How To Clip a Cigar: The Different Tools and Cutting Techniques

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The best cigar-smoking experience is made up of two essential features: the quality of the cigar and learning how to clip a cigar properly.

Novice users can rely on the testimony of experienced cigar smokers to ensure the quality of their stogie is top-notch.

However, many inexperienced users may even have questions such as “Which end of a cigar do you cut?” when it comes to cutting a cigar.

Let’s go over how to cut cigars properly with different cigar cutters and the best cutting techniques.

Do You Need To Cut a Cigar?

All the best quality cigars have a cap at the head to prevent the tobacco from drying out.

You can’t smoke a cigar without being cut or clipped properly near the head.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are almost completely made from tobacco leaves, so it is important to be careful when cutting them.

The goal is to make a smooth cut with ample opening for a comfortable draw without compromising the cigar’s structure.

That means it is important not to cut off the entire cap or cut too deep into the head; otherwise, the wrapper will start unraveling.

Do You Cut Both Ends of a Cigar?

When struggling with questions like “Which end of a cigar do you cut?“, we recommend going over the stogie’s basic anatomy.

Every cigar has two sides, a foot that is already exposed and a head covered by a small piece of tobacco or cap.

The cap is specifically made from a separate piece since, as mentioned, you need to cut it before lighting up the foot end of the cigar.

This is also the side that will go in your mouth, allowing you to inhale the tobacco burnt on the other end.

The easiest way to differentiate between both ends is by looking at the exposed side, which you need to light up.

That said, some cigars may have a covering on the foot end of the cigar, which may be misleading, especially for novice smokers.

In this case, we recommend identifying the cigar’s cap by looking at the label band, which you can find near the head.

Also, dull blades can harm a cigar and ruin your overall experience by tearing or crushing the tobacco.

Whatever tool you use, the blade should be sharp enough to cut through the leaves cleanly.

Different Types of Cigar Cutters

Before learning how to clip a cigar properly, it is important to learn about the tools used for making different kinds of cuts.

You will find that most cutters got their name from the cutting style they represent.

Here are some of the most common kinds of cigar cutters available:


The guillotine cutter is available in two different types, namely:

  • Single Blade

Single blade guillotine cutters are one of the cheapest and most basic forms of cigar cutters.

These cutters are known for making straight cuts via a diagonally placed sharp blade.

Nowadays, they are increasingly becoming unpopular among cigar enthusiasts because of their blade’s inability to last long.

We found that while these cutters are the most economical, they are also very hard to maintain.

  • Double Blade

Today, double-blade guillotine cigar cutters have replaced their single-blade counterparts.

These cutters feature two opposing blades that need to be pressed against one another to cut the cap.

Due to popular demand, these cutters are available in various styles, materials, and blade strengths.

Most high-end models are made with wood or other materials, have spring-loaded mechanisms, and include self-sharpening tools for the removable high-quality steel blades.

tips on how to clip a cigar


punch cutter is the most popular choice among travelers because of its portable design that often has a keychain.

It uses a small cylindrical blade punched into the cigar’s head to remove a chunk of the cap.

The compact nature of the cutter makes it convenient to conceal the blade and retrieve it easily via a spring-loaded mechanism or a screw cap.

We found that most experts are critical of the size of the hole that the punch cutter makes despite its user-friendly design.

These days, some models offer cuts of varying sizes in a single housing, preventing a tight draw.

V Cutter

Once popular, v-cutters have now faded in the background behind guillotine, cigar scissors, and punch cutters.

Still, there is a group of loyal fan-following that swears by their utility.

V-cutters cut out a v-shaped piece from the head of the cigar using a wedged blade.

Despite the uniform cut, v-cutters are commonly found in different sizes and designs.

Some may have long handles with a lever to work the blade, while others may look very similar to guillotine cutters.

We also found that like single-blade guillotine cutters, v-cutters also have blades with a shorter lifespan.

Additionally, like cigar scissors, they are also challenging to master in terms of the depth of the cut.

Nonetheless, you will find that compared to all other cutters, these tend to offer the best draw by preventing tobacco leaves from touching the tongue.

Cigar Scissors

Cigar scissors are perhaps the oldest kind of cigar cutters available today.

These specialty scissors are mostly made from high-grade steel, making them a premium choice among cigar enthusiasts.

Although a traditional form of cutting a cigar, these scissors are challenging to master as there is no guiding hole like the guillotine.

You will find that despite their less than user-friendly design, these offer high precision straight cuts.

Therefore, cigar scissors are often considered luxury cutters as they will only sit well on a steady and seasoned cigar smoker’s hand.

The Best Cutting Techniques

Learning where to cut a cigar is as important as learning how to cut cigars.

Employing the wrong cutting techniques can be just as damaging as using a dull blade to cut your cigar.

Not only will the packaging of the cigar unravel, but it will ruin your overall experience of smoking a stogie.

Before cutting any cigar, you need to moisten the head area by putting it against your lips.

The slightly damp cap region is easier to cut through and will ensure a clean cut.

Straight Cut

You can easily achieve a straight cut with a guillotine, cigar scissors, or even basic sharp blades.

This technique of cutting a cigar is the most versatile since you can use it easily for rounded and pointed cigars.

Although fairly straightforward, you must be swift and decisive with your technique to prevent wrapper tears.

You will also find that holding the cigar stationary and near the head will help you achieve a precise cut.


Unlike the straight cut, mastering the v-cut may take longer and requires a higher attention span.

That is because the v-cutter comparatively difficult to handle and the cut itself is a bit deeper than other conventional cuts.

You will also find that v-cutters with long levers are more difficult to maneuver than guillotine-style v-cutters.

You also need to make sure not to cut deeper than one-eighth of an inch because otherwise, the wrapper may start to unravel.

Punch Cut

You will need to place the cutter firmly over the center of the cap and press gently until the seal is broken.

If you have a cigar with a particularly wider cap, you can also punch more than one hole over the center one.

How Do You Cut a Cigar Without a Cutter?

Learning where to cut a cigar is fairly simple, especially when you have the right tools to get the job done.

However, clipping a cigar without a cutter can be tricky but not impossible.

Here are some easy tricks and fixes to cut a cigar without a cutter:

Use a Thumbnail 

The most effective way to cut through the cap of your cigar is with your thumbnail, especially if you don’t have any other tools.

The trick lies in the initial incision, which needs to be well below the cap line which connects to the wrapper.

If you can gently loosen even a single bit of this flimsy section, the rest of the cap can be easily peeled off.

Use a Pocket Knife

This is the best way to cut a cigar without a cutter, especially if you carry a pocket knife with you.

The sharp blade of the pocket knife needs to be handled with care as it can pierce through the wrapper much faster than a thumbnail.

Thus, it is important to gently hold the knife against the cap and gently press against the intended line above the original cap line.

Punch a Hole

Even if you do not have a punch cutter handy, it is still relatively simple to pierce through the cigar’s head with other items.

You will find that things like a toothpick or screwdriver can help you create a large enough hole for the draw.

The trick lies in pricking the head of the cigar efficiently without cracking the wrapper around it.

Bite off the Cap

As a final resort, you can also bite off a small part of the cigar’s head to create a big enough opening for the draw.

As you prepare the cap by moistening it against your lips, you can very easily create a small opening with your teeth.

Once there is a small opening, you can use your fingers to peel the repairing cap wrapper.

How To Clip a Cigar: The Conclusion

There are a few essential steps to master when learning how to clip a cigar properly.

From identifying a cigar cutter to mastering the right matching technique, you will find that cutting a cigar is not that hard.

You will also find that even without a cutter, you can improvise and easily clip a cigar with any existing tools at your disposal.

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