Since the cigar cutter is man’s best friend when it comes to making the cleanest cuts on cigars, it often happens that you pick up a cigar and forget the cutter. So what do you do – do you try to bite the cap off a cigar or cut with a razor? Well, technically, yes: all are viable options when there is no other choice. In fact, I’ve prepared a few more methods in case you ever find yourself in that emergency situation.

If you are looking for a specialized cigar cutter, I highly recommend you check out my guide to the best cigar cutters on the market today. Before we get into the methods we are going to discuss, let’s answer the most important question:

Do you really need to cut a cigar?

Although some rare cigars do not have a cap, the vast majority of cigars in existence have a cap, and an air inlet (or outlet, depending on how you look at it) must be created. This allows you to “pull” the cigar by letting the air pass through all the leaves wrapped inside, which ultimately allows you to taste the different aromas of each cigar.

The 4 best ways to cut a cigar without a cigar cutter

Some of the most famous methods of removing a cigar cork have been immortalized on screen by famous actors. One of the most common methods is to bite the cork. However, there are other pretty good options worth mentioning. Among them are:

  • Cut into slices
  • Bite down on the cigar cap.
  • Drilling of a hole
  • Use the miniature as a cutter.
  • Use a normal cutter.

Cut into slices

Whatever the size and shape of your cigar, you can always cut it with a sharp object, such as a cigar cutter. Of course, cutters are specially designed to cut a cigar without damaging its shape, but as a general rule, any sharp blade will do a pretty good job.

When cutting the cigar, make sure that the tip of the blade you are using is directly above the line of the cigar cap. Cutting too deep can damage the cigar wrapper and cause excessive leaf detachment. On the other hand, if you cut too much, you will end up looking like a lumberjack trying to saw a hard branch off a tree. This will also result in your cigar having the wrong pattern.

Bite down on the cigar cap.

If all other methods are unavailable and you’re feeling too manly at this point, you’re sure to feel like the villain in a Hollywood movie when you bite the head of your cigar. Slowly bite down on the cap until you feel it pop off the cigar. Once the cap is open, you can usually remove it by hand.

Drilling of a hole

Making a hole in a cigar is one of the nicest ways to “cut” a cigar without the need for a cigar cutter, as it doesn’t affect the draw or the flavor of the cigar. But you also need a sharp, pointed tool that is good enough to make a straight hole in the cap of the cigar. Some common items that help in this task, although not ideal, are toothpicks, paper clips, a screwdriver, or even a golf tee if you are left on the course without a cutter.

The main purpose of punching with an improvised punch is to make a hole in the capsule without tearing the cigar paper or undoing the tip of the cigar. Before lighting the cigar, do a test and see if you can pass air evenly. If you feel the air flowing evenly through the cigar, then it is time to light it.

Use the miniature as a cutter.

If you follow the same steps as for cutting the tip, using the miniature as a cigar cutter is fairly easy, that is, if you have the “chops” to do it. Start by loosening the cap all the way around using your fingernail as a tool. Once the cap is loosened, slowly remove the rest of the cap, continuing to use the fingernail as the cutting tool.

Use normal cutters.

Using ordinary cutters is by far the least recommended method, as it is the most likely to ruin a cigar. However, if you are not too sure about all of the above methods, try carefully removing the cap from the cigar with sharp cutters. If the cutters are not sharp enough, you risk damaging the cigar completely. So if you don’t have the right cutters, I suggest you stick to your sketch or another sharp knife.

If you are new to cigars, I also highly recommend my articles on how to ash and maintain cigars, as they are an essential part of your new hobby. Let’s now answer some common questions about improvising the cigar cutting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you smoke a cigar without cutting it?

Technically, yes but you still need to remember that all the hand-rolled cigars will have a cap on them to ensure that they don’t dry out as time goes by. Another way you can ensure they stay fresh is by putting them in a good cigar humidor which will keep the air around them as close to optimal as possible.

Is a cigar punch better than a cutter?

The cigar cutter slices through the whole body of the cigar, creating an opening that allows for the smoke to move freely through the cigar. A punch, on the other hand, will create only a small hole that won’t always be enough for the cigar to live up to its full potential.

Do you hold a cigar with your teeth?

Teeth should only be used to stabilize the cigar, not hold it. Holding down too firmly with them can result in them cracking the wrapper leaf and ruining the cigar.


Learning how to cut a cigar without a cigar cutter is not necessarily a skill you are going to use in your smoking hobby, but rather an emergency scenario where you need to know how to react accordingly. While most of my favorite methods have stood the test of time, I still recommend that you bring your cigar cutter with you when you go to a golf club or bar.