Cutting a Cuban Cigar
elegant man wearing black suit and white shirt cut Cuban cigar indoor shot, closeup

How to Cut a Cigar

The cutting of a cigar can be a wondrously gratifying part of the ritual of preparing a cigar to smoke. It can, however, also be an impossibly frustrating trial that can put a damper on any cigar escape.


Below we discuss how to cut a cigar with the most devices most likely to be found at a cigar shop near me (and you).


Most all premium handmade cigars will require the head of the cigar to be cut in order to allow you to draw through the smoke. So it is most beneficial to know a little bit about all of the options available and just how to properly use them in order to guarantee as near to a perfect cut as possible.


The Guillotine

The guillotine cutter stirs up images of the French Revolution when the possibility of being
dragged to the guillotine struck fear into hearts of one and all. In spite of this or perhaps morbidly because of this, the guillotine cutter is the most popular cutter amongst cigar enthusiasts today.


In fact the guillotine generally delivers the cleanest cut. It also allows for more surface area than most any other cutter, meaning a greater amount of smoke per draw to find its way to the palate. For theses reasons, many articles that give instructions on how to cut a cigar mention only the Guillotine cutter in their discussion.


For years single-blade guillotines were the only way to go, yet now there are a multitude of guillotine inspired gadgets that will get the job done. Still it is the double-blade guillotine that currently is the go-to choice amongst many connoisseurs.


This tried and true cutter offers a cleaner cut than the single-blade cutter, making it less likely that the cigar could be damaged during the cut and accommodates a wide-range of cigar sizes.


The scissor cut is a variation of this that also allows for cutting more surface area off of the cigar.



Generally more cumbersome and more finicky, scissor cutters are not as popular as in earlier times. Despite leaving little margin for error, they do the job however with special attention being paid to the size of the scissors and level of sharpness.


To properly use a guillotine is to remove just enough of the cap (sometimes referred to as the flag, the tiny piece of tobacco fitted over the head) to allow for a fuller draw as close as to the diameter of the cigar without ruining the overall construction.


If you look carefully you might be able to see lines from the cap encircling the head of the cigar. You will want to cut just above the top most line for the best results.


Many a cigar experience has come to a premature end by cutting too much off of the head, resulting in a frayed or unraveled cigar. Damaging those Cuban Cohibas you’ve been saving can make for a very bad day! So simply trim just enough to expose the filler tobaccos.


When using the guillotine or scissors, remember to make the cut sure-handedly and quick for the smoothest cut, as too slow can tear the tobacco.


The Punch

Also known as the bullet or hole punch, the punch cut has been a steady performer for generations. Quite literally punching a circular hole in the cap of the cigar, the punch cutter is a handy tool that is great for traveling as most are compact and light-weight.


A variation of these cutters is the pierce cut, a tool that pierces the tobacco to create a small hole. These are commonly pre-cut on many mass-produced cigars.


Like the guillotine and scissors, punch and pierce cutters should be checked often for sharpness to ensure a crisp cut each time.


Simply line up the punch wear you want it to cut, firmly push and twist until it has cut just deep enough to expose the filler tobacco.


Hold the cigar firmly through this process, but pay special attention not to grip too tightly as the cigar can twist, bend and rip apart.


If you are smoking larger ring gauge cigar, then use several overlapping punch or pierce cuts to create more surface area to draw in the smoke.


The V Cutter

Another cutter that is known by many names, wedge-cutter or cat-eye among them, the V Cutter is one of the most illustrious of all cutters and also one of the trickiest.


The V cutter has been a required bit of cigar kit for movers and shakers since the late 1800s, making it an instant conversation starter. This intriguing cutter cuts a V-shaped wedge out of the cigar’s head which adds more surface area to the smoke thereby imparting more taste and character.


The V shape also keeps the filler tobaccos from coming into direct contact with the tongue or that’s the idea at least.


V cutters are available in variety of sizes from elaborate desktop models to smaller pocket-sized accessories, yet each is built to accommodate only a set range of sizes. Using a cutter that is too big or too small can severely damage the cigar, so take extra special caution to use the proper size.


So how to cut a cigar using a V cutter you ask?


To appropriately use one, insert the cigar with the cigar band up, with most V cutters actual cutting motion moving downwards, insert the cigar with the cigar band up, quickly push the cutter all the way down and release while keeping the cigar still through the entire process.


V cutters are indeed notoriously finicky and require some practice, yet with a little diligence these cutters can be imminently rewarding. There simply is nothing like sinking a V cutter into a Cuban Montecristo cigar.


As with all aspects of cigars, experimentation is the key to finding what works best for you. If you are unsure of which type to use, then ask yourself “Is there a cigar shop near me?” If the answer is yes, then get in there and allow the tobacconist to demonstrate how to cut a cigar and how each style works on different cigar sizes and shapes.


Ask questions about how they are cleaned or sharpened, what kind of warranties they might have, anything that will help you narrow down the cutters to just the right one for you.


No matter your choice of cutter, if used properly, you will be well outfitted for a glorious cigar smoking adventure.


Thanks for reading!


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