Up in the Air: The Airline Trolley Humidor

I ran across these old airline trolleys the other day and decided I’d buy some. At that time I didn’t have any idea what I could do with them but I saw some potential in them.
They were quite battered and you could see they had been extensively used.
I guess that’s why they went quite cheap.

Some time later I decided I needed another humidor for our second flat in Berlin and I thought that one of these trolleys would do quite nicely.
I removed the door and gace it a thorough cleaning.
To get it airtight I used aquarium-silicone in all edges and corners. Aquarium-silicone has the great advantage that it doesn’t have this vinegar-like odor which would spoil any cigar stored inside that humidor.
The sides of the humidor were covered in white foil, the kind that is used for covering cars in foil.
I found some nice “Pan Am”-stickers which I stuck on all sides.
The door itself was stripped down completely. I sanded it and sprayed it white.

I covered the back wall with 8mm Cedro that was left over from the large humidor I had built some time ago.
I also built in some compartments for small stuff.

I then built trays to fit into the guide rails of the trolley.

If you look closely you’ll see that the side parts of the trays that run in the guide rails go further back than the actual tray itself. I did this so that air can circulate through the humidor.

When completely pushed in they will leave a nice gap to provide a sufficient airflow.

The inside of the doors is also covered in Cedro.

Finally, I reassembled the door and put “Pan Am”-stickers on here as well.

Now it looks nearly like new and is a great eyecatcher in our Berlin-apartment.

For now I have a passive moisturising system in the humidor.

Not really good, I’m looking for something else.
I found some interesting projects on the Web using either an Arduino or Raspberyy Pi to build an intelligent moisturizing system.
I guess that’s something for one of these long, dark winter evenings.

If you’re looking into buying an airline-trolley, check out this website:

One for the Road: Building a Travel-Humidor

I travel a lot and far too often I ran out of Cigars somewhere far away without any decent cigar shops in the vicinity.
At that point I decided to build myself a decent travel humidor.
It needed to be sturdy, absolutely airtight and the cigars shouldn’t bump around too much.
I got myself a nice handgun-transportcase and took out most of the foam rubber, leaving just a bit of padding on all sides.

From building my large humidor I still had a lot of Cedro cutoffs left. Perfect for a small humidor like this one.

First of all I built a box that serves as a frame for the complete interior.

I then fitted everything in.
For moisturising I use two large 72% Boveda Pads. As the case is completely airtight these will last a few months before needing to be exchanged.
Also, I drilled holes into all the trays to ensure sufficient air circulation inside the Humidor.
Finally, the hygrometer was built into the lid so you can always see it immediately when you open the humidor.

And now for the really decadent part.
This humidor fits exactly into the cooler-holder on golf carts. So now I can always have my humidor with me on the golf course, perfectly located for easy access.

Storage Space: Building a large Humidor

Like just about every other aficionado, I came to a point where my Humidor was too small for all those cigars I had.
A good cigar is like a good red wine: the aroma improves with age. Unfortunately, aging cigars means that you need a lot of storage space for cigars you won’t smoke for at least another four or five years.

I therefore needed a new humidor but I didn’t find anything on the market that would suit my requirements:
– large
– interior made of cedro, at least 5mm strong
– computerized moisturising-system
– low maintenance

Since what I wanted didn’t exist, I decided to build my own.
As a basis for my humidor I bought a large cabinet made of oak.
It has a large compartment with a glass door at the top.
Below there is a drawer which holds the moisturising system.
Finally at the bottom there is a smaller compartment with a wooden door. This is great for storing all that other stuff like ashtrays, lighters, spare trays, etc.

The cabinet as it was delivered. Still quite bare but with a lot of potential

For the moisturising system and the cedro I went to Marc AndrĂ© in Stuttgart. He’s THE specialist for humidors in Europe.
Check out his website www.humidorbau.de
Not only does he built great humidors but he also supplies high quality components, wood, etc. if you want to build your own.
After a long chat with him, I bought a large quantity of 8mm Cedro from him and his “Huminator Medium” moisturising system.
This system is fully computerised, it has an external display and it holds up to eight litres of distilled water which is enough to keep the humidor running for up to eight months without need a refill of water
Great for people like me who travel a lot, sometimes for months and don’t want to come back just to find the humidor dry and all those well aged Cubans dried out and without any taste.
The selection of the right wood is fundamental for your humidor.
Cedro or Spanish Cedar as it’s called is the only wood suitable for a good humidor. The name “Spanish Cedar” is misleading. When the spaniards arrived in Central America they found this tree that reminded them of the Cedar tree they new from the Mediterranean.
The wood is totally different though. Not only does it have a different colour but it also has an extremely bitter taste. Also, Cedro and Tobacco react when put together. For some unknown reason, Cedro has a positive influence on the chemical processes that take place in a cigar when it ages.
Unfortunately the cheap (and sometimes also expensive) humidors that are available on the market often only have a very thin layer of Cedro, sometimes as thin as a tenth of a millimetre.
This is understandable as Cedro is very expensive, probably the most expensive part of the humidor, so manufacturers try to maximize their profits by using as little as possible.
This very thin layer of Cedro is normally glued onto some cheaper wood.
Again, not good. In order to ensure an even relative humidity in the humidor, the wood serves as a moisture-reservoir. That’s also why a new humidor needs to run empty (i.e. without cigars) for some time until the wood has absorbed enough moisture, allowing it to buffer moisture.
In my case with 8mm Cedro this meant that I had to run in the humidor for nearly one month until the relative humidity was stable.
First of all I glued Cedro onto the inside of the humidor, weighing it down to ensure that it stuck nicel to the oakwood of the cabinet.

The drawer wasn’t quite deep enough so I had to create an aluminium frame to hold the moisturiser.

I carefully drilled some holes and then sawed out the area where the display unit was to be mounted.

Finally, the moisturiser was built into the frame. and the display unit was glued in.
Fits perfectly.

The top compartment that holds the cigars is constructed completely of Cedro and made to hold trays that I bought from a cigar shop.
If you look closely you can also see that the boards don’t go right to the back. There is a 5cm gap between the back wall and the boards.
Also, there are holes drilled into the bottom board.
All this serves for air-circulation. The moisturiser will blow air up at the back. This goes right up to the top where it then gets sucked down again through the holes.
The moisture-sensor is mounted below the top board on the side, outside the airstream. This way it will always measure the correct relative humidity inside the humidor.
The moisturising system will start blowing moist air up at the back of the humidor when the relative humidity drops below 69%. Once it goes over 72% it will stop adding moisture.
Plus, every ten minutes it will blow non-moisturised air for a duration of two minutes. This way the air circulates in the humidor, preventing mould from developing.

Also an indirect lighting system was installed using LEDs
This humidor holds up to 1.200 cigars, enough to last me for some time.

When it was finally finished I celebrated with a good bottle of red wine and a nice Cuban cigar.

Cigars: Completely DIY

I’ve enjoyed smoking cigars for many years and I was always curious about the production process from seed to cigar.

Finally, in 2015 I decided to give it a try.
First of all I bought seeds “Havanna Corojo” plus all the required equipment for growing seedlings from these seeds.
I got mine from www.tabakanbau.de, a shop I can highly recommend.
When the seedlings were big enough and there was no more danger of frost, I planted them in my field.

The soil is very sandy and perfect for growing tobacco. Actually, my great-grandfather grew tobacco here already.

After some months the plants had grown nicely and the leaves were ready for harvesting.

As you can see, they actually grew over my head.

Unfortunately, I had to work a lot so I wasn’t able to take care of the crop as much as I wanted to. Luckily though, my dad (with whom I shared the crop) took care of everything.
Here you can see us having a break with a Single Malt and a good cigar.

When the leaves were harvested, they were strung up for drying.
Dad went to a lot of trouble building a sturdy frame and making sure that the leaves dry properly.

When the leaves were dry we took them down and prepared them for fermenting.
First of all we placed them on a palette to make sure that air can flow below them.

We then covered them with a bed sheet (for lack of banana leaves) and weighed the tobacco down with some heavy stones.

Every few weeks we removed the weight and shifted the tobacco around, moving the leaves from the inside to the outside to ensure an even fermentation.
Finally, after eight months, I was able to take the leaves and roll our first cigars.
I rolled them and placed them in an old cigar-press which I found on eBay.

After pressing, they looked quite good, even though they looked a bit rough for lack of a wrapper.

I decided to leave them like that.
These cigars taste great!
The workload and patience involved in the production is huge.
Having done it myself once, I have the greatest respect for the people doing this professionally.