During the TPE 2022 trade show in late January, JetLine released a new double-guillotine cutter named H-Steel with four different color options.
WHAT IS IT?
The H-Steel is a fairly simple double-guillotine cutter with an exterior made of plastic and blades that are able to cut cigars up to 60 ring gauge. According to JetLine, those blades of the H-Steel are made from “hardened steel”—thus, the name—which refers to a process where metal is heated up before being quickly cooled in water or oil in order to make the steel harder.
Design-wise, the middle of the cutter—a square section of plastic built around the opening where the blades meet up—features raised diamond pattern on both sides. In addition, both of the finger holes feature a colored detail section around the edge: orange for the cutter that is black with orange, black for the other three options.
In terms of physical specifications, H-Steel measures 3.7 inches long when it is closed—that number increases to 4.75 inches when it is open—1.58 inches wide and .34 inches thick. As mentioned above, the body of the cutter is made of plastic while the blades are made of hardened stainless steel, and the whole cutter weighs a total of .98 ounces.
According to JetLine, the double guillotine blade is capable of cutting a 60 ring gauge cigar completely in half if needed, a fact I was able to confirm, although it is a tight fit. In addition, I was easily able to cut the cap off of anything up to about a 70 ring gauge cigar.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There are currently four different color options:
- Black with orange
- Orange with black
- Gray with black
- Neon green with black
In addition, the cutter comes with a leatherette carrying pouch.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Basically, the operation of the JetLine H-Steel is the same—and as simple—as a host of other double-guillotine cutters on the market. When you put your fingers in the finger holes and pull them apart, the two stainless steel blades located on either side of the cutter move independently as they open in a smooth, even motion. Next, you place the cap of the cigar you are wanting to smoke into the opening of the cutter that was just revealed by the aforementioned motion and decide how much of the cap you want to have cut off. You then firmly push the two blades together at the same time, 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.
- Clean Cuts (Almost) Every Time — For the vast majority of cigars I used this cutter on, I had no issues whatsoever. Having said that, there were some minor problems with larger ring gauge cigars—above 56 ring gauge—but those issues mainly consisted of small amounts of tobacco left jutting out from the cut cap and a few minor tears to the wrapper.
- Hardened Blades — While I have no standard way to test JetLine’s claim that “you will never have to worry about sharpening or ever becoming dull,” I can tell you that the blades are easily sharp enough to cut through a large number of cigars over the two months I tested it and that at the end of that time those blades showed no overt signs of becoming dull that I could tell.
- Large Finger Holes — I am a fairly large guy, so I notice when finger holes on cutters are not big enough for me. While far from the largest holes I have ever seen on a cutter, the openings on the H-Steel are easily large enough to allow me to use the cutter with no discomfort.
- Lightweight + Thin Footprint — This is a very light cutter that also happens to be relatively thin, and as such, it is extremely easy to carry around just about anywhere. In fact, there were a number of times that I actually forgot it was in my pocket while I was walking around with it.
- Surprisingly Durable — Any time I see that the exterior of a cutter is made of plastic, I am a bit concerned about how it will hold up to continued use. However, the H-Steel gave me no issues in the time I was testing it: the exterior looks pretty much the same as the day I photographed it in the studio, and the blades have not loosened up in any significant way.
- The Combination of Price + Value — Simply put, $24.99 is a lot of money to pay for a plastic double-guillotine cutter, even one with “hardened” blades. It is hard to find value in a cutter like the H-Steel when there are a host of other cutter that perform the same function at a fraction of the cost.
- A Little Too Light? — Yes, it is a very nice bonus that the cutter is light enough to carry around in a pocket with ease. However, that same lighter weight does present an issue when actually cutting cigars, as there is a noticeable lack of balance that can result in less than ideal cuts, especially when it comes to how straight those cuts are.
There is no dearth of cheap double-guillotine cutters these days, but not all of the options on the market actually perform at a high level or give consistently good cuts. One fairly obvious competitor to the H-Steel is the Craftsman’s Bench Double Blade Cutter ($5), which has a very similar design and is about the same size and weight. However, there are some fairly significant differences: the Craftsman’s Bench can cut cigars with up to a 64 ring gauge and costs $5 compared to the H-Steel’s price tag of $24.99, but the H-Steel is built with those hardened blades and is available in four different color options while the Craftsman’s Bench can only be purchased in black. If I was choosing between the two, the Craftman’s Bench is the easy choice for me, mainly due to the fact that it gives slightly better cuts at a significantly cheaper price point.
- XIKAR X8 ($44.99) — While it does retail for about $20 more than the H-Steel, the X8 can cut up to a 70 ring gauge cigar all the way through, can be used as a cigar stand in a pinch and is covered by a lifetime warranty. Even at the higher price, the combination of better balance, higher quality exterior and the warranty means I would choose the X8 over the H-Steel every time.
- Vertigo VC800 “Big Daddy” ($3.99) — Sure, it can cut cigars up to 80 ring gauge and only costs $3.99, but those cuts are not near as clean as what I got from the H-Steel. In this case, the H-Steel wins for me.
- Vertigo VC200 ($2.99) — At $2.99, it is even cheaper than the Craftsman’s Bench, while able to cut cigars up to 64 ring gauge. Note: I have not reviewed this cutter.
- Visol Syrus Double Guillotine Cutter ($3.99) — Another extremely cheap cutter with a similar design to the H-Steel, but the Syrus only cuts up to 58 ring gauge cigars. Note: I have not reviewed this cutter.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS CUTTER?
I want to be clear right off the bat: the JetLine H-Steel is a good cutter that gave me very few issues when using it on any number of different sizes and vitolas of cigars. It is light, well-built, easy to use and can cut caps up to about 70 ring gauge with very few problems. The main issues I have with this cutter are not with its performance or construction, but the its price compared to one competitor: there is very little difference when it comes to performance between this cutter priced at $24.99 and something like the Craftsman’s Bench Double Blade Cutter, which does everything the H-Steel does while retailing for a fifth of the price.
In fact, considering how good the Craftsman’s Bench is, if I am going to pay more than that for a double-guillotine cutter it is going to have to give me something beyond just great cuts: a higher quality exterior plus a lifetime warranty like what is found on the XIKAR X8, or the combination of a sleek, modern design and great cuts that is found in the Colibri Quasar Cut. If you like the color options or the feel of the exterior of the H-Steel—which I will grant you is pretty cool—then go for it, but if you are just looking for a double-guillotine cutter to cut cigars extremely well while not having to worry about if you lose it or not, there are much more economical options available.