A woodworker has made a humidor (maple, walnut, Spanish cedar inside) for a friend and wants to find a good finish. He once made a similar box for candy, used polyurethane, and the candy ended up tasting like the finish. He doesn’t want his friend’s cigars meeting the same fate (neither do we). What finish should he use?
Michael Dresdner: For starters, don’t finish the inside of the box?only the outside. Never finish the Spanish cedar lining. If you must add finish to the inside (the non-cedar areas), use a low odor choice such as shellac. Let the interior cure completely before you close it. As for the outside of the box, you can use whatever you like. My favorite is still shellac. If you choose an oil based finish (including varnish or polyurethane), seal the wood first with SealCoat, a wax-free shellac sealer from Zinsser. It will prevent any oil smell from seeping through the wood into the interior. I’m a devoted cigar aficionado and my own humidors are all unfinished on the inside and coated with brushing varnish, shellac or lacquer on the outside.