Cigar box empty? Don’t be sad – use your imagination

We did a Facebook post a couple of weeks ago about what cigar smokers do with their empties – and got some pretty interesting responses…here are some; maybe you’ll find some inspiration:

Probably the easiest repurpose, is using it as a nicer box to just put “stuff” in. As I mentioned, I keep some pencils and random office supplies in one of mine. There’s a Baccarat box in the garage with a few random plumbing parts from a house I don’t even live in anymore. But I went back to that Facebook post and looked at what some other people store in their empties. Some of what they said: loose change…school supplies…receipts…teabags (reverse infusion?)…jewelry…knick knacks…specialized tool sets, like specialty drill bits and ¼” sockets (brilliant!)…watches…baseball cards (now THAT’S old school)…a handgun…candy…the list went on and on.

A very common response was “other smoking accessories.” This is true for me, too. I have a box filled with an assortment of matches, cutters and lighters that I just don’t use very often. But you always need backups, and it’s nice to have those things in their proper place. This was pretty common. One guy mentioned that he uses an empty box as the money box for poker night. I love this idea, too.

There were also an increasing number of people who responded with suggestions for dining. If you’re a rugged foodie like Donnie, “scrape the paint off and smoke salmon in it.”

Allyson uses them “to hold my salt & pepper shakers, sugar bowl & napkins on my kitchen table. I use them outside in summer for forks and knives and stuff at bbq’s.”

Crafts are big, too. “I use them for bead storage for my jewelry making supplies- they are the perfect size,” said Martha.

Anne’s Grandmother “used to keep thread and other sewing supplies organized in them.”

And Sam glues “magnets in them for my mother so she has easy storage for her needlework tools.” Nice going, Sam.

Then came the coup de grace of them all: “I used my last empty [cigar] box as a casket for my hamster who passed away last week.”

We are all sorry for your loss. (I can’t even type that with a straight face.)

Here’s why Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, True Value, etc. are incredible wonderlands…they have kits for everything! And if you’re looking to take your empties to the next level, that’s good news for you. In addition to moments of brilliance – like the person who used some empty Nub boxes as indoor planters – completely defeating the notion that men cannot care for houseplants – cigar boxes can tell time. More and more I’m seeing the cigar box clock. (clock movement kit, drill, battery, make numbers – done.)

If you want to really go the extra mile and keep the cigar theme in your man cave, might I suggest the cigar box lamp.

Here’s the cool part – not only is it insanely easy to do (lamp kit, drill, lampshade) – take a look at the middle part below the shade and above the box. Now I know what I’ve been saving my empty tubes for!

Looking for inspiration? Check out Someone posted this picture of birdhouses he made:

If you use an all-wood box, hit it with an extra coat of shellac and hang it outside this winter. Your feathered friends just might thank you.

There has been a reemergence – actually, an explosion – of cigar box instruments over the past year or so. They actually date back to the days of the Civil War, and gave rise to the “found object” movement that informed American blues at the turn of the 20th century. It’s a whole other topic for another time, but if you haven’t heard what some artists today are turning out – go to and search “cigar box guitar.” Then tell me your mind isn’t blown when you’re done listening.

There are some real artists – and I say artists, because there’s actually a good bit of skill that goes into making some of these (Google it and you’ll see) guitars. Ukuleles and banjos are becoming more common, too. And if you really want to go full-cedar on the roaring crowd, some people who know basic electrical are making amps to go with the guitars (you have to add a pickup of some kind). Seeing these works of art, I decided to get a little creative – and along with a gross overestimation of my woodworking abilities, decided that I should make guitars with a few of them. My first try:

No frets, the action is high and it plays like a slide guitar. The three string is most traditional, though some have gone for 4 – and I went ahead and added a real guitar neck to this Partagas box, to create…wait for it…the “Stogiecaster.”

Call it recycling, or UPcycling – you’re really only limited by your imagination, as this is just a sample of what people are doing with their empties. And the best part is, you already own the box – so repurposing it into something else can cost you next to nothing.

I’d like to know what you do with yours, and pictures are certainly welcome!


John Pullo

John Pullo

Managing Editor at

This is not his picture, nor does John even have a beard. Interestingly, his Social Security number is all ones. All we can say is " "You will know him by the mullet he wears." "

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