A Cigar Knife vs. A Cigar Punch vs. A Cigar Cutter: Which Is Best?

We’re going to dive into an ambitious project. We’re going to take a look at the differences between a cigar knife, a cigar cutter, and cigar punches in an attempt to categorize them according to their virtues. Some of you reading this might have very strong opinions, but we ask you to give our consideration a fair chance before drawing any hard conclusions.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that, in this situation and in others, there is an irremovable element of subjective preference that will guide your opinions. What we mean by that is that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong to the question there is no objective metric by which we can assess the functionality of cutting or punching cigars.

We can say that it is necessary since removing a cap or a plug from the head of the cigar is necessary before the cigar can even be smoked. That being said, there are some skilled tobacconists and enthusiasts who can prepare a cigar for smoking with nothing but a well-honed skinning knife.

Therefore our purpose in this is not to settle on a single victor but to elaborate more on the strengths and weaknesses of each of the following options for preparing your cigar for smoking.

A Les Fines Lame Cigar Knife: A Beautiful, Cross-Functional Companion

Most of you reading this are probably more familiar with a cigar punch or a cigar cutter than with a dedicated cigar knife. They’re newer on the scene and not as widely used, but they are beautiful, highly functional pieces of equipment that can really brighten your “pocket dump,” so to speak.

Here at Rocky’s Cigars, specifically, we sell a special type of cigar cutter knife known as the Les Fines Lame Cigar Cutter Knife. These cross-functional tools really are amazing and for quite a few reasons, not the least of which are utility and aesthetics.

On the value of function, these knives are made with 14C28N Stainless Steel blades that are precision ground to offer an excellent bevel and cutting edge, along with excellent edge retention. These little knives come with a big personality and also have a lifetime warranty so you can rest easy in the purchase.

As far as the specifics of their use, they are little friction folders with a section of tang that extends beyond the shoulder of the blade when the knife is closed. This is used to hold the knife open when it is in use, although that is not where the chief value of the knife comes into play.

The scales of these knives are made with cutouts that correspond to the cross-sectional profile of a cigar and can accommodate most any ring gauge cigar, nearly regardless of the size. To remove a section of the cap from the head, simply prepare your cigar, lay the head across the divot, and firmly close the knife.

This will remove a small section from the cap of the cigar, rendering them perfectly prepared to receive a light. They also ship ready-to-use and razor-sharp, but that excellent steel can be retouched up at a moment’s notice.

What’s great about a cigar cutter knife like a Les Fines Lame cigar cutter knife is that they are relatively easy to use and are versatile as well. You can also rotate the cap of the cigar around the blade to prepare it for the cut, which will make it more even and smoother as well.

In addition, a knife like this is just that - a knife. Every gentleman should carry a knife as a part of his personal effects. You never know what you’re going to come across during your daily travels. You might be called up to open an envelope, break down a box, or some other odd chore. That can all be easily accomplished with a knife. These tools were designed to do that anyway, after all.

That brings up another point about the versatility of a cigar cutter knife as opposed to a punch or a cutter. These tools are much easier to sharpen and maintain than other cigar accessories. To put it in perspective, if you use your cigar cutter knife for other tasks and it gets dull, you can easily resharpen it. The same can’t be said for most other cutters or punches.

There’s something else these little tools have up their sleeves, although it’s only going to appeal to a specific subset of the audience. These cigars knives are downright beautiful works of art. Les Fines Lame produces them with a range of handle scales. You can pick one up with curly maple scales, brass, olivewood, acai burl, and even micarta scales. Each and every knife is possessed of a unique and distinct personality. There are other cool cigar accessories out there, but few as precious as a Les Fines Lame cigar cutter knife.

So, to recapitulate, here are some of the main strengths of a cigar knife:

  • They take a little bit of skill but still are easy to use overall.
  • They’re easier to maintain and sharpen.
  • They can be used for other purposes besides cutting cigars.
  • They are made from quality materials and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.
  • One of these is every bit as much a work of art as it is a functional tool.

There you have some of the biggest draws of a cigar cutter knife. That leaves us to consider the relative virtues of both cigar punches and cigar cutters.

Cigar Punches: Require Some Skill to Use

If you’ve never heard of a cigar cutter knife, or, more simply, have never considered one, then a cigar punch may be more to your liking or familiarity.

The function of cigar punches is straightforward and easy to grasp. What these are are small tools that have a recessed, sometimes even a retractable blade within them. The blade is circular and sharpened around the edge. Unlike cigar cutters and knives which slice away a cap from the head of a cigar, cigar punches are intended to be inserted into the head and then twisted to remove a plug so that you can achieve a draw through the cigar.

Using a cigar punch is arguably easier than using a cigar knife, although it produces a different type of incision unlike the clean-cut produced by a knife or a cutter. To use the cigar punch, you simply must expose the blade, then apply the blade to the head of the cigar, taking care to ensure that the punch is centered. This will help to ensure smooth removal of a plug of tobacco from the cigar as well as a nice, even draw.

Then you simply push the blade into the center of the head of the cigar. Some fans of cigar punches prefer to twist or rotate the punch as they insert it. This will help to loosen the plug that you need to remove. Then, draw back the punch, and if all goes well, a small, even plug of tobacco will accompany the punch on the removal.

As you might have guessed, cigar punches are fairly easy to use in this manner. There are a few other benefits to using them, including but not limited to the fact that they produce some of the best draws possible. When you use a cigar punch you actually remove some tobacco from the filler and binder of the body, which opens up the cigar and usually results in a better draw.

Additionally, cigar punches are better to use with cigars that have not been maintained properly or otherwise are at risk of having their wrappers tear. Occasionally, a cutter or a knife will produce a tear in the wrapper which will adversely affect the life and quality of the smoke.

One thing you will want to note is that cigar punches are not particularly suitable for use with cigars that have a pointed head, such as Pyramid, Torpedo, and Perfecto cigars. You can still use a punch with these but the draw might not be as good as it could be with a cutter or a knife.

To recap the virtues of cigar punches, consider the following:

  • They are easier to use than cigar knives.
  • They protect the cigar wrapper from tearing.
  • They won’t need to be sharpened since they can’t be used for any other purposes.
  • They produce some of the most even draws of all methods.

With cigar knives and punches in the rearview, all we have remaining to evaluate are cigar cutters.

The Humble, but Essential Cigar Cutter

Cigar cutters are far and away the most common tool used by experienced cigar smokers to cut the caps off of their cigars to prepare them for smoking. As popular as some punches are, cutters are ubiquitous.

Cutters also exhibit a fair amount of variety in styling and in how they operate. There are two main types of cutters; those that have two blades and those that have only one. There are also two basic types of operation; some cigar cutters slide open and closed and others operate around a hinge.

Regardless of whether they have one blade or two, cutters operate in basically the same fashion. The smoker inserts the head of the cigar into the cutters opening a certain distance so as to remove a cap of about a quarter inch in diameter from the head. Then, he or she applies pressure to the blades by squeezing them in order to extract this small piece of tobacco. By doing so, the draw is opened up.

One variant of a cigar cutter is a style in which the blade is not a flat piece of still but rather is angled, similar to a v-cutting tool or a gouge. There are a few benefits to this type of cutter. For one thing, it increases the exposed area of the cut without expanding the width of the cut. Also, because there is more blade in contact with the tobacco, there is less of a chance of ripping or tearing the wrapper.

Speaking of that, if you have trouble cutting cigars with these types of tools because you tend to rip the wrapper, you can try rotating the cigar around the inside of a cutter with smooth blades to score the wrapper prior to completing the cut.

Whether or not you use a cutter with a single blade, a cutter with a channeled blade as described above, or some other kind of cutter, you have to take care not to insert the cap of the cigar too far into the cutter, or else you’ll remove too much tobacco. You might think this will afford a better draw, but you actually need a certain amount of resistance to develop a good smoke. In addition, removing too much can cause the wrapper to unravel or deteriorate through the smoke.

One more thing you need to be cognizant of when using a cigar cutter is that cutting incautiously can tear the wrapper or crush the head of the cigar instead of cleanly removing a cap. Both of these instances will result in a less than positive smoking experience. In particular, if you compress the tobacco, you will adversely affect how easily air can be drawn through the cigar. This can cause the cigar to burn unevenly. It may also make it difficult to keep the cigar lit.

Summarizing the benefits of cutters are as follows:

  • They are inexpensive and ubiquitous
  • They are fairly easy to use
  • There are a few different styles and some produce a cut that results in an excellent smoke

Therefore the only question that remains is which of these options is ideal for you?

Cigar cutters will suffice for most smokers’ needs, but if you have trouble with tearing the wrapper you might want to graduate to a punch. Similarly, if you want a tool with additional functionality and added class, a cigar cutter knife might be preferable to you.

Don’t feel like you have to make the decision on your own, though! You can always get in touch with us here at Rocky’s Cigars even if you aren’t local enough to visit us in our stores. Contact us at 1-888-216-5834 if you need help choosing - we’re always ready to help!