A guy in my office recently asked how he could become a cigar smoker. I realized that new cigar smokers and cigar smoker wannabes could use a little guidance on this topic. Over the course of five blog posts, I share my advice on how to become a cigar smoker in 5 easy steps. Step One discusses buying your first cigar. Step Two below describes the various types of cigar cutters and how to cut a cigar.
Step 2: Cut Your Cigar
If you followed Step One of how to become a cigar smoker in 5 easy steps, you should now have a handful of sticks ready to smoke, a cheap cutter, and matches. If not, go back to Step One! Cutting a cigar is always a bit of a dangerous proposition. Cut too little and your head implodes sucking on the cigar. Cut too much and your cigar slowly unravels before your eyes like a cruel magic trick.
Parts of a Cigar
Before you learn how to cut a cigar, you need to understand the different parts of a cigar from a physical vice contents standpoint. A cigar is divided into three parts:
- Head or Cap: The head or cap is located at the end of the cigar you put in your mouth. While the words head and cap are generally used synonymously, I believe there is a difference. The head is simply the end of the cigar you put in your mouth while the cap is the little round piece of tobacco placed at the Head of the cigar to allow the smoker to cut a hole in it to whatever size desired.
- Foot: The foot is the part of the cigar you light.
- Body: The body is the rest of the cigar.
Cutting with a Cheap Ass Cigar Cutter
Now that you know the different parts of a cigar, grab your cheap ass cutter you purchased in Step One and the cigar you want to cut. It is time to learn how to cut a cigar!
The cheap ass cutter has a single blade in it and looks somewhat like a blade from a box cutter. First, remove the cellophane, aka cello, from the cigar if it is wrapped in cello. Next, hold the cigar in your nondominant hand and the cheap ass cutter in your dominant hand. The cigar cutter should be in your dominant hand as you need fine control over the cut on the cigar. Reverse this at your cigar’s peril.
Place your thumb and middle finger in the two holes on the cheap ass cutter and open the cutter far enough to insert the cigar in the opening.
Next, insert the head of the cigar into the opening. This is the tricky part. Insert the head far enough into the cutter to cut off part of the cap to allow air to flow into the cigar as you draw it but not so far that you cut the entire cap off. This takes practice and skill, especially with a cheap ass cigar cutter.
Once you have everything lined up properly, quickly close the cutter to cut through the cigar. If all goes as planned, you have a perfectly cut cigar and a small piece of the cap. If things went awry, you get to smoke a cigar without the wrapper. Throw away the small piece of cap, unless you are a weirdo and collect caps.
As a side note, the cheap ass cigar cutter is sharp as hell for a few cuts. How many is a few? About that many. Usually, I get 10-20 cuts before the blade starts to rip instead of cut the cigar. If you think mowing your lawn with a dull blade that rips instead of cuts the grass sucks, imagine your $5-10 investment being ripped apart.
Moving Up in the World; Cutting with a Xikar Cutter
So you have the basics down with a cheap ass cigar cutter, now it is time to move to the big leagues. Xikar makes a variety of exceptional cutters and I have a ton of them. I am a Xikar fiend. Why? They always work, look great, and they have a lifetime warranty. If your cutter breaks for any reason or the blade becomes dull, simply send it to Xikar and they will repair or replace the cutter.
Once you get tired of the cheap ass cigar cutter ruining your cigars, buy a Xikar cutter. I recommend the Xi series cutter. The Xi series cutter has two German-made, super sharp blades. When you close the Xi series cutter, both blades come together to cut the cigar.
The Xi series cutter is the bomb. Buy one. You won’t be disappointed. All Xi series cutters feature 440C stainless steel blades with a Rockwell HRC 57 rating. This means they are sharp as hell and can cut a bazillion cigars before the blades become dull. I have had Xi cutters for over 10 years and they are as sharp as the day I bought them. They come in a variety of colors and finishes, including carbon fiber, wood, and coral. Start with a basic Xi3 cutter and expand as you become addicted to this incredible cigar accessory. Here’s a picture and link to an Xi series cutter.
For most cigars, the Xi series of cutters will make a perfect cut every time by following these simple instructions. First, unlock and open the Xi cutter. Then, remove the cellophane from your cigar if it is wrapped in cello. Place the Xi cutter flat on a table with the opener facing up. Open the Xi cutter by pushing the opener down. Next, insert the head of the cigar in the Xi cutter while the Xi cutter remains on the table with your non-dominant hand. Then, place your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand on the two sides of the Xi cutter. Hold the cigar firmly against the table and then quickly close the cutter. Magically, you’ll get a perfect cut every time.
This method works for most cigars. It doesn’t work with a Toro or similar style of cigar. It also does not work for large ring size cigars. For a Toro, use the method described above.
A V cutter is a style of cigar cutter that cuts, well, a V shaped incision in the head of your cigar. To use the V cutter, you can either hold it in your dominant hand and place the head of your cigar in the cutter, or use the method above for the Xi series cutter and place the cutter on the table, insert the head of the cigar and cut away.
Xikar also makes a V cutter that is exceptional. Below is a photo and link to purchase one.
Punch Your Ticket
Another option is to use a Punch style cutter. A Punch cutter punches (duh!) a small hole in the cap of the cigar. I consider using a Punch cutter an advanced cutting technique as the chance for error is great. I’m not a big fan of the Punch cutter but lots of people swear by them. I’m not sold as I have a tendency to screw up the cigar. The greatest thing about Punch cutters is their diminutive size. You can easily attach one to your key ring and carry one with you everywhere.
To use a Punch cutter, hold the cigar in your nondominant hand near the cap with your thumb and index finger. With your dominant hand, slowly press the Punch cutter into the head until you pierce the cap. Remove the Punch cutter and magically, you have a perfect circular cut in your cigar.
As you can guess, the Punch cutter does not work in a Toro or other similar cigar or really small cigars.
The trick with a Punch cutter and the downfall for me is that you have to firmly hold the cigar in your hand while firmly pressing the cutter into the cap of the cigar. Hold too firmly or press too firmly and you end up with a cracked cigar wrapper. I’ve done this numerous times. I guess I don’t have the touch.
Xikar also makes a Punch cutter that is incredibly sharp. Below is a photo and link to purchase one.
Cigar Scissors and Au Naturale
There a number of other ways to cut cigars. One way is to use a pair of Cigar Scissors. Cigar Scissors look like a funky pair of scissors with rounded blades to cut the cap. I’ve tried a few and have never been very successful. I generally end up ripping the cap. I suggest you avoid Cigar Scissors until you become a cigar smoking expert. Or, at least better at it than me!
Below is a picture of a set of Xikar Cigar Scissors.
The most basic way to cut a cigar is to use your own cigar cutter, your teeth!. This works in a pinch and takes a bit of practice. To do this, wet the cap with your saliva and then nibble at the cap until you have the draw you desire. Some people swear by this technique. I’ve done this many times and it works. I usually look like a goober when I use this method but it definitely works when you forget your cigar cutter!
Cigar cutters come in a number of styles. I suggest you start with a Xikar Xi series cutter. They are fantastic and the easiest to use. Follow the guidance above and you’ll get a perfect cut every time. Congratulations, you are now an expert on how to cut a cigar. Step Three of this series on How to Become a Cigar Smoker in 5 Easy Steps is to learn how to light a cigar. The remaining steps are a surprise!
Certified Consumer Tobacconist (CCT) (What the hell is a CCT? I’ll write about this in a future post.)