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How to Cut a Cigar Without a Cutter and Mistakes to Avoid

Chris, Chief Editor

Updated Jan 24, 2024

Human experts evaluate all our content

If you find yourself without a cigar cutter, don’t worry!

There are several alternative methods you can use to achieve a clean cut on your cigars. While employing these methods, make sure to avoid certain mistakes that could potentially ruin your prized cigars. Below are the 5 best methods for those who wonder how to cut a cigar without a cutter.

  • Sharp Knife
  • Razor Blade
  • Tailor Scissors
  • Finger Nail
  • Golf Tee / Screwdriver

Let’s explore the techniques and the pitfalls of cutting cigars for a pleasant cigar-smoking experience, or watch this video on how to cut a cigar without a cigar cutter.

cut cigar without cutter

1. Sharp Knife

A sharp knife is the best option when you don’t have a cigar cutter. Follow these steps for the best results.

  1. Hold the cigar upright with your non-dominant hand.
  2. Use your dominant hand to hold the sharp knife.
  3. Position the blade about 1/16th of an inch from the top.
  4. Cut into the cigar’s cap without smashing it.
  5. Rotate the cigar against the edge.

While a regular kitchen or pocket knife is possible, a cigar knife is your best bet for a precise cut. These knives usually feature a very sharp blade, and some even come with a guillotine-style mechanism or a cigar punch attached to it.

No matter which knife you opt for, exercise caution and precision to prevent damage to your valuable handmade cigar.

2. Razor Blade

If you have a good one, a razor blade is another option for cutting your cigar. When using a razor blade, follow these steps for a clean cut:

  1. Firmly grasp the cigar’s head in one hand.
  2. Position the blade about 1/16th of an inch from the top.
  3. Apply light pressure and cut the cap while rotating the cigar.

3. Tailor Scissor

Though not the ideal choice, with a steady hand and attention to detail, tailor scissors still get the job done in the absence of other cutting tools.

Tailor scissors are usually sharper and more precise if you have one in your home. Using a sharp scissor, make a decisive, clean cut that doesn’t penetrate too deep into the cigar’s head.

Cigar scissors are the best options for cutting a cigar, as they provide a nice and neat cut and are specifically made for cutting cigars.

4. Finger Nail

Surprisingly, your fingernail can also cut a cigar if you or your significant other has long nails. Here’s how:

  1. Wrap the corner of your thumbnail around the cigar.
  2. Slowly cut it with whatever length your thumbnail may have.
  3. A groove should be created while cutting the cigar.
  4. Keep following that groove until the cap is removed entirely from the cigar.

Go easy, and don’t yank the cap off too hard while it’s still connected to the wrapper leaf. This method requires patience and a gentle touch.

5. Golf Tee / Screwdriver

Another method to cut a cigar without a traditional cutter is to use a pointed object like a golf tee or a screwdriver. This might sound unconventional, but in a pinch, these tools can serve as a makeshift punch cutter.

When using a golf tee, gently pierce the cap with the pointed end to create a small hole for smoke to pass through. The key here is to do it gently and slowly to avoid splitting the cap. Similarly, a screwdriver, particularly a small one like a Phillips head screwdriver, can be used in the same way.

What Mistakes Should I Avoid When Cutting a Cigar?

Common cutting mistakes to avoid are damaging the wrapper, cutting too deep, and biting incorrectly.

Damaging the Wrapper

Damaging the wrapper of your cigar leads to an uneven burn and a less enjoyable smoking experience. Certain cigar wrappers, such as Connecticut and thin Maduro wrappers, are more prone to cracking.

To prevent wrapper damage, consistently use a sharp, accurate cutting tool, preferably a cigar cutter, but a knife also does the job.

Cutting Too Deep

Cutting too deep into the cigar causes the wrapper to unravel and negatively affects the draw. To avoid this mistake, leave a bit of the cap when cutting. It’s better to cut a little shallower than too deep.

You can accurately determine the correct depth for cutting a cigar by locating the “shoulder” of the cigar, where the curved end starts to straighten out.

Another way is to cut the cigar about one-sixteenth of an inch (about two millimeters) from the end, just above the shoulder.

Biting Incorrectly

Biting a cigar incorrectly damages the cigar and is not recommended, especially for high-quality, handcrafted cigars. Cutting a cigar with your teeth messes up the cap and causes it to come apart, resulting in a horrible smoking experience.

If you absolutely must bite a cigar, do so where you typically use a cigar cutter. Biting hard and fast will be your best bet. Good luck.

What is the best tool to cut a cigar?

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When cutting a cigar, nothing beats the precision and convenience of a dedicated cigar cutter.

The best cigar cutters are designed to make a quick, clean cut for a perfect draw. You can choose from several types of cutters, each with unique advantages.

  • Guillotine Cutter: Also known as a straight cutter and the most common type of cigar cutter.
  • V-Cutter: Also known as a notch cutter, it cuts a wedge into the cigar cap rather than cutting it off entirely.
  • Punch Cutter: A punch cutter creates a small hole in the end of the cigar.
  • Cigar Scissors: A sophisticated tool that provides a clean, straight cut from high-quality materials.

Where to cut a cigar?

The optimal place to cut is at the “shoulder” of the cigar, where the cap meets the body and is usually a bit curved. This is typically just above the cap line. Cutting at this spot will ensure a smooth draw and prevent the wrapper from unraveling.

What happens if you don’t cut a cigar?

If you don’t cut a cigar, it will be impossible to smoke due to the cigar anatomy. The cap at the end of a cigar is designed to seal it off, so without removing this cap, the cigar won’t draw, meaning you won’t be able to pull the smoke through it.

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.