A true cigar aficionado will tell you there are only two types of cigar boxes: those made of wood and everything else. Because of its beautiful gain, color and aroma, a mahogany wood called Spanish cedar has been the most popular wood of choice to use in making cigar boxes over the ages.
The cigar box is also called a “nail box” because small finishing nails are used to join the sides and bottom together. The design’s a study in simplicity, consisting only of a bottom, four sides and a top. The craftsmanship comes in knowing how to cut and join the wood in order to form precise, tight edges.
Once a blueprint is made, all six box pieces are measured, cut, sanded and stained. Next, a thin ribbon of wood glue is run along all of the edges that will be joined together. Small finishing nails are then used to join the four sides with the bottom and to each other. Care needs to be taken so that none of the nail ends penetrate outside the wood.
The top is cut large enough to exactly cover all four joined sides. Brass hinges, either a pair or one long piano hinge, attache the top to the box. Once completed, the box is ready for decorating. Hand engraving’s one of the most elegant ways to enhance a finely crafted box
The engraver has a number of tools to choose from depending on the style of engraving they use. Diamond-tip engraving pens are for fine-finishing. High-speed electric carbide-tipped engraving drills like the Dremel can handle any type of wood. More recently, laser engraving has become popular.
Once the engraver has selected the proper tools, the design itself needs to be transferred onto the wood. The two most popular methods of design transfer use stencils or transfer film. Stencil transfer involves tracing the lettering and designs off paper that leaves a faint outline on the wood surface. With the transfer film method, the engraver photocopies the design onto special ultra-thin .003-inch clear film. The back of the film is then peeled-off, leaving a sticky surface that adheres to the wood surface. Once the film is in place and secured, the engraver follows the lines of the design and cuts directly though the film into the wood surface.
When finished, a beautiful, hand-engraved cigar box can add class and prestige to any desk for shelf.