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Gentlemen's Essentials - Part I: Cigar Cutting

Gentlemen's Essentials - Part I: Cigar Cutting

Some time ago our very own TimmyBoston put out a call for the members to write up tutorials on a selection of gentlemen"s essentials. I selected the art of cigar cutting. I hope you enjoy it.


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Welcome to Cigar Cutting 101

So we find you here. You have decided to indulge your senses in one of life's great pleasures- a fine cigar.​

You’ve made your way through the process of selecting a cigar, now you’re ready to sit back and enjoy it.




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My favorite place...​

What’s next?

So lets look at how to prepare your cigar for a relaxing experience. Even if you don't want to smoke a cigar yourself it's useful to know how, in order to cut cigars for people at parties or celebrations.

The first step involved in preparing a cigar is to open a passage way allowing air to circulate from one end to the other. Some smokers elect to bite the tip off the cigar; its quick and easy solution and there is no need to carry around any tools along. Most cigar connoisseurs however use specialized clipper that provide a clean, manicured cut.

New cigar smokers learn early on about the importance of a good cut. An improper cut will ruin the cigar causing the end to split or the wrapper to unravel. So, especially if you're conscious of how much you're spending on your cigars, you'll want to pay careful attention to cutting them properly.
Regardless of the method, the goal in cutting a cigar is to create an ample opening through which to smoke without damaging the cigar's construction. Too small a cut and the cigar won't draw; too wide a cut and the cigar will fall apart. On most cigars, a good rule of thumb is to make the cut about one-sixteenth of an inch from the cigar's head. But if you don't have a ruler handy, simply look for the cigar's shoulder -- the place where the cap of the cigar straightens out -- and cut the cigar there.

1. First, it is very important to make a clean cut so have a quality cigar cutter. A clean cut made with the right tools and in the right place will decrease your chances of having the cigar unravel which may make for an unpleasant smoke. A clear and regular cut is key.

2. At the head of the cigar (the covered end that goes in your mouth), you will see the cap, which is a round piece of tobacco that is glued to the head to keep the wrapper together. This cap is put on the head of the cigar during the hand-rolling process to keep it from unraveling and drying out. You should see a distinct line where the cap ends.

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3. You only want to remove the outer layer of wrapper, not cut off a centimeter of tobacco. To ensure a clean cut and to avoid tearing the wrapper, cut just before the cap leaving 3-4 mm. (Tip: On figurados, just cut off enough so you can see the filler.) For the best results, try making one quick, strong movement.


The key to a good cigar cut is to be quick and precise. Find your mark and clip it quickly. Using a good quality cutter and cutting quickly will give you the best advantage. Also ensure the blades are sharp so that there is no tearing involved. Cutting your cigar correctly means you will have a better tasting smoke.


CUTTING TOOLS

There are several styles of cutters on the market today, each designed to provide the smoker with the smoothest cut possible, while minimizing the possibility of damaging the cigar. Most cigar smokers have several cutters, which often can fit easily in a pocket, while some aficionados own larger, sturdier machines that sit atop a desk.

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Obviously, you already have a cutter on you right now: your teeth. But this method has its drawbacks. First, it's difficult to see exactly where you're biting into the cigar, making it more likely you'll damage it. Second, your teeth aren't nearly as sharp as the blade on a commercial cutter. And third, you're likely to wind up with a wad of wet tobacco in your mouth.

Knives, conversely, are very sharp, but cutting a cigar effectively with a knife requires a surgeon's cutting stroke: too slow or too unsteady a cut will certainly destroy your cigar. But if you do choose to cut your cigars this way, make sure not to use any oils when cleaning your knife -- the residues can wind up on the cigar, corrupting its flavor.

The "Guillotine" or "Traditional" Cut

Guillotine cutters, whether single- or double-bladed, are some of the best options for cutting a cigar. They don’t have the drawbacks associated with other cutters.
This cutter is perhaps the most popular as it allows for quick and easy snipping. The guillotine cut creates a straight slice across the cigars cap line and should create an even draw, which should create an even burn. The only drawback is that residue and tar from the burning tobacco will come in direct contact with the smoker's mouth.


Single Blade Cutter

A single blade cutter is designed to cut off the cap. Most will cut up to 54 ring cigars. When using a single-bladed guillotine, the cigar should be placed on the far side of the opening, as far from the blade as possible

Pros: Very affordable.
Cons: Cutting cigar in one quick, strong movement is a must.

Double Blade Cutter

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The same concept as the guillotine, but the two blades provide a more precise and even cut. You will also need to cut with determination and force with a double-blade to ensure you don't get tears. More advanced double-blade cutters have a spring mechanism that ensures a clean cut every time.

Pros: Cuts just about any shape cigar, including Figurado shapes like Torpedo.
Cons: To prevent unraveling, be sure not to cut below the cap.

How to Use a Guillotine Cutter

Pick up your cigar cutter between your thumb and fore-finger using your best hand.
Place the cigar into the cutter and close one eye in order to line up the cigar correctly.
Keep a tight grip on the cigar with your other hand and try not to let it move until it is cut all the way through.
Cut the cigar quickly in one fluid motion, with as much force as you can.
Using the cutter in any other manner may cause the cigar to be pinched before it is cut, damaging and often ruining the wrapper.
Note: It's also important to ensure that the compartment sheathing the blade is kept free of loose tobacco. These compartments can clog easily, jamming the cutter and compromising its effectiveness.

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The Bullet/Punch Cutter

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A bullet cutter is perfect for those who need a more accessible cigar cutter. They are easily attached to your key ring and are great for those who want to punch a hole instead of the more traditional slice. The Bullet or Punch cut will pierce a small hole into the cigars cap. Depending on the diameter of the cutter, air circulation may be restricted and the smokes tar and residue can accumulate around the opening. After cutting, place the cap back on the cutter and a convenient built-in plunger will clear off any tobacco from the blades.

The punch cutter will cleanly cut a small hole on the head of the cigar. If you prefer lots of smoke, you'll want to cut a bigger hole. To cut a bigger hole, you just need to insert the punch several times at different places of the cap until you get the desired width.
Some cigar lighters such as mine actually have a built in punch. Mine sports a small and a large hole punch for use in a pinch.

Pros: Convenient key ring attachment and easy-to use
Cons: Will not work on Figurado shapes and they are not designed for large (50+) ring cigars.

How to Use a Bullet or Punch Cutter

Pick an appropriate punch size and push the blade into the cap.
After the blade is inserted into the cap, rotate it to fully cut a hole into the cap, then remove the blade; the cut portion will come out as well.

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Another benefit to a punch is that you can use these on a Chisel Point cigar simple by punching a hole in each side as shown below. This will give you an incredibly nice even draw.

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The V-Cutter

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The wedge or "V" cutter resembles the guillotine cutter, but the V cutter creates a wedge-shaped cut in the cigars cap with a simple squeezing motion. The V-cutter allows proper air circulation to occur for a more pleasant smoking experience. The smokes tar and residue accumulate on the sides of the wedge keeping the bitter taste away from the smoker's mouth. One drawback is that the unique design and shape of this cutter make keeping the blades sharp more difficult. A V-Cutter will NOT remove too much, which can result in the unwrapping of the cigar.


Pros: Great for smaller cigars and provides more smoking surface than the punch.
Cons: Will need a good-quality V-Cutter for the cleanest cut.

How to Use a V Cutter

The V cutter is used in the same fashion as a Guillotine Cutter.

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The Cigar Scissors

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Cigar scissors normally come with wide handles that are specially created to take on large cigars. Just like a double blade cutter, the cigar scissors cut off the cap of the cigar and are designed to do so with effortless precision.
While cigar scissors can provide exceptionally clean cuts and are some of the most elegant cigar tools available, they must be used with caution. Just as each baseball player uses a bat that's weighted to his preference, a cigar scissor must conform to each individual smoker's hand. If the weight of the tool isn't right and the device doesn't feel natural in your hand, you will act like a brain surgeon wearing mittens -- clumsy. Therefore, it is important to test a pair of scissors before you buy them; if the handles and blades don't feel balanced or the scissors feel awkward in your hand, consider another pair. The most beautiful cutting tool in the world is useless if it renders your cigar a pile of shredded tobacco leaves. I personally don’t care for the scissors as they tend to crush my cigars. One advantage to the scissor is that you can cut off the burnt end of a cigar should you not be able to finish it and save it for later (just not to much later, yuck).

Pros: Come in very compact styles that are functional but also elegant.
Cons: Must purchase a surgical-quality stainless steel model to ensure a good cut

How To Use Cigar Scissors

I don’t think I need to describe how to use scissors but here are a few pictures.

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Cutting to save a cigar

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No Cigar Cutter?

The most primitive way of cutting the head of a cigar with absolutely no tools is to bite it with your teeth. To help this along you can lightly moisten the glue holding the cap by twisting the end of the cigar in your mouth and nip of the cap by catching it between your upper and lower front teeth (Thank you for that little tip Chris). This is a last resort, and should never be done with an expensive premium cigar as the cigar is much more valuable than a basic cutter. Biting a cigar, or otherwise cutting it improperly will cause the wrapper to unravel and could even damage the binder and filler tobacco inside. If available, use a sharp knife such as a Penknife, Exacto or razor blade (not a DE though folks) and a cutting board, or a pair of sharp scissors. You can carefully cut into the wrapper and cap as you roll the cigar until you've cut all the way around and you can then clip th cap. You can also use a pen or pencil to punch a hole in the cap. If the cigar costs more than $5, do not cut it until you have a cigar cutter. It will be worth the wait.

One Last Little Trick

If you find that you are having a hard time judging how much to cut off of the cap, a trick that was shown to me was to place your cutter (Guillotine Cutter) on the table or counter and set the cigar into the slot to be cut. Proceed with the cut as normal. This will give you a perfect depth cut every time.

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It's a smart investment for any cigar smoker to own a quality cutter. A bad cut will destroy a cigar, and ruined cigars very quickly add up to the price of even the finest cutter.

It’s time to light up and enjoy!!!

A special shout out to the fine folks at Fire-N-Smoke in Southington Connecticut for letting me use their shop and cigars for this shot. Thank you guys!!!
 
Very well done, I typically use a punch and depending on size, usually a 50 ring or larger, I will punch 2 holes that create a figure 8, works great for me.

Never seen the wedge cutter, that seems quite interesting.
 
Timely tutorial. I bought my neighbor some Cohiba's for his birthday today. I shall partake tonight with expert cutting advise!
 
M

modern man

Jeez that is a long one.

The ones I have completed will fail in comparison....

I was waiting for Timmy but I will Post em up soon.
 
Now we know how to cut a cigar. So, where is the best place to buy
Chateau Fuentes
or Romeo Y Julieta?
 
I laughed when I read the thread title.
I stopped laughing when I read the article.

An excellent article that I wish I had read when I started smoking cigars! Thank you.
 
If you find that you are having a hard time judging how much to cut off of the cap, a trick that was shown to me was to place your cutter (Guillotine Cutter) on the table or counter and set the cigar into the slot to be cut. Proceed with the cut as normal. This will give you a perfect depth cut every time.

This is exactly how I learned to do it, and it has worked every time. I still use this method during nights out with the fellas (particularly important in Vegas after 24 hours of booze and 4 or 5 expensive cigars) so as not to miss-cut a single one and ruin anyone's evening.

Great tutorial!
 
Phenomenal tutorial. I appreciate the time and effort involved in putting that together.

Rocky Patel Edge Maduro is my cigar of choice right now....I'll have to check out some of the ones mentioned in this thread.

:thumbsup:
 
I could go for that chisel maduro right now.. (thought I just slit them off the top)

Cool tutorial!

To use a knife- hold knife, take intial cut, rotate cigar and voila

Warning about punching stronger, oilier cigars- you may get tar build up on the opening faster
They also make a dummy cutter, which is a Guillotine with no opening on one side. You place cigar cap against the "wall" and snip, works the same way as the table trick
 
OK OK I know this is so wrong in so many ways but my buddy and I were fishing up at the lake last weekend and he proudly pulls out a baggy of some nice Monte Cristo's the only problem was oops he had forgotten to bring his cutter! Well my mind got to working overtime and you probably guessed it I ran inside the cabin and opened up the silo doors on my DE razor and ran out with the blade (Derby if your interested!)
Well it did work like a charm just had to be careful, clean cuts all around.
I don't recommend this to everyone but when you are in the mountains in northern New Mexico miles away from anywhere you do what you can!!
 
When in a pinch and you have inconveniently left your cutter someplace other than where you are, suck on the cap to moisten it. After a few minutes you will be able to peal it off, repeat as necessary to get the entire cap off. Enjoy!
 
thirdeye,

What a great idea on punch cutting the chisel! I picked up several chisels this past weekend and never considered how I wiil cut them.

Thanks!


DL
 
thirdeye,

What a great idea on punch cutting the chisel! I picked up several chisels this past weekend and never considered how I wiil cut them.

Thanks!

DL

Thank you. One could V cut the chisel as well but I like the punch method personally.
 
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