Cigar connoisseurs not only have to figure out how to buy the hard-to-import brands they love, but also how to store them so they maintain just the right level of moisture. Dry cigars tend to burn hotter and give off an acrid smoke. The humidor where a cigar aficionado stores his or her stogies can be pretty expensive, particularly a high-end one.
So what do you do if you’re a DIY-loving cigar smoker? It’s possible to build your own humidor, from a $15 desktop container to a large wood display cabinet. If you want an impressive one on par with a cigar bar, you’ll probably need to be an experienced woodworker. But if you can make do with one that’s more practical than pretty, you may just need a hot glue gun.
You need to be mindful of humidity level during the building process since an incorrect amount of moisture in the box — too much or too little — can damage the cigars.
If you don't have time to make your own humidor, check out the best furniture humidors and see if it’s wiser to buy one than to make one yourself. It also depends on if you want to customize your creation. It can be hard to build something that will perfectly fit into your home, but occasionally you must.
Some of following ideas for creating your own humidor have how-to plans, others will require improvisation.
Before you start any project, it’s always good to consider the possibilities. One of the most popular humidors is a desktop wood box that can hold two rows of stacked cigars. In order to maintain the relatively high level of humidity within a humidor, you need to have the container lined with a stable wood that won’t warp or buckle. As a result, many humidors are partially or completely built out of Spanish cedar. The wood’s oils also inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
If you want to build a humidor that doubles as a piece of furniture, you definitely can. Glass top coffee tables, end tables and breakfront display cases have all been made to store cigars. One way to get a high quality piece of furniture is upcycling a vintage wood case or table, but this approach comes with its own set of challenges (more on that below).
The Under $15 Model
All pretense aside, a humidor is just a place to stash your cigars, albeit one that keeps them from drying out. If you’re not trying to impress your chums from the club, you can make one from an acrylic or glass jar with a tight sealed top — ideally with a rubber gasket around the top to seal in moisture. First you need to clean out the container with distilled water. Attach a hydrometer to the lid with glue, and fill it with cigars. After you add a humidification device such as Humicare or Boveda packets, close the clasp and you’re done.
The Classic Wooden Desktop Box
Most people who have a humidor opt for a wood box that looks as much as it will hold poker chips as much as cigars. These can covered with ornate carving and veneer.
In the above video, Edward Gabriel Pirnik-Mauriz explains the decision making process he goes through before building one. While much about a desktop humidor box is fairly straightforward, it can require dozens of hours in the woodshop given that the interior wood needs to be cut thin and allowed to expel its resin over days.
Edward explains that he often uses MDF (a version of plywood) for parts of his boxes because it won’t warp under the pressure of humidity. The lining made out of Spanish cedar gives off a fragrance that improves the taste of the cigar as it ages. Rabbet and groove joints are used in the construction.
A combination of lacquer and shellac protects against moisture. and helps keep the interior lining from buckling. Solid brass hinges will maintain their strength after years of use.
Fine Woodworking magazine offers a free design for people who want to build a desktop humidor. In their how-to, the woodworker constructs a wood box and cuts it open with a bandsaw. This approach assures that the top and bottom of the container will match neatly. The interior lining, cut out of Spanish cedar, is shaped to create a tight seal that keeps humidity in. A small humidifier is attached to the lid of the box to evenly distribute moisture.
If you want an impressive humidor, but aren’t a decorative woodworker, you can refashion a vintage cabinet or coffee table. In the above video, Dray of Drays Workshop demonstrates how he upcycled an old breakfront into a multi-shelved, glass front case for storing and showcasing stogies.
This approach comes with its own set of challenges. First, Dray covers up all of the cabinet's holes and cracks, either with sealant or small wood patches. Then he caulks the seams and grooves to ensure too much outside air won’t seep into the cabinet. Sections of Spanish cedar are glued inside to create a new lining. Shelves are built to hold cigar boxes at an angle, so they’re easy to see through the glass doors. Weather seal tape attached to the door edges to complete the interior cabinet’s seal.
At the end of the day, there are lots of ways to create your brown cigar storage and turn it into a humidor with a few tricks. It all comes down to planning and having a good idea in mind, as well as knowing your limits and abilities.