If you’ve read our primer on types of cigars, you may have already gone out and purchased one! But there’s one critical step that may cause you hesitation before you can start smoking: how to cut a cigar. It seems simple enough, but there are actually several mistakes you may make trying to cut your first cigar!

Read on to learn about how to cut a cigar, tools that can help, and tips to make sure every cut is a flawless one.

The Importance of Cutting a Cigar Correctly

There are several ways to cut a cigar, but the most important part of cutting them is doing it correctly. Why? Because a poor cut can ruin your cigar or diminish the experience. In some cases, a poor cut could lead to the wrapper unravelling entirely!

Depending on the method and skill in your cut, it could limit your ability to draw from the cigar or make it awkward to enjoy.

Cutting a cigar is part of the “ritual” that many cigar aficionados develop as they enjoy their preferred cigars. Learning how to cut a cigar properly ensures that every time you go to smoke one, you can start with a clean, smooth cut to prepare it.

Types of Cigar Cutters & Cigar Cuts

One of the greatest parts of cigar culture is the variety. In addition to having countless cigars and types of cigars to choose from, even the way you cut a cigar can be unique to your preferences! There are several ways to cut a cigar, and a few different types of cigar cutters you can use:

A man learning how to cut a cigar with a straight cutter at Chaloner’s Cigar House in Adrian, MI.

Straight Cutter

Also known as a guillotine cutter, single-blade straight cutters are a staple accessory for most in the cigar world. These basic cutters allow you to slot the cigar through a hole and squeeze to cleanly cut your cigar.

Not all straight cutters use a single blade! A popular alternate cutter is the dual or double-blade cutter. They function identically to other straight cutters, but the addition of a second blade helps ensure a cleaner, more precise cut. This can avoid torn wrappers or uneven cuts – which may otherwise ruin your experience.

Cigar Scissors

When it comes to cutting, it’s hard to ignore the presence of scissors. However, regular scissors are not an option for cutting cigars. Instead, there are specialized cigar scissors that work like the common household tool but are designed to get the best cut on a cigar.

The quality of your cigar scissors is important when making a purchase. High-quality, stainless steel blades kept sharp will effortlessly slice through any cigar wrapper. Low-quality blades, or dull ones from poor maintenance, will increase your chances of tearing your cigar wrapper.

Punch Cutter for Punch Cutting Cigars

Not all cigar cutters are designed to fully chop off the end of the cigar’s cap. Punch cutters are a unique type of cigar cutter that, as the name implies, punch a hole in the end without completely removing the cap. This is a different type of cigar cut.

The primary benefit of a punch cut is in how it reduces loose tobacco or filler from falling into your mouth while you smoke. However, they can also be a bit easier to use – as you don’t run the risk of cutting too deep. You also eliminate some risk of unraveling the wrapper!

One drawback to punch cutters is that they don’t work well with small-gauge cigars. While punch cutters tend to create small circumference openings, some cigars simply are too thin for a punch-cutting tool to function.

V-Cutter for V-Cutting Cigars

Like the punch-cutter, a v-cutter doesn’t remove the entire end of the cigar. Instead, using a v-cutter creates a small V-shaped slice in the tip of the cigar. This is almost identical to a punch-cut, except that it creates an even smaller and more focused cut.

V-cuts carry many of the same benefits of a standard round punch-cut. Less of the cigar is removed, you reduce the possibility of loose filler falling into your mouth and you eliminate the possibility of chopping off a big portion of the cigar.

However, a proper v-cut limits your ability to draw from the cigar when smoking by way of the smaller hole. The “notch” from the v-cutter can be made too large, however. Keep in mind not to cut too deeply, or else you can increase the draw too much and the cigar will burn hotter than intended.

How to Cut a Cigar Step-by-Step

A man learning how to cut a cigar with a straight cutter at Chaloner’s Cigar House in Adrian, MI.

Locate the Cap

The cap of the cigar is the end piece, typically lightly glued on to help hold the wrapper together while it’s in storage. This cap is the only part you want to cut off – trying to cut too far past the cap will cut into the wrapper, potentially leading to tears or unraveling.

For many cigars, the cap will often be visible as a slightly rounded section of leaf. The best way to aim your cut is to err on the side of a slightly shallower cut. Leaving a little bit of the cap and glue can help avoid an unfortunate unraveling.

Moisten the Cigar Head

While you could just go right into cutting the cigar, one trick that many experts use is to gently moisten the cap in your mouth before cutting. While it’s not necessary, it can help make sure the cut goes smoothly. When a leaf is too dry, it can sometimes crack during cutting and prevent a clean slice even with the best of cigar cutting tools.

Additionally, some cigar smokers enjoy getting a light sample of the flavor of the cigar this way.  It’s not something you need to do – or need to do most of the time. But it can be helpful, especially for cheaper cigars that may not have a well-placed cap.

Cut the Cigar

Finally, it’s time for the cut. Seemingly simple, you’ll be surprised to learn that cutting a cigar is actually a bit of a skill. Your finesse at cigar cutting will develop as you continue to try new cigars, especially those with different types of leaves and those of varying shapes or sizes.

Depending on the tool you’re using, you likely will have just one squeeze between you and a perfectly cut cigar cap. It’s important to take your time when lining it up, but once you’re ready to make the cut, do it with confidence!

Try out different types of cutting tools to find the one that you like best. Eventually, you’ll be able to cut your favorite brand of cigar with your eyes closed!

Tips for How to Cut a Cigar

A cigar resting in an ashtray at Chaloner's Cigar House

#1.  Cut Swiftly, Without Hesitation

As we mentioned, you can take your time when preparing a cut, but the act of cutting a cigar should be swift and confident. If you’re just learning how to cut a cigar, you may be wondering why! The reason is simple: a shaky cut or if you stop and have to “re-center” the blade will make it almost a guarantee that you tear and pull the wrapper.

Unraveling your cigar isn’t the end of the world, but it can add some annoyance to what should be a relaxing activity. The best way to avoid unraveling is to practice and ensure that when you go to make the cut, you squeeze your cutter quickly and fully.

#2. Avoid Shallow/Deep Cuts

There’s an art to properly gauging where to cut your cigar – and it becomes even more of a learned skill when you consider how different it is for each type and brand of cigar you cut! One of the important tips for learning how to cut a cigar is to avoid cutting too far from the “ideal” cut.

While it’s not an exact science to hit the perfect spot, deep cuts are typically obvious, because you’ve gone well into the cigar’s wrapper and away from the cap. On the other hand, an extremely shallow cut sometimes doesn’t even make it past the angle of the endcap and leaves you with a smaller or awkward cigar to draw from.

#3. Don’t Bite Off a Cigar Head

You’ve seen it – maybe in the movies, or possibly right in front of your eyes: the cigar bite. On the big screen, it may seem impressive, but in reality, it’s considered bad etiquette.

Beyond the social awkwardness it may create, biting a cigar is typically an imprecise way to cut a cigar head. In the best-case scenario, you’ll get a cut that would’ve been more easily achieved with a tool or even a knife. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll tear away the wrapper, destroy the cigar or end up with a mouth full of tobacco and a very messy cigar!

#4. Keep Your Cutters Sharp

All bladed tools share the same trait: if they’re dull, they won’t work correctly. This applies to your cutters too. Because of quickly and easily cigar wrappers can be cut, they won’t dull particularly quickly. But keep an eye on your cutter and look for signs of it wearing down.

You may be able to sharpen the cutting blade, or you may need to replace it. Either way, don’t let a dull cutter cost you one of your favorite cigars!

Visit Chaloner’s

Walk-ins are welcome! Come visit our dime store and Cigar House, located on West Maumee in downtown Adrian. We’re open every day, including weekends. If you’d like more information, please visit our website 
http://www.chalonerscigarhouse.com, stop into our store, or contact us:

108 W Maumee St. Adrian, MI 49221

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