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Old 01-15-2018, 10:48 PM
Tilt-A-Whirl Tilt-A-Whirl is offline
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How did/do "primitive" people trim their toenails?

I can't figure out how I would deal with my toenails without clippers. While I guess a lack of shoes might make the issue less critical, I still wonder how people dealt with the issue.
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:51 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I asked this exact question a long time ago. Let me see if I can find it.

That didn't take long:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=273020

Last edited by Shagnasty; 01-15-2018 at 10:52 PM.
  #3  
Old 01-15-2018, 10:58 PM
anomalous1 anomalous1 is offline
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With OP on that. The nail clipper is one very underappreciated tool.

I'm cringing after reading that, cutting and tearing nails. I suppose whatever you had to do, if it works.
I would think they would let them break or fall off, cut them with flint rock or possibly bite or chew each others nails off (*barf*).
Nails on the hands actually can be useful (in cave dwelling times and for scratch tickets), I really don't see the purpose of toenails except as being purely vestigial.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:05 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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It wasn't much of a problem before people began to wear shoes regularly, and they would have had knives and sharpening stones to use by then.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:08 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anomalous1 View Post
With OP on that. The nail clipper is one very underappreciated tool.

I'm cringing after reading that, cutting and tearing nails. I suppose whatever you had to do, if it works.
I would think they would let them break or fall off, cut them with flint rock or possibly bite or chew each others nails off (*barf*).
Nails on the hands actually can be useful (in cave dwelling times and for scratch tickets), I really don't see the purpose of toenails except as being purely vestigial.
They keep really long needles, thorns and nails from coming all the way through from beneath.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:43 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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I go barefoot alot ( don't say it, I own shoes and yea I know y'all think Arkansans are hicks) my feet are really tough but I still have to trim my nails. No, I don't go gallovanting around the forest barefooted, so breakage is not something I have tested, personally. It seems to me that would happen. Kinda like wild horses and zebras don't need their hooves trimmed like domesticated horses do. Anyway, that is what I think.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:48 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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If you have a favorite rock for sanding down spear shafts and the like it would also work to file down your nails.
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Old 01-16-2018, 12:43 AM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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I never wear shoes. Always sandals.

For some reason my toenails very seldom need trimming.

I trim my fingernails when they begin to annoy me. Yes, clippers are great.
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Old 01-16-2018, 01:21 AM
anomalous1 anomalous1 is offline
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Originally Posted by running coach View Post
They keep really long needles, thorns and nails from coming all the way through from beneath.
That makes sense. Maybe to minimize infection? Learn something new everyday.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:29 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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That makes sense. Maybe to minimize infection? Learn something new everyday.
I don't think he's being serious. If you don't wear shoes your toes will be heavily calloused and pointy things will not easily penetrate them. If something did penetrate the toe stopping at the toenail won't have any real advantage.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:40 AM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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As was mentioned in Shagnasty:'s other thread, they file them, with rough objects, like stones, to keep themselves groomed. I don't think its reasonable to consider humans, extant or prehistoric, as more primitive, than extant apes, or monkeys, and those specimens have grooming behaviors we can study.

Here's a funny "just-so"-type observation of mine. Consider the common house cat. They spend a great deal of time grooming. They're small animals, but their energy requirements are met with the high-energy = meat-rich diet. But they don't groom themselves just because the cleaner they are, the healthier they are -- they do it to show off.

"Everybody lookitme. I'm so casual. Just pickin' at my claws. Why, i'm completely defenseless right now, as I put them into condition. A big ol' rival could make a mess of me, right now. La ti da."

Yeah, right. Go ahead and grab a cat while its grooming itself. Just be sure to put it on YouTube. I bet the cat would appreciate the opportunity to show how fast it can correct you -- even with only half its claws in prime condition.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:28 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I rarely use clippers. I find tearing works well on both finger and toe nails.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:11 AM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
As was mentioned in Shagnasty:'s other thread, they file them, with rough objects, like stones, to keep themselves groomed. I don't think its reasonable to consider humans, extant or prehistoric, as more primitive, than extant apes, or monkeys, and those specimens have grooming behaviors we can study.

Here's a funny "just-so"-type observation of mine. Consider the common house cat. They spend a great deal of time grooming. They're small animals, but their energy requirements are met with the high-energy = meat-rich diet. But they don't groom themselves just because the cleaner they are, the healthier they are -- they do it to show off.

"Everybody lookitme. I'm so casual. Just pickin' at my claws. Why, i'm completely defenseless right now, as I put them into condition. A big ol' rival could make a mess of me, right now. La ti da."

Yeah, right. Go ahead and grab a cat while its grooming itself. Just be sure to put it on YouTube. I bet the cat would appreciate the opportunity to show how fast it can correct you -- even with only half its claws in prime condition.
My Siamese cats do groom to be noticed. Sometimes they chew on their claws. It's a sound I don't like to hear, it is fore-warning of furniture damage to come. If they remember they have scratching posts to use, or maybe they are scratching my furniture to annoy. They are seriously evil, most days. They are very handsome cats, though. You better believe it and tell them daily, or else!!
  #14  
Old 01-16-2018, 11:02 AM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
I rarely use clippers. I find tearing works well on both finger and toe nails.
Same here, although I'd change "rarely" to "never."

I don't own clippers.

Tearing doesn't always work so well, I've had a few instances of extreme tear, which is uncomfortable.
  #15  
Old 01-16-2018, 02:37 PM
Hermitian Hermitian is offline
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Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
Same here, although I'd change "rarely" to "never."



I don't own clippers.



Tearing doesn't always work so well, I've had a few instances of extreme tear, which is uncomfortable.


This amazes me. My wife’s nails are thinner than mine, so maybe hers are normal.

Mine are way too thick to tear, I have also had no success biting them.
  #16  
Old 01-16-2018, 02:55 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
My Siamese cats do groom to be noticed. Sometimes they chew on their claws. It's a sound I don't like to hear, it is fore-warning of furniture damage to come. If they remember they have scratching posts to use, or maybe they are scratching my furniture to annoy. They are seriously evil, most days. They are very handsome cats, though. You better believe it and tell them daily, or else!!
J.R.R. Tolkien was no fan of Siamese cats and referred to them in a letter once, IIRC, as "spawn of Mordor."
  #17  
Old 01-16-2018, 05:23 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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This short clip from a scientific documentary I once saw has some good information.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3pk9CMwtN0
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  #18  
Old 01-16-2018, 05:47 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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The trouble I have with tearing fingernails is the "leftover thumbnail effect":

1) Use one thumbnail to trim the 4 fingernails of one hand.

2) Use the other thumbnail to trim the fingernails of the other hand.

3) Use one thumbnail to trim the other thumbnail.

4) hmmm. What to use to trim the remaining thumbnail?

I do it this way anyway, usually having to bite the remaining thumbnail and tear it off with greater difficulty with the freshly trimmed thumbnail.
  #19  
Old 01-16-2018, 05:49 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
I rarely use clippers. I find tearing works well on both finger and toe nails.
Yep. I pretty much never use clippers. I just pick at the toenails and they trim pretty easily. With my fingers, I've always been a nail biter, so that takes care of that. Although, now that I'm married, my wife likes to take to my toes with clippers, so not as much tearing is involved these days, although I still have a habit of picking at my big toe to trim it down.
  #20  
Old 01-16-2018, 05:52 PM
puzzlegal puzzlegal is offline
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I have nail clippers, but
1) I mostly only need them on my toes to keep the nails from bumping into my shoes
2) I find a sharp knife works nicely to trim nails, both finger and toe.

I like my nail clippers, but I'd do fine without them.
  #21  
Old 01-16-2018, 06:12 PM
glowacks glowacks is offline
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I don't have any problem tearing both my fingernails and toenails off when they get long enough to merit the attention. I usually do it after showering so they aren't brittle from being dry.
  #22  
Old 01-16-2018, 07:55 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I used to just tear my fingernails, and it usually works just fine, but yeah, sometimes it goes wrong, so now I use a clipper.

I don't think I could have ever torn my toenails, though, as they're much thicker and tougher. Especially the nail on my little toe, which grows straight up instead of forward (a common trait in my family).

And as for the the last-thumb problem, even now that I'm using a clipper, I still only trim one of my thumbnails (alternating) each time I trim the other fingers. Sometimes you just need a thumbnail for something, like opening a pocketknife, and sometimes that need arises right after you've trimmed.
  #23  
Old 01-16-2018, 08:26 PM
Weisshund Weisshund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by running coach View Post
They keep really long needles, thorns and nails from coming all the way through from beneath.
I think if a really long thorn or needle gets that far through your toe, the last 32nd of an inch isnt going to be terribly important.
  #24  
Old 01-16-2018, 08:30 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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J.R.R. Tolkien was no fan of Siamese cats and referred to them in a letter once, IIRC, as "spawn of Mordor."
He was correct. They are in the window right now looking at me. Usually the look out at the bird feeder, but they know I am typing about them. They are mind readers as well. I get no peace in this house. I am subject to their whims and evil intentions. I am their slave. My life just sucks.
  #25  
Old 01-16-2018, 08:30 PM
Weisshund Weisshund is offline
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Yeah, right. Go ahead and grab a cat while its grooming itself. Just be sure to put it on YouTube. I bet the cat would appreciate the opportunity to show how fast it can correct you -- even with only half its claws in prime condition.
If i do that to my cat, all that is going to happen is she is going to start grooming me
with that combination of brillo pad and cat spit exfoliating tool she calls a tongue.
  #26  
Old 01-16-2018, 09:46 PM
Chessic Sense Chessic Sense is offline
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I'm kind of surprised this needs to be asked. Many people just tear or bite their nails. If they're long, it's not hard. As for how you'd tear your nails without hurting yourself, the answer is simple...don't be stupid about it.
  #27  
Old 01-16-2018, 10:00 PM
Tilt-A-Whirl Tilt-A-Whirl is offline
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Well, this has certainly enlightened me. I don't plan on giving my nail clippers up any time soon.
  #28  
Old 01-17-2018, 07:29 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
This amazes me. My wife’s nails are thinner than mine, so maybe hers are normal.

Mine are way too thick to tear, I have also had no success biting them.
I can't bite my nails, not that I've ever tried that hard, it seems pretty revolting. Tearing works well if you have thick nails, though. You use another of your thick nails to make a notch at the side, then gently pull across.
  #29  
Old 01-17-2018, 09:25 AM
B-Rad B-Rad is offline
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Fingernails get bit, toenails get torn. My toenails are pretty thick, but once you break them at an edge they tear fairly easily. Sometimes multiple efforts are needed for a big one, sometimes they get torn/bitten too deep and it sucks but no biggie. Life is sometimes annoying, I deal with it and drive on.
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  #30  
Old 01-17-2018, 02:04 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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You might want to note that fingernails and toenails are common to most all primates, so it's just not "primitive humans" who have the challenge of keeping them trim without the benefit of clippers.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:54 AM
Bones Daley Bones Daley is offline
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Slight thread drift, but I have a distinct memory of reading a book long ago in which one of the characters says "I never did see anything as uncomfortable as a country boy in shoes".

I cannot remember the title nor the author, but that little snippet stuck in my mind for some reason.

Does anybody else recall reading this book, and can maybe identify the quote?
  #32  
Old 01-19-2018, 07:59 AM
Bones Daley Bones Daley is offline
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,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Last edited by Bones Daley; 01-19-2018 at 08:01 AM. Reason: duplicate post
  #33  
Old 01-19-2018, 11:33 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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I personally find that you can often get off a toenail with just your nails. Sure, it doesn't look neat, but it's easy once they're long enough you won't tear them too far and make them bleed.

And, of course, you can easily bite your fingernails.

Last edited by BigT; 01-19-2018 at 11:34 AM.
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