How to Cut a Cigar: A Comprehensive Guide to Cigar Cutting

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  • Finally, after a tremendous amount of anticipation and quite a bit of stress, it's time to smoke what could very well be your favorite cigar to date. You researched the cigar's taste and flavor profile, checked reviews from industry professionals and fellow smokers, placed an online order or visited a local shop, and maybe even let the carefully crafted stogie rest in your humidor for a while—just to make sure it's fully seasoned and in peak smoking form.

    And then it happens. Instead of being treated to an excellent once in a lifetime smoke, you're forced to suffer through a horrible once in a lifetime smoke. The reason for the trouble? You didn't properly cut the cigar.

    Maybe you cut too far down the stogie, or perhaps you used a style of cutter that doesn't work particularly well for the cigar at-hand. You might have even tried to cut and smoke the incorrect end of the cigar (seriously, this does happen)!

    Whatever the case, the point is that low-quality cigar cuts result in low-quality smoking experiences wrought with required relights, incomplete taste profiles, and stiff draws. Even worse, you risk the entire wrapper coming unraveled, ruining the cigar entirely.

    In many ways, the fashion in which individuals cut their stogies affects the quality of the smoking experience just as much as the actual cigar does.

    That's where this all-encompassing, comprehensive guide comes in. Here, the proper way to cut a cigar, the different ways a cigar can be cut, the pros and cons of each of these methods, and some useful hints and tips that can only otherwise be picked up on from some embarrassing smoking errors will be relayed in to-the-point fashion.

    Read on to learn general cigar cutting tips, each of the ways to cut a cigar, and the benefits and drawbacks of these methods.

    General Cigar Cutting Tips

    Regardless of what type of cutter you're using to pierce a cigar, some fundamental and universal laws of cutting exist and should be adhered to. These stogie-slicing laws are sure to come in handy both when you're chopping a cigar and when you're helping others do so:

    1. Don't cut below the cap; try to cut only a couple millimeters from the end of the cigar. First and foremost, it must be emphasized that cutting below the cap—or the mouthpiece end of the cigar that is clearly noted by a line in the wrapper—is a huge, must-avoid mistake.cigar_cutting_tips

    More than looking rather poor and causing you to miss out on valuable tobacco and smoking time, cutting a stogie too far below the cap can result in the outer wrapper coming undone, thereby inhibiting the overall light and smoking experience. If you cut below the cap and you're lucky enough not to have the entire cigar come unraveled, keeping it lit will still be a frustrating and annoying challenge.Instead, be sure to cut just below—say one to three millimeters—the cap. You should be able to see packed tobacco as opposed to just the inner cap composition.

    Additionally, you can dry puff an unlit cigar to see if air moves through it—if you're able to draw air the cigar is properly cut. New smokers will probably have trouble telling whether an unlit stogie allows air to travel through it, but as a little bit of practice and time will make the skill second nature, it's worth starting now.

    2. Don't be timid - cut with authority. Some cigar aficionados claim the best way to slice a stogie is the same way you cut a piece of fruit: definitively and with one smooth motion. We would have to agree with that.

    However, be sure to take your time in getting your cut right. Slicing a minor portion of the cap and then, if you need to, taking a bit more off is far better than taking too much off. As any barber will tell you, precise and gradual cutting efforts maximize the chances of success. This same principle holds true for cigars just as it does for hair.

    3. Don't run with scissors (or cigar cutters). Finally, it's strongly recommended that anyone looking to enjoy a cigar cut it in a way that encourages a quality smoking experience. Furthermore, just as you wouldn't run with scissors for personal safety reasons, you shouldn't run with cigar cutters for stogie safety reasons—nor should you move too much while cutting a cigar or do so in an environment prone to vibrations and moving.

    This means that moving cars, lawn mowers, horses, mechanical bulls, and just about anything else that rocks back and forth are not great platforms for cigars to be cut upon. Instead, find flat, comfortable furniture—perhaps a table and chair—and focus on the cutting task at-hand.

    This might seem overly obvious and unnecessary, but too many cigars have been lost to sloppy cuts from behind the steering wheel for the tip to not be mentioned. A few extra seconds cutting in a suitable area will save you a lot of time and hassle later.

    Types of Cigar Cutters

    There're quite a few different ways to cut cigars, each with several positives and drawbacks. The following information will help you to choose a cigar cutter that's best for your needs and to use this cigar cutter like a pro.

    Single-Blade Guillotine

    Single-blade guillotine cigar cutters feature a single blade and easy-grip handles. These cutters are simple and convenient to use, affordable to purchase, and perfect for storing while on the go. Especially because of their low cost, they're well-suited for beginners.

    How to Use the Single-Blade Guillotine Cutter

    Using the single-blade guillotine cigar cutter is a breeze. Just place a stick in the allotted circle, gently and slowly push the handles together, and watch as a tremendous cut is made. Be sure not to take too much of the cigar off.

    Pros

    Single-blade guillotines are once again easy to transport, cheap to buy, and simple to use.

    Cons

    On the other hand, single-blade guillotine cutters can also create rather underwhelming cuts (due to the inherent limitations of a single blade), some larger-gauge cigars won't properly fit inside them, and it's rather easy to overcut, taking too much of a cigar off and putting a huge damper on a smoke in the process.

    Double-Blade Guillotine

    Essentially the same as the single-blade guillotine plus a useful second blade, double-blade cutters make clean slices and require a bit less force to operate than single blades. However, they typically cost more to purchase.

    How to Use a Double-Blade Guillotine Cigar Cutter

    Just as with single-blade cutters, double-blade cutters are operated by placing a cigar between the blades, gently applying pressure, and slicing the desired portion of a stogie.

    Pros

    Double-blade cutters are smooth, make clear cuts, and can be operated without hassle.

    Cons

    Like single-blade guillotines, double-blade cutters are high stakes cigar piercers in that they can unravel an entire stogie in a second if they're used too far down its body—and cutting too low with the double blade is far from difficult. Additionally, large-gauge cigars won't fit between the blades. Finally, double-blade cutters generally cost more than other types of cutters.

    V-Cutter

    Used simply by pushing the cap end of a cigar towards the cutter and moving this cutter's blades together, the v-cutter is a useful stogie slicing option for smokers to consider. 

    How to Use a V-Cutter

    As was said, using a v-cutter is effortless. Spread the cutter's blades, push your cigar towards the cutter (so the blades pierce the appropriate section), and slowly bring the cutter's handles together to chop your smoke.

    Pros

    V-Cutters are affordable and easy to use. Plus, v-cutters present a smaller risk of unraveling cigars than single and double-blade guillotine cutters because, stylistically, they don't come close to passing the cap.

    Cons

    With that said, v-cutters do have some drawbacks. First, they are very difficult to use on petite cigars, as their blades will encompass the majority of a smaller smoke's mouth end. Next, v-cutters do sometimes get caught in the ends of cigars that're being cut—especially if their blades are dull. This can potentially damage a stogie. Finally, v-cutters might not make a large enough incision for wider-gauge cigars to burn comfortably; making multiple v-cuts may damage a cigar.

    Punch

    Perhaps the most stress-free cigar cutter available, the punch is perfect for smokers on the go, which is probably why so many of them come equipped with a keychain ring.

    How to Use a Punch Cigar Cutter

    As was stated, using a punch cigar cutter is a no-brainer; you'll find its ease of use is especially awesome when you're smoking away from home and when you're smoking medium-sized cigars, which are perfectly suited for punch cuts.

    Just place the punch's metal edge in the center of a cigar's cap, gently apply force and pressure while ever so slightly twisting the cutter, and continue doing so until the punch has fully (or mostly) "punched" through the cigar. Slowly twist the punch out and then use the included "cleaner" to remove the tobacco from the cutter's inside. You should be left with a perfectly circular hole in the back of your cigar.

    Pros

    Messing up a punch cut is a challenge, and the cutter is ideal for travel and on-the-road smoking. What's more is that it can typically be purchased for next to nothing online and in smoke shops.

    Cons

    It's been said that 500 punch cutters are misplaced every hour. That might be an overstatement, but the tools are susceptible to drops, set-downs, and being wedged between couch cushions. What's more is that punch cutters may not work very well on large-gauge cigars, and multiple punches could accordingly be required for these bigger stogies; this is both inconvenient and annoying.

    Scissors

    Some smokers prefer ultra-sharp, medical-grade scissors for cutting their cigars. Other smokers yet are entirely uninterested in the cutting style, and like many things in life, the truth of the matter's merit can probably be found somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

    How to Use Cigar-Cutting Scissors

    Just as you would with the guillotines, place a small portion of a cigar between the blades, gently bring the handles together, and complete the cut. You can also place a cigar on a table's edge and hold it with one hand while using the other hand to perform the cut; this improves the stability and precision of the chop.

    Pros

    Scissors can be used to cut cigars of any size and shape, and also, they look pretty cool when used by an expert.

    Cons

    Scissors are tough to accurately cut cigars with, their blades will need to be sharpened semi-often, they're not portable or designed for use outside the home, and finally, they can quickly surpass a cigar's cap, much like guillotine cutters can.

    This guide is sure to help smokers like you—whether you're completely new to the experience or a well-versed aficionado—choose a cutter that's perfect for your situation and needs. Thanks for reading, and remember that a good smoke starts with a good cut!

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