To me, cigar smoking is all about the experience. The process of selecting a good cigar, cutting the cap, lighting the foot, and sitting still for an hour or so watching the world go by. It’s nice to be able to unplug for a minute and slow down. As such, the tools I use are important to me, and Les Fines Lames’ new Le Petit is a cigar cutter that I’ve been lusting after for months. Now I finally had a chance to use it… and I have some mixed feelings.
The knife is a “friction folder,” meaning that there is no locking mechanism — the knife is held open purely through friction and by applying pressure to the metal tail of the blade. This is important for jurisdictions where locking knives are illegal, as this allows it to be classified as a tool instead of a weapon. This distinction is helped by the blunt nose of the knife that prevents it from being used to stab a target. The same design is used on the older versions of the Benchmade Triage 915.
The blade is made from 14C28N steel, a formulation from Sandvik that’s been used in razor blades and widely used by Kershaw in their knives. It’s a derivation of their 13C26 metal, which was designed specifically for hardness and edge retention — but with extra chromium for better corrosion resistance. The blade is about 4 inches in length, just the right size for a pocket knife.
The edge of the blade is straight near the base, but curves upwards as it nears the tip. There’s no ricasso on the edge which should make sharpening a little more difficult than normal, especially since the scales on the handle are a bit bigger and makes accessing the blade portion nearest the handle difficult to access. It looks like they could have added a ricasso to the blade if they had moved out the cutout for the cigar cutter a little further in the handle.
The last design choice that really makes sense for this cutter is that there’s only a ground edge on one side of the blade (called a single bevel). Just like with Japanese kitchen knives, one side is completely flat and the other is slanted. The advantage here is that it cuts on the flat side completely straight and clean instead of “wandering” the cut and making it lopsided.
In the handle, there’s a cutout for the actual function of this blade: cigar cutting. The company claims that this will handle up to a 70 ring gauge cigar, and it worked for the biggest cigar I could throw at it.
The packaging is immaculate. The box is beautiful: black packaging with silver lettering and a silver stripe with the model name. Inside, the knife is held in place in a foam insert, with the documentation and instructions underneath. And those instructions are super useful.
The hardest part of this knife is using it for the intended purpose. It absolutely works – and it works well – but it takes some getting used to.
With something like a guillotine cutter, it’s easy to line up and cut with even pressure on either side because of the two blades used to make the cut. In this case the cutting edge moves and the other side stays in one place, causing uneven pressure on the cigar and potentially deforming one side. I say potentially because that never actually happened to me, and every cut was perfect and pristine.
Another factor in the unease of use is that it’s just rather large and awkward to hold. I feel like I need three hands to use this thing sometimes, or at least a cigar holder so I can focus on the insanely sharp object and using it safely.
All that said, it 100% works for the intended purpose. The cuts are clean and straight thanks to that one-sided grind, and there’s little to no damage to the cap of the cigar itself.
Using it for things other than its intended purpose is also pretty well thought out. As a tiny friction folder, you know it’s not going to be a useful competition chopper, but it’ll be about as useful as any other gentleman’s knife can be. Slicing strings off clothing, opening letters… you know, the minor stuff where a pocket knife can be handy to assist. I wouldn’t try to use it as a steak knife or anything more strenuous though, but I do appreciate that the distal end of the knife isn’t actually used in the cigar cutting process and so (A) stays very clean and (B) doesn’t matter as much if it isn’t razor sharp.
The only real concern I have about this knife is that it is going to need some regular maintenance. The knife works when everything is straight and perfectly aligned, but it seems like even a little bit of a wiggle would start to degrade the cleanness of the cut. Thankfully, there’s a wrench included in the kit that allows you to take down the knife for cleaning and adjust it, which you’re going to need to do. There is a good bit of debris from the cigar that gets all in the nooks and crannies of the knife and won’t be dislodged by a simple can of compressed air.
So, the big question: is this knife worth the $150 price tag?
If you’re looking for the most economical choice then you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree. You can get a cigar cutter from most cigar shops that will do the job just as well, if not better, for around $5 — and TSA will even let that version go in an airplane carry-on.
But this product isn’t about being the most cost effective mechanism for preparing a cigar. This is about the process and the experience. This is about enjoying finely crafted tools that accomplish a task in an elegant manner. And for those who prize that aspect of cigar smoking… this might be the holy grail of cigar cutters.
Le Petit by Les Fines Lames
Overall Rating: 5/5
The best cigar cutter knife on the (admittedly small sample size) market.