The Hang Ten Humidor 5: PUT A LID ON IT


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G’day again folks and welcome to our continuing saga: The Hang-Ten Humidor.

When we finished up last, we’d successfully cut, chopped, sanded and scraped all manner of rebates, grooves and dadoes to assemble our humidor. Today, we’ll progress by making up both the top and bottom of the humidor and gluing the sides together. Then, we’ll cut the lid off and make it match to the base perfectly.

The bottom of the humidor is made up of a single board of Spanish Cedar, 0.5” thick, 16” long and 12” wide (before we cut it to fit). You will also need a piece of Spanish Cedar the same size for the top, but only 0.25” thick and a 0.5” piece of Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF).

Nota Bene: If you are going to put your humidification in the bottom and use a tray above the humidifier, don’t worry about Spanish Cedar in the bottom. Use 0.5” thick marine grade plywood. It’s odourless and inert and will save you a lot of effort.

Under normal circumstances if you asked me about MDF, I’d make a strange snorting sound, look down my nose at you and possibly question your parentage, but these are not normal circumstances...

MDF is made from sawdust. It is a composite board formed under pressure with some very nasty, toxic glues and this on its own is enough to make me shy away from it, but couple that with the fact when it gets wet it basically falls apart, I’ll run a country mile before I’d touch it. There’s no guarantee it will last 50 years in a piece of furniture.

Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t touch it. When you do though, its goggle and dust mask time. The sawdust is carcinogenic and mildly toxic. Some people are affected horribly by the stuff, they might as well be breathing Sarin Gas or Mustard Gas or Jose Piedras. If you think it might take a dislike to you, take it to a cabinet shop and get them to cut it for you.

One thing that MDF does offer is it’s straight and smooth and it will give you an ideal surface to veneer onto and unlike real wood, it won’t be effected by seasonal changes (making it shrink and stretch like real wood).

What’s that? I didn’t tell you about wood moving?

Wood is hygroscopic which means its moisture content changes in tune with its environment. The Spanish Cedar you get from the Timber Yard is probably Kiln Dried wood and will have a moisture content of ~ 7%. The Cigars in your humidor at 70% RH will have a moisture content of ~ 12%. After one month of operation your humidors wood will also have a moisture content of 12%, causing it to grow, not a lot, but you don’t need much for catastrophic failures (like the front flying off the box and knocking over Granny, once again proving Cigars can be hazardous to your health...not that its ever happened to me...kind of...long story...don’t want to go into it here...terms of the settlement prohibit me from saying any more...)

How do you stop it? You can’t. When Hannibal was doing his baby elephant walk, his men bored small holes in the boulders that barred their way and hammered wooden pegs tightly into the holes and fissures. Then they poured water onto the pegs, the wooden pegs expanded and cracked the rocks. (Good story eh? Better than embarrassing lawsuits revolving around exploding furniture. I feel a sense of absolution.). Anyway, when wood exxpands, there's not much that can hold it back.

When your humidor moves, we’re going to make sure nature is on side and it moves the way we want it to, hence the MDF. Besides, I’ve just bought shares in a MDF Manufacturing Company so we all win.

We will condition our piece of MDF before we use it by waterproofing it with a “glue size”, a 50/50 solution of white glue and water that we’ll paint on before we do the final glue up.

I’m still in two minds even at this late stage about how to show you attaching the top and whilst I’d like to show you the “right” way, I think it’s just too much for a tutorial I want to aim at the beginner, so we’re going to take the easy way out. We’ll use a variation of the “right way” on the bottom instead.

The right way is a floating panel. We’re going to make a floating panel out of Spanish Cedar and chock it into the rabbet we cut on the bottom of the box. Normally you’d cut a groove to do this, but this way will work just as well.

Before we go any further though, I have a confession to make. I love picture framing clamps. If it was legal in the state of Queensland to marry a picture framing clamp, I’d be right onto it!

A picture framing clamp is a long piece of webbing that you wrap around a box, tighten up and not only does it supply the perfect amount of pressure for a glue-up, it also pulls the box into square! Better yet, they’re cheap!

I guess we all have hardware stores near us that are way too big to find anything and are staffed by 11 year olds who have not even the first inkling of a clue of what the hell they’re talking about much less what the hell you’re talking about (“I want a lawnmower...a laaaawn moweeeeer...LAWWW, oh screw it, I’ll buy a sheep”).

Here in Australia they’re called Bunnings (and strangely, owned by a company called Wesfarmers, who also sell sheep. I should have bought shares in them).

Anyway, last time I was in there insulting my own intelligence and trying to buy a lawnmower, I found a big barrel of these picture framing clamps for $3 each. Now we can’t turn around without tripping over one of the damn things. We even use one on our sheep Victa as a collar.



So now we have our hands on some clamps, we’re ready to roll.

Clamp up the sides of the carcase and use your square to make sure the corners are all true. If one of the corners is out, it means one of the boards is too long. Instead of a square for this I use two sticks to measure the distance across diagonals. If the distance is the same, the box is “square”.

Measure the inside dimension of the rebate on the top of the box and cut your 0.5” MDF so it just squeezes in tightly. We’re going to use this piece of MDF to make sure everything stays square during our glue up.

To provide some much needed strength for the corner joints, we’re going to pin them with dowels. A 0.25” dowel will work well.

Lay out where you will drill the holes for you dowels. Try and set them so they’re closer to the inside of the box then the outside. Normally you’d align the dowels right along the centre, but we’re going to inlay some re-enforcements for the veneer on our case and we’ll be cutting into the corners of the carcase, but more on that later.


Now, a quick word about gluing up. If you’re using our now famous rabbet corner joint in the carcase, glue up and clamping will go easy on you. Even so, lay out everything you’re going to need to for the operation because you really don’t want to be searching for stuff whilst the glue is drying.

When you glue up your humidor you need to be mindful of how much glue you’re using. You want to apply just enough so that when you clamp it up, you get a thin bead of glue squeezing out of the joint. Try to keep this “squeeze-out” to a minimum. If you do get a lot of glue running inside the humidor, get a wet, lint-free cloth and wipe up the excess thoroughly. Most wood glue will let you do this. You will want a framing clamp at the top, middle and bottom to put even pressure across the joints. Tignten up the clamps, CLEAN UP ANY SQUEEZE OUT OF GLUE ON THE TOP GROOVE and slide in the piece of MDF to keep it all square whilst the glue sets, which should be about 1 hour. Then, take off the clamps.


The humidor clamped with a picture framing clamp showing the MDF sheet on the top and a 0.25” piece of slightly undersized SC.


The MDF lid in place is a friction fit in the grooves of the carcase. My piece of MDF sits about ¼” high. Yours should not.


Notice how the 0.25” SC has a small gap to accommodate expansion of the wood across the grain. Wood can also move along the grain but to such a small extent it’s negligible. Position the board of SC so there’s an even gap on both sides.


I’m putting glue along the centre of the board to hold it in place (none anywhere else so the board so it can expand and contract) and along the insides of the carcase wall rabbets. I’ll smooth this out then slide in the sheet of MDF and clamp it down.


The lid slides into place cleanly squeezing out a little glue that I’m not going to worry about. It’s easy to clean the outsides of a carcase by planning it down a little bit. The insides is much harder to do so get as little glue in there as possible.


Clamp it all up and let it sit for an hour. Whilst this was drying, I made up a little jig to cut the drawer bottoms. You might like to spend the time having a cigar.


The tray bottoms will look like this (that’s a Monte 4 for scale) and they will be rebated into the sides of the drawer. It is simply a 4mm wide slot cut half way through a 4mm wide board at even distances of 15mm (called a housing joint). It may be a little hard to picture now what this will look like but you’ll get a much better idea in the next week or two when we start on the trays.


Once the top has been installed, it’s time for the exciting bit, cutting off the lid. We will run a saw cut parallel to the lid and through the centre of the groove on the inside of the box. I’ve had a bit of practice doing this, but you might want to clamp a straight edge as a guide to rest your saw against. Take care that you cut straight down on all four sides.


This part of the job is a bit nerve wracking so take your time. Once you’ve cut off the lid, you have a rough saw cut to smooth out. I use a hand plane for doing this, but be very careful. It’s very easy to get one corner lower than the others. Then you have to take off a little more. You can keep doing this until you have a high pile of shavings and a low pile of carcase left! (I know, I’ve done exactly that myself.) The easiest way to clean this up is to get some sand paper (about 6 sheets for a box this side) and glue it smoothly to a piece of thick MDF (use spray adhesive). Put the box lip onto the sandpaper and move it with even pressure to sand the lip smooth on both the top and bottom of the box.

You will end up with a join that’s invisible without close inspection which is important if the veneering is going to look good.


Next, I’m going to cut small boards to lie in the bottom of the groove around the lid.


These 4 boards (the front one is fitted in the photo above) mitred together will form a lip around the inside edge of the carcase to reduce moisture exchange with the outside world.


Fit all the mitred pieces into the bottom rabbet and slip on the lid of the box for a perfect, tight fit. Don’t glue these into place yet. It’s easier to mount the hinges without these in the way.

The bottom of the Hang Ten is going to be more complicated than your humidor, so rather than doing the work twice, let me paint you a picture:


The base is attached by gluing 4 blocks to the side of the wall. The base has another rabbet all around, deep enough so you can get your clamps in to hold the blocks. I would suggest this method only for solid SC. If you’re using plywood, I suggest you glue it straight in.

The Hang Ten Humidors base assembly is a little complicated. It’s composed of a drawer that’s built into a base that encompasses the humidor and acts as feet. It also looks nice. I hope.


The side of the Hang Ten showing drawer slides and small cut-away in the carcase.


This is the interior of the Hang Ten prior to the grille being fitted.


The grille assembly made entirely out of Spanish Cedar. A black piece of cloth will be glued to the underside of this to allow moisture to circulate from the humectants in the tray below. Generally, I’d carve the owners initials into the centre of this grille, but seeing I don’t know who you are yet, I thought I’d just carve this stylised "melted ice cream cone" that in no way contravenes international copyright. :-D :-D :-D

So there you have it Gentlemen. Lidded box, Spanish Cedar, 1 of.

In the next instalment, I’ll be showing you how to make the trays for the humidor; in the instalment after that it’ll be veneering (which is easy, believe it or not) and fitting the hinges (which will involve a lot of swearing). In the final instalment I’ll show you a very fast, effective variation on French Polishing that looks fantastic and is dead simple to do and that will be it! All over bar the shouting and the extracting of splinters.

Thank you all for your continued patience and indulgence and have a great weekend!



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» Al..that is amazing mate! The Cohiba Logo is just puts it in a class all its own.

» :clap::love:

Where is that logo? All I see is the "melted ice cream cone"... maybe that design is a subliminal Rorschach inkblot pattern... ;-)

Cheers Al and thanx! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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Brilliant! :-D :-D

Great to see it come together!

Sure seems like a nicer way to spend a sunday than putting up with nurses' sh*t!

Do you use SC for the tray bottoms?



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Guest Warren

Now the tray just needs The Pres, Ken and Warren to finish it

Al I'm really looking forward to lending a hand on this project.

It's been quite a while since I've chased some tail.

Oh , I mean cut some dove tails.

Seriously it's an honor to be included.

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HI Alain,

It's great seeing you at work. Thanks for the reply. Will you have a 'viewing' of the finished masterpiece prior to shipping to the lucky Bast*@rd, I mean, winner?!



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» HI Alain,


» It's great seeing you at work. Thanks for the reply. Will you have a

» 'viewing' of the finished masterpiece prior to shipping to the lucky

» Bast*@rd, I mean, winner?!


» Cheers,


» George

Hi George,

It's being auctioned for charity so the lucky bast@*$d could be you!

I'll be happy to organise a good eyeballing for anyone interested. Perhaps Rob would like to install it at Czar House for a while?

Anyway will advise,

Cheers Al.

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» It's being auctioned for charity so the lucky bast@*$d could be you!

It could be! :-) Cross fingers...

» I'll be happy to organise a good eyeballing for anyone interested. Perhaps

» Rob would like to install it at Czar House for a while?

That would be great! Maybe like a charity ball gig? Minus the ball part! :-D



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  • 7 months later...

G'day George

» Do you use SC for the tray bottoms?

Yes, nothing but SC on the interior of the box, unless it gets too boring. Sometimes I'll inlay different woods and leave them unpolished.


Assembling the tray bottoms


The tray bottom is friction fitted. No glue required


Now the tray just needs The Pres, Ken and Warren to finish it

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