Custom Humidors

Queen of the Burl – The Origin

Queen of the Burl Custom Humidor

Kinda’ sounds like a song – doesn’t it? More so – it most likely will be shortly. My duo passions for exotic woods and song writing have finally found a synchronistic home and have come together in a most unique and spiritual cosmic blend. After all – it is what life is all about isn’t it? Sometimes you nurture it and often times it nurtures you.

So welcome to this story and keep in mind it is not about just another humidor – but rather a gift that suddenly appeared before me – as a gift from my wooden children whom have been allowing me to dress them up and show them off for the last 28 years. Enjoy!


The journey began years ago when I was a senior in high school and learning to play the guitar during the pre-Beatle’s folk song era.  I was equally enamored by the soft sound of the guitar strings after spending several years playing band instruments with their harsh and loud sounds.  I was looking for a softer sound to accompany my then-new vocal cords in songs from the Kingston Trio, the Limelighters, etc.   It was much easier to learn and unbeknownst to me, rewarding with the accompaniment of the guitar which I fell in love with – in the walk-in closet of my bedroom!

Fast forward a few more years – through college, marriage to my wonderful wife, Alice, the Peace Corps in Peru, and later a year in Phoenix at the Thunderbird Graduate School where I wrote my thesis on the hardwood lumber industry in Brazil.    Stop!  Hold on a minute – say what?  The hardwood industry in Brazil!  

How did that happen?  I never even had a shop or worked around woodworking or a lumber yard.  What made me gravitate to wood – lumber – woodworking – guitar making I did not know at the time.  But I do now!

Brazilian Rosewood caused it all.  The queen of hardwoods, the most valuable exotic wood and the best-sounding wood that nature could supply.  And in the form of acoustic guitars only – not electric guitars, not banjos, not mandolins, or any other musical instrument – only acoustic guitars being made in both North and South America and Spain.  

So, I got a job after graduate school in Nicaragua, Central America in 1969 directly out of the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management which no longer exists.  While other graduates went on to work for international banks or other large corporations overseas, I found a job with a softwood lumber company out of Portland, Oregon that just had bought a sawmill in Nicaragua!  They hired me for my ability to speak Spanish as well as the interest I had shown them in the lumber business.  We stayed for 2 years and they closed the sawmill a few years later.    

Back in the US, I found a job with a small family-owned – third-generation – hardwood lumber company in Baltimore.  A great experience but not good for long-term employment due to their poor management.  Then, in 1973 we found a home and property in a small village in western Maryland near Harpers Ferry, WV. And after 50 years are still there today!

Now what does this resume have to do with the “Queen of Burl” you ask?   

Well, read on – the background is over, and now comes the best part – 

50 years later in rural Maryland.

So, I never did build guitars or even bought a Brazilian Rosewood guitar.  Too expensive and I was no longer into Folk and then Bluegrass music. Burnt out on them both after playing in a few bands.  We bought our home and 5 acres with a chicken coop in that order.  Only the chicken coop kept expanding and over the next 20 years, I had one of the best woodworking shops in Maryland with a crew of around 10.  During this time, I was buying exotic veneers that I never used in any of the products that we were making – which were kitchen items (many cutting boards), desk accessories, and jewelry boxes.  Then I burned out doing 30-40 craft and art shows each year.  Within a year in 1995 I stopped all production and started making cigar humidors – but still out of lumber and not the exotic veneers that by that time were already 10 years in my lumber shed.

So finally, the humidors started to decline in the tobacconist stores and I decided to let them go and retail only high-end humidors online with my own website.  This took 2-3 years to gradually become known.  I had only a small staff of 3-4 employees at the most but eventually in the mid-2010’s started building on my own and began to use the exotic veneers that I had hoarded for over 20 years!

And I have continued down this path for the last 10 years or so.  And still have plenty of exotic veneers in stock to last another 20 years.  Hey – it’s not about quantity – it’s about quality and the 2 do not mix!

And there you have it. So, what happens next?  Well, to share a little secret – it already has!  I have been given the green light from my veneer children and they would be very disappointed if I let them down now.  So, they sent me a reminder – so to speak – and I am going to listen to them.  After all – they’ve been with me a long time and they will be tired of sitting around in the lumber shed for the next 20 years!  “Use it or lose it” they keep reminding me.  

And you are looking at Her!  They need a spokesperson to represent them – someone that would stand out – raise some eyebrows and say to me “Keep up the good work”. In turn, they promise to support me and keep me in good mental and physical shape and guide me down the road in these perilous times.  

And so, they chose a female goddess after all – along with her entourage of princesses and Burl friends.  Look closely – and you will see them all – with two eyes, noses, mouths, and ears – surrounding their Queen as timeless companions in their Burl world.

So, my grandson, Jeremy, visited us for a week during the summer of 2023. He is 15 and attends a school which has a woodworking shop. He attended the wood shop class this past spring semester and wanted to make some wood product in my shop that he could sell for extra income. During his stay I mentioned to him how I use the fancy veneers in the humidors and often I have to “book match” the top veneer as they are too narrow for the humidor tops. He responded by asking what was the “book match”? So, we went into the room in the shop where I keep on hand the burl veneers as well as others. I took out a pile of Claro Walnut Burl veneers – about 20-30 sheets or sleeves – took two of them and flipped one side over to match the other one and low and behold – out jumped little miss “Queen of the Burl”. Embedded are 3 photos to show you her face, shoulder and crown. I have enough veneer for 12 humidors or jewelry boxes, and each one has a slightly different face.

The Queen of the Burl Custom Humidor The Queen of the Burl Custom Humidor The Queen of the Burl Custom Humidor