After producing a multitude of blades in just about every shape and color combination imaginable, some knife manufactures have moved on to making a different sort of sharp object: cigar cutters.
Over the years, a variety of knife makers from around the world have created cigar cutters of various shapes and sizes. I’ve used products from Al Mar, Benchmade, Red Horse Knives and most recently Fox Knives, an Italian-based company that was founded in 1977 by Oreste Frati.
The company has at least four different cigar cutters currently for sales:
- 749 — A guillotine-style cutter with a large rectangular blade, offered in silver and black
- 749/1 — This appears to be more or less the same as the above, though it’s attached to an ashtray
- 747 (Figaro) — A smaller cutter that functions more like scissors
- 748 — Similar to the 747 in function, but a different shape
WHAT IS IT?
The subject of today’s review is the Fox Knives 749 Cigar Cutter, a single guillotine cutter that works in a very different fashion than most cutters, utilizing a combination of a lever system and a cutting motion designed to give the user a clean cut. It measures 5.9 inches x 2.36 inches and is offered in silver and black colors, both of which retail for the same $85.
In addition, Fox Knives offers an optional leather sheath that can be attached to a belt and fits both the black and the silver versions.
When closed, the cutter looks like a pair of scissors that got into an accident, but once you open it up becomes apparent there’s a lot more going. The actual blade is more or less a large rectangular straight edge, like an old school razor. It moves along a track on one end of the cutter in a swooping manner, meaning that it moves simultaneously horizontal and vertical.
The entire cutter is made up of three different pieces of thin steel with the whole combination of the three pieces designed to open and close using a three-point lever system. The bottom piece is the largest and features not only the finger hole for your thumb and the sharpened oval opening where the cigar cap placed but also a somewhat rounded cutout where the main cutting blade is attached with a bolt.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Basically like a pair of cigar scissors. You put your fingers and open it like a pair of scissors, you can then see the half moon opening where your cigar’s head should be placed. The user then puts the cap of the cigar in the opening at the desired depth to get the cut that is desired and begins to push the fingers closed slowly, like a pair of scissors.
As the blade cuts into the cap, it moves in both a downward motion and forward motion simultaneously, with the end result being twofold: not only are the cuts extremely clean, but the cutting action is extremely smooth with no jerks or starts along the way. In addition, as the blade moves downward and forward, the bolt it is attached to moves in an angled downward motion along with it along its track.
The main blade of the cutter continues to cut entirely through the cap before coming to rest at the end of its journey, and although there is no obvious click or locking mechanism to keep it from opening on its own, it is nowhere close being loose when it is fully closed.
In addition to its unique movement—moving both down and sideways at the same time—the actual blade is at an angle, a trick that many of the best single guillotine cutters also use.
- Very Sharp Blades Resulting in Very Clean Cuts — If nothing else, a cigar cutter should have no issues cutting cigars cleanly, something this cutter excels at.
- Consistency — Not only are the cuts clean, but they are consistently clean, which is more difficult than it sounds.
- Built to Last — The entire body is made of metal and there is no feeling when using it that it will ever come close to falling apart.
- Best Cutter to Recut Cigars — Recutting a cigar cap is sometimes a necessary evil, but most cutters do not handle it well. This cutter makes short work of the process with no muss and no fuss.
- If You Needed to Cut The End Off Your Cigar — We don’t recommend doing this at halfwheel but if for whatever reason you wanted to cut the end off a cigar, this is the cutter for you. The opening is wide enough that you can fit most cigars easily into the cutting area and there’s no cutter that produces as clean of cuts to the body of a cigar quite like this.
- Extremely Unique Visually — I put quite a bit of emphasis on not only how a cigar cutter works, but also how it looks, and this cutter is one of a kind in that department.
- Big Finger Holes —Even a guy with fingers as large as mine will have no issues using this.
- The Entire Cutter Can Be Taken Apart — This makes it easy to sharpen the blade if needed.
- Extremely Awkward to Use At First — The first few times I used this cutter it was a bit of a challenge to realize not only how the process works, but also how much pressure to put on the cap with my hand. Thankfully, it does not take long to figure out, but those first cigars weren’t the best cuts.
- Getting Flat Cuts Requires More Concentration — This is one of those cutters that’s a bit awkward to tell how flat your cut is about to be. The cut is going to be a clean line, but whether or not that line is perfectly flat or slightly off is a bit more work.
- Exterior Scratches Very Easily — Not only that, but the scratches that are left behind after fairly common use are extremely noticeable. There’s the leather sheath which I didn’t test.
- The Track Shows Wear — Charlie Minato has also been using this cutter, though he hasn’t been traveling with it like me. His cutter shows moderate signs of wear along the track system, something that seems inevitable due to the metal-on-metal nature of how the cutter is designed.
- Not Exactly Easy to Carry Around — Unless you are storing it in a bag of some sort or in the optional leather sheath the company sells, this would probably be better suited as a cutter to use at home as its shape makes it really awkward to try to get out of a pants pocket.
- Remote Possibility of Injury — Unlike an actual knife, I didn’t injure myself while using the cutter. But the fact that it’s a giant straight razor blade on a track isn’t the safest thing. You’d have to be pretty reckless to hurt yourself with this cutter, but it’s certainly not as foolproof as a guillotine cutter.
There is no direct competitor that I know of which features even close to the combination of unique looks, sharp blades and extremely effective cutting process of the Fox 749 other than a variant of that same cutter. Specifically, the Fox Cigar 749/1, which includes not only the same cutter as the cutter reviewed here—albeit with a knob instead of finger holes—but also a single cigar ashtray, both of which are attached to the same small block of wood. Interestingly, even with that addition, the price difference between the two products is only about $25.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
The first time you see it, the Fox Knives 749 Cigar Cutter seems almost too convoluted, too thin, too complicated to actually work, especially for something that retails for more than $75. But after using it on a few cigars, the awkwardness melts away, replaced by the satisfaction of knowing just how clean the cuts are. As with cigar construction and blends, one of the hardest things for cutter manufacturers to achieve is consistency: will the cutter work the same way—and more importantly, give you close to the same results—when used on cigar after cigar? Too many cutters fail this test in various ways, but the Fox 749 is the exception, and it is well worth spending the money for a cutter with as many upsides as this one has.