Cigar 101

How to Cut a Cigar Without a Cutter

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

You’re out and about and somebody hands you a cigar, but after scanning your pockets, you haven’t got a cutter. Or, you just pulled into a campground 50 miles off the grid and you remembered to bring the coolerdor, but your cutter isn’t in your glovebox where you thought you left it. No worries. When you’re in a pinch and need to know how to cut a cigar without a cutter, we’ve put together a handy menu of impromptu methods below. There are always a handful of quick fixes for clipping your cigar without a cutter.

Use Your Thumbnail

The best way to cut a cigar without a cutter is with your thumbnail. It’s also the most readily available and efficient method. Simply use your thumbnail to loosen a section of the cap, and continue around its circumference. The cap of your cigar is part of the wrapper leaf and it’s typically very thin and easy to remove. The remainder of the cap should easily peel off. Be sure to be gentle. You don’t want to tear the cap too aggressively while it’s still attached to the wrapper leaf. Otherwise, the wrapper can begin to unravel a bit. Also, stay above the cap line when making the initial incision with your nail. The cap will come off in a cleaner, sharper manner.

Slice It

If you’re hesitant to put your cuticles to work and you carry a Swiss Army knife or a quality pocket knife with a sharp blade, you’re in luck. Gently spin the head of your cigar against the blade with a touch of pressure. Make sure you position the blade above the cap line. You don’t want to cut too deep or you’ll mar the end of your cigar and risk getting loose tobacco in your mouth. You also don’t want to slam the blade down on the head of the cigar as if to chop or saw it off. The inside of your cigar is handmade from a recipe of patiently assembled tobaccos. Attempting to saw the end can disturb your cigar’s construction and the draw.

If you’re concerned about cutting the edge cleanly, you can also slice an “X” in the cigar’s cap with your blade. Make a horizontal slice and then a vertical one that crosses it. You should be able to pass air through the cigar when you draw on it.

Poke It

You might not carry a punch cutter or a cigar-piercer on your keyring, but simple items like a toothpick, paperclip, thumbtack, golf-tee, or a Phillips-head screwdriver can do the trick when you need a DIY cigar-piercer. You can also try the end of a wooden matchstick, although it’s best if you can sharpen the end slightly. The key here is to gently create an opening in the cap without causing the wrapper to crack or the end of the cigar to unravel. Apply a slight amount of pressure when you’re inserting the tip of a sharp end. For thin options like a toothpick or paperclip, you may need to make a handful of small insertions to pen up the draw. For less sharp options like a screwdriver, gradually make an insertion and only deep enough to penetrate the cap. As long as you can pull air through the cigar evenly, you’re ready to light it up.

Bite It

If you’re stranded on a sandy desert island beach without a cigar accessory in sight for miles, you can always resort to your pearly whites. Bite down slightly on the cap to separate part of it from the cigar. Once it’s open a little, you can usually peel the rest of the cap off with your fingertips. Try not to inundate the end with too much saliva, or you’re the head of the cigar can end up looking like a sloppy mess. It’s also worth noting, this old-school method for cutting a cigar has been endorsed by scores of cigar lovers for decades.

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