Cutting the cap of a cigar to make it properly smokable is part science and part art. The science of it includes knowing how to use a very sharp cutter to cleanly cut without tearing the cap and creating a loose wrapper.
The art of it involves knowing where on the head to make the cut and how large a cut to produce given the characteristics of the cigar. In addition, some aficionados with a few years of experience under their belt own several cutters and match the cutter they use to the cigar.
For now, we’ll look at the three most common types of cutters and give you some characteristics of each.
Cigar Punch: This cutter “punches” a hole directly in the top of the cap. A sharp blade actually bores the hole while you use a gentle rotating motion. Only apply enough pressure to let the blade do the work. You don’t want to crush the head while pushing too hard. The material removed remains in the punch until you push it out or release a spring to force it out.
Cigar punches are very consistent. They’re ideal for cigars that draw easily. If one of your favorite stogies draws a bit hard, you might consider cutting it with one of the other two types of cutters.
Guillotine Cutter: This is a very popular type of cutter. One or two sharp blades “chop” the cap where you locate the cutter. The cutter has a hole that slides over the head. Most smokers remove about a quarter-inch of the head to open roughly 75 percent of the cap.
V Cutter: A V-shaped blade removes a wedge of material including part of the cap and a very small amount of filler tobacco. The cutter must be firmly against the cap to make a proper cut.
It will be worth the money for you to purchase a quality cutter for the job. A cheap one may well ruin a few cigars that cost more than it did, and you’ll pitch it in favor of a better one. So, save yourself the expense and frustration by choosing a proven cigar cutter from the start.
With a bit of practice, and maybe a mistake or two, you’ll become an expert at opening the cap of a cigar to create a perfect draw. Perhaps you’ll want to choose a few cheap cigars to smoke when you get your new cutter, and if you botch one, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted a lot of cash.