Les Fines Lames is more or less a cigar knife company and it might be the cigar knife company.
As Brooks Whittington’s reviews have chronicled, there are a handful of companies making cigar knives. But there’s only one that’s really known for making cigar knives. And there’s only one company that is just making cigar knives. Or, was just making cigar knives.
See, the problem with being the cigar knife company is that most people don’t need to regularly buy new cigar cutters, let alone cigar knives. Furthermore, the market for high-end cigar knives is a small fraction of the cigar cutter market, itself a minority fraction of the cigar accessory market. In short, absent a skyrocketing demand for cigar knives, Les Fines Lames was probably going to have to find a new product.
And it did: ashtrays.
WHAT IS IT?
Les Fines Lames introduced two cigar ashtray designs: MONAD, a single cigar ashtray, and DYAD, a two-cigar ashtray.
Both are made in Paris using mortar, which is a cousin of concrete and—to me—feels a bit softer than concrete, and offered in five colors: anthracite, blue, green, gray and red. They also have more or less the same footprint of 5 3/4 inches x 5 3/4 inches square and 1 3/10 inches thick. The one difference is that the MONAD, the single cigar ashtray, has one of its corners cut off, resulting in a slightly shorter side—roughly about an 1 1/4 inches—for that part of the ashtray.
The MONAD weighs 1.9 lbs.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The MONAD is $68, while the DYAD is $78.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s an ashtray. Drop your ashes in the designated area, rest your cigar in the slot when wanted.
Beyond that, there’s felt on the bottom, which means you won’t need to worry about this scratching your table. The only real interesting part is that the company says that the mortar material will show wear over time, but that you can scrub it out to return the ashtray back to its original state.
One thing I appreciate is that none of the interior corners are sharp angles; rather, they are rounded out. This makes cleaning a lot easier and more effective.
- This is a Great Use of Space — The biggest upside to me versus the standard portfolio of cigar ashtrays is that they are just much more practical footprints. Those large four-cigar ashtrays are almost guaranteed to waste space or force four people to sit uncomfortably close to one another. The single cigar MONAD is about a third of the size as one of those four-cigar porcelain ashtrays. The DYAD’s design makes it perfect for two people sitting next to each other—or even across from each other at a normal-size table—to easily share it.
- The Style is Pretty Universal — These can blend in anywhere. Depending on the color, you can make the ashtray a centerpiece, or you can go for the anthracite color which will likely blend into most rooms.
- Each One Will Be Different — Because of the process, each ashtray will be slightly different due the small holes on the surface. The company says this was made to embrace the Japanese design aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which centers around finding beauty in imperfections. Those imperfections are the small bubbles and markings that appear throughout the ashtray.
- Storage is Awesome — This won’t apply to many people, but the fact that you can stack eight of these on top of one another without taking up a foot of vertical space is impressive. If you worked at a bar I could see this being a very appreciated feature.
- Cleaning is Pretty Easy — There’s nothing special here. The felt means it probably shouldn’t go in the dishwasher, though I guess it could. The rounded corners make it really easy to wipe down in between uses. Patrick Lagreid asked me if the holes presented any challenges to cleaning. Given where they are located, it’s not like ash is that likely to end up in them. I can’t say I saw any ash building up in the holes.
- The Price — While far from the most expensive ashtray we’ve reviewed, this isn’t cheap. If I was outfitting a cigar shop with ashtrays I would consider using these because of their universal style and great use of space, but it’s a ~$70 ashtray that is made out of a material that can break. I think it’s priced fairly, but it’s also important to point out that there are many products that could do this job for substantially less money.
- This Probably Won’t Be Great for Super Windy Environments — I only used this indoors, but if you are looking for an ashtray to survive strong winds, I don’t think this would be your best option. While the walls are better than a lot of porcelain ashtrays—the ones with the rounded bowls—it’s only about an inch deep. Similarly, I don’t know how this will survive rainstorms, but my guess is everything other than the felt will be fine.
- I Couldn’t Get Rid of All of the Wear Signs — I cleaned the ashtray after every use with a cleaning wipe and there was still pretty graying in the cigar rest. I spent about five minutes scrubbing the area, first with a towel and water and then with some dish soap. While the gray was reduced, it’s still there. This isn’t a huge deal to me, but if you are expecting to be easily able to wipe away the patina like a dry erase board, that’s clearly not going to happen. I have to imagine that the type of cleaning products you use—both daily and for the removal—will make a big difference.
While searching the internet, I was a bit surprised to not stumble across more concrete ashtrays designed for single cigar use. There are a lot designed for cigarettes and some designed for cigars, but it would appear the MONAD is somewhat of a niche product. In terms of a single cigar ashtray, many years ago I used to use something like this and it worked quite well until one of the metal feet became disconnected.
- Storcks Design Concrete Single Cigar Ashtray ($50) — Storcks Designs has a number of different ashtray options, but this single cigar option looks like a worthy competitor. While there are different designs, I prefer the colors Les Fines Lames offers. I haven’t used this ashtray.
- Lirio Design House Concrete Ashtray ($100) — I absolutely love the way this looks—and this included brass piece to help keep your cigar in place is smart. While I haven’t used it, the steps in the bowl of the ashtray seem like they are going to be a complete pain to clean.
- Delta-13 Concrete Ashtray ($35) — This Colorado-based billiards company also makes an ashtray. It’s a four cigar design that seems like it’s going to be a lot larger—and presumably heavier—than the MONAD. I haven’t used this ashtray, either.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes. This is a products that has as many special features as it has notable detractions: none. Some people might care more that it’s made in France, that everyone is slightly different, and that it’s unlikely that most cigar smokers have ever seen this product before—but I don’t really care about any of that. It functions very well and is price appropriately, if not more than appropriately. In the end, the MONAD—like all ashtrays should be—is a well-made, practical product that should last a very long time. If you like the looks and are fine with the price, there’s no reason not to add this to your cigar accessory collection.