260 - May 19, 2011
The Kindest Cut
- for you
A year ago I wrote: “I was chatting with a customer in the shop a few days ago as he was trying to decide which cigar cutter was best for him, and for his cigars.”
Nothing has changed – so I thought it time to repeat the advice.
He wanted something easy to use - but fairly sturdy, so we ruled out the budget models which are basically for short-term use.
The cigar scissors didn’t appeal (possibly because he’d never seen anybody use one properly) so they were out; also out were the punch and V-cut models – his normal preference was for the thicker cigars.
That brought us to the range of metal “flat-cut” cutters.
These have steel blades of varying qualities; the choice of single- or twin-blades; other differences being in the smoothness of the sliding action (try it out), the comfort of the finger holes, and the finish.
The finish – his choice of appearance – matt, shiny, gilt, gun-metal.
The finger holes – he finds the two-finger type easiest to use; for added comfort, all except the R130.00 basic model have milled edges.
And, most important, the blades - for the cleanest cut and longest life a short, steep bevel is best. Look at the blades of the Donatus or Dunhill cutters and you’ll see what I mean. For this you need the hardest steel.
Where the steel is less hard (as on the mid-price cutters) the bevel on the blade must be longer (shallower) since, as it wears away, the edge will thicken, and become blunt too quickly.
The prices of the cutters extend from R130.00 for the basic model, through the R200 range, to around R600.00 for a Donatus cutter, and R1005.00 to R3345.00 for Dunhill models.
In the course of the conversation, we covered methods of cutting cigars and a few thoughts on how to cut.
For your benefit - here they are.
Watchpoint when cutting:
• The cap must not be completely removed or the cigar may unravel making it difficult and unpleasant to smoke (unless you really want a mouthful of leaves). As Rick Hacker says – “the best guideline is to make the cut slightly above the horizontal line where the cap connects with the wrapper”.
“Cutting” can be done in four ways depending on the size and shape of the cigar. (I exclude biting off the end as in old Western movies.)
1. “V” cut –
a v-shaped segment is removed from the rounded cap allowing a free passage of air. This is particularly desirable on the narrower ring gauges (up to ring 40/42) where the draw can be tight and the opening should be as large as possible. The v-cut can be used on cigars up to Churchill size (ring 47). The shape of the cutter prevents too much of the head being cut off. However, it does not work on the broad, flat head of the thicker robusto cigars so popular today.
2. “Flat” cut – this removes a portion of the cap to give the exact size aperture that suits you.
The instrument may be a single blade guillotine which cuts across the head from one side to the other, or a double blade, 2-finger cutter which cuts from both sides to the centre (almost 360°) and may be easier to control. Better quality double blade cutters are self-sharpening.
For us, Cigar Scissors offer one of the best options for cutting a cigar – they will cut any size, with an opening of your choice, and can be sharpened like any other scissors, prolonging their life indefinitely. As you apply the pressure rotate the cigar against the blades, to slice through the cap and establish the cut-line before making a clean cut. (This way you will be able to remove only the cap, leaving the underlying leaves undisturbed.)
A variation on the flat cut is to cut off a “corner” of the head, and smoke the cigar with the open part uppermost in the mouth and the smooth section on the tongue. This was told to me some years ago. My informant called this the “Cuban cut” (and he seemed to know what he was talking about). Whatever it is called, I like it and I use it often.
3. The “Punch” cut – a pre-determined size hole taken out of the end
usually by an exceptionally sharp, surgical steel round blade. It’s drawback is
that it is inflexible as to size, and one would need several different
sizes in any collection.
4. A Hole – made by a “Drill” or “Piercer”.
The hole is generally too small to allow an easy draw, and as the smoke is rushed through the narrow aperture juices tend to deposit, changing the flavour of the cigar.
A thought: A good quality knife (like the Swiss Army Victorinox)
can be used in most of these ways.
So – choosing a cutter, what it boils down to is this:
Are you likely to lose it almost before you use it? Look at the budget range.
Does the mid-range suit your pocket better? There are several models to choose from including a cigar punch and scissors.
What about a finely-engineered piece of equipment that performs its function efficiently, maybe forever? Choose one that does justice to your cigars - the Dunhill, or from the Donatus range. Such a cutter costs only as much as 4 to 6 really good cigars. You have a choice of V-cut, guillotine; and remember, the cigar scissors which can be sharpened, extending their cutting life to many years.
May be kept at home or in the office (for safety), and it feels so good every time you use it or just pick it up.
Because it’s good to spoil yourself, and because a good cigar deserves a good cutter,
from May 26 to June 8, 2011 we offer
25% off most cutters (15% off Dunhill Cutters)
(Maybe this is a good “hint” for Father’s Day!).
May 19 – June 1, 2011
You can read previous
articles from "Across the Counter" in The