How to Properly Cut a Cigar

You just cut off the top of a cigar and light it, right? STOP! Smoking a cigar isn’t like in the movies. There are so many different processes to perfect that will enhance your experience—from lighting, to cutting, to storing cigars in your humidor. But we got you! Before you grab a cigar cutter, learn how to properly cut a cigar to enjoy a great smoke from the first puff until the last.


Finally! The ultimate how to cut a cigar video with up-close, step-by-step instructions and three main ways to cut a cigar—straight-cut vs v-cut vs punch cut. Watch and learn:

  • How to use a cigar cutter
  • Which end of a cigar to cut
  • How much of a cigar to cut off
  • Which is the best cigar cut for the cigars you smoke
  • Where to cut a cigar so it doesn’t unravel
  • Why you need to cut a cap off of a cigar before you light it


What Part of a Cigar Do You Cut Off?

A cigar has a head and a foot. At the head of a cigar, you’ll be removing a thin portion of the cap.

Learn how to cut a cigar, this Boveda graphic shows the parts of a cigar: foot, body, head, shoulder and cap

What’s a Cigar Cap?

A cigar is capped to prevent the cigar wrapper, which is rolled from foot to head, from unraveling. The cap also shows a cigar newbie what end of a cigar NOT to light. You cut the cap before you torch the foot of a cigar.

Which End is the Cigar Foot?

The foot of a cigar is open-ended. This is the end you’re going to toast and light, so there’s no need to cut the cigar foot.

Don’t Make These Cigar Cutting Mistakes:

  • Cutting past the cap, so the wrapper starts to unravel
  • Using a dull cigar cutter, which can crack or tear the cap and wrapper
  • Licking the head of a cigar to wet it before using someone else’s cigar cutter
  • Pausing while cutting, which makes for a rough, jagged cut

Which Cigar Cutter is Right for You?

A cigar cutter is essentially a really sharp knife. Specific types of cutters perform specific cuts. The three most popular cigar cuts are the straight cut, punch cut and V-cut.

          #1. STRAIGHT CUT

          You can straight cut a cigar with a guillotine cutter, which can have either a single blade or double blades.

          Nix a single-blade guillotine. 
          Single-blade cutters can cause pressure on the cap or wrapper. Cracking is common if the cigar is dry or is rolled with a fragile wrapper like Cameroon leaf.

          Reach for a double-blade guillotine. 
          With its sharp blades and double cutting sides, this guillotine will give you a good straight cut. It’s the easiest cutter to use if you’re new to cigars and the cutter of choice for most aficionados. 

          “With a double-blade guillotine cutter, you can open up the cigar completely to get all the smoke you need to experience all the flavors,” Rob Gagner, host of the Boveda’s Box Press cigar podcast, explained. “The last thing I want to do is to restrict the amount of flavor I get from a cigar.”

          Make sure the guillotine cutter you’re about to buy will fit the ring gauge of the cigars you like to smoke. (The ring gauge is how thick a cigar is. The higher the ring gauge number, the thicker the cigar.)

          What Cigar Cut Do You Like?

          Guillotine for me, but I just barely skin the first cap, check the draw and move one from there. @aforgewithnoname

          Boveda graphic shows how to cut a cigar using a guillotine cigar cutter for a round head cigar and tapered head cigar.

          What Cigar Cut Do You Like?

          Depends on the gauge I’m smoking straight cut for smaller rings and v on the larger. Seems like I get a better draw this way. @matthewhvac76

            #2. V-Cut

            A V-cut cigar cutter is used like a guillotine cutter. Instead of making a straight cut across the cap, a V-cut slices a v-shaped wedge from the cigar cap. The V-cut gives a more concentrated, intense draw. You’ll pull smoke from both the top and bottom of the cigar onto your palate. 

            Although a V-cutter works on most types of cigar shapes and ring gauges, thicker cigars might be more difficult to wedge cut. 

            What Cigar Cut Do You Like?

            Definitely V cut but I’ll use straight cut for torpedoes and small gauges cigars. – @zeropucksgiven

            #3. Punch Cut

              For round-capped cigars, you can also use a punch cut, which makes a small hole in the top while leaving the rest of the cap intact. It only works on round-capped cigars, and best on ring gauges over 40. You’ll get a tight draw using a punch cutter. That can be good or bad, according to Gagner.

              “When I  punch or poke a hole in a cigar cap, I find the oils build up at the cap,” Gagner explained. “If you get this oil build-up, it’s actually saliva mixed with the tobacco’s oils. Oil build-up can be caused by that restricted cut made by a cigar punch from smoking a cigar too fast, over-humidifying a cigar or having too much saliva on your cigar head.

              “I find poking a cigar creates a bitter, off-putting taste that requires me to cut or recut my cigar,” Gagner said.

              What Cigar Cut Do You Like?

              I’ve been enjoying a punch cut lately. When I get a good draw on a punch means the cigar was rolled to perfection!!  – @backyardcigarro

              Do You Have to Pay A Lot to Get a Quality Cigar Cutter?

              No, you can pick up a cheap guillotine cigar cutter for $5 to $10. A few economy cigar cutters like the new Boveda Cigar Cutter pictured below are good to keep on hand. They get the job done, and you can buy a few without breaking the bank to stow in all your favorite smoke spots, like the car, your desk and the garage. And when you inevitably misplace or loan out an econo-cutter, you won’t be out a lot.

              Using a double guillotine like this Boveda cigar cutter gives a straight cut on cigars.
              Great gift for a cigar smoker, who can never have too many cutters. Order a Boveda Cigar Cutter here or buy three and SAVE!

              How to Spot a Good Budget-Friendly Cigar Cutter:

              • Stainless steel blades that glide smoothly and work independently
              • Works on:
                – Many ring gauges
                – Traditionally-shaped cigars, like parejos, figurados, torpedos AND additional popular premiums
              • Big finger holes to fit sausage fingers

                    When to Splurge on an Expensive Cigar Cutter

                    A more expensive cigar cutter is an investment for a cigar smoker. Expect to plunk down three to ten times more for a quality cigar cutter. But as with everything, you get what you pay for. Using a good cigar cutter, you can get the exact cut you want on those valuable cigars.

                    What Extra Features to Shop for in a Top-Shelf Cigar Cutter

                    • Quality housing and cutting mechanism
                      Spring-loaded cigar cutters that lock shut are high-end and feel great to use.
                    • Manufacturer’s warranty
                      Many quality cigar cutters offer a lifetime or limited-lifetime warranty, which often cover material and mechanical defects. Most manufacturers do not warranty cigar cutters for normal wear and tear, scratches or misuse. If you invest in a name brand, save your receipt and familiarize yourself with the warranty.
                    • Sharpening
                      Cigar cutter getting dull? Check with the manufacturer about sending your cigar cutter in for sharpening. 

                          Check Out These High-End Cigar Cutters

                            Splurge on your cigar hobby and tuck the Xikar XI2 Cigar Cutter into your travel humidor. This premium double-blade cutter is a spring-loaded double guillotine with 440 stainless steel blades. The XI2 cuts 54 to 60 ring gauge cigars and retails for $49.99.

                            If money is no object, then go for the XIKAR XI Dueling Dragons Chasing Flaming Pearl for the $150,000. Set by hand, 1,940 red rubies grace the 18 karat gold body. Now that’s a statement cigar cutter!

                            A cigar cutter can range in price from $10 to $150,000. A cigar smoker can find this necessary cigar accessory to fit every budget.

                            No Cigar Cutter? Here’s What Else You Can Use to Cut a Cigar:

                            • A pocket knife to cut along the cap
                            • Your incisors to bite off a thin layer of the cap—rotate the cigar as you nibble
                            • The non-strike end of a wooden matchstick to poke the cap one to four times
                            • Your fingernail gives you the same result as a cigar punch

                            How to Cut a Cigar with Your Fingernail:

                            Unless you’re smoking a figurado or torpedo-shaped cigar, use the tool the Almighty gave you. Your fingernail does NOT need to be long and can be just as easy and as effective as using a cigar cutter. 

                            1. Focus on the top of the cap, not the sides or the shoulder. 
                            2. Start on the top, near the edge, and use your fingernail to puncture the thin piece of tobacco that forms the cap. It’s just a pierce—do not cut or rip the tobacco.
                            3. Continue puncturing the cap to form the same type of circle that a cigar punch would produce.
                            4. After the top thin tobacco/cap is pierced to form a complete circle, gently remove the single layer of tobacco from the inner part of the circle you just formed.

                            Sean Knutsen, President and CEO of Boveda swears by cutting cigars with his fingernail. “It’s the method the old Cuban cigar legends use,”  Knutsen said. “If it’s good enough for the old Cuban legends, then it’s good enough for me.”

                            How a Cigar Cutter Can Solve 2 Common Cigar Problems:

                            How to Remove a Cigar’s Bitter Aftertaste—Recut, Then Relight:

                            1. Use a cigar cutter to recut the head of the cigar.
                            2. Rest the cigar for 5 to 10 minutes.
                            3. Relight the cigar by holding the lighter to the end of the cigar, then blow out the flame on the foot to purge the cigar of any gas build-up.

                            How to Quickly Humidify a Cigar with Boveda—Cut the Cap, Get that Cigar into a Humidor with Boveda

                            If your cigar is dry and you want to smoke it right away, cut the cap and put it back into your humidor with your Boveda packs. Opening the cap will allow moisture to flow into the cigar faster. Cutting the cap allows the water vapor from the Boveda to enter the cigar filler without restriction.

                            Better yet, condition new cigars in a Boveda Humidor Bag before adding them to your cigar humidor.

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