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  • Derek Schirripa

Cigars Do’s and Don’ts: How to Properly Cut a Cigar and not Be a Barbarian

Now that you know the fundamentals of cigar shapes and sizes, that does you no good if you have no idea what cut goes best with each cigar shape and size. The last thing you want is to go to a great tobacconist and they ask you what cut you want and you act like a know-it-all and end up making a fool of yourself because you want a punch cut to your Davidoff Oro Blanco perfecto. Or, even worse, you ask your unsophisticated dip-chewing friend for advice and he tells you to bite the cap off to smoke your beautifully constructed cigar (whatever you do, NEVER bite the cap off, do you really want to be eating fraying tobacco leaves like a cow, you’re not a cow, so don’t act like one when you smoke a cigar).

At the end of the day, many of these different cuts are based solely on one’s preference, however, there are obvious best practices that can greatly improve the draw of certain cigars depending on your cut, thus improving your smoking experience. So, let’s get started on the three most common types of cut for a cigar.

Cut #1: The full cut

The first cut and the most common is the full cut, or called the guillotine by some, or if you want to be politically incorrect, the rabbi. The name is pretty self-explanatory. This cut takes the whole cap off. The full cut causes a pretty full draw, in that a lot of smoke intake can happen, but it is a slower draw. Larger ring gauges are good for this cut as it helps slow the draw, but at the same time gets a full flavor profile with each draw. Figurados necessitate a full cut as their pyramidal cap means a punch cut or a v-cut cannot puncture a hole.

When cutting with a full cut, it is very important you first recognize where you need to cut. If you cut too high, you won’t take enough off, and if you cut too low, then the cigar will start to fray and you run into the problem of eating the tobacco leaf and not smoking it. Thankfully, it is quite easy to spot where the cap ends for a cigar. There is a change in the seaming of the wrapper. For a full cut, you spot this seam out and you cut just a little bit in front of the seam. This will ensure a nice full cut without any fraying. However, for those who like to chew on their cigars while smoking them, this cut may be bad for you because it is very easy to fray.

Cut #2: the V-cut

The second cut I want to talk about is the v-cut, or the wedge cut. The name is pretty clear about the shape of this cut. Unlike the full cut, the v-cut goes deeper into the cigar which can allow for a better draw in some situations. Specifically, the v-cut is great at giving a consistent draw that is fast, and in some cases, it gives a fuller draw compared to the full cut. V-cuts, however, can only be performed on parejos for obvious reasons. It is much easier to perform a v-cut than a full cut on a Parejo because you don’t need to worry about cutting too far down from the cap. Simply put the cap near the v-cutter and take one quick and smooth cut, and voila, you have a great cut cigar ready for enjoyment.

When I smoke, I usually cut almost all my parejos with a v-cutter. I highly recommend this cut for anyone. This cut and the punch cut are great for those who like to chew their cigars when they smoke because fraying is at a minimum. Just remember, with all cuts, you need a continuous quick motion. Do not hesitate when cutting you could crush the cap instead of cutting it, and you don’t want to crush this beautiful work of artisan craftsmanship.

Cut #3: the Punch cut

The last cut I want to talk about is the punch cut. This cut simply punches a hole in the center of the cap. It is similar to the v-cut in that it goes deep into the cigar, but the radius of the draw is much smaller. This creates a pretty fast draw

and also a very consistent one as it is similar to a pipe flowing with water. The punch can

only be used on parejos like the v-cut, and I don’t recommend using it on big ring gauges. Punch cutters come in all different types of sizes, so if you have one that punches a big hole that could work on gordo cigars. In my opinion, punch cutters work very well with very elaborate flavor profiles. The draw created by the punch cut allow for the blending of all the flavors very well, but this also requires skill in lighting the cigar, which is a whole other article just on that. That’s why punch cuts should be reserved for higher quality cigars and for an aficionado. Lastly, the punch cutter is the most transportable for obvious reasons. Even some lighters come with a punch cutter!


Now that you have a quick overview of the three most common cuts for cigars, you can make a well-informed decision each time you smoke. You can try all these cuts too, and find out which one you prefer the most. Now you can recommend even to your less sophisticated friends who want to become sophisticated by smoking cigars, which cut is best for each cigar shape and size and their personal preference. Just remember to never bite the cap off of your cigar unless you want the feeling of eating a tree branch full of dead leaves. I guess you can do that if you want, but just know that you will garner no respect from the cigar smoking community and you should never do that at a cigar bar. You’ll be chased out and rightfully so.

~ Derek Schirripa

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