Calling all antique restorers and home humidor fabricators. I need opinions/suggestions


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I’m repurposing a 3 door antique ice box into a humidor. I know it’s been done to death, but I love them and have wanted to do this for a very long time. Found a great deal on the style I was after, so it’s time to start. But...most that I’ve seen are lined with metal or porcelain and maybe at one time this one was too, but it doesn’t look like it. It has the metal tub that lines the bottom, and had the metal shelf where the ice block was placed (I’ve already removed the shelf). The rest of the interior is all painted wood. 

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If it was fully lined with metal, I had planned on just sealing and using cedar shelving. Much like @BuzzArd did with his. But since it’s not, I’ll have to line the entire interior with cedar. No big deal, but I’m not sure what to do about that paint.

I don’t think it’s original, as it was pretty haphazardly applied. So, do I need to strip it all out before lining with cedar or is there a sealer I can apply over it? My concern being something in the paint leeching into the cedar. Should I even be concerned about that?  I’ve done some simple restorations/refinishing on tables and dressers and such. But never anything that will be this functional. 

On the plus side, since there isn’t a prebuilt metal box on the inside, once the wooden divider plank is out, it’ll be a wide open cabinet. 

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I would agree with the need to strip it.......but how?

If it were me using a heat gun, or a low VOC paint stripper are both going to leave a strong residual smell in your soon to be Humi. 

If you have any air abrasive companies in you local area that use soft media like crushed walnut shell etc.   this could be a good way of getting rid off all the unwanted coatings, and also not soaking/toasting the substrate timber.    Just an idea

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I’d strip it out too.  Or sand it out rather.   A small handheld sander with an aggressive media would be my choice.  You don’t need to care what it looks like behind your cedar lining. Just get the paint off and out of the box.  And WEAR A PARTICILATE RESPIRATOR!  

The fancier versions of these had one piece porcelain interiors.  This one would not have because there’s really no way to get that removed without disassembling the entire cabinet.  Wood seems ideal to me, but I worked with what I had.  

I’ll tell you one thing....  When you get your Spanish cedar try to humidify it before cutting to fit your interior.  Not sure where in the world you are, but the wood here was bone dry and it expanded a lot!! If I were to do another one (and I’m a threat to...) I would get my panels cut and planed and then butt-join them and then see if a local humidor that does not allow smoking inside would store the wood for a couple of months for me.  Would have saved a lot of panel removal and retrimming due to buckling.  And the doors wouldn’t stick as much either.  

Keep us posted on your awesome project!

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Thanks for the suggestions fellas. I’m leaning toward sanding. I have the equipment and proper respirator. I’m not real keen to stripping inside the box. 

@BuzzArd, I’m in North Texas and we’ll average 60-70 rh through the  summer. I was hoping storing the cedar in my garage for a month or so would suffice. How much expansion did you experience? Also, did notice any moisture transference to the structure of the ice box? I’m debating applying a vapor barrier to the interior, then lining with 1/4” cedar. 

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19 hours ago, retrofail said:

Thanks for the suggestions fellas. I’m leaning toward sanding. I have the equipment and proper respirator. I’m not real keen to stripping inside the box. 

@BuzzArd, I’m in North Texas and we’ll average 60-70 rh through the  summer. I was hoping storing the cedar in my garage for a month or so would suffice. How much expansion did you experience? Also, did notice any moisture transference to the structure of the ice box? I’m debating applying a vapor barrier to the interior, then lining with 1/4” cedar. 

 Sounds like you should be fine with humidity (or you could leave them with a BOTL in houston for a spell.  Then they’d shrink when you got thrm back. ?  In a 15 inch panel I had close to 1/4” expansion.  Of course our humidity around here as frequently as low as 8%. 

 Did you look through my build thread? I did use of moisture barrier on the backs of the door panels. I did not expect any moisture transference into the porcelain box of course, but I didn’t figure it would hurt. Also, the doors would have otherwise been unlined  and I felt they definitely needed a barrier. I think I used maybe 0.5 mil plastic sheeting  but I don’t recall at the moment. Maybe I mentioned what it was in that thread… 

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7 hours ago, BuzzArd said:

 Sounds like you should be fine with humidity (or you could leave them with a BOTL in houston for a spell.  Then they’d shrink when you got thrm back. ?  In a 15 inch panel I had close to 1/4” expansion.  Of course our humidity around here as frequently as low as 8%. 

 Did you look through my build thread? I did use of moisture barrier on the backs of the door panels. I did not expect any moisture transference into the porcelain box of course, but I didn’t figure it would hurt. Also, the doors would have otherwise been unlined  and I felt they definitely needed a barrier. I think I used maybe 0.5 mil plastic sheeting  but I don’t recall at the moment. Maybe I mentioned what it was in that thread… 

Yes I did. Now that you mention it, I do remember it going on your doors. Thanks for all the help. 

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