All handmade cigars will need to be cut in some way or another in order to smoke them. Machin- made cigars are usually cut in advance at the factory. Handmade cigars have a “cap”, this is the small piece of tobacco which is used to close the head of the cigar (it also shows you the end not to light). There is usually a visible line at the bottom of the cap (not surprisingly called the cap line) and you can use it as a guideline. With the cigar vertical and head at the top, you can cut a cigar above the cap line to ready your cigar for smoking. If you cut below the cap line, the cigar wrapper can unravel (you can save this by licking your finger and smoothing it down).
There are several options when it comes to preparing your cigar for smoking.
1) Clint Eastwood style
Probably the most cliched way of “cutting” a cigar. Biting the top off a cigar is probably the last resort, if you can’t find a cutter of any sort. It’s not the cleanest way to remove the cap off a cigar but, it is possible. It will probably be quite a ragged finish and you’ll keep picking bits of tobacco out of your mouth. Not recommended.
2) Using your fingernail
For those blessed with long enough fingernails, you can pierce the cap with your nail and with a circular movement remove a section of the cap. Some remove the entire cap but, that can lead to unravelling of the wrapper unless you keep licking the end down.
3) Straight cut
Single blade or double blade guillotine cutters are best to achieve a straight cut. This cut also gives you the biggest surface area to draw from, unlike a punch or v-cut.
I often teach new smokers a little trick to give them confidence in using a cutter. Place the cutter flat on the table and open the blades. Insert the cigar vertically. Using your thumb and forefinger to close the blades, close the blades so they are touching the cigar. In a single clean action, bring your thumb and forefinger together and close the blades, you should get a pretty horizontal clean cut. It doesn’t work with piramides or double figurados.
Normally you should hold the cigar horizontally or at 45 degrees. Place the cigar between the blades and above the cap line. Close the blades and touch the cigar. In one firm motion, close the blades together to cut the cap.