Wesley's Logo
Click to go to the Homepage
Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 233 - April 22, 2010
The Kindest Cut - for you

I was chatting with a customer in the shop a few days ago as he was trying to decide which cigar cutter was best for him, and for his cigars.
He wanted something easy to use - but fairly sturdy, so we ruled out the budget models which are basically for short-term use.
The cigar scissors didn’t appeal (possibly because he’d never seen anybody use one properly) so they were out; also out were the punch and V-cut models – his normal preference was for the thicker cigars.
That brought us to the range of metal “flat-cut” cutters.
These have steel blades of varying qualities; the choice of single- or twin-blades; other differences being in the smoothness of the sliding action (try it out), the comfort of the finger holes, and the finish.
The finish – his choice of appearance – matt, shiny, gilt, gun-metal.
The finger holes – he finds the two-finger type easiest to use; for added comfort, all except the R125.00 basic model have milled edges.
And, most important, the blades - for the cleanest cut and longest life a short, steep bevel is best. Look at the blades of the Donatus Solingen steel cutters and you’ll see what I mean. For this you need the hardest steel.
Where the steel is less hard (as on the mid-price cutters) the bevel on the blade must be longer (shallower) since, as it wears away, the edge will thicken, and become blunt too quickly.

The prices of the cutters extends from R125.00 for the basic model, through the R200 range, to R855.00 for the ergonomic Donatus cutter, and R3250.00 for the Dunhill.
The last two were beyond his budget, and he settled on the R199.50 model.

In the course of the conversation, we covered methods of cutting cigars and a few thoughts on how to cut.
I repeated much of the article from May 2008 – and do so here for your benefit.

Watchpoint when cutting:
The cap must not be completely removed or the cigar may unravel making it difficult and unpleasant to smoke (unless you really want a mouthful of leaves). As Rick Hacker says – “the best guideline is to make the cut slightly above the horizontal line where the cap connects with the wrapper”.

 “Cutting” can be done in four ways depending on the size and shape of the cigar. (I exclude biting off the end as in old Western movies.)

Cigar cutting - the V cut1. “V” cut – a v-shaped segment is removed from the rounded cap allowing a free passage of air. This is particularly desirable on the narrower ring gauges (up to ring 40/42) where the draw can be tight and the opening should be as large as possible. The v-cut can be used on cigars up to Churchill size (ring 47). The shape of the cutter prevents too much of the head being cut off. However, it does not work on the broad, flat head of the thicker robusto cigars so popular today.

2. “Flat” cut – this removes a portion of the cap to give the exact size aperture that suits you.
The instrument may be a single blade guillotine which cuts across the head from one side to the other, or a double blade, 2-finger cutter which cuts from both sides to the centre (almost 360°) and may be easier to control. Better quality double blade cutters are self-sharpening.

Cigar cutting - Cigar scissors for a flat cut
For us, Cigar Scissors offer one of the best options for cutting a cigar – they will cut any size, with an opening of your choice, and can be sharpened like any other scissors, prolonging their life indefinitely. As you apply the pressure rotate the cigar against the blades, to slice though the cap and establish the cut-line before making a clean cut. (This way you will be able to remove only the cap, leaving the underlying leaves undisturbed.)

Cigar cutting - A variation on the flat cut A variation on the flat cut is to cut off a “corner” of the head, and smoke the cigar with the open part uppermost in the mouth and the smooth section on the tongue. This was told to me some years ago. My informant called this the “Cuban cut” (and he seemed to know what he was talking about). Whatever it is called, I like it and I use it often.

Alfred Dunhill Black Mini Acrylic Bullet Cigar Punch
The Punch” cut – a pre-determined size hole taken out of the end usually by an exceptionally sharp,surgical steel round blade. It’s drawback is that it is inflexible as to size, and one would need several different sizes in any collection.
Cigar cutting - A Hole made by a “Drill” or “Piercer”

A Hole – made by a “Drill” or “Piercer”.
The hole is generally too small to allow an easy draw, and as the smoke is rushed through the narrow aperture juices tend to deposit, changing the flavour of the cigar.

A thought: A good quality knife (like the Swiss Army Victorinox)
can be used in most of these ways.

So – choosing a cutter, what it boils down to is this:

Are you likely to lose it almost before you use it? Look at the budget range.

Does the mid-range suit your pocket better? There are several models to choose from including a cigar punch and scissors.

What about a finely-engineered piece of equipment that performs its function efficiently, maybe forever? Choose one that does justice to your cigars - the Dunhill, or from the Donatus range. Such a cutter costs only as much as 4 to 6 really good cigars. You have a choice of V-cut, twin-blade, guillotine; and remember, the cigar scissors which can be sharpened, extending their cutting life to many years.
May be kept at home or in the office (for safety), and it feels so good every time you use it or just pick it up.

Because it’s good to spoil yourself, and because a good cigar deserves a good cutter,
from April 29 to May 12 we offer
25% off most cutters (15% off Dunhill Cutters)
(Maybe this is a good “hint” for Father’s Day!)

Colin Wesley
No 233 April 22 to May 5, 2010

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 234 - May 6, 2010
Inadvertent Benefits

Showing people the refurbished pipes certainly breaks the ice.

Comments flow from customers in the shops – such as:

“Gee, these look great – what did they look like when they came in?”
Scruffier than you could imagine – dull and dirty, with greeny-grey mouthpieces. Next time you’re at your computer, look at the before/after picture.
“I must bring some of my pipes in!”
Bring in a couple of the worst – try it out. See how much more enjoyable they are to smoke. 
“Could I really make my old pipes look like these?”
Yes – with a bit of spit and polish ….. and elbow grease – and given the right materials
“Was that Dunhill really made in 1955?”
Dunhill is one of the few brands with a dating code. What’s more, the briar was already 50 -100 years old when the pipe was manufactured!
“I’m thinking about a Dunhill – should I buy a new one or a refurbished one?”
If you like the look of the refurbished pipe, buy it. If it is as good as you expect, you will more easily accept the price of a new model. If it disappoints a little, you still have a very good pipe and you paid less than half the new price.
“I’ve never smoked a really top quality pipe, what are they like?”
This is a fine opportunity to find out. The “Refurbished” Dunhills and the Savinelli Punto Oro are half the current price. And they may be even better quality than their modern counterparts - the chances are that the briar used was older than that used for more recently manufactured pipes.

Yet one of the main benefits of seeing these restored gems is the realisation that you need not be the victim of a “smelly old pipe”.
Clean it up, inside and out!                           
Most of the work to be done is superficial (if a bit time-consuming).
• A spurt of Pipe Spray, followed by a vigorous scrub with a bristle cleaner (included with the spray), will do wonders for the inner shank and mouthpiece.
• The carbon layer: A good ream may prevent the bowl cracking and returns the space for your tobacco.
• The mouthpiece tastes so bitter when oxidised – soap and water only seem to make it worse. That is where the mouthpiece polish from Dunhill or Denicotea comes in. Works like a charm.
• Do you remember how great the wood looked when you bought the pipe? Restore the finish with bowl polish from Savinelli, Dunhill or Denicotea.
New (to us) from Dunhill: The Silicone Pipe Care Cloth which protects your pipe with an invisible film of silicone wax. Rub lightly over the surface of the bowl and mouthpiece after cleaning and polishing.

Do it yourselfwith the correct materials from:
Savinelli or Denicotea - less 25% for the period 13 - 26 May 2010
Dunhill - less 15% for the period 13 - 26 May 2010
All Reamersless 25% for the period 13 - 26 May 2010
CGA Pipe Sprayless 25% for the period 13 - 26 May 2010

Full instructions are on the website

If your time is limited take the pipe to your nearest Wesley’s. Cleaning service plus: plug a hole in the bowl; re-peg or replace the mouthpiece if necessary; fit a band to a cracked shank.
You won't be able to buy a new branded pipe for the R150 to R250 the professional job may cost you.

Colin Wesley
No 234 May 6 - 19, 2010

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 235 - May 20, 2010
Out & about with your Cigars

The Cigar Dinner we hosted on Monday 10 May 2010 was an outstanding success!
So what is a Cigar Dinner?
A good cigar dinner is the coming together of:
The People – cigar smokers who enjoy their hobby without it being just a habit;
The Cigars – the opportunity to enjoy carefully selected, often uncommon, cigars;
The Place – a comfortable, well-ventilated area devoted especially to the cigar smokers for that night, and offering good food and wine.
(The new Katzy’s at The Grillhouse was a perfect venue – and the service was seamless and efficient.)

How does it work?
We handed out the first cigar (Trinidad Reyes), with the Vasco da Gama Capa da Cuba cigarillo as each guest checked in. Those who were punctual (7.00pm) had plenty of time to savour both smokes before moving from the comfortable bar / lounge areas to their tables at about 7.45pm.
We were ready for the second major cigar (San Cristobal La Fuerza) shortly after 9.00pm – and it lasted for the rest of the evening, when many of the guests transferred to the comfortable couches in Katzy’s lounges.
The Raffle and lucky Draws were done: the humidor was won by a young lady attending her first cigar dinner, and the draws by two of our regular attendees.
(Just a few 3-packs of the dinner cigars remain. Ask your nearest Wesley’s to try for one for you.)

During the course of the evening it struck me that that there are still plenty of places one can enjoy a good cigar without inconveniencing anyone. Clubs, Hotel or Restaurants with legal smoking areas (less than 25% of total area, with good extraction systems), the patio / veranda / stoep / stoop of your home, timeshare, country cottage or bush camp. (Check “Smoking Outdoors”)
There is nothing like a cigar under the stars!
Many of these places are away from home, your cigars must be transported conveniently and safely.
You need a good cigar case – pocket or the larger travel version. What are the options?

The criteria - what to look for in a cigar case:
Besides beauty, the leather must be firm enough to protect the cigars;
Moulded grooves are essential to hold each cigar in place;
Telescopic if possible – to allow for different length cigars;
The fit should be as close as possible to offer a reasonable seal;
Stream-lined design with rounded top and bottom, to ensure that the case will slip easily into a pocket;
The final touch – a lining that won’t snag the cigar, and is not too absorbent;

I find in the shop that price is a consideration – so here’s how I show the cases:

R1480.00 to R400.00 – Top quality – feel the “whoosh” of air as the case is closed, quality
leather outer and lining – Dunhill, Spanish RM cases, Cedar-lined cases; Tube in leather case with a flask!
Around R200.00 - Lighter weight leather cases from India – firm yet flexible;
Single, airtight, Chrome cigar tube;
R40.00 - Real, real budget – synthetic material with dividers; not flexible or airtight, but they do the job.

You need to carry a few more cigars?
R2550.00 Superior quality from Dunhill – a perfect design for 9 large cigars, more if a half corona size;
R995.00 Grooved cedar case – 6/8 really large cigars, more if a half corona size;
R875.00 Aluminium case, sponge lined individual slots for up to 12 large cigars, more if ……..;
R125.00 Simple box case for 5 cigars in glass tubes

Time for only a small cigarillo?
R171.50 –R400.00 Sturdy metal cases; Leather cases for 10 loose cigarillos or a box (magnetic closure);

These are the normal prices in the shops – but what if I told you that a special offer is coming up!

From May 27 to June 9 2010 we offer
25% off Cigar Cases (pocket or travel) - 15% off Dunhill

(Maybe this is another good “hint” for Father’s Day!)

Colin Wesley
No.235 May 20 – June 2, 2010

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 236 - June 3, 2010
A Good Day in the Shop

My wife often says that when I don’t feel like working, I go and spend a day in my shop.
Well, in a way she is right. I spend most Saturdays in my shop, and when the day turns out like last Saturday it certainly isn’t a “chore” – it is for me a lovely way to spend the day.

It all started early when a lady came in to look at the walking sticks with various dog’s heads. We chatted about them and how lifelike they were, especially in the eyes – you can see the sparkle. She selected the Labrador  - and after she had paid she told me she was giving it to a friend who had just lost her beloved Labrador. As she left, I thought “What a nice gesture”.
This was a day for sticks, later on I sold a chrome-handled stick to an exceptionally elegant lady of African origin who had just come in to browse. She certainly didn’t need a stick, and she declined any wrapping with a smile, saying she would just walk out with it and show it off. She looked lovely.

A really nice cigar customer came in to stock up before a long trip – just discussing the variety of cigars he would need (including my favourite Trinidad Reyes)  buoyed my spirits; as did the younger, newer cigar enthusiast who was eager to try our Selections, and so keen to join our database.

But it was the customer experience between these that made my day.
The shop was busy when a couple came in with a purposeful look about them.
They waited their turn, and when I approached them the gentleman said quite firmly
“We want to buy a pipe – a Savinelli”.                      
That’s nice” I said – my usual reply to anybody who wants to buy a pipe.
A Dry System?” I asked, pulling out our selection.
Yes, like the one I saw in your window; this one” he said, picking up the satin finish, bent pot shape 2622K.
But they weren’t going to rush the experience. The shop had emptied, and I had time, and so did they.
We looked at alternative shapes. She didn’t like the look of the high polished finish pipes, he didn’t like the feel of the full bent 2614K, or the panelled 2699K – too small in his hand, and for his Fox tobacco.
It had to be just right…… as so often happens, the one that first caught his eye was the one for him.
 “It’s an early Christmas present” she laughed.
Handing the 2622K to me he just smiled – there was no way he was going to wait until Christmas.
Done, but not finished – now for a pouch or small carry case.
“No, it must be leather, because leather smells so nice”
Much handling, examining and discussing the finer points – me pointing out the nylon zip and latex linings, them feeling and sniffing the leather. Agreement was reached on our new 2217L companion pouch.
Done, but still not finished …..
“Now I want a pipe thing that won’t make a hole in the bottom of the bowl”
We look at the options: the basic tool was out; “Nothing too expensive because he loses them,” she said “but it must be nice”. My first suggestion was a slim stainless steel model, but then I remembered how he’d enjoyed the feel of the wood on the pipe, so I showed him the wood inlay pipe knife with the concavity on the blade for firm finger grip.
Foldover Black leather Companion Pouch for tobacco, pipes and accessoriesDone - the early Christmas present was completed with a packet of Fox.
The visit finished with his filling in a “Sweepstakes Entry” and joining our database. Who knows – he might win a free pipe and choose another Savinelli just like the one he bought.
The entire experience was about 20 minutes and we had all enjoyed ourselves.

All too soon it was time to wend my way homewards – to watch a wonderful Rugby Super 14 final; intense and frenetic, but with only a few minor warnings and not a punch in sight.

Sport as it should be played.

Now what about sharing my enjoyment – the “hole in the bowl” concern reminded me that it is some time since we’ve offered you a “special” on the pipe tools essential for day-to-day maintenance of your pipe –
every time you smoke”. Therefore………….

Pipe Gadgets and Pipe Knives less 25%
for the period 10 - 23 June 2010
Dunhill - less 15%

Time to think of Father – his day is 20 June!

Colin Wesley
No.236 June 3 - 16, 2010

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Wesley's Logo
Click to go to the Homepage
  . . . . .