How to Finish a Wooden Humidor
I purchased my wooden humidor from J&S Humidors, Model 200 in November 1995. J&S Humidor has since gone out of business, which is really too bad. The humidor I bought was well made and represents solid workmanship. The last known web address I had no longer works and I have no additional information as to what happened to the business. This finishing process outlined below will work for any un-finished wooden humidor, no matter where you bought it from.

This unit is large enough to hold 200+ cigars (depending on the size of the cigars) and is made from solid 3/4" Peruvian Mahogany and lined with 1/4" Spanish Cedar. The dimensions of the Model 200 are 18"(w) x 11"(d) x 7"(h). It's more like a small piece of furniture. It's solid and very well made. It comes with beautiful solid brass hinges, a mitered brass lid support and four movable partitions. It also has a Spanish Cedar lift-out tray.

At the time I purchased the Model 200 it was selling for $169.00. Any other humidor of this size and quality would cost three or four times as much (or more!) and store half as many cigars. Keep in mind, this was the unfinished price. The purchase price for a completely finished unit (Model 200), would have cost over $300.00.

If you're the least bit handy with sand paper, stain and Tung Oil (or polyurethane), this is the way to go. No matter what type of finish you like, this solid Mahogany humidor will end up being your pride and joy!

If you'd like to try your hand at building your own humidor, you can find several sets of on the Internet. Some web sites provide pictures, plans, materials list and step-by-step instructions for the construction of a humidor. The one short coming of some of these plans is that they may use Mahogany (or other wood) rather than Spanish Cedar as a lining. Just substitute Spanish Cedar for Mahogany and you'll have the perfect handmade humidor. Unless you are very experienced with wood working, it is suggested that you either buy a humidor, or locate someone locally who has a wood shop that might be interested in making a humidor.


J&S Humidor - Model 200 (unfinished)

How to Begin:

Because of the top quality and workmanship, there was little need for much sanding. I began with a VERY light sanding with 220 grit paper. This produced a nice smooth surface. I also removed the brass hinges and taped over the brass lid support. I did not want the stain to effect the surface finish of the brass.

Applying the Stain:

Stain color is very a selective and personal issue. You may choose not to stain the humidor at all and just finish it with Tung Oil or Polyurethane. This will produce a much lighter finish. In my case, I choose to use Minwax #225 Red Mahogany stain. I selected Minwax products because they are well made and I've always had good luck with their product line.

I applied two coats of stain, giving the first coat about 24 hours to completely dry. I let each coat stand about 10 minutes before wiping it off with a dry cotton rag. Before applying the second coat, I asked my wife if she felt that one coat was enough. She said that it appeared to be too light. So, on went the second coat of stain. I'm glad I did. The second coat darkened it just enough. In spite of it'd name, the Minwax #225 Red Mahogany stain is really not red. It's deep reddish brown and perfect for a humidor. It provided a deep, rich color that really brought out the wood grain.

NOTE: I also stained the inside of the lid and edges of the base.

Applying the Finish:

Once I let the stain completely dry, I began to apply Tung Oil. I selected (once again) Minwax Tung Oil Finish. I choose to use Tung Oil for three reasons. First, it dries faster than Polyurethane and second I really like the finish (plus is goes on much easier) and finally, it has very little odor.

Over the course of 2 weeks or so, I applied seven coats of Tung Oil. I allowed each coat to dry completely and lightly sanded after each coat using 600 grit paper. The final result is a highly smooth surface with a medium gloss finish.

If you are finishing any wooden humidor, keep in mind that you must seal the bottom as well. If you don't seal the bottom with Tung Oil or Polyurethane, the humidity will escape through the porous wood bottom. I speak from experience. Once I began to use the humidor, I could not keep the humidity level up. After sealing the bottom with 3 coats of Tung Oil, I was able to maintain a 72% - 75% humidity without any problem.

Once the Tung Oil was dry, I replaced the brass hinges and removed the tape from the lid support. I gave the brass a nice polish. I also gave the entire outside of the humidor a good waxing. I used Minwax Paste Wax. This not only gave the wood some protection, but gave it a nice shine.

NOTE: I also finished the inside of the lid and edges of the base with Tung Oil.

I let the completed humidor (lid open) sit for about a week before beginning to use it. This allowed any odor (which there was very little of) that remained to dissipate. It also allowed to Tung Oil to dry complelety.

Accessories:

I installed two Credo 70 units (one Credo 70 will handle 75 - 100 cigars) inside the lid. Sam Alfano (owner of J&S Humidor) suggests that two Credo 70 units be used if you store more than 100 cigars.

I also installed a Radio Shack Hygrometer (Model #63-855) inside the lid. These electronic devices are not the most accurate, in some cases they can be as much as 5% - 7% (+/-) out of spec. Analog (dial-type) style hygrometers are even worse. They can be out spec by as much as 20%.

NOTE: The best judge of a "smokable" cigar is YOU. If it feels soft without being mushy, then it's perfect!

Final Notes:

Once the humidor is complete and you have installed the Credo's (charged with distilled water and Propylene Glycol), let the unit stand (without cigars) for about 3 weeks. This will allow the Spanish Cedar to absorb moisture. In some cases it may take longer than 3 weeks. To speed up this process, you can spray distilled water on the Spanish Cedar with a clean spray bottle. Check the unit frequently to make sure the Credo units are moist, not wet.

Congratulations! You have just completely finished your wooden humidor. Now sit back and fill it with your favorite cigars and enjoy.

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