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SAFARI CIGAR: How to Cut and Light a Cigar

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Cutting Your Cigar

The better the cigars you smoke, the more attention you’ll want to pay to the cut. A bad cut will ruin a cigar.

The object of the cut is to create an ample, smooth opening for smoking without damaging the cigar’s structure. With most cigars, this means cutting away part of the cap or flag leaf that closes the cigar, while leaving some of it glued around the end to keep the filler leaves together. If you are making a wedge cut or a bull’s-eye cut, it means not penetrating too deeply into the cigar. You want to create a large, exposed surface of cleanly cut filler leaves that will allow equal draw from the core and the rim of the cigar.

On most cigars, you’ll want to make the cut about one-sixteenth of an inch (about two millimeters) from the end. When you aren’t carrying a precision measuring device, you can simply look for the shoulder–the place where the curved end of the cigar starts to straighten out–and make your cut there.

Another alternative is to make a V-shaped wedge cut in the end of the cigar. This style of cut exposes a lot of surface area and makes it easy to draw smoke through the cigar. Unfortunately, the draw is sometimes too good, and the cigar will smoke too hot. Wedge cuts are a particularly bad idea for people who tend to chew their cigars. If they chomp down hard enough while the wedge is horizontal, the opening may collapse and tear the structure of the cigar, closing off the draw.

Cutting Tools

There are a number of devices that will help you cut your cigar in a single, swift motion that minimizes the chances of tearing the wrapper. Many aficionados have several cutters, from compact wafer-thin cutters that nestle in a pocket to more massive cutters that are less likely to be misplaced.

Suggested strategy: buy yourself your first cutter and drop gift hints for the rest. Engraved initials make sure that valuable cutters find their way back to you after they have been borrowed.

Of course, you already have a set of cutters: your teeth. But there are a few drawbacks to the biting method. First, it’s hard to see what you’re doing. Second, your teeth aren’t as sharp as a cutter’s razor blade. And third, you end up with an unsightly wad of tobacco in your mouth.

Knives, on the other hand, are easy to keep sharp. But it takes great skill and very steady eyes and hands to cut cigars properly with a knife. If you do choose this method, you’ll want to avoid cleansing your pocketknife with oils, which may pollute your cigar.

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