How Did People Keep Their Toenails Trimmed before Clippers Were Invented?

The title should be self-explanatory but I wonder what people did with their toenails before proper clippers were available. You can bite your fingernails but biting your toenails is literally beyond the reach of most people (although I did it once). There must be many cultures around that have to deal with this issue.

How do they do it?

I just pull off pieces with my fingernails…

<shudder> Yuck.

My dad uses a box cutter on his toenails. So, if you have the technology to make a straight razor, you can trim your nails. And if you don’t wear shoes, I bet your toenails don’t get too long.

Well I don’t use any tools either. So there. It’s easy enough to get it started with a thumbnail, and then peel it off.

Grind them down with a stone, similar to filing them down, which would have come into vogue with the invention of files.


Chew them off. If you can’t reach your own feet, have your friend chew them off.

We used scissors.

That what slaves were for.

I would think they were worn down and or broken in most cases.
An old friend used a jack knife on all his nails. Of course he was an exceptionally limber old gent, he could sit in a chair with his legs folded under him at 80 years old.

Pluck at it with your fingers and then peel it off. Then you take the removed portions and use them for a toothpick.

SSG Schwartz

I thought I would be the only one to post about my toenail stone.

You use clippers? All I’ve ever used is scissors. My favorites aren’t even the little curved “nail scissors,” I like sewing scissors for both finger and toenails.

Now if you’re asking about before the lever was invented, you may want to ask at the zoo.

I’ve almost never used toenail clippers in my life. I generally would just peel them off with my fingers. When I was a kid, it was with my teeth. Some of my girlfriends didn’t like this, so they would do it for me, properly with clippers. But, more usually, just fingers.

I’ve never used a clipper or scissors to trim my toenails. When they get too long (it takes a good while), I simply peel the extra off. Never thought it would be an issue to not have clippers.

It’s much easier to peel them after you’ve soaked them in the bath for a while.

I had a foot massage in China that included having my toenails trimmed by a guy with a scary looking knife that was a little like a smaller version of the curved Eskimo knife. I assume that was an lod way of doing it.

I once had to go to a podiatrist for something. In addition to treating the immediate problem he also trimmed my nails, along with a monologue about how people cannot trim their own nails short enough. He actually trimmed them so short that they hurt for several days, and two of them actually bled a little.

Now that I’m getting older, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to trim my own nails, but I still manage. I’d rather let them get a foot long than go back to that guy.

My son used to bite his. When I was growing up, we used cuticle scissors. Now my nails are thick and gnarly and I go to a podiatric nurse every couple months. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes I was advised never to trim my own nails. I still do it, though, after I have been in the ocean for a half hour or more.

Once I saw an small ant make off with a large clipping, but that’s another story.