Cigar Preparations: To Punch or to Cut?

Written by: Juan Panesso



Time to read 3 min

 All cigar connoisseurs will agree that cigar smoking is an art form. It involves many rituals, one of them being the opening of the cigar cap correctly. It all comes down to whether to cut it or punch it, whether to use a straight cutter or a cigar punch. With both having their unique advantages, in the end, it depends on the preferences of the cigar enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we take you into the world of cigar preparations to explore the pros and cons of punch cutters and straight cutters and shed light on the various cutting methods and tools available.

Cigar Punches

Cigar punches, often referred to as punch cutters, are compact, travel-friendly, and known for their precision. These tools open the cap of a cigar with a cylindrical blade, creating a circular hole in the head of the cigar. This method offers several advantages:

  • Precision: Punch cuts create small, precise openings in the cigar's cap, so there will be fewer loose tobacco bits in your mouth and smokers can enjoy a more concentrated flavor of their cigar. Besides, with a punch cut, the cap's edges, known as the shoulder, remain intact, once again reducing the risk of tobacco fragments in your mouth.
  • Portability: Many punch cutters are designed for on-the-go use, featuring key rings that can be easily attached to your car keys or accessories.
  • Consistent Draw: Punch cutters provide a consistent draw as the size of the cut remains uniform.
  • Concentrate Flavors and Aromas: Punch cutters offer an intense smoking experience by concentrating flavors and aromas within the cigar. This can make the smoking experience more intense and flavorful. However, it may also lead to warmer smoke.
  • Simplicity for Beginners: The simplicity and ease of use make punch cutters ideal for beginners who may not have mastered straight cutters.
  • Clean Appearance: Punch cuts leave a clean, rounded opening, enhancing the cigar's appearance.

Straight Cutters 

Straight cutters include guillotine and v-cut styles and are the classic choice for many cigar aficionados. Here's a closer look at straight cutters:

  • Cooler Smoke: Straight cutters remove a portion of the cap and let cigar smokers enjoy a broader draw and cooler smoke, leading to a more relaxed smoking experience.
  • Suitable for Large Format Cigars: Straight cutters are versatile and can be used with large-format cigars, thanks to special cutters designed for these sizes. When dealing with large-format cigars, such as those with a ring gauge of 60 or more, specialized cutters designed for these sizes are necessary. While punch cutters can work with some large cigars, straight cutters are generally more versatile in this regard. Also, for cigars with pointed or tapered heads, punch cutters are not suitable due to their circular cutting method and straight cutters, especially v-cutters, are better suited for these shapes.
  • Ideal for Traditionalists: Many seasoned cigar enthusiasts prefer straight cutters for their hands-on approach to cigar preparation.
  • Versatility: Straight cutters can handle cigars with pointed heads and larger formats.
  • However, straight cutters can be trickier to use correctly, and they tend to produce more loose tobacco bits, which can affect the smoking experience.
  • Consistent Performance: Straight cutters deliver consistent performance and are less prone to user error.

How to Cut a Cigar with a Straight Cutter

  1.  Before cutting, carefully examine the cigar to identify the cap. The cap is the rounded, closed end of the cigar.
  2.  Place the cigar's cap just above the cutting blades of the straight cutter. Ensure that you position the cutter correctly to avoid cutting too much of the cap.
  3.  Close the cutter in one swift, decisive motion. Make sure to cut the cap cleanly without applying too much pressure. A clean cut prevents the wrapper leaf from unraveling.
  4.  After cutting, inspect the cigar to make sure you have a clean and even cut. There should be no loose tobacco or tears in the wrapper.

Cutting a Cigar with a V Cutter (Cat's Eye Cutter)

  1. Begin by examining the cigar and locating the cap, which is the rounded, closed end.
  2.  Place the cap of the cigar into the V-shaped groove of the cutter, ensuring that it's centered for an even cut.
  3. Gently close the V cutter on the cigar cap. The sharp blades will create a wedge-shaped cut, often referred to as a "cat's eye" cut.
  4.  After cutting, inspect the cigar to confirm the V cut is clean and symmetrical. The V cut allows for a unique draw and concentrates flavors.
  5.  Before lighting, perform a test draw on the cigar to see that the cut provides good airflow. Adjust the cut if needed.

How to Punch Cut Your Cigar

  1. Before cutting, carefully locate the cap of the cigar, which is the closed end of the cigar.
  2. Place the bladed end of the cigar punch cutter against the cap of the cigar. Ensure precise centering for the best cut.
  3. Gently apply pressure to the punch cutter while slowly rotating the cigar. This action punctures the cap cleanly.
  4.  After piercing the cap, insert the blade slightly deeper into the cigar. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as it may unravel your cap.
  5. Now, carefully take out the punch cutter, leaving behind the trimmed portion of the cap.
  6. Delicately clear any excess material from inside the punch cutter to keep it clean and ready for the next use.