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Travel Humidor

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Travel Humidor

A pull-apart box with a silky-smooth fit.

By Suwat Phruksawan

I've had a lot of fun over the years building boxes of all shapes and sizes.This one was made as a travel humidor for a friend. The box can just as easily be used for a travel jewelry box, eyeglasses—you name it.Whatever its use, the real crowd pleaser is the silky smooth sliding action as the box is opened: it always brings a smile.

I like working on small-scale projects. Materials are easy to find and afford. (I get my best wood from my scrap pile). Working on a small scale gives me a chance to do more handwork than time normally allows on a large project.

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I sized this humidor to fit three Corona cigars. If you aren’t a cigar person, just eliminate the humidifier and Spanish cedar. Then,modify the box dimensions to fit eyeglasses, pens and pencils, jewelry—anything that needs to be contained while bouncing around in a backpack, purse or suitcase.


Build the outer box from a single piece of Brazilian rosewood that’s been resawn into thin boards. Size the pieces to fit the objects you’ll be carrying.

Click any image to view a larger version.


Custom-fit the inner box by using the outer box as a form. Wax paper prevents the boxes from sticking to each other and provides the side clearance for a piston fit.


Remove the inner box from the outer box and line it with Spanish cedar. Be sure to use water-resistant glue.


Drill air-escape holes in the end of the inner box.These holes allow the boxes to slide smoothly past one another.


Build a Plexiglas humidifier to keep the cigars fresh. Assemble the box with plastic adhesive.


Place wood blocks wrapped in wax paper inside the box.The blocks support the walls when the inlay dadoes are cut and act as a backer when the box is cut in two.


Lay out the inlays on the box after the lid is glued on.The inlay on the humidifier end of the box (the end with the washer) is 1/16" wider. The extra width will be removed when the box is cut open.


Cut the grooves for the inlays.The groove in the top is extra deep to allow for shaping the lid.


Install the inlays. Start with the top piece, then add the side pieces. Fit the bottom inlay last, to minimize exposed end grain.


Lay out the curve on the top with a piece of flexible steel.Hold the steel at the center of the top and bend it to create the curve.


Plane and sand the gentle curve on the top.


Cut the box open with a single pass on the tablesaw. Position the box so the blade is centered on the inner glue-line of the wider inlay.


Extract the support blocks by drilling a hole at a slight angle. Stop the drill and pull out the blocks.


Cut the recesses for the buttons with a brad point bit then chisel them square.


To access the humidifier for recharging, pull the short end of the outer box off the inner box and lift the humidifier out of its compartment. The outer box has a rare earth magnet embedded in one end. The outer box has a washer glued to the inside of the short end.









This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April/May 2009, issue #141.

April/May 2009, issue #141

Purchase this back issue.