Tobacconist University
Accoutrements College

Accoutrements College: Cigar Humidors


Wood framed boxes with a Spanish cedar interior are the most popular type of personal humidors. The wood exterior provides an attractive and resilient enclosure for the cigars. The Spanish cedar interior is popular because it has traditionally been used to package and box cigars. Spanish cedar has a subtly spicy and slightly sweet aroma [in contrast to American Red cedar which is pungent]. Spanish cedar became the primary method for packaging cigars in Cuba because it was insect resistant, plentiful, cheap and hygroscopic, just like cigars. The aromatic quality of Spanish cedar adds a distinctive aroma to a humidor, which is then imparted to the cigars. It is important to note that Spanish cedar is not necessary for the proper conditioning of cigars; it is merely popular for historical, practical, and/or romantic reasons. The peril of Spanish cedar is that, when not properly processed, it can release sap which will ruin your cigars. Additionally, dry cedar can absorb oils and moisture away from well conditioned cigars.

A sealed interior humidor can be a made of plastic, glass, tin or any sealed wood that is not hygroscopic. Ultimately, the most important characteristic of any humidor is that they have a tight seal.

The following sections will help you understand the features that constitute a fine humidor.

Cigar Humidor: Spanish Cedar
Spanish Cedar
Cigar Humidor: Spanish Cedar
Sealed Interior


A relatively tight seal will keep the moisture inside of the humidor and the dry air outside. An attractive feature of any quality humidor will be the “male” and “female” lips that will lock together and create a superior closure.

Cigar Humidor: Spanish Cedar
Cigar Humidor: Spanish Cedar


Strong, recessed, self-stopping hinges are necessary to sustain the weight of a heavy lid [or door] over the lifetime of
the humidor. A great hinge is a necessary feature of a quality humidor.

Humidor: Hinges


The bottom of a well crafted wood humidor should never be glued or nailed in place; rather it should fit somewhat loosely, in what is called a floating bottom. In addition, the horizontal wood on the bottom of a humidor should be recessed so it does not come in contact with the surface the humidor rests upon. Over time, as wood expands and contracts, a floating & recessed bottom will allow these natural changes to occur without forcing the sides to burst open, or allowing the wood to warp and adversely effect the integrity of the humidor.

Cigar Humidor: Floating & Recessed Bottom


A well crafted wood humidor will have mitered, locked, and/or dovetailed joints. Because wood is an organic substance which expands and contracts with changes in climate, the joints of a good humidor must be crafted with strength and longevity in mind. Attention to detail when forming the joints of a humidor will contribute greatly to its long term success.


A high quality humidor can last a lifetime or more. With all of the pros and cons of different humidor types, the central value of Tobacconist University rings true: quality counts! When investing in the container which will nurture and preserve your cigars, it is important to focus on quality to avoid the pitfalls and dangers of mediocre products. Humidor quality is a function of the materials and hardware used as well as the construction techniques employed.


Solid Wood Humidors: Humidors made of solid planks of hardwoods are very rare and expensive. The challenge of creating a stable box out of hardwoods is extreme since a humidor must maintain 70% RH inside while allowing ambient conditions to vary. Remember: wood is a living, breathing, ever-changing material, and this will effect the corners and lid in ways that are imperceptible to human senses.

Traditional/Thin Veneer Humidors: Traditional veneers are very thin, almost paper-like sheets of wood. Thin veneers can be beautiful, but they must be treated with special care. They can easily be over sanded and must have many layers of lacquer (or finishes) to protect the outer surface: that is why thin veneer humidors usually have the tell-tale high gloss look. They also frequently have trim around the corners/edges to hide the veneer lines.

Traditional/thin veneer humidors constitute the majority of products available in the marketplace - perhaps 90%. They can be very expensive with attractive woods and inlays layed over a medium density fibreboard (MDF). Or, they can be very cheap products which use photographs or illustrations of wood as a veneer, over a cheap framework. The spectrum of quality for thin veneer humidors varies greatly: get educated and buyer beware!

Sawn Veneer Humidors: Perhaps the best of both worlds, sawn veneer humidors have the look and features of solid wood humidors while they have the stability and some of the production efficiencies of traditional/thin veneer humidors. Sawn veneers are approximately 1/8" thick pieces of wood placed over a stable framework like MDF or Spanish cedar. They have the advantage of not needing corner/edge trim and can have hand-rubbed, more natural finishes, since the wood is thick enough to be worked with.

Ultimately, anyone who has ever owned or tried to build a humidor knows the special value of it. A well made humidor, like a great cigar or pipe, is an extraordinary hand made work of art! While the humidifier may need to be replaced every few years, the box itself should last for a lifetime or more.

Certified R&D Tobacconists: United States

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R&D Cigar DealerR&D Cigar Dealer
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Joel Krakow, CRTUp Down Cigar
Chicago, IL - United States

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Phillip Reiss, CRTOld Virginia Tobacco Co.
Arlington, VA - United States
(703) 415-5554

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Brett J. Fry, CRTTobaccology
Manassas, VA - United States
(703) 330-1511

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