Tobacco Cut Guide

Welcome to the 'Tobacco Cut Guide', the objective of this guide is to walk through the various types of pipe tobacco 'cuts' and will be explaining the differences between each type as well as the advantages and disadvantages over each method in an easy to read guide,this will help identify which cut type will be most suitable to your smoking style.

There are several types of pipe tobacco in which can be cut in a variety of ways, the reason why you may want to cut it differently will depend on the environment throughout the many processes in the preparation stage as well as most importantly the smoking characteristics in the way how the tobacco will smoke. Find out and see what cut is best for you...

The guide will be categorized into several sections, the following tobacco cuts are shown below:

Broken Flake
Curly Cut
Flake
Plug
Ribbon
Rope
Shag

For information on 'How To Smoke a Pipe', click on the following link here to read our guide.
To find out more about pipes and pipe tobacco, see our 'Pipe 101 Basics' guide by clicking here.


Broken Flake

Broken Flake Cut Packing Difficulty: Moderate
Ageing Potential: Medium

Broken flakes are usually cut from either cakes or plug into pieces that measures approx 1/8" in length.

Although this cut type is moderately challenging, with a bit of patience and practise it's quite versatile as it is simple to rub the tobacco out into textures to achieve a ribbon or shag cut if desired.

The broken flake can also be crushed, folded or even smoked without any further preparation. Also this kind of cut type is easy to store with very little maintenance and can be aged for long periods of time.



Curly Cut

Curly Cut Packing Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Ageing Potential: High

The name Curly Cut refers to the fine slices of tobacco that's used from the 'Rope' cut tobacco, due to the thin slices it resembles a 'coil' like pattern.

Curly Cut is similar to Flake tobacco as the shape and thickness are near enough identical, often at times pipe smokers refer curly cut as a type of flake.

The tobacco can be prepared the same way as a standard Flake where it can be either folded, crushed on rubbed out to the desired texture for smoking.



Flake

Flake Cut Packing Difficulty: Moderate
Ageing Potential: High

Flake cut (alternatively known as 'slices') are typically cut from compressed cakes usually from 'Plug' cut tobacco, which is often cut into rectangular slices but sometimes may vary in shapes.

Flakes are easy to prepare for smoking and are great for ageing after opening.

It can either be folded, rubbed out to require a 'Ribbon' or 'Shag' like texture or even stuffed into the pipe chamber for smoking.



Plug

Plug Cut Packing Difficulty: Difficult
Ageing Potential: High

Plugs are often square or rectangular shaped bars that are cut from tobacco which has been layered, heated, and pressed.

They keep well as they allow minimum air exchange. For preparation, plugs must either be sliced, folded or rubbed out ready for smoking.

Always ensure to cut 'against the grain' of the tobacco layers, this is important because each layer has a different type of tobacco and doing so will help achieve a suitable texture with good end results.



Ribbon

Ribbon Cut Packing Difficulty: Easy
Ageing Potential: Medium

Ribbon Cut is tobacco that's usually mechanically cut from cakes or plugs into thin strands of about 1/16".

As Ribbon Cut tobacco doesn't require any preparation prior to smoking, you can simply stuff the tobacco straight into the bowl and lit up. It's ideal for beginners and suitable for quick smokes on the go!

Bear in mind that, due to the thin and fine texture of the tobacco, once the tin has been opened it won't keep very for long periods of time unless considerable precautions have been taken of storing the tobacco.

Ensure that the tobacco is stored in an airtight container to prevent the tobacco from completely drying out, you can also use a humidity 'Boveda' packet inside of the tin/container to reduce dryness and allow the tobacco to have some moisture.



Rope

Packing Difficulty: Difficult
Ageing Potential: High

Rope Cut Rope cut tobacco is different to other tobaccos as 'Rope' isn't cut, instead it's twisted and wrapped into thick cords usually about 1" in diameter.

Rope tobacco can be packaged and sold in various length sizes depending on the requirements of the pipe smoker, you may have heard rope being referred to as 'Bulk' tobaccos.

As Rope is compacted very well in thick cords, it'll store and age very well and will minimize air exchange (similar to the 'Plug' tobacco).

For smoking preparation, Rope must be cut into slices but could either be folded or rubbed to the desired texture.



Shag

Shag Cut Packing Difficulty: Easy
Ageing Potential: Low

Shag is very similar to Ribbon cut as it's mechanically cut into multiple strands, however the difference between the two as the 'Shag' cut is even finer texture than 'Ribbon'.

As the texture is so fine, it's also very delicate but it's easy to smoke straight out of the tin as it requires no preparation. Simply stuff the tobacco directly into the bowl and it's ready to smoke.

Similarly to Ribbon, shag tobacco won't keep well for long periods of time once the tin has been opened unless careful precautions have been taken place to store the tobacco.

Ensure that the tobacco is stored in an airtight container to prevent the tobacco from completely drying out, you can also use a humidity 'Boveda' packet inside of the tin/container to reduce dryness and allow the tobacco to have some moisture.