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How to Cut a Cigar: Positioning, Cigar Types and Cigar Cutters

Chris, Chief Editor

Updated Jan 24, 2024

Human experts evaluate all our content

To cut a cigar correctly, locate the cap, which is the small piece of tobacco leaf glued to the head of the cigar. Using a suitable cigar cutter, such as a guillotine or a v-cut cutter, position the blades just inside the end of the cap (1/16 to 1/8 of an inch) and make a swift, precise cut.

The aim is to create an open pathway for the cigar smoke to travel without damaging the integrity of the cigar wrapper using a quality cigar cutter. A cut cigar should ideally be smoked within 24-48 hours for optimal freshness and stored in a cigar humidor or airtight container.

Various tools and techniques are used to cut different types of cigars. Understanding the nuances of how to cut a cigar enhances the overall enjoyment and appreciation of this luxury experience.

how to cut a cigar

How do I know if my cigar needs to be cut?

The first indication that your cigar needs to be cut is the presence of a cap on the head of the cigar. The cap, a small piece of tobacco leaf, is glued to the head of the cigar to keep the wrapper intact and the tobacco inside fresh. To smoke the cigar, this cap, or at least part of it, needs to be cut off to create an open pathway for the smoke.

Which side of the cigar do you cut?

You cut the side of the cigar where the cap is located. The cigar band, which is the label wrapped around the cigar, is also positioned closer to the cap end, indicating the side that you should cut.

Do you cut both ends of a cigar?

No, you do not cut both ends of a cigar. Only the cap end or the head of the cigar is cut. The other end, known as the cigar foot, is the part you light. Cutting both ends of a cigar leads to the cigar unraveling and disrupting the intended flavor experience, which is also a reason why you don’t smoke a cigar backward.

Where to cut a cigar?

The exact spot to cut cigars properly is where the cap ends, and the curvature of the cigar head becomes straight. This is the ideal location to make your cut with a swift and clean motion using a cigar cutter.

How much of a cigar should you cut?

You should aim to remove just the cap, which usually equates to 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. Cutting the cigar too much will cause the cigar to unravel and spoil the smoking experience. On the other hand, cutting too little restricts the draw, similar to a punch cut, and is less of an issue.

How to trim a cigar?

Trimming a cigar refers to the process of making adjustments to the initial cut, especially when the first cut doesn’t go as planned. If you’ve made a mistake while cutting the cigar initially, don’t worry. Although not ideal, you can still save the day by trimming the cigar by following the steps below.

  1. Reassess the Cut: Look at the initial cut and determine how much more you need to cut off. You want to cut off just enough to create a good draw but not so much that the cigar starts to unravel.
  2. Position Your Cutter: Place your cutter over the end of the cigar where you want to make the new cut and position the blades appropriately.
  3. Make the Cut: With a swift and firm motion, close the blades of the cutter to trim off the desired amount. Try to make this cut as clean and precise as possible to avoid further damage to the cigar.
  4. Check the Draw: After trimming, check the draw by taking a gentle pull from the cigar. If the draw feels good, you’re ready to light up and enjoy. If it’s still too tight, you may need to trim a bit more.

It’s always better to cut too little than too much. You can always trim more, but once the cap is completely cut off, the cigar may start to unravel, and there’s no going back. So, take your time, be patient, and make minor adjustments until you achieve the perfect draw.

How to cut different types of cigars?

To cut different types of cigars, you first need to understand the type of cigar you’re dealing with and the type of cigar cutter to use, which we’ll discuss below.

Parejo or Straight Cigars

A straight cigar, also known as a Parejo, is the most common shape of a cigar and includes various cigar sizes, such as Robusto, Churchill, and Corona. They have a straight body with a rounded head.

A straight cut with a guillotine cutter is the tool of choice due to its precision and ease of use. Position the cutter about 1-2mm from the end of the head (where the cap ends), and make a quick, decisive cut. A cigar punch cutter and a v-cut cigar cutter are also fantastic options to use for straight cigars.

Torpedo Cigars

A pointed head characterizes torpedo cigars. They require a more careful approach when cutting. A straight cut is still the preferred method, but you need to decide how much of the pointed end to cut off. Some smokers prefer a wider opening and will cut more off, while others prefer a smaller opening and will cut less. Start with a smaller cut; you can always trim a cigar if needed.

Perfecto Cigars

Perfecto cigars have a closed foot and a bulge in the middle. They can be tricky to cut because of their shape. A straight cut is recommended, positioned just before the start of the tapering at the head of the cigar.

Figurado Cigars

Figurado cigars have an irregular shape – they can be pointed at both ends, have a bulge in the middle, or be tapered at one end. The method of cutting a figurado cigar depends on its specific shape. In general, a straight cut is recommended, positioned to create an opening that provides the desired draw.

What are the different types of cigar cutters?

There are several types of cigar cutters, each with its own unique features, benefits, and distinct user experience. Choosing the right type of cigar cutter depends on personal preference and the type of cigar you’re about to smoke.

Guillotine Cutters

Guillotine cutters, also known as straight cutters, are characterized by one or two sharp blades that provide a straight cut across the cap of the cigar. Single-blade guillotine cutters are simple and straightforward, while double-blade cutters provide a more precise cut from both sides, reducing the chance of tearing the cigar wrapper.

The main advantage of a guillotine cutter is its versatility. It can be used to cut a wide variety of cigars, regardless of their size or shape, which is why they are recommended overall for all types of cigars. They are also portable and easy to use, making them a favorite choice among novice and experienced cigar smokers.

Using a guillotine cutter is straightforward and simple. You place the cap of the cigar into the cutter, aligning it with the blades, and then apply a quick, firm pressure to cut. The result is a clean, straight cut that allows for an optimal draw.

V-Cutters

V-cutters, also known as wedge cutters, are a unique type of cigar cutter that creates a V-shaped incision in the cap of the cigar. This design allows for a deeper cut into the cap without risking cutting past the shoulder of the cigar, making it a great tool for beginners.

The V-cut provides more surface area of the filler to be exposed compared to a straight cut, which can result in a fuller and smoother draw. This type of cut is also less likely to cause loose tobacco bits, known as “tobacco shrapnel,” to end up in the smoker’s mouth during the draw. The V-cutter is particularly beneficial for cigars with a larger ring gauge, as it allows for a deeper cut and a better draw.

The V-cutter is straightforward to use; you simply place the cap of the cigar into the cutter and apply pressure to create the V-shaped cut.

Punch Cutters

Punch cutters are a specialized type of cigar cutter that stand out due to their unique design and cutting method, characterized by their cylindrical shape, with a sharp, circular blade at one end. Unlike other cutters that slice off a part of the cap, a punch cutter creates a neat, small hole in the cap of the cigar, similar to a drill.

Some punch cutters are designed with keyring attachments for easy portability, while others are incorporated into the bottom of a cigar lighter, making them a handy 2-in-1 tool. The punch cutter’s design gives a more restricted draw, which is preferred by some cigar enthusiasts for the concentrated, intense flavors. Leaving the cap’s edges intact makes punch cutters excel at cutting dry cigars that run the risk of unraveling with a guillotine or v-cut.

To use, you place the punch cutter over the center of the cap, perpendicular to the cigar, and apply gentle pressure in a twisting motion. The result is a clean, small hole for keeping the integrity of the cigar anatomy and adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the flavor profile of the cigar.

Cigar Scissors

Unlike other types of cigar cutters, cigar scissors are characterized by their long, sharp blades and comfortable handles, which often mimic the design of traditional scissors. They are typically made from high-quality materials like stainless steel for durability and longevity. Some models feature adjustable screws that allow you to control the tension of the blades for a more personalized cutting experience.

Cigar scissors offer a high level of precision for creating a clean, accurate, and satisfying cut. They are particularly effective for larger ring gauge cigars, where other types of cutters struggle due to their size. Cigar scissors allow for greater control over the cutting process, minimizing the risk of damaging the cigar.

Due to their design, cigar scissors require a bit more attention compared to other cutters. The user places the head of the cigar between the blades, aligns it for the desired cut, and applies a gentle yet firm pressure to make the cut.

Cigar knives

Cigar knives stand out due to their sophisticated design and their unique method for cutting cigars. The main feature that sets them apart is the incorporation of a hole or ridge where the cigar is placed prior to cutting, facilitating a precise cut. Some cigar knives are equipped with a luxurious Damascus blade, known for its exceptional sharpness and durability while adding an element of elegance and class to the tool.

Using a cigar knife is straightforward: you place the cap of the cigar into the hole or ridge of the knife, align it for the desired cut, and apply a gentle yet firm pressure to the blade to cut the cigar. It’s recommended to opt for a cigar knife with a ridge if you plan on smoking larger ring gauge cigars.

Does the type of cut affect the smoking experience?

The way a cigar is cut significantly influences the smoking experience. The cut determines the size of the opening at the end of the cigar, directly impacting the draw or the amount of smoke that gets pulled in when you take a puff.

A larger cut creates a looser draw for more smoke to pass through, intensifies the flavors, but also runs the risk of the cigar burning too hot. A hot cigar may lead to a harsher smoke and some do not prefer it.

A smaller cut restricts the draw and you’ll get less smoke with each puff, leading to a more subtle flavor experience and a cooler smoke. A smaller cut makes it harder to draw smoke through the cigar, which is exhausting for a typical 45-minute cigar session. A cigar should be enjoyed, not battled with.

The type of cut also affects the smoking experience. A straight cut is the most common type and gives a straightforward open draw. A V-cut or a punch cut creates a more concentrated.

Cutting your cigar with different cuts is a fun and nuanced way of discovering your favorite way of smoking a cigar.

How to choose the right cutter for your cigar type?

Choosing a good cigar cutter for your cigar depends on a few key factors:

  1. The Size and Shape of the Cigar: The size and shape of your cigar dictate what type of cutter is best. For example, a straight cutter is generally suitable for most cigars, but a torpedo or pyramid-shaped cigar might require a V-cutter for a better smoking experience.
  2. Personal Preference: Some cigar smokers prefer the clean cut of a guillotine cutter, while others prefer the concentrated draw from a punch cutter. It’s all about what you personally find most enjoyable, and the best way is to try a variety of cuts if you’re a new cigar smoker.
  3. Quality of the Cutter: A high-quality cutter will provide a clean, precise cut every time. Look for cutters with sharp stainless steel blades and a sturdy construction.
  4. Price: Cigar cutters range in price from a few dollars to over a hundred. While price doesn’t always guarantee quality, investing in a good cutter is a worthwhile investment for regular cigar smokers, especially if you plan to smoke more expensive cigars.

For me personally, I prefer a good guillotine cut most of the times. If I have a few dry cigars at home, I’ll default to a punch cutter to keep the cigars from unraveling, as a guillotine cut will be too harsh.

How to cut a cigar without a cutter?

While it’s always preferred to use a dedicated cigar cutter for precision and to maintain the integrity of the cigar, there are instances where you have to cut a cigar without a cutter. A sharp knife can serve as a makeshift solution in those cases.

Position the cigar on a sturdy cutting board and place the blade of the knife just inside the end of the cap. Be careful not to position the knife too far down. With the knife in position, make a swift and decisive cut.

This method requires extreme caution and a steady hand to avoid crushing the cigar or causing injury, and it’s always best to use a dedicated cigar cutter whenever possible.

How to punch a cigar without a punch cutter?

While a punch cutter is the ideal tool for punching a cigar, if you find yourself without one, there are a few alternatives you can use. A small, sharp object like a 9mm drill or a golf tee can be used to create a hole in the cap of a cigar.

Can you use scissors to cut a cigar?

Clean household scissors can be used to cut a cigar if needed, though not ideal. Specialized cigar scissors are very sharp and dedicated to the task of preventing any unraveling of the cigar when smoking.

Can you cut a cigar and smoke it later?

Yes, you can cut a cigar and put it out to smoke later. Once a cigar is cut, it should ideally be smoked within 24-48 hours for optimal freshness and taste. To maintain the freshness of a cut cigar, store it in a cigar humidor or airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

Does cutting a cigar affect its shelf life?

Yes, cutting a cigar does affect its shelf life. The cut end of the cigar may start to dry out after 24-48 hours of the cigar being cut, which negatively impacts the smoking experience. It’s generally recommended to cut a cigar only when you’re ready to smoke it.

How to store a cigar after cutting it?

Store a cigar after cutting it by placing it either in a humidor or an airtight container with a Boveda pack.

Humidor

The best place to store a cut cigar is in a humidor. Humidors are designed to maintain a consistent level of humidity to preserve the quality of your cigars. If you have a humidor, place the cut cigar inside and ensure the humidity is around 70%.

Airtight Container

If you don’t have a humidor, an airtight container can work as a temporary solution. Place the cut cigar inside the container and seal it tightly. This will help to prevent the cigar from drying out. You can also add a Boveda pack to the container. These packs release and absorb moisture to maintain a consistent humidity inside the container.

Do you light the cut end of a cigar?

No, you do not light the cut end of a cigar. The cut end, also known as the head, is the part you put in your mouth. The opposite end, known as the foot, is the part you light using a cigar lighter.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when cutting cigars?

Common mistakes to avoid associated with cutting a cigar include:

  • Removing too much or too little of the cap
  • Cutting way beyond the cap
  • Employing dull cutters
  • Biting off the cigar head
  • Using inappropriate cutting tools

For the absolute best experience, consider using a cigar cutter specifically designed for the task.

Chris Starkhagen MSc.

Entrepreneur and Founder of chrisstarkhagen.com

Chris writes for men about what to know and how to be a high-value man and networking with high-net-worth individuals. Chris guides readers on men’s business, men’s home office, men’s performance, men’s accessories, and the best products for men to craft a timeless style. Whether you’re already a high net-worth man seeking your next luxury watch or a young G who wants a lifestyle upgrade, Chris connects men with the resources needed to elevate life as a man.