The inside of a humidor

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Forum topic by lew posted 04-12-2015 05:51 PM 1273 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12101 posts in 3779 days

04-12-2015 05:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut finishing victorian

Well, I’ve been asked to build a humidor. Not the top of the desk type but more of a cabinet style-

The top, door and drawer have glass. The wood is solid walnut- all these are the customer’s specs.

The inside of a humidor has a relative humidity of between 60% and 70% and is supposed to remain constant.

I’ve tried to design the cabinet with a minimum of cross grain intersections but I’m still worried about wood movement.

My questions are- should I thoroughly seal the inside of the cabinet surfaces with a film type finish? If I use oil based poly, will the odor disappear after the poly is completely dry? Am I off base here?

The plan is to use Spanish Cedar for storage shelves and the drawer box (not shown).

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

14 replies so far

View AlaskaBob's profile


3 posts in 1327 days

#1 posted 04-12-2015 11:53 PM

Hey Lew,

I was researching the same thing and had this article bookmarked. I think it might answer some of your questions.

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2630 days

#2 posted 04-13-2015 01:03 AM

I would veneer the case and build a liner of Spanish ceder or a close relative to hold the cigars. I would also laminate up the sides of the case with some sheet goods for stability and build your doors and drawers from quartersawn stock

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1688 days

#3 posted 04-13-2015 01:16 AM

My grandfather’s (very old) is lined with copper.

Since I recently relearned that copper is (contact) antifungal and antibacterial, it makes a lot of sense.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View woodsmithshop's profile


1319 posts in 3569 days

#4 posted 04-13-2015 01:48 AM

any odor should disappear after about 30 days of curing from any finish, after that there should be no problem with odor.

-- Smitty!!!

View DogwoodTales's profile


29 posts in 2559 days

#5 posted 04-13-2015 02:37 AM

I have only built a couple small box type humidors, both with Spanish Cedar for the interior lining.
My thoughts are that if the entire cabinet is not going to be Spanish Cedar (which may be a bit much for a cabinet, but I’m no expert on this) would be to finish anything that’s not going to be cedar with shellac – or no finish at all.
No need to overkill it with polyurethane imho.
Copper would be classy.
Looking forward to the final result!

-- Ray

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3906 days

#6 posted 04-13-2015 11:10 AM

Glad you got some answers because I don’t have a clue.
Neat project though. You can do cabriole legs? Fancy.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View pdxrealtor's profile


104 posts in 1248 days

#7 posted 04-13-2015 05:17 PM

The glass will pose more of a problem than anything else. Humidors with glass are a very poor choice due to their poor ability of humidity and temperature control.

There’s a couple large cigar forums out there. Those guys would most likely be more than happy to give you some ideas and guidelines that would make your client very happy.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2517 days

#8 posted 04-13-2015 06:02 PM

Let me offer another opinion of the varnish on the inside: it will off gas for very long time, in the meantime ruining what may be an expensive cigar collection (if they ever get put in there). Proceed at your own risk, but I wouldn’t even use those finishes (like shellac, NC lacquer, or a waterborne) that are considered a non- gassing type inside a humidor.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Woodbum's profile


813 posts in 3089 days

#9 posted 04-13-2015 08:34 PM

Do not finish the inside where the cigars are stored. Line the interior with Spanish cedar (unfinished), and construct all of the shelves etc. with SP C too. Finish off gassing is indeed a problem, and will permeate a cigar, affecting and or ruining the taste. I too would recommend deleting the glass panel in the door . The humidification system installed should keep the relative humidity to 70% ideally, and the glass does not help. There can be condensation forming on the glass which makes for an unattractive presentation and a mess inside too. Make certain that whatever humidification system that you install is large enough for the volume of space for storage. These are my observations from personal experience constructing humidors for the past 15+ years

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1423 days

#10 posted 04-13-2015 09:17 PM

Would it help at all to put a layer of polyethylene plastic in between the cabinet walls, floor, and ceiling, and the Spanish Cedar lining? The plastic would contain the humidity, and offgassing, as far as I know, is next to nonexistent.

About the glass: It seems the problem it presents, is that it is a poor insulator. It would contain humidity just fine, just not temperature. Maybe the solution is to use double-pane glass, just like in a window.

You can buy insulated glass units of any size from One Day Glass.
Click on Instant Online Quote, to find out the cost of the needed glass unit(s).
I just priced such a unit with these specs:
Width: 16”
Height: 20”
Type: Tempered Dual Pane/Insulated Unit
Shape: Square/Rectangle
Thickness: 3/4”
Tint: Low-E / Clear
Edgework: Seamed Edge

Price: $40.00

There may be other online stores that sell custom glass; I did not check.

View pdxrealtor's profile


104 posts in 1248 days

#11 posted 04-13-2015 09:25 PM

I always understood the problem with the glass was at the joint, where it meets the wood. Could be wrong on that.

What be the point of the plastic lining? If the enclosure is properly sealed at the joints I wouldn’t think you’d need to do anything more beyond lining it with SC, and making sure the seal at the door is as tight as possible.

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1423 days

#12 posted 04-13-2015 09:50 PM

Sealing the glass to the wood is easy with a bead of silicone or other caulk. Use just enough caulk to fill in between the inside face of the glass and the frame.

The idea about the plastic, is to keep the moisture from migrating through the wood, keeping the cabinet sides from swelling and warping. I don’t know about the properties of SC, but if it can contain the humidity, than I guess that makes my idea overkill.

View lew's profile


12101 posts in 3779 days

#13 posted 04-13-2015 10:26 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the ideas and suggestion!!

About the glass, the customer picked the design. It actually started with glass in the sides, also, but he later decided against it and went with the glass shown in the drawing.

Loos like the best option is no film finish on the inside- to prevent any possibility of odor contaminating the contents.

I planned on sealing the glass to the wood with clear silicone. The idea of insulated panes is appealing. I am surprised that most of the units I looked at do not have these installed.

Thanks for all of the links, too. Alaska Bob- that article is extremely helpful.

I’ll keep you all up-to-date as the build progresses.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2828 days

#14 posted 04-17-2015 05:43 PM

Water based poly on the insides, I think you may like better than oil based. I’m like “Sholtz” on Hogans Heros, cuz, “I know….nawwwwww-thing” about humidors. The link that Alaskabob gave above looks like it’s full of info. Thnx A-bob.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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