633 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Humidor #1 Red Oak with Walnut veneer Part 4 of Humidors series no next part

So after being so careful with my first humidor only to screw it up on the hinge install, I tried a few different techniques on some scrap for installing the hinges than decided to build another box. This time I decided I would do mitered corners with veneer splines for strength, since I didn’t want to mess around with edging.

I had a beautiful piece of quarter sawn Bubinga that had been sitting on my rack for a few months now, begging to be turned into something. I decided it wanted to be my next humidor and got to work! I cut a piece off at 2’4” leaving me plenty for other projects later on. I sited the board with winding sticks and hand planed to remove any twist, I than squared up the sides and the apposing face, I didn’t care to much about the width of the board as long as it was square and flat, I was going to work with the wood this time rather than the cut list.
I resawed the board in half on my table saw giving me two 2’4” boards that were ~3/8” thick. I noticed a couple small cracks in the board that I filled with an epoxy that I mixed with the bubinga sawdust (from the initial sanding) I sanded both pieces up to about 220 grit to remove any saw marks or imperfections and was very satisfied with the grain pattern and the epoxy seemed to add to the look. Next I cut the two sides at 8” and the two fronts at 12”, making sure to cut them in such a way to allow for a continuous grain pattern around the box.
I used my cross cut sled with the blade at 45 degrees to cut my miters, being careful to sneak up on them so I didn’t accidently cut my side or front 1/32” to short.

Now it was time for the rebates. If you remember, I accidently had my blade set too high on my first box which caused a week joint. this time I got out my router table and set it up (Cutting scrap pieces) until I had a nice rebate on the scrap board that was the right size to accept the 1/2” birch plywood that will become the base and the lid. I was very careful to ensure that the router wouldn’t slip this time and cut a few pieces of scrap before running my Bubinga through. I was very happy with the product and followed by labelling and lining up all the boards in preparation for the glue up.

I cut the top and bottom panels out of the sheet of birch plywood that I bought for these humidor builds and glued the entire piece up, using blue painters tape to glue up the miters, letting this dry for a few minutes. Than gluing in the plywood top and bottom and clamping the entire piece being careful to close any gaps and maintain square corners.

I used my carpeted boards that I made in my previous post to install the veneer, Since it was all I had and I liked the way it looked on my first box, I used the Walnut Burl. I decided to leave the tops of the rebates just barely proud and Veneer the entire top from end to end. When it dried you could see the ridge all along the perimeter which was what I was hoping for.

I measured the location of the splines and marked them all out with my marking knife. I was careful to account for my saw kerf (When I cut off the lid) to ensure equal spacing of the splines. I used my Japanese dozuki saw to cut the splines than used some left over Walnut Veneer. I let the splines dry and than cut them flush. The Walnut Veneer really complimented the grain pattern rather than creating a contrasting look. I liked the way this looked as it reminded me of Japanese joinery where the joint is made to be as invisible as possible to draw more attention to the continuous flow of the wood grain.

I got my router table out again and broke the mitered corners with a very subtle 1/4” round over bit that I was very careful to set up properly, using a few cuts on some scrap to ensure I liked the curve. Next I used a flush trim bit to remove the parts of the rebate that were proud of the top and bottom pieces. This removed a bit of the veneer on the top as I had hoped giving me a really nice clean line on the veneer and added a nice Bubinga edging look around the perimeter of the top.

I sanded the entire piece very thoroughly up to about a 320 grit which cleaned up the seem in the middle of the veneer and gave me a silky smooth box. Now the easiest step but still the scariest; I cut off the lid at 1.5” and set it aside.

Next I cut all the Spanish cedar to length (Resawing and sanding a 2’4” piece to width in the same manner as my previous entry). I lined the top and bottom first (book matching two pieces of cedar for each) than installed the sides of the base. I realized at this point that I had repeated a mistake from my first box. I really should not have installed the cedar until after the hinges had been installed, due to the fact that it makes the hinge installation much more difficult. I had gone too far and decided to push forward with it, chamfer the cedar edges and begin the hinges.

I spent 3 hours installing the quadrant hinges, with the lights setup to eliminate any shadows and carefully laying out and marking the hinge locations. I used a chisel for the entire process including the mortise that accepted the arms, I actually started to enjoy the process and decided I didn’t want to use a drill. The final hinge installation was not perfect but when I closed the lid, the box closed with a much better than expected fit with a nice puff of air. I think only I would notice my small mistakes on the hinge installation on this one as they are not visible and do not alter the functionality of the hinge.

Now it was time to finish the box. I used Boiled Linseed Oil and rubbed it on very lightly with a piece of cloth, sanding between coats up to 320 grit again. I finished by rubbing the entire box with some steel wool than I actually used a scrap piece of leather that had a tiny bit of oil on it to rub out the entire box a final time. This was entirely experimental but I loved how smooth of a finish it provided. I decided not to use shellac this time, but I may revisit the box to apply a few coats of shellac later on..

I completed the project by adding a leather base to it (I had a big sheet left over from my strop I had made a while back). This gave it a really cool look and in my opinion, added a little bit more class to the piece.

I took a few minutes to make a divider for the box with leather ends rather than the cheap foam you get on most store bought humidors. The box charged up with humidity flawlessly So I tossed a few cigars in and took the picture below.

Now for the really cool part!

I have two cigar shops that are interested in selling my humidors. I am going to make a few more before I start doing this just to work out any kinks I may have with some of the techniques and I will still try selling some of my boxes directly to see which is more viable. The boxes cost around $45 to make (using cheaper quadrant hinges) and I have been told that they could sell for around $150. Not too shabby, and should help me eventually buy some better tools and more supplies for future projects.

Project is posted here:

-- Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing - Nick Offerman

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