I apologize if this has been posted before. I am very new to this site and this is my first post.
I am an American living in Japan and I recently found an antique Japanese Ice Chest. I started the process of converting it into a humidor cabinet and would like any advice anyone has to offer so I can make sure to do things properly.

The structure of the piece of furniture is pretty solid oak and I plan on buying spanish cedar planks online and hoping for the best there (unless someone happens to know what Spanish Cedar is called in Japanese - I have had no luck trying to explain it at local lumber stores). I have already gutted the ice chest and plan on lining the inside with cork sheets and pine veneer to seal it. after that, I plan on lining the chest with Spanish cedar and building a box drawer with a shelf for the top and letting the bottom be an open cabinet for cigar boxes, jars of pipe tobacco, and a few bottles of Scotch and bourbon.

I have been taking a lot of pictures but will only bore you with two here, one of the piece as is and one of the gutted inside.

Again, anyone who has any advice (even something that will seem obvious) I welcome the suggestions.


Last update on April 20, 6:32 am by Dan.
Nice project!

I have seen cedar for sale on E-bay. My first thought is the seal. Nearly air tight is so critical. Getting the interior walls sealed could be done but it is something I have yet to attempt. Is the interior wood or have they sealed it? I have seen metal and copper used on other really old refrigerators. What is used for the door seal?

Thanks for sharing. Nice project Dan.
When its time to relax, burn what you like.
Looks nice should be a good project. I agree with Bill door and drawer seals are important. What are you planning to use for humidification?
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

― Benjamin Franklin
As for humidification: I am looking for a solution that will be minimum maintenance but allow for safe and proper aging of cigars. I do not want to use an electric system so I am spending my building time doing research.

As for sealing: I attached pictures of the inside and doors. I have removed all the tin and insulation (loose cork behind 1/2 inch wood planks). I plan on lining the insides of the doors with Spanish Cedar veneer sheets then using planks to replace the tin panels. I will also just replace the seals that are on the doors.
For the box itself, I had no idea what had soaked into the oak frame so I sanded it as much as possible and then sprayed it with several coats of polyurethane spray (to seal humidity in and any toxins or weird stuff out). Next I placed cork sheets in the panels of the frame which evened out the interior and made a lining from blue foam moisture barrier. Today I am using silicone sealant caulk on the corners to fully seal the moisture barrier then I will use 1/16 inch pine veneer to line the inside. I have sprayed the back of the pine veneer with the polyurethane spray as well. I figured it would not be a bad idea to have a wood layer between the foam moisture barrier and the Spanish Cedar planks. It will be somewhat absorbent and should (in theory) allow as clean of an environment for the cedar as possible.

I am not sure if all of that was necessary or if it makes sense, but I am not worried about the project being sealed.

Got it lined and ready to go.
Now I just need to find some quality Spanish Cedar.

Looking good. can you detect any aroma from the polyurethane? It sounds like you may have cure time while you wait for a supply of cedar.

Personally I use only Boveda packs for humidification. With the size of your project the cost would be reasonable. They also take up very little space. It is all I use anymore. Amazon.com has Boveda Packs of a variety of humiditys.

https://www.amazon.com/Spanish-Cedar-Piece-48/dp/B...

https://www.amazon.com/Boveda-2-Way-Humidity-Contr...

Maybe this will help.....
Last update on April 22, 9:35 am by bcardinal.
When its time to relax, burn what you like.
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No hint of any polyurethane but it will be several months before I am able to finish the project so it will have time to cure and air out. I have been using Boveda packs for a while. I was considering going that route for maintaining the cabinet once it was seasoned.
My only concern with buying wood from Amazon is returning any problem board would be an issue but I think that may be the path I have to take.
A question for those who have built with spanish cedar in the past. How critical is it that there are no nails used? I have read some humidor makers take great pride in not using any nails or glue. In securing the paneling to the inside of the box, and especially in making a ledge for the box drawer to sit on, should I try to engineer a system where no nails or glue are needed? I think it could be done, but it would be much more difficult.

I am not sure if that question will make a great deal of sense without a full understanding of the design, I would like the top to have a box drawer with shelves and I plan on having the bottom of the drawer vented to try to maintain as much of a single environment in the whole cabinet as possible. All the same, I do plan on having humidity packs (of some sort) and hygrometers in both the top and bottom. But in ordering cedar planks, if it is important to not use nails, the planks will need to be longer.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback and interest in those who have replied already.
Dan said...

A question for those who have built with spanish cedar in the past. How critical is it that there are no nails used? I have read some humidor makers take great pride in not using any nails or glue. In securing the paneling to the inside of the box, and especially in making a ledge for the box drawer to sit on, should I try to engineer a system where no nails or glue are needed? I think it could be done, but it would be much more difficult.

I am not sure if that question will make a great deal of sense without a full understanding of the design, I would like the top to have a box drawer with shelves and I plan on having the bottom of the drawer vented to try to maintain as much of a single environment in the whole cabinet as possible. All the same, I do plan on having humidity packs (of some sort) and hygrometers in both the top and bottom. But in ordering cedar planks, if it is important to not use nails, the planks will need to be longer.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback and interest in those who have replied already.



IMO....

I used clamps and as few brads as possible. I used moisture restant glue. Not water proof. No need for that. If you really fit up good you can do pressure fit. When you add humidity the planks should take up a lot of interference. As for getting air though drawer bottoms, if you fill the drawer I would not expect the humidity to equalize without humidification on all levels.
Drawers... I used full extension drawer guides. Super easy to install and excellent access to your collection.

I hope my ideas give you some kind of support.
I was a.custom cabinet maker in my younger years which lent some experience to the building of my wineador.
When its time to relax, burn what you like.
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