Cigar 101: How To Cut a Cigar

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A double-bladed cutter is far superior to a single blade. It's worth spending a few extra bucks for a higher quality version.

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Giving a figurado a proper straight cut. You want to expose enough of the filler tobacco to allow for an easy draw.

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The perfect straight cut on a figurado cigar.

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I always dust off the cut with my finger right after cutting.

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A bullet cigar punch.

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A v-cut cigar cutter.

The method you use to cut a cigar is less important than how you cut a cigar.

Smoking a cigar is a ritual. It’s all about the process. And that process begins with knowing how to cut a cigar the right way.

Plus, the better the cigar you smoke – maybe you sprung for that Behike 52 when you were overseas? – the more attention you’re going to want to pay to making sure you’re giving it a proper cut, which equates to a better cigar smoking experience.

Here is the definitive HSS guide on how to cut a cigar.

Types of Cigar Caps

Before you cut a cigar, you need to know what you’re working with. There are two main kinds of cigar shapes: parejo and figurado.

how to cut a cigar parejo shape corona

A parejo is a cigar that has straight sides and a rounded cap. These are the most common cigar shapes you see out there and include sizes like the Corona, Robusto, Toro, Longsdale and Churchill.

how to cut a cigar figurado shape oliva melanio

The Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado was Cigar Aficionado’s No. 1 cigar of 2014. A truly classic smoke.

A figurado refers to any kind of cigar with a non-standard shape. Most commonly we think of figurados having a pointed cap. Common figurados are the Torpedo, Belicoso, Pyramid and Diadema.

Methods for Cutting a Cigar

ways to cut a cigar

Three of the most common ways to cut a cigar. L-R: v-cutter, punch and a double-blade guillotine.

Guillotine. The double-blade guillotine is the most common method of cutting a cigar. The cut it delivers is referred to as a straight cut. You can buy them cheaply, but as with anything, you get what you pay for. A poor quality blade will do a literal hack job on your cigar and may even ruin the cap. It’s best to avoid cheaply made plastic and single-blade versions and spring for something a little more solid.

Punch. Unlike a guillotine cigar cutter, which slices off part of the cap, a punch makes about a 1/4″ circular hole in the end of the cap. A cigar punch is very small – the size of a bullet – and can be easier to carry (and lose).

how to cut a cigar with a punch

V-Cutter. A v-cutter is one method you don’t see terribly often, but it’s a way to cut a cigar that some people prefer. This kind of cut will expose a lot more surface area of the cigar, therefore making it easier to draw smoke through cigar. One of the negative effects of a v-cut is that it can allow too much smoke through, making the cigar smoke too hot.

Other Methods. There are other ways of cutting a cigar other than the three methods listed above. You will also see special cigar cutting scissors and all manner of round cutters. In a pinch, you can use a sharp knife, a pen or pencil or even your teeth – though it’s best for the cigar and your smoking experience if you use a method listed above.

Which method should you use?

The method you use to cut your cigar is really a matter of personal preference. How you do it is really much more important.

Remember that the objective of any cut is to create a sufficient and smooth opening for smoking without destroying the integrity of the cigar. A proper cut will allow equal draw from the core and rim of the cigar.

How To Cut a Cigar: Straight Cut

how to cut a cigar straight cut

The straight cut is my preferred cigar cutting method. It’s quick, easy, and always yields great results. Let’s talk about how to do a proper straight cut on both rounded and pointed cap cigars.

Rounded Cap.

First, examine the cap of the cigar. Look for the “shoulder” of the cigar, or the place where the rounded part of the cap starts to straighten out and flatten. This is where you want to make the cut.

Ideally, you will be cutting about 1/16th of an inch (or 2 millimeters) from the tip.

cutting-a-corona-shaped-cigar-straight-cut-guillotine-partagas-cuban-habano

Put the cigar in your cutter and bring the blades so they are just touching the cigar. Next, cut the cap with swift motion. If you go too slow, you run the risk of ruining the cap as the blade may drag some of the tobacco as it cuts. Another reason to be sure you’re using a high quality blade and why double-bladed cutters are superior.

how to cut a cigar straight cut

A proper straight cut on a rounded cap cigar.

Pointed Cap.

The 1/16th of an inch/2 millimeter rule does not apply when cutting a cigar with a pointed cap. The objective here is to remove enough of the cap to expose about the same surface area of the cigar that you would with a straight cut on a cigar with a rounded cap.

how to cut a cigar straight cut figurado

How far down the cigar cap you cut will depend on the cigar itself. There’s really no hard and fast rule. Just try to expose enough of the filler tobacco to get an easy draw.

how to cut a cigar straight cut figurado

How To Cut a Cigar: Punch

To use a cigar punch, hold the bladed end of the punch against the cap of the cigar. Apply light pressure as you rotate the cigar back and forth. Once the blade pierces the cap, continue rotating and drive the blade a little further into the cigar.

how to cut a cigar punch

When you remove the punch, the portion of the cap you cut out will be inside the punch. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when punching a cigar as you run the risk of unraveling the cap.

How To Cut a Cigar: V-Cut

A v-cutter is used almost exactly like a guillotine. The biggest consideration when using one is to avoid creating such a large divot in the cigar that it begins to smoke hot.

DON’T MISS: The HSS Guide to Cigar Essentials

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo. Shot on location at The QG Office Lounge in Baltimore, MD.

Chime In

  • Tom B

    Great Guide, Brian!

    But no conversation about cigar cutting would be truly complete without mentioning the “Dick Cut.” Now stop laughing and let me explain… It is named in honor of its biggest proponent, Joe Dickman, the retired Fuente-Newman west coast sales rep. This is a straight cut, but done at 45-degree angle. This cut opens a tremendous surface area and directs the smoke down onto the palate – the idea being that it will maximize the cigar’s flavor. It’s perfect for using on a milder but creamy cigar, like an Ashton Classic. And you can laugh while you’re smoking it!

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