I’m sure by now you have seen some of the many folding knife cutters that have become increasingly popular in the past few years. The one I will be reviewing today is the ‘Le Petit’ by French company Les Fines Lames. The name translates to ‘the thin blade’. The company was founded by Pierre Jourdan, Yann Bouten and Gilles Bailly-Maitre in 2015. They got their start from multiple successful Indiegogo (a type of crowd funding platform) campaigns. Les Fines Lames also makes ash trays, cigar stands and punch cutter bead bracelets.
It seems like a no brainer to invest in a multi-functional cutter, but we wanted to take a look into it further to see if it’s worth the cost.
Under the Lid
The first iteration of this cutter was known as the L’Original. It was larger and featured a closed aperture for cutting cigars; this put a limit on the ring gauge you could cut. The ‘Le Petit’ cutter is smaller than the original and has an open aperture, which now opens the door for larger ring gauges. According to Les Fine Lames, the blade is made from 14C28N stainless steel, otherwise known as culinary grade, and it has a built-in 23mm aperture that can cut a 58 ring gauge cigar in half. Depending on how much cap you cut, you can cut up to a 70 ring gauge cigar. The back of the blade has a small handle meant for a single finger to be used to push the blade up out of the handle which does function nicely.
For this review, we will be using the new Le Petit Brass Seigaiha which debuted this year as part of the new brass collection. The collection also includes the Brass Leaves, Brass Leaves II, and Brass Skulls. All four of these cutters have an MSRP of $219. However, Le Petit cutters in general have a broad price range. Depending on design, they can range from $149 for ones with basic wooden handles, to $850 for ones made with 18k gold. As I mentioned before, this cutter is the Brass Seigaiha, named for the Japanese wave pattern that has become popular all over the world. The Seigaiha pattern is a great classic of the EDC culture, to which this version of the Le Petit cigar cutter pays homage in a brass finish. ‘Seigaiha’ comes from the Japanese culture and translates to blue sea and waves. It was once used as a way to illustrate oceans on maps and is also a symbol of power and resistance.
As I mentioned before, there are many different finishes and materials used for the handle. Both the basic black wood handled version and this one made of steel and brass were both very well made and sturdy. I do enjoy that when the blade is all the way open and used as a knife, the aperture for cutting cigars acts as a nice finger slot that keeps the knife well gripped in your hand.
One thing that I was not aware of when I first used this cutter was that there is a right way and a wrong way to hold the knife when cutting a cigar. There is a beveled edge on the blade that when used backwards may not perform the best, and can sometimes cause a jagged cut. Always make sure to hold the knife with the straight edge side or the logo side of the blade facing towards you. This is a key part that will lose some points for this due to the fact that it can easily be misunderstood and can ruin a cigar cap when used incorrectly. During the testing phase, 4 out of 5 cigars that were cut this way were severely damaged. However, when used in the correct direction I got a decent cut almost every time, which is also something that will carry some weight with the score.
I used this cutter for several weeks on and off, and while also using other cutters as a way to compare how it differs between itself and a more conventional cutter. What I found outside of the directional issue while cutting, is that this blade is extremely sharp as a knife, which I love. I even lightly sliced my finger while messing around with it at my desk. It is small and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your pocket or cigar case. As a cigar cutter, it seems to be a bit awkward at times and takes longer to cut because you have to make sure that the cigar is fully lined up and is in just the right spot. I will say if your cigar is on the dryer side, I would recommend avoiding this cutter as it is not very forgiving.
I very briefly mentioned above that the company also makes other products. One that I have used myself is the punch cutter bead bracelets. I have worn and used two different versions of this bracelet. The first was a regular bracelet made with clear elastic bracelet string that stretches over your hand. This one did not last long and broke after a few months. Les Fines Lames told me they had run into this issue and were transitioning into cord which instead has a sliding knot to tighten once on your wrist. That also only lasted a few months and snapped. I also noticed the punch blade would unwind and become loose frequently which became quite bothersome.
Why do I mention all of this? One of the things I noticed about the cutters is the bolt where the blade secures to the handle and swivels the blade open and closed frequently comes loose. Loose to the point where it gets sloppy quickly. Tightening it only seems to last for a short while. This has happened with multiple Le Petit cutters I have used. To my bigger point, when factoring the price into what these items cost, it would appear that while made in France with decent materials, the quality of the functionality is essentially weakened by what appears to be a lack of quality control in their products. This is disappointing because the concept of both seem so exciting to me.
If you like something that’s primary function is a well crafted small knife that can also cut your cigar in a pinch, go for it. If you want this for a cigar cutter exclusively, I would pass- unless you can commit to the learning curve of using it properly, and some regular inspections and maintenance to ensure it functions properly and doesn’t ruin the cap of your cigar. If you can live with that, then this is a unique and artistic cutter you can add to your collection.
Born and raised in New England, Matthew Tabacco began smoking cigars and living up to his unique namesake in 2017. What began as just a social indulgence became a world of everything premium cigars- learning from some of the biggest and best in the business. From casual smoking to lighting up on the hit podcast The Smokin Tabacco Show, Matthew can usually be found in some of the largest smoke shops in the Northeast enjoying a cigar, talking business, or preparing for a show.