October 22, 2010

Random cigar thoughts; Cutting, plugs, and repairs

Cutting your cigar

First of all, to smoke the cigar you must penetrate the cap to allow for a draw, or air to pass through. There are several ways to do this. The most common is the straight cut. To make this type of cut you would use a guillotine cutter.  This cutter makes a 90 degree cut through the cap, usually about 1/8" or less from the end. Cut the minimum from the cap. Give the cigar a test draw to see if air can pass through. To make your cut you can use an inexpensive single blade cutter that you pick up from the cigar shop that costs a buck or two, or you can use a more expensive cutter that retains it's sharpness much longer. I prefer the double blade guillotine Xikar cutter for my everyday cigars. I typically use either this cutter or this one; both by Xikar. Usually I will use one cutter solely until it gets dull. When you purchase a Xikar cutter they will sharpen it or replace it if it can't be sharpened for life! When one gets dull and needs to be sent back for sharpening I begin using the other cutter. When the replacement arrives it goes on the shelf until it's needed in the future when the current cutter has to be sent back for repairs! This way I always have a brand new cutter for back-up! I have several other nice cutters that I use on random occasion. When you cut the cigar take as little as you can off the cap. You want an uninterrupted draw. I usually cut about 1/8" off the cap. If you cut too much it can actually start to unravel; not good. Some cigars are tight which may cause you to take a little more off the cap. That usually does the trick. When you see my comments on the draw of a cigar that I'm reviewing it usually says "effortless" or "firm". If I have a firm draw and do not want to cut anymore from the cap I resort to a little trick that usually works every time.

There are other ways of cutting your cigar, like a V-notch cutter. This type of cutter makes a small V-notch in the cap without cutting away the entire cap end. You place the cigar cap in the recessed part of the cutter and cut. This will make a perfect V-notch which cuts about 1/4" deep. This should be plenty deep enough to give a perfect draw. If not, use the technique described below in "Plugged Cigar". A V-notched cigar concentrates more smoke in a smaller area when you draw. When cutting a torpedo I usually cut it at an angle to take the minimum off the cap and to give a larger opening in the cigar. This allows more smoke to pass through.

Another method of cutting is to utilize a punch. The punch cutter takes a small plug out of the end of the cigar which really concentrates the smoke and takes as little of the cap as possible. When using the punch place the punch cutting edges against the cap and apply a little pressure. While keeping the punch still slowly rotate the cigar back and forth to allow the cutting edges to penetrate the cigar. Usually there is a limit as to how far the punch will penetrate the cigar. Once penetrated take the punch out and you should see a perfect, small hole. Give the cigar a test draw. If it is still tight you can use the method below.  A punch should not be used with a torpedo cigar unless you're going for a really unusual cut. I have seen some people punch the torpedo just down from the tip on one side. This will direct the smoke in one direction, like directly to your palate, to achieve maximum taste.

Plugged Cigar

Some people won't even bother with a plugged cigar, they just toss it! I don't subscribe to that line of reasoning. I'll work with it to see if I can get it to draw properly. In most cases I can.

Take a paper clip and unwind it leaving a small section at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the unwound  portion.  Make it as straight as possible. Then slowly run the straight paper clip through the cigar beginning at the center of the cut cap. BE CAREFUL! If you poke through the side of the cigar you will have another passage for air to flow through when you draw in. This will affect the way the cigar burns and will decrease the cigar's flavor because it will be "watered down" with air.  (This can be repaired. See "Repairing your cigar" below.) If you take your time and slowly push the paper clip through the cigar you will probably find where the plug is. Once penetrated, the cigar should draw nicely.

To find the plug you can usually feel the cigar with your thumb and forefinger, slowly moving down the cigar from the cap. Wherever the plug is determines how far you will need to run the paper clip in. The plug must be penetrated to allow air to flow freely when you draw on the cigar.

If you don't want to use a paper clip you can always go to Heartfelt Industries and buy one of their Cigar Tools. These are quite handy and look much better than an unrolled paper clip. They come in 2 sizes; 4 1/2" and 6 1/2". Both are included in the price.

Repairing your cigar

Sometimes things happen and your cigar is in need of a little repair. As stated above, some people won't try to repair a cigar. Instead they just throw it away or take it back to the shop they bought it from in hopes the shop will give them a replacement. In the event you choose to repair it here is a method I use. There are several types of repairs you may be faced with. It could be an unraveling issue, a crack in the wrapper, or a puncture (like from using the above paper clip). This is easily fixed. All you will need is some Certo Fruit Pectin which you can buy at your local grocery store. This is an odorless, tasteless gel that is very similar to what the rollers use when rolling their cigars. I prefer the premixed pack which I store in a small Tupperware bowl with a tight lid. This way you can keep it on hand for emergencies. To repair an unraveling cigar take a small amount of the fruit pectin in the tips of your finger and apply it to the underside of the wrapper leaf. Then gently push it down and rub the excess fruit pectin out and over the torn edge. Allow it to dry for several minutes. You can quicken the pace of drying by gently blowing over the area. Once dry the cigar should be good to go!

Use the same method to repair a split in the wrapper.

If you have a hole in the cigar you can do one of two things. If the hole is very small you can put a small drop of fruit pectin over the hole and smooth it out. Allow it to dry and it's ready to smoke. If the hole is a little too large for this take part of  your discarded cap that you cut and tear a small section away, just big enough to cover the hole. Dab a little fruit pectin on the piece of cap and apply it over the hole. Smooth it down and allow it to dry. You should be set.

Now there is no reason to put that cigar down due to a tight draw! Hope this helps!


Cigars said...

Thanks for sharing your blog,Cigar cutters are used to penetrate the cap of a cigar before smoking it.The most basic type of cutter used to make straight cuts is the single blade guillotine.

Lana Lynch said...

Thanks for the info! My husband has been telling me he wants a xikar cigar cutter, but I don't have a clue when it comes to cigars. I'm glad I cam across this post. I'm sure it will help me in my search.

Lana Lynch | http://karmacigar.com/