a wooden box with a good seal (see Step 1 for description)
a hygrometer (refer to link at bottom of page)
a humidifier (refer to link at bottom of page)
a drill press (you may use a handhell drill, but a drill press makes work a lot easier and neater!)
a Forstner bit and hole saw of 55-mm diameter or diameter matching the hygrometer and humidifier of your choice
a metal ruler and awl or pencil
a butcher block conditioner and lint-free cloth
Some Spanish cedar wood pieces, if not American cedar wood will do too (explanation further below)
plastic wood or wood epoxy
a sharp blade
a toothbrush and paint brush
a towel or microfibre cloth
furniture marker pen of the same colour as wooden box
propylene glycol solution and/or water pillows
NOTE: Links to purchase items used in making a humidor and alternative options are presented at the end of this article.
Humidors are expensive. But they shouldn’t be, if you know how to construct one. I used to have a small collection of cigars and pipe tobacco, and after some time, this collection grew to a rather sizable quantity necessitating a humidor to store them in.
I did shop around for a humidor, and you would be expected to pay about RM3,000 for one of fairly decent construction. Buying one seems appropriate if my cigars were Cohibas and Davidoffs, but since those that I burn these days are Quorum, Romeo y Julietas and Monte Cristos, I thought why not get adventurous and attempt to build one DIY-style at home. So this is what’s going to happen.
Today, we are going to try and make a humidor from home for a tenth of the price of commercial humidors. Don’t expect it to be of a standard equal to those commercially available in the hundreds or thousands of dollars; nevertheless it will be close and good enough to keep your cigars in a sealed environment at the required humidity.
We are going to try and make it look good at the same time. If you are doing cigars, you are likely to agree that aesthetics are important, that form and function are crucial. First, some items will need to be prepared and made available before starting – refer to inset box at right.
I have also provided links to source for the tools and components used in this project at the bottom of this page for your convenience. If you don’t feel like making a humidor and prefer to just buy one outright instead, click here or head all the way down to the bottom of this page for a selection of affordable humidors at great value!
CIGAR HUMIDOR – Get It On eBay
A few design considerations and methods of construction method to take note of before we begin:
We will not be building the actual box, but rather buying ready-made ones as this will make life a lot easier. You are free to make the box from scratch, but this will not be the method outlined in this article. Dovetails and tenon joints are too lengthy to cover in this article, and probably too difficult to perfect for the novice builder. After all, ready-made mahogany wooden boxes are easily available and come in the right sizes, are fairly cheap (considering the hard work you will save) and look decent enough – most already come with ornamental motifs or engravings.
I believe humidors are more interesting to look at and definitely more functional if the hygrometer is installed and displayed on the outside, whilst measuring the relative humidity within. With this method, a good seal is something to think about, but if you want the job to be easier, you can choose to install the hygrometer inside the humidor. The only thing with having the hygrometer on the inside is you will need to open the box in order to check the humidity once in a while. Today’s article will show the former, and a clue on how to do the latter if you should prefer that method. Of course, I will also assume here that the hygrometer in use has been calibrated and tested for accuracy.
It is imperative that your internal humidor surface be coated with a moisture seal. This is where the butcher block conditioner comes in. A food grade conditioner such as the one recommended in the steps below is preferred, as other products such as polyurethane or lacquer would leave behind a scent which could ruin your cigars. This is very important. A link to acquire the food grade butcher block conditioner used in this project is provided at the bottom of this page.
If you are able to place a tray of Spanish cedar wood inside the completed humidor, fine and dandy. In most cases, as in our case, fitting a tray in is too much trouble. If you can place some of this cedar wood inside the box, then you’re on the right track, though not perfect. If Spanish cedar is not available, the next best wood is American cedar. The cedar wood serves three purposes:
it absorbs excess moisture from the humidifier and prevents it from building up in the humidor, keeping your cigars fresh with the right aroma.
it imparts a light woody flavour to your cigars which is considered favourable.
its strong scent keeps wood worm away and prevent them from ingesting your cigars – not to be dismissed or taken lightly as it has happened to my La Flor de la Isabela cigar.
Once all the materials and tools stated in the inset box above have been obtained (see end of this article at bottom of page for purchase options), and with the design considerations and construction method established, let’s dive right in and start!
Get It on eBay
Other Considerations and Remarks
NOTE: The correct relative humidity to be maintained within the humidor should be between 68% and 72%, and should never exceed 75% to prevent fungus growth and the hatching of tobacco beetles. The best way to achieve this is to drop into the humidifier a 50/50 solution of propylene glycol and distilled water. The link to purchase commercially-available propylene glycol solution is provided below. I use an activation solution marketed as Madelaine 50/50 Propylene Glycol Solution, which I highly recommend.
OPTIONAL: You may also use a small forstner bit to create a hole just small enough to embed a strong alnico magnet elsewhere on the same surface as the humidifier, so that a metallic cigar cutter could be attached and held in place by the magnet for storage when not in use. Just be sure that the magnet is not too close to the edges such that the cutter will not fit.