How did people cut their toenails before clippers were invented?

The question is pretty self-explanatory. I know that people can bite their fingernails if they need or want to but I cannot figure out how one could cut toenails effectively without something like clippers or sharp scissors. I neglected to clip my toenails for over two months this summer and they split and cracked all over the place. I am sure that there are many people in the world today that don’t have access to clippers. What do they do?

I bite them or use my thumbnail to tear them (across, starting at one side).

Emory board (nail file).

Qadgop works in a correctional facility and the inmates are of course not allowed to have metal pointy things or metal cutting things. They use emory boards for their nails (and toenails) although he has stated that he ends up treating a whole lot of infected ingrown toenails and stuff.

Very sharp knives. My Dad always pared his nails with a pocket knife.

Like sterwill said:

As much as my wife hates it — I never, ever use clippers to cut my toenails. When they’re long enough, I work my thumbnail into the side of it and peel them.

Just for the record, Crayons, it’s EMERY board.


As my ATL friend Mouthbreather could tell you, Emory is a very nice university here in town. …and my wife is a graduate. She saw plenty of Emory boards, but none had anything to do with toenails.

I clip mine with big clippers, but I’m in awe of sterwill, who apparently bites his. I can just assume how much the chicks dig that.

Well, I was just trying to make it sound more romantic… Y’know like “con amore”… “with love”… for supple and sexy nails.



Count me in as another tearer. I do the same with my fingernails usually, too.

Strangely enough, though, I have never been able bite through my fingernails (or toenails, not that I’ve tried). They’re just too damn tough.

Am I alone in being unable to bite my nails off?

I am also a nail tearer, and I can do it without biting.

I can’t bite or tear any of my fingernails. I know some folks with flimsy nails that can tear them, but not me.

Don’t the great apes have nails like us? How do they keep them from getting so long they interfere with function? They’re not like most animals’ claws which wear down when they walk.

I would suspect the great apes would also use their thumbnails to “trim” their toenails, or - as I’ve actually seen some humans do :eek: - bite them short.

I can’t tear my big toenail, the other toenails I just tear and peel. Fingernails I can start a tear with my teeth and then tear the rest. Before clippers, I presume they used scissors. Before that, a sharp edge of a stone.

I tear my toenails too.

I think scissors because that’s what was used when I was young. I don’t know about the rocks. I think being almost barefoot, except maybe for a sort of sandal, in rough country would accomplish the tearing without any help from teeth or fingers.

Too bad we don’t walk on our toenails like horses do. Of course layabout horses’ nails need clipping too. However those of us who are more like free-running mustangs could get along without such frou-frou refinements.

My dad used his pocket knife, too. I was always impressed by what a neat job he did on them. I’m a clippers only kind of guy though. Good thing I was born in a golden age of grooming technology.


Augh wrong thread. Please delete.