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Hello all. Got into cigars only about 7 months ago and started rolling my own in February. How did I get here?
  1. I've always loved the smell of cigars and would hang out with people smoking. I never dreamed I would smoke cigars let alone roll them.
  2. COVID and civil unrest in the US made me decide it was time to live a little bit. Life is short. Also I did the research and found cigars aren't all that bad for your health relatively.
  3. I prefer to buy things made in the USA if I can, so I tried The American by JC Newman. It's ok. I had one good one and a couple poor ones I couldn't enjoy. Also it's very expensive.
  4. I settled on the Tatuaje Gran Cojonu and it became my favorite. Not too much nicotine but great for long evenings hanging out with friends. However, it's still somewhat expensive and I don't always want to smoke a giant 6.5x60 cigar.
  5. Unsatisfied with my options, I looked into rolling my own. I did a massive amount of research, picked up some simple tools, and gave it a try with some USA grown tobaccos.
My first cigar was ugly as hell, super wet, and tasted terrible. My next few cigars were ugly but functional, and finally now I have something that is worth sharing with friends. So far the friends think they are pretty great! Here are some key points to my process:
  • I watched a ton of videos and some of them are actually bad advice. I found the best process for me is to follow the example of Bliss Cigar Co.
  • I do all of my cigars Cuban style. Entubado bunched filler and Cuban style cap. I tried the Dominican style cap because it looked fast and simple, but it is very hard to do correctly without tons of practice.
  • I don't have any molds, which is why my cigars are all different lengths and widths. Instead, I wrap my bunches tightly in paper and let them sit overnight before rolling the final wrapper the next morning. Without the paper, my cigars would get lumpy and curve as they dried. The paper keeps them straight and fairly smooth. A mold is required if you want consistency, but I like trying different sizes of cigars and I don't smoke often enough to make 10 of the same cigar. The other benefit of the paper is that my cigars never have a tight draw. I bunch them as tight as I can but don't have to squeeze them into a mold. It just works for me.
  • Never roll a cigar wet. Not even the wrapper. The first YouTuber I learned from would roll cigars with dripping wet tobacco and this caused me all kinds of problems when I started out. Take your time and moisten your tobacco gradually over many hours to the correct level before using it. I keep my filler flexible enough that it doesn't crumble, binders can be dry but pliable, and the wrapper is very limp but not wet.
  • I give them all bands to help me remember what blends are in them and I give them names because I'm having too much fun with this hobby.
I've rolled over 40 cigars now, but the first ~30 were either really ugly or rolled from scraps for practice. My caps are still pretty bad, but otherwise I'm quite satisfied with my progress.

305227

"El Aguacate 🥑" Lonsdales - Rolled on March 5th. 2 PA Viso Filler + 1 CT Broadleaf filler, Aged PA Binder, Ecuador Candela Wrapper

305228

"Smokey 🐻" Corona and Perla - Rolled March 10th. 1 PA Viso + 1 CT Broadleaf, VA Light Fire Cured Binder, TN Dark Fire Cured Wrapper. My friends and I really like this blend so I made several more later until I ran out of that awesome Tennessee Dark Fire wrapper. It's really smokey, but doesn't seem to impact the flavor much.

305229

Rolled yesterday Mar 28th. The lighter colored one has an ugly wrapper because it's experimental.

305230

Same as above but with labels on them. "PogChamp" and "Not a Cuban" are experimentals. Various sizes. Toros, Robustos, Gordos

Still a lot of work to do. I often end up with some vein problems and I haven't quite gotten the smooth wrapper trick down yet, but I'll get there. I'm not yet confident enough to pick veins out while wrapping, but I'll give it a try soon.

I'd love to hear any tips you might have based on what you see here, and I can share newbie pitfalls to avoid if anybody is interested. Basically just follow the guidance of Bliss Cigar Co. and you'll be fine.
 

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I'm sure glad your joining us! The most valued thing I'm hearing from you is your ability to learn from your mistakes. (trial and error)
Bliss has not been here in a while, maybe he will show? His most recent sticks have been molded in paper. Really very consistent. Every size will have a weight to it.
www.cubancigarwebsite.com/official-weights.html
...I do see some what looks to be what I'll call early wrapping. (let the dolls dry before the wrapper goes on.) the paper will wick away so, swapping it out will move it along.
Casing is really dependent on specific needs.
 

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Awesome! Thank you for the weight chart. I'll definitely be using that. I had mostly been following this size chart to see roughly what category my cigars might be in: https://blogmikescigars.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/maxresdefault-9.jpg I'll weigh some of my cigars later to see if I'm under filling them too much.

...I do see some what looks to be what I'll call early wrapping. (let the dolls dry before the wrapper goes on.) the paper will wick away so, swapping it out will move it along.
Casing is really dependent on specific needs.
Are you saying I should let my bunches dry longer before wrapping them? I was actually worried that I was letting them dry too much because in the factories they press bunches in a mold for only a total of about 1h. Perhaps with the paper method it is better to let them dry longer? I have two more experimentals that I bunched last night and I was planning to wrap them today, but maybe I'll give them another night to see what happens. I live in the Pacific Northwest so the humidity even in my house is not too low. I don't think there is any risk of drying them too quickly here.


I'm also wondering if anybody has notes on different leaves that they would be willing to share. Descriptions and reviews on various websites are vague and don't really tell me much about what to expect.

I am hunting for strongly flavored tobacco to try. I've smoked a total of 15 factory cigars from 8 different brands and took notes on all of them. I have a hard time really tasting much of a difference between them. My sense of smell and taste is a bit weak. I can taste bad/rancid cigars that have been kept improperly at the store, but so far most cigars are about the same to me. I've smoked various "full bodied" cigars and never really notice the flavor differences. It's all pleasant smoke to me.

The same has been true for my home-rolled cigars. I can't taste candela wrappers even if I roll them on a narrow vitola with mild filler. I'm sure that different wrappers must make a difference, but so far I can't tell any difference between my wrappers even on narrow vitolas. I can't taste different fillers either, but I can definitely tell the difference between nicotine levels. Too much Viso or Ligero will take me for a ride, so I've learned how to balance that out just right.

Here are my questions:
  • Do wrapper leaves really matter as much for flavor as people say? I'm thinking in the future I'll just settle on a pretty wrapper that looks nice and not hunt for flavor in a wrapper.
  • What are some really strongly flavored fillers that I can try (even non-USA). I would like to go to the far ends of the spectrum and see if I can really tell much of a difference. I'm really happy with what I have right now, but I want to take the red pill. I must know how deep the rabbit hole goes.
 

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When I said "The most valued thing" I speak to getting to know your leaf. (relationship building)
@webmost spoke to holding a commercial stick in hand to gauge the amount of leaf needed.
I found that 20 ounces of filler makes 50 robustos by weight.
The weight will lend to draw as well as burn. There is little in the way of short cuts. Not to deter you from what inspires you i but, know that you in your work will be the fastest rout. Do know that you can do it.

The thing about drying before wrapping application is, once the wrapper goes on it can take much longer to dry.
If you want to burn ROTT (right off the table) it has different a case (moister) prep then if you are going to let them set up (marry). And, it will always depend on the specifics in condition on times. During the rainy season the factories production goes down. For us, or me at least winter and summer gets a different prep.

I saw what was the most comprehensive lean into learning flavor profiling I have ever seen by the guy who was said to be the pioneer in plastic cigar molds called Cigar Bliss. (not blisscigarco) Its a book but, has a kit in addition that has jars with things to smell to tune in on that art. There are some of us RYOers that get into it a little bit but not so much. Not my thing.

I don't know where you get your leaf but, you can look above to my preferred leaf supplier. The highest quality/variety I have ever seen.

Do wrapper leaves really matter as much for flavor as people say? I'm thinking in the future I'll just settle on a pretty wrapper that looks nice and not hunt for flavor in a wrapper.
It can when you know how to do it. Not so much though. Without getting in a ditch, it is a sales tactic.
What are some really strongly flavored fillers that I can try (even non-USA). I would like to go to the far ends of the spectrum and see if I can really tell much of a difference. I'm really happy with what I have right now, but I want to take the red pill. I must know how deep the rabbit hole goes.
hehe.. deep is that hole. know your the one with the shovel when it comes to rabbit holes. The Vuelta Abajo seed may be the most deep flavor but all the Cibao Valley stuff is very nice.
 

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Didn't win? .. not to worry. another 6 day's another tuck cutter.

https://i.imgur.com/woQffm8.png


 
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