Up In Smoke - Column No. 2

All Things Sharp?

Cutters, punches, piercers, blades.

Sounds like something a guy hawking his cutlery services in the Bronx would say. But what I'm talking about is the variety of ways you can open your cigar for smoking, otherwise known as cutting. Some people bite them, but I won't discuss them for fear of reprisals against cigar smokers at large. Some slice the caps off with the hands of a surgeon. Others use a device designed for drilling little holes into the cap to provide the flow, or a larger bore that will remove a single, large hole out of the cap.

Which is for you? That all depends on what you like. Do you like the feel of a large hole to pull smoke through? A single avenue of escape that keeps that lovely cap of your cigar mostly intact? Do you like the idea of cutting your way through that same cap for an even larger opening into the cigars interior? How about placing two or three small holes to concentrate the smoke before hitting your palate?

Once you've decided on a method, you must decide on a cutting device. First you have the cigar cutter or cigar scissors. The idea is to cut in front of the last layer of the cap in order to hold the cigar head together but still provide a large drawing area. There are documents that can actually detail the type of cut you should use depending on the shape or size of a particular cigar, but I won't go into that much detail. However, the most common is a perpendicular cut to the cigar cap. If you are curious to know more, there are some interesting articles on the web.

Back to the cutter they come as single or double bladed, a V-cut device, or a pair of cigar scissors. Make a cut perpendicular to the body of the cigar, roughly about 1/8" or 3mm behind the final cap layer of your cigar. This can be done to varying degrees, but if you go over that last cap line, you risk damaging the wrapper and binder. A V-cutter will remove the cap in a strip, like a trench across the top of your cigar. It is pretty simple to use, but if done improperly can cause serious damage to the cigar.

Next there's the Cigar Punch. This device will remove a portion of the cap like a glass cutter can pop out a hole in a pane of glass. Turn it and pop out the divot. This is a very easy method of cutting a cigar as it removes the guesswork out of the traditional cigar cutter. To use this device just push into the cap in the same direction as the cigar. Do not go too deep with your punch, just remove part of the cap. This method will concentrate the smoke on the palate for a more enjoyable sensation.

The cigar Piercer is not as well known as the draw poker. A draw poker is designed to work like a drill, removing material along the axis and loosening a tight draw on a cigar. The cigar Piercer works the same way, although at only 1-1/2" to 2" long it is designed to only reach past the cap. To use this device you must know how many holes you want in the cap and then practice angling the rod so there is a meet-me area right past the cap. Angle each hole toward the center of the cigar to make sure you get the smoke in the meet-me area before it travels out each hole onto your palate. A perk of this method is that the cap is almost entirely intact and the smoke is concentrated on two or three areas of your palate.

All in all, there is a cutting method for everyone. I have tried all of these methods, have my preferences and my favorite tools for the task, but I'll leave it up to you to decide what you like. There are multiple manufacturers of these types of tools Zino, Palio, Swiss Army, Xikar and most have websites. But as the credo in this hobby, to each their own.


Jason Rhine (Rhino) is nothing special in the realm of cigars. Just an everyday guy that likes to try a variety of cigars, accessories, and has a voracious appetite for anything cigar related. In addition to his love of the leaf, he is an avid hockey fanatic, which allows him to combine two of his great pleasures smoking a cigar and watching hockey.