More than two decades ago, J.C. Newman introduced the Craftsman’s Bench line of cigar accessories, and released the first version of its take on a classic guillotine cutter, the Craftsman’s Bench Double Blade Cutter. That initial double guillotine cutter was only able to cut cigars with up to a 54 ring gauge—which was about the limit that most people smoked at the time—and proved to be quite popular.
Fast forward to about 12 years ago, when the company decided to upgrade the cutter not only by redesigning it, but also enlarging it so that it could cut cigars with up to a 64 ring gauge. While that version was a substantial upgrade from the original incarnation, the company was still not totally happy, as Drew Newman, co-owner and general counsel at J.C. Newman explained in an email to halfwheel:
When my uncle Bobby and I were visiting the factories in Asia where our cigar accessories are made two years ago, we shared our concerns with the prior version of the cutters. In short, they worked fine, but didn’t always provide a consistent and clean cut. We visited the factory where XIKAR and other high-end cutters are made, explained our concerns, and worked with the team there over the next year to develop a design with a smoother, cleaner cut. In the end, we created a cutter that looks almost the same as our previous version, but performs so much better.
WHAT IS IT?
This is a simple double-guillotine cutter made with a plastic body and steel blades. Like the quote attributed to Henry Ford about his Model T, you may have it in any color, so long as it’s black. At $4 it’s one of the least expensive cutters on the market and the company said it sold more than 300,000 of the cutters last year alone. Interestingly, the low price does not stop the cutter from being sold with a cut-out insert in a nice streamlined box.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Operation of the Craftsman’s Bench Double Blade Cutter is as classic and simple as its design. The two stainless steel blades on either side are moved independently in a smooth, even motion by putting your fingers in the finger holes and pulling them apart. Next, you place the cap of the cigar into the opening of the cutter and push the blades together, resulting in a straight cut through the cigar. Both blades cut through the cap and come to the end of their journey when the opening is fully closed, although there is no lock or trigger to stop them from opening again.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
- Clean Cuts Almost Every Time — It does exactly what it is supposed to, just about every time.
- Blade Sharpness — Along with the above, the blades are more than sharp enough to cut through any of the cigars I tested them on—even cigars above 64 ring gauge, albeit just a portion of the cap—and showed no signs of dulling that I can discern.
- Large Finger Holes — While not the largest I have seen, they are more than large enough for me to use the cutter with no issues.
- Cheap Enough To Put In Multiple Locations — Buy one to put in a golf bag, give them out to friends at a poker game, use it as a travel cutter. Best of all, if one goes missing it’s only $4.
- Value — I have said it before in this review, and imagine I will say it again before it ends, but the amount of money you pay compared to the quality of cuts you end up with is astounding.
- Easy To Find — Craftsman’s Bench is sold in a large number of cigar stores around the country as well as numerous online sites, making it extremely easy to pick up if you are looking for one.
- Blades Become Loose After Extended Use — Like many double guillotine cutters, the blades get loose over time. When you first pick up this cutter, the blades are quite tight, but that changes after using it for a while.
- Paint On Logo Comes Off — It only took six days for the paint on the logo on the front side to start rubbing off, although to be fair, the logo on the other side of the cutter does not actually have paint on it to begin with.
Inexpensive double-guillotine cutters in the cigar industry are almost as numerous as grains of sand on the beach: they are given out at events, included in gift bags and are a staple at most cigar shops. However, very few of those can compete when it comes to putting together the entire package of low price, durability and consistently clean cuts. An obvious competitor is the Vertigo VC800 “Big Daddy” which has the advantage of being able to cut cigars up to 80 ring gauge and a similar price at $3.99, but it does not cut cigars cleanly with near as much consistency.
- Vertigo VC200 ($2.99) — A cutter with the same basic design as the Craftsman’s Bench that also cuts cigars up to 64 ring gauge, but retails for $2.99.
- Visol Syrus Double Guillotine Cutter ($3.99) — Same price and similar design, but the Syrus only cuts up to 58 ring gauge cigars.
Should You Buy This Cutter?
Yes. And for the first time in a review of a cigar cutter, I’d recommend you buy more than one.
There is a reason the list of attributes for the Craftsman’s Bench Double Blade Cutter above is so much longer than the list of detractions: this is not only one of the better cutters I have tested this year, it is one of the best cutters I have used period, regardless of price. In fact, it easily outperforms cutters that retail for hundreds of dollars, making it a top choice when it comes to value. If I was forced to choose one cutter to use for the remainder of my life, regardless of price, the Craftsman’s Bench would be in consideration.
J.C. Newman advertises on halfwheel. The cutter used for this review was sent by J.C. Newman.
(Update: May 31, 2020) — While the price of the Vertigo VC800 “Big Daddy” is currently $3.99, not $9.99 as was stated originally in the review.