How To Make A Humidor Box​

Design Considerations

A few design considerations and methods of construction method to take note of before we begin:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Free Humidor Detailed Plan

In this classic design, the walls are lined on the inside with thin planks of Spanish cedar to reduce permeability and maintain 70 percent humidity, ideal for storing cigars. This wood is virtually insensitive to high humidity and also has a pleasant aroma. You don’t smoke cigars? Then forget about Spanish cedar and use the humidor as a box to store jewelry and other knickknacks.

Materials for DIY Humidor

DetailsThicknessWidthLengthMaterialQuantity
Box
front/back walls12173356Walnut2
end walls12173260Walnut2
top/bottom panels12248343MDF2
veneer2260356Walnut4
liners6233328Spanish Cedar2
bottom end plates6113235Spanish Cedar2
bottom slats6113330Spanish Cedar2
top slats620330Spanish Cedar2
top end plates620235Spanish Cedar2
trays
longitudinal walls657220Spanish Cedar2
end walls657102Spanish Cedar2
bottom696214Spanish Cedar1
profile parts
bottom longitudinal profiles1641387Walnut2
bottom end profiles1641292Walnut2
top longitudinal profiles1622387Walnut2
bottom end profiles1622292Walnut2

References

Step 1: Putting It Together

As you may have noticed, the materials required are easy to find, and what to is to be done with them is obvious. 1. That is to say, begin by cutting a fair sized sponge into four smaller pieces. 2. Place two of the sponges in a steel bowl 3. Place a small amount of baking soda on any side of of the sponges 4. Add enough hot water to the sponges such that the water stays in them and doesn’t form at the bottom of the bowl 5. Rub wax all over the interior, in a manner that would not make things messy. Just ehough to protect the wood from warping 6. Place the steel bowl with its contents in the box of wood 7. There you have it, a humidor. ***Remember to research on the net how to properly humidify YOUR cigars!*** The amount of water in your bowl is important, some people like to have their spoinges moist, I clearly drench mine, and I do this because I have many cigars in the humidor, but, keep in mind that the more water you put in your bowl the more will be absorbed by the cigars. If you think a lesser amount of water is ideal, please feel free to leave a comment and help improve this instructable.

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How long do cigars last without a humidor

Cigars need to be kept in a range of 65% to 72% humidity to remain pliable and hold their shape. As cigars dry out, they shrink and will not smoke as the cigar maker intended. Over-humidified cigars can swell and eventually split open. Figurados or shaped cigars are especially susceptible to this.

How long a cigar lasts depends entirely upon climate conditions. A cigar will last much longer outside of a humidor in a high-humidity tropical climate, for example, than it will in moderate, dryer areas. In general, just a day or two outside of a humidor can have tragic results for a cigar. So, it is crucial to have regular cigar maintenance and a consistently humidified space that is optimized specifically for cigars.

If a cigar does dry out, you can restore it. You must do so by gradually increasing humidity over several days so that the cigar does not take on too much humidity too soon and split. Just know that the cigar will most likely lose some of its body and taste along the way.

Whatever you do, do not place cigars in a refrigerator or freezer! Modern appliances utilize a frost-free function that removes moisture. This can make cigars excessively dry and cause irreparable damage to the leaf. The cold environment can also make tobacco less pliable and brittle. It’s just not worth it.

So be sure to get your cigars in a proper cigar humidor as soon as possible so that you can enjoy your smokes to their absolute fullest.

Creating Tool Paths

I’m using a program called Visual Mill to create the tool paths for the box. A Tool Path is the area that the CNC machine will follow to cut out our box.

(1) First I will open the .dxf file that we saved. Then we need to choose the size of the endmill we are going to use.

(1) Open the file, choose the bit

(2) I am going to use a 1/8” endmill. We can enter in the specific feature of our tool if we need to. Everything looks good so I’ll choose OK.

(2) Select the ⅛” bit

(3) Next, I’m going to select everything that we want to cut out. Selected lines turn yellow so the user can tell they are selected. We want to do a ‘Profile’ type cut. A profile cut will cut around the inside or outside of the part and leave the center intact.

(3) Select lines, choose cut type

(4) Next we have to define a few options. We set the ‘Tolerance’ to .001 inches for good accuracy. ‘Cut Direction’ tells the computer to cut either clockwise or counter clockwise. For wood, a ‘Conventional’ cut works well. This will make the cutting edge on the tool spin into the material (think of a car tire spinning on pavement as the car slowly creeps forward) and keep the wood from peeling off instead of being cut. And lastly ‘Cut Start Side’ tells the computer to either cut on the inside or outside of the selected lines. We want to cut on the outside.

(4) Setting cut parameters

(5) On the next tab, we define how deep to cut. This is why earlier in the tutorial I said we only care about the 2D features of the parts. ‘Total Cut Depth’ tells the computer; yep you guessed it, how deep we want to cut. Since the wood is 0.35” thick, let’s go 0.36” to be sure. The ‘Rough Depth’ and ‘Finish Depth’ are ways to allow the user to very precisely control how much the CNC cuts off at a given time. Since we are cutting wood and not metal, we don’t need to worry too much about this. I have told the machine to cut in depths of 0.09”. That means it will take 4 passes to cut through.

(5) Setting the cut depth and step distance

(6) Lastly for this options box are the approaches and engage motions. Because the bit I have is a center cutting bit, I can do what is called plunge cutting. Some bits can drill straight down (plunge) through the material, while others cannot. This is because the teeth of some cutters do not extend all the way to the center of the bit. However, these cutters can cut downwards at an angle of 45 degrees or so (called ramp cutting). We can set all of these values to zero. This will make the mill move into position and come straight down (plunge). Think of it like a bulldozer cutting into the ground (ramp cutting) versus an excavator digging in one spot (plunge cutting). The ‘Cut Transfer’ tells the CNC how high to lift up when moving from one spot to another. Since the plywood I’m using is somewhat warped, I’ll use 0.25” to be sure the machine does not accidently cut into a high spot in the wood when it is moving.

(6) Telling the CNC how we want it to move

(7) Here we can see the tool path that has been created. If you look at the light blue colored lines you can see exactly where the endmill will be cutting. Hmm…wait a minute something doesn’t look right. The tool paths are on the inside of the part. If we run this, the panel will be too small!

(7) Incorrect tool path

(8) Easy fix! I’ll just edit the tool path and change the ‘Cut Start Side’ from Left to Right. This will generate the tool path on the correct side.

(8) Change the start side to correct the problem

(9) Well that fixed the tool path for the panels. The cut marks are on the outside of the parts, which is what we want, but look at the LCD hole and button holes. Now they are on the outside. If we run the CNC now, they will be too big. So I guess we can’t select everything at the same time. I’ll do one tool path for the outlines and one for the LCD + buttons.

(9) We’ll need 2 separate paths for this

(10) There! Now everything looks as it should. The tool paths are on the outside of the exterior and inside the interior of the parts we want to cut out. Those green lines show where the machine will raise the bit and move to a new area.

(10) Everything looks correct now

(11) Now we can export the tool paths as G code. G code is a format in which the computer tells the CNC where to move, one point at a time. The CNC moves in a straight line from one point to the next. As you can imagine for a circle, there are lots and lots of coordinates. The CNC controller program we use is called Mach2 so I’ll tell it to export for that.

(11) Exporting the tool paths

(12) We’re almost there now! This is Mach2 (see below), the program that reads the G code and sends the pulse commands to the CNC machine. I’ll explain the areas that I highlighted.

G CODE – This is the G code that is loaded into the program. N10 stands for Line Number 1. The G command tells the computer that we want to move the cutting bit to a certain location without cutting anything. A person could write an entire tool path in a text document if they wanted. It might take awhile though. Check out the wiki page for G code for a full list of all the codes!

POSITION – This is the current position of the center of the cutting bit as reported by the encoders on the CNC motors. X, Y, and Z are used here (we have a 3 axis CNC) but the 4th is not used.

USER SETTINGS – The Jog setting sets the speed limit for movement. If I want to manually move the CNC head to a certain spot, I can use the keyboard. If I tap an arrow key once, the CNC head will move a distance set in the Step box, in this case 0.001”. If I hold shift and press an arrow key, the CNC will move rapidly for as long as I hold the key. The ‘Slow Jog Rate’ limits the speed that the CNC can travel during the rapid movement.

Units/Min – This shows how fast the mill is traveling. When I cut wood, it will usually be around 15-30 inches per minute.

SPEED CONTROL – I didn’t show you this in Visual Mill, mostly because I hardly ever adjust it, but there are several speed setting for various things. We can set the speed at which material is cut, the speed at which the cutting bit goes up and down, the speed at which the CNC makes non-cutting movements, and other. The Speed Control lets us manually speed up or slow down all of these settings at the same time.

VISUALIZATION – This area shows 3 things. The lines in blue are what the mill is going to cut out, the green lines show where the mill has already cut (we haven’t cut anything yet), and the yellow crosshairs show where the center of the endmill is at.

Some other features here are not available on our CNC. For example the Mist and Flood buttons control whether or not coolant is being sprayed on our part. We don’t have coolant on our CNC, so we don’t use this feature.

(12) The CNC control layout

Resources and Going Further

Wow, what a crazy ride! We went from a computer generated model all the way to a finished product. Sure, I could have bought a humidor, but what fun is that? What’s that? You don’t want to use drafting software to draw parts? Check out this box generator!

Check out another Creo example.

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