Finally getting back to my icebox humidor conversion

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How quickly a year goes by. I picked this icebox up last May and gutted the inside. Good intentions aside, life and other projects pushed this to the back burner. It's been sitting in the garage since; whispering my name every time I pass, and mocking me as I complete other Honey-dos. 

I finally have the time to get back to it and have since sourced some 1/4 Spanish cedar to slap in her. Probably nowhere near enough, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. And the ambient humidity here will be mid 60s to high 70s through the summer, so no time like the present. 

My apologies, but @BTWheezy level craftsman I am not. But I'll do my best. On with the show!

It's an early 20th century Herrick from Waterloo, Iowa and should look something like this restored on the outside:


Mine is missing the water spigot on the front, so if anyone knows where I might find one, I'd greatly appreciate it. 

Like I said, I gutted it last year and have since built an interior plywood box and silicon sealed all the seams and cracks. CF04085E-1D77-405D-A144-600E6E8DEE5D.thumb.jpeg.a541f1e4874470c582c00234547135f1.jpegCB63B8DD-B18E-4304-A596-042A9EE38DED.thumb.jpeg.6e2386fc119c6100991fa9901dcdb739.jpegA3BFEE45-5BE4-4E94-B57A-FDD78C10E501.thumb.jpeg.51129298aa34e78b59429e869525f217.jpeg

I've also taken the door interior boxes apart and cleaned them up. The ice box and the doors were insulated with what I'm hoping was rockwool, but I treated as hazardous. 


That's how she sits right now. I'm excited to get back to it and see where it goes. I hope you enjoy the process. 

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Looking forward to the process @retrofail!  Lots of pics please. It will be nice to sit back and enjoy.  ?

Really cool idea, and the hardware will be an important head start on a good seal.  This will be sweet!

- Wheezy

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Just some minor finish testing today. I'm really hoping I can get away with just a good cleaning, some Restor-a-Finish, a good waxing and call it good. I've had good results with the product on some previous restorations, so I'm hopeful. I don't want a new looking finish. I'd like to keep some of the character of the piece. But...

It looks like a previous owner tried to white wash it or paint it previously. It's only bad on one side and spots on the doors. 


I really don't want to have to sand this out, so I'm up for suggestions. In the meantime, I cleaned up the doors and gave them a good coat of Restor-a-Finish. 





It definitely brought out some hidden luster. We'll see how turns out after it sets up for a day or two. 

That's all for today. 

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Update 3

Got the top glued back together and put back in its place. I didn’t get the gap completely closed, but it’s much better. 

Cleaned it up and put down a coat of Restor-a-finish to see how well it covered up the stains. Did the same to one of the panels on the really bad side. I got as much of the white off as I could without stripping into the wood and put a coat on. 

It definitely looks better and has some luster, but it doesn’t blend or cover stains like I’d hoped. This is the Golden Oak version and is the lightest I’ve attempted to use. The darker colors definitely cover better. Normally I wouldn’t be going little piece by piece like this, but I was afraid this might not work as well I hoped and I was right. So I’m a little torn at this point. I like antiques to look old and worn so the stains don’t bother me at all. But, it’s going to be a ton of work to get that side looking decent when stripping it down and staining the whole ice box wouldn’t be much more effort. I think I’d have to go darker with a new stain though. What do you guys think?  Keep going this route or stain the whole cabinet?

In other news, I got some goodies from Bob Staebell today:


Awesome guy and a pleasure to deal with. He even called me before he shipped to make sure it will fit my needs. I tried to goad him out of retirement, but no dice. Sorry guys! 

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My two cents:  put the work in to get the result you want.  This is a big project, and you’re going to have this for a long time, right?  Yes, some of these tasks are a pain in the ass, but I think the journey is part of the fun.  

Looking good so far!


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2 hours ago, BTWheezy said:

My two cents:  put the work in to get the result you want.  This is a big project, and you’re going to have this for a long time, right? 

You’re absolutely right. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to as well.
That’s my weekend. Strip, sand and condition the whole cabinet. Next update it’ll be down to bare wood. After that I’ll move on to the sexy interior humidor stuff and wait to stain and seal toward the end.  It’ll be flipped on it’s side several times before then anyway. 
I act like it’s a chore, but it’s not a bad way to spend a rainy weekend. 

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Update 4:

Doesn’t look like much, but stripping and sanding this beast was a process. I also had to swap shops. I ran out of elbow room and floor space for the table and miter saws in the big garage.  So, the 76 Jeep CJ5 temporarily lost its home in the single garage and has to sleep with the wife’s car for a while. 

But that’s all behind me. Sanding is done and first strip of 1/4 cedar is in and drying.


I’m gluing the strips that line the front since they’re so narrow for a snug fit. I think I’ll edge band the door openings with some unbacked mahogany veneer. 
Till next time


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Update 5:

Its been a little slow going lately, sorry. We’re in the middle of a pool install that’s taking priority. 

I did get the bottom lined:


And have the ceiling pieces roughly cut to size. They just need some minor edge trimming to fit the not so square interior. 


Next update should have the ceiling in and the back wall installation (and possibly side walls). Then I can start addressing center cabinet support for shelves/drawers and working on the layout. 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

This is really a great project and you've made a lot of progress.  I'm very interested in seeing how this goes as we have one of these iceboxes and I've often thought about a humidor conversion but not sure I have the necessary skills.  It's been in her family since it was new so it's actually in pretty good shape to begin with.IMG_5418.JPG.b5e4271b9f1d966766e6705eb88f1a42.JPG

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  • 4 months later...

I did one a while back.  Still love it.  It's my best humidor, honestly.  Humidity is kept very well.  Circulation is a breeze since the original cabinet was so well engineered for convection.  Think I have almost 100 boxes in it currently.


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