How did/do "primitive" people trim their toenails?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Well, this has certainly enlightened me. I don’t plan on giving my nail clippers up any time soon.

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.

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.

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.

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?


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.