Cutters other than guillotines, and why you might want to try one (or more)
Guillotine cutters dominate the cigar world these days, but they’re far from the only cutters out there. Even if you’re a solid fan of the guillotine cut, there are times when making a different cut might make some sense, or when you simply might want to change things up a little and give something different a try.
V cutters, named for the v-shape they leave behind when they chomp through cigar heads, are an option if you’re looking for a more concentrated smoke as they don’t remove as much area as guillotines do. The same thing goes for their close cousins--cat-eye cutters; the only difference being the shape of the cut they make--V-cuts are straight; cat-eyes are curved.
Punch cutters, or hole-punch cutters, are what the name suggests--instead of cutting part of the cigar cap off, they punch a hole in it instead. Of the different types of cuts, ones made by punch cutters will deliver the most concentrated smoke as they take away the least from a cigar. They’re an option if you smoke cigars on the smaller end of the ring size spectrum, as they won’t make a large enough opening for smoke to travel easily through thicker cigars. They’re also an option if you want to make sure that you have a cutter with you almost everywhere you go, as many of them are designed to attach to key rings. Some will literally just punch a small hole in your cigar. Others make larger holes that look just like the ones left behind by hole punchers; these are more versatile as you can increase the size of the hole on the head of the cigar by making more than one punch. One drawback, though, they can’t be used on cigars with pointed heads, such as figurados.
If you watch old movies and you happen to catch one in which the gents are lighting up cigars for an after-dinner brandy and smoke, you might see something called cigar scissors in action. They’re some of the oldest cutters out there, and the fancy ones can be snazzy looking sitting out on a desk, but most smokers today find them awkward and they’re usually on the expensive side. Guillotines deliver the same cut, and are a better--and less expensive--choice all around if you’re looking for this type of cut.
Having a variety of cutters on hand might not be at the top of your list as a cigar smoker, but if you do end up collecting them know that you’re honoring a long and somewhat colorful history and tradition when you do. Cigar Aficionado did an interesting piece on the history of cigar cutters in its May/June 1997 issue; it’s a fun read and you can access it in the magazine’s archives--called The Library--at cigaraficiando
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