Exhibition-grade English walnut is rarely available in any quantity. When it is available, it typically sells in a matter of hours leaving only lesser quality examples for all but the lucky few. Acquiring enough exhibition-grade English walnut to create a large desktop humidor involves quick reaction and more than a little luck.
Three separate billets of exhibition-grade English walnut were obtained for this project: one small crotch billet and two larger billets displaying the distinctive layer cake figuring. These were used to create the outer case of this amazing desktop humidor.
The top and bottom panels are each a custom made three-layer cross-grained laminate that has been mortised into the outer fame of the humidor’s case. The top was book-matched from the most highly figured portions of the crotch billet while the bottom was similarly book matched-from one of the layer-cake billets. These were in turn, vacuum laminated to lessor pieces of the walnut to form the two ½” thick panels.
The frame of the outer case was fashioned from the remaining layer-cake walnut, selected for its intense figuring, straightness, and the absence of checking, warping, and cupping. The frame was joined at each corner with seven end-facing half-blind dovetails. Mortises were cut into the inside of each frame component to accommodate the top and bottom panels. As is customary with traditional box construction, the outer case was assembled as a closed box, rough sanded, and then sawn apart to form the top and bottom components. This technique assures that the humidor’s top and bottom match perfectly in both size and grain patterns.
Premium hardware installed in the completed outer case includes a pair of Brusso solid brass 1½-inch precision quadrant hinges. These were hand-fitted to assure the precise alignment of top to bottom. The 2-½ inch extruded brass half-mortise lock was produced by England’s A&E Squire Ltd. in essentially the same manner as in the early 1800’s. This traditional two-lever lock will provide smooth and reliable operation for generations. The extruded bronze thread escutcheon, though notoriously difficult to install, creates a clean yet elegant appearance that is unsurpassed by other keyhole treatments. A pair of 4-inch solid brass flush-mounted handles facilitate lifting and moving this large, heavy humidor. Finally, a set of Brusso solid brass decorative box feet were installed in the bottom edge of the outer frame.
The entire inside surface of the outer case was carefully sealed with six coats of polyacrylic. This crucial step provides an excellent vapor barrier that is essential in maintaining the humidity level for proper cigar storage. The high-gloss piano grade finish required 16 coats of clear polyacrylic with hand leveling between each two coats. The final coat was hard dried, leveled, and polished to the desired high gloss.
Once finishing was completed and the hardware was reinstalled, the humidor’s interior was completely lined with solid weep-free Spanish cedar. Each of the ten liner components was hand fitted to produce a continuous lining capable of maintaining a uniform and stable humidity level throughout the humidor. The humidor includes four identical lift-out trays, also of weep-free Spanish cedar. The trays’ frames are of ¼ inch cedar while the vented bottoms are made from 1/8-inch think cedar milled from raw 1” stock. The four corners of each tray are joined with three Brazilian rosewood splines.
Humidification is provided by four, 60-gram Boveda packs held in a full-width Honduran mahogany holder fitted into the humidor’s top. The sliding holder is magnetically latched but may be easily removed to replenish the Boveda packs. A rectangular XiKAR PuroTemp™ Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer is provided to accurately monitor humidity and temperature levels within the humidor.
This exhibition grade English walnut humidor was custom made for a private client during the summer and fall of 2020.