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Cigar 101

How to Use a Guillotine Cigar Cutter

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Knowing how to cut and light your cigar is essential for every cigar lover. Preparing a cigar to smoke it isn’t rocket science, but there are subtle differences in the methods you can choose. There are three primary ways to cut a cigar, for example. The most common is with a straight cutter, also called a guillotine. Or, you can cut your cigar with a punch cutter or a V-cutter. Some cutters are better equipped to cut certain cigar shapes than others. While it’s a matter personal preference, how you cut your cigar makes a difference in how it smokes. Let’s find out why a guillotine is the universal cutter of choice for most.

What is a Guillotine Cutter?

A guillotine, or straight cutter, does just what you’d expect when you think of a 1790’s guillotine in the thick of the French Revolution – it cuts the cigar’s head off – in a perhaps less ghastly manner. Guillotine cutters have either one or two blades and are designed to deliver a precise cut above the cap of a cigar. Guillotine cutters come in a wide variety of materials, from inexpensive plastic cutters like our Holt’s-branded cutters to more advanced models from Xikar and Visol.

How to Use a Guillotine Cutter

The simplest way to cut any cigar is with a guillotine cutter. The trick is to cut your cigar above the cap, not below it. When you cut a cigar below the cap, you’re cutting it too deep. If you remove the entire cap on your cigar, the wrapper can unravel as a result. You’ll also get unwanted remnants of loose tobacco in your mouth.

Some straight cutters feature an aperture with a closed back so that you can’t insert too much of your cigar through the blades or cut too much off. If your guillotine doesn’t have a closed back, like most, be cognizant of where you’re cutting your cigar. Choose a guillotine with an aperture equipped to cut the ring gauge of the cigar you’re smoking. You don’t have fit the entire head of your cigar into the blades – just an area roughly the same circumference as a dime. You only need to remove enough of the cap to effectively draw on your cigar.

Because cigar ring gauges have grown to such immense dimensions in recent years, guillotine cutters like the Xikar X8 Cutter and M8 70 Ring Cutter can handle 70 and 80 ring cigars, respectively. Use a wider guillotine cutter if you like fat cigars.

3 Great Guillotine Cutters

Xikar Xi1 Cutter ($55.95)

Xikar’s popular Xi1 Cutter features the brand’s the original interlocking blades in an ergonomic teardrop shape. Cut the head on a 60 ring cigar with ease. The spring-loaded aluminum body is well made and available in several iconic colors. Never worry your blades will dull thanks to Xikar’s lifetime warranty.

Xikar XO Cutter ($89.95 - $107.95)

The Xikar XO Cutter represents the latest evolution in cutter innovation. Ultra-sharp dual stainless steel blades expand and retract simultaneously in a geared housing that locks when it’s in your pocket. The XO can cut a 64 ring gauge cigar in half. The strong but lightweight design includes Xikar’s standard lifetime warranty and is available in a wide variety of colorful finishes.

Savoy Steel Cutter ($27.99)

The Savoy Steel Cutter is available in three sleek finishes: Matte Black, Gunmetal, and Silver. Each is equipped with a pair of razor-sharp blades and comes in a leather sheath you can easily slide into your pocket without the worry of scratching your cutter.

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