Top Tips for a Wet Box
As I near completion on yet another humidor project, I thought a quick post on some of my basic techniques might be in order-specifically with regards to lining a humidor with Spanish cedar.
Hinge Installation for Humidors
Much like FWW contributor Rick Allyn, I spray the interior of my humidors (before the lining goes in) with lacquer. I’ll generally add about three coats. The lacquer helps in the area of moisture control and as Allyn said in his article of many years ago, “the joinery will appreciate it.” Remember, the interior of a humidor is meant to be kept at around 70% relative humidity, so anything you can do to preserve joint strength in the face of potential wood movement will help.
One thing to keep in mind regarding lacquer on the box’s interior is “glue.” The liner pieces of many humidors-Allyn’s design included-are often glued in with just a thin bead down the center of each liner piece. The centered glue line will still allow the Spanish cedar to expand and contract along it’s width (although I’ve found that this species really doesn’t move all that much). The caveat is that after lacquering the box, you’ve got to make sure you take some low-grit sandpaper and clear away a narrow line of lacquer to make space for glue adhesion. Titebond III (a nice waterproof glue) is NOT going to stick to three coats of lacquer.
And here’s another tip: seal the end grain of your liner pieces. I generally apply a quick coat of shellac to the end grain of each and every liner piece. Then I follow up with a bit of paste wax. Why? Well, if you take into consideration that the end grain of a board is where most of the moisture enters a piece of wood, it stands to reason that applying a bit of finish will slow some of that moisture intake. It certainly won’t stop it, but again: every little bit helps.
If you’re a cigar enthusiast and a woodworker, humidors are a joy to build. They present an interesting design challenge in the area of moisture control, but if you take your time and attack the process from an almost obsessive/compulsive point of view, you’ll end up with a home for your stogies that’ll really stand the test of time! Haven’t had a failure yet!
1) A quick coat of shellac on the end grain of all my Spanish cedar liner pieces helps to mitigate moisture absorption. It won't stop it, but every little bit helps.
2) After the shellac dries, I hit it with a quick coat of wax to thicken up the barrier that much more.
3) A thin bead of waterproof glue down the center will help secure each liner piece. Just remember to sand through the lacquer where you'll be applying the glue.
4) Next, lay in the liner piece--in this case, the bottom.
5) Here I'm using a handplane to weigh down the bottom piece while the glue dries.
6) It's the same process for the side pieces.
7) I use some light clamping pressure and a few cauls for the side pieces.