A keepsake box is a wonderful gift for a boy or man, as a jewelry box is for a girl or a woman. When it’s “handmade” it’s all the more special. If you have an old cigar box you can easily refinish it to create an awesome keepsake or jewelry box. You’ll need your basic refinishing supplies, plus colored felt or crushed velvet, scissors, and a hot glue gun.
Even though a cigar box is a small refinishing project it’s still a good idea to bring it outside to your garage or work shop. It’s also a good idea to wear a face mask.
Begin this project by removing any stickers or labels the box may have on it. Use a straight razor blade to scrape them all off. Trying to sand them off will result in damage to your sandpaper as the adhesive from the bottom side of the label or sticker will stick to your sand paper making it no good.
A cigar box is small so you do not need to use an electric handheld sander. Rather, it’s best to use a single piece of rough grit to remove the old finish. Slide the sandpaper back and forth over the surface until all of the old finish has been removed. Once all of the bare wood has been exposed go over it again using a piece of fine grit sandpaper. The fine grit will leave the wood surface flawless. Remember that a cigar box has an inside too. The inside under the lid should be sanded but the inside of the box does not need to be as it will be covered by the felt or crushed velvet.
Remove all of the dust created from sanding using a soft, clean, dry cloth. Dust particles that remain will become trapped under your new finish and will create blemish spots and bumps. Once the cigar box is completely dust free it’s time to decide how you want to refinish it.
You can choose from a few refinishing options. You can paint the cigar box to give it color, you can leave it natural wood, or you can enhance the look of the natural wood by applying a stain. If you choose to paint the box you can use latex, oil based or acrylic paint. Pour a small amount of the paint into a small paint tray and apply an even coat using a small foam paint brush. Allow the first coat 25 minutes to dry then apply a second for even coverage. Allow the second coat an hour to dry before applying poly.
If you want to deepen and enhance the color of the natural wood you can use a soft, dry cloth to rub on any color stain. Wipe all excess stain off quickly to avoid dark spots. A second application of stain can be applied if desired. There is no need to wait between applications.
Whether you have chosen to paint, stain, or leave the wood bare and natural a couple coats of polyurethane should be applied. Polyurethane will protect the wood. It will also make it so that the box can be used, and even washed. The poly will give the keepsake or jewelry box a beautiful bright, shiny look. Apply the poly using a small foam paint brush. Do not shake or stir the polyurethane as air bubble will result from the shaking and stirring. Those air bubble will be transferred to the wood and will flaw your new finish. Pour the poly very slowly into a small paint tray. Apply two coats of polyurethane, waiting 25 minutes between coats. Allow the final coat one hour to dry before moving on to the final step.
Use a small tape measure to measure the length, width and height of the inside of the bottom of the box. Lay out your felt or crushed velvet and measure, mark and cut it according to the boxes measurements. Use a hot glue gun to glue in each piece. Gently rub the fabric so that the glue disperses underneath and adheres to the wood. Once you have installed the felt or crushed velvet you are done. The old cigar box has been transformed into a beautiful and meaningful keepsake or jewelry box.