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How to cut a cigar without a cutter: The emergency guide

Forgot your cigar cutter? We've got you covered

The Manual

So, you’ve been caught unawares and unassuming, with a cigar in your hand and a lighter in your pocket but nothing to cut it with. That’s a bummer. Or is it?

While not the preferred method, you can cut a cigar without a tool like a cutter or scissors. It’s pretty simple. You can use your thumbnail to loosen the cap and then pinch it off. But don’t worry if you clipped your nails recently; there are other ways to cut a cigar without a tool.

The most important thing to note is that it is possible. Here are some other ways that you can cut a cigar without a cutter or tools:

1. Use your thumbnail

The best way to cut your cigar is to use your thumbnail. Cigar caps are relatively easy to remove, so this is entirely possible with patience. If you’re using this method, be gentle. Don’t crush the head of the cigar, pinch too hard, or wrestle with the cap — you just want to loosen it enough so that it peels off easier.

Do your best to stay above the cap line when using this method. If this is your first time working with a cigar, the cap line is the visible line around the head where the cap leaf has been glued over the end. Use your nail to make an incision around the edges and then peel it off.

2. Slice the cap with something sharp

I hesitate to recommend using a knife or a blade, but you can cut off the cap if you have one, even a pocket knife. Be careful not to crush the head of the cigar by pushing the knife down too hard. You can avoid this by spinning the blade around the cap’s edges like you would when using your fingernail or teeth. Don’t chop it off, slam down the blade, or saw it. It’s possible to ruin the cap or head of the cigar, which could mean loose tobacco on your lips and in your mouth, and that’s not enjoyable.

An alternative to removing the cap is to cut an X shape in the head of the cigar by crisscrossing it with horizontal and vertical slices.

3. Punch the tip or poke it

A cigar punch essentially works by punching a deep hole into the head of the cigar to let the air, smoke, and flavors pass through. You can emulate this by using a variety of items, even if you don’t have a punch handy. Try things like a toothpick, paperclip, thumbtack, screws, screwdriver, a golf tee, or even a pipe tool if you smoke pipe tobacco.

Don’t just jam whatever item you’re using into the cigar, as that would create a mess and may ruin it. Instead, gently make an opening in the cap, which is likely achievable by slowly twisting whatever item or tool you’re using. If the item is very thin, like a toothpick, you must make several openings to form one big one.

4. If all else fails, bite it

If you have no cutter or alternatives, simply bite off the cigar cap. Be careful not to bite down too hard, as this will crush the head. Start by slightly biting down and twisting the cigar to loosen the cap. Once you’ve freed the cap a little, you can use your fingernails or fingers to take it off the rest of the way.

You want it open enough to get a clean draw. To test, suck in through the head of the cigar, and if the air moves freely through, you’ll taste a bit of the tobacco and flavors. If that’s the case, you’re good to go — go ahead and light it up. Try to avoid getting too much saliva on the cigar while using this method. You don’t want to slobber all over it because that moisture will also pass through the rest of the cigar – not to mention it’s just gross.

Don’t leave home without it

how to smoke a cigar
Genevieve Poblano / The Manual

Honestly, you don’t ever have to worry about the missing cutter if you grab the right tool. Some cutters, for example, are so thin and lightweight that they . You can also that fold up for portability. They also have cigar punches that you can . You don’t necessarily have to carry a heavy-duty cutter everywhere you go, but it helps to have something.

The good news is that even if you don’t have any tools handy, you can still cut, light, and enjoy your cigar. In the meantime, you might consider getting one of the best cigar cutters so you have something on hand.

Briley Kenney
Briley has been writing about consumer electronics and technology for over a decade. When he's not writing about deals for…
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