The Art of the Smoke: Charles Sauer of Paramount Cutters

Paramount Cutters are the most expensive cigar cutters in the world. They will outlive you by several generations. Charles Sauer, the artisan behind these one-of-a-kind, heirloom-quality items, directs over 30 years’ worth of handcrafted expertise into the design and forging of a lifestyle accessory that needs its own clause in your will.

Curiosity Sparks Passion

It all began with a Mountainman Rendezvous. Visiting the event with his mother as a child, Charles became intrigued by the work of a blacksmith creating items for sale from a coal forge. Watching the smith forge a few knives, he decided that he’d like to learn how to make a knife himself. However, he ran into a problem. There were no books or handy Youtube videos on how to make a knife back then. Attending the venerable Academy of Trial and Error, he reverse-engineered the hunting knives in his home over hundreds of hours. Then he discovered a knife show and met other custom knife makers – and found out he wasn’t any good yet. Fortunately, he met father and son team Dick and Rob Patton and discovered mentors and friends.

Over several more years of experimentation, study, and exchanging pics with Rob, Charles exhibited his custom hunting knives at more shows and landed in Atlanta at The Blade Show, the largest knife show in the world. Add to these years features internationally in publications like Blade Magazine, Knife Annual, and Messer Magazine, and you’ve got a glimpse into the tremendous skill Charles brings to the art of cutting implements. Indeed, he makes his own Damascus steel – a modern incarnation of the beautifully striated and amazingly resilient hand-forged metal used in swords since ancient times. Charles’ custom Damascus has made its way overseas into custom guns, including those made by Purdey Firearms in London, and Sauer in Germany.

Paramount Cutters is Born

Charles continued honing his skills as a bladesmith right up until a fight with cancer cost him an eye. Rather than give up at that point, he relearned his craft and strangely enough – got even better.

In fact, his work has sent at least one admirer to prison.

Yes, you read that correctly. In our interview, Charles laughingly recounted the story of watching the surveillance footage of the unlucky postal employee going through his package at a Dallas post office, making off with a custom kitchen knife intended for a client, resealing the box, and casually tossing it into back into the bin. Mr. Unlucky is currently serving a 21-year sentence. The knife eventually made it to its destination, and Charles noticed that his clients were thanking him with expensive cigars more and more often.

Of course, a bladesmith wouldn’t be happy with a cheap, mass-produced cutter. An artisan wants, well, art. Discovering a niche previously untouched, Charles took a break from knives to focus on designing custom cutters featuring his own hand-forged steel. It’s a delicate, labor-intensive process that yields an item only a few will ever get to see.

To work with Charles requires a consultation that will infuse your personality and favorite smoke into the design. The process ends with Charles flying out to meet you with your delivery, or vice versa. His cutters cannot be sent through the mail, and remember Mr. Unlucky? It’s an investment of time – and money, of course.

Charles’ days are unpredictable, with calls coming in at any time of the day or night, thanks to overseas clients. He continues to evolve as the cigar lifestyle industry does, now working on designs that would appeal to Sisters of the Leaf as well as a Goliath cutter line for those of us with large hands. Hackers and plagiarism have been recent headaches, and he’s working on shoring up his defenses in those areas. Still, Charles says the challenges don’t dim the satisfaction of making others happy, and of knowing that his work will be around for generations. We can’t help but agree.

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