How do people bite their fingernails?

I was looking through the “How do you cut your toenails” thread and someone mentioned having very brittle toenails that broke after coming above the nail bed, which reminded me that I’ve never had the habit of biting my fingernails. But more than that, I’ve tried it out of curiosity, and I literally can’t seem to bite them off even if I try. So I was wondering, how do people who bite their fingernails do it? Is it common for some people have stronger fingernails than others?

I don’t actually want to start the habit of biting them, ew.

Vox Imperatoris

I use my thumb to pull back the skin on the tip of my finger. Then I put the inside edge of my fingernail between the teeth on that side. I bite down hard, and then twist my finger. It’s more of a tear than a bite. Usually once it gets started I can just work my way through it with 3 or 4 regrips. The point where the white part meets the nail is surprisingly weaker than the white part or the rest of the nail.

ETA: I wouldn’t classify my nails as brittle at all.

Years of practice.

I have years of experience, former fingernail biter. I just used my middle top and middle bottom teeth, started at once side of the nail and worked my way over biting a line mostly parallel to the nail’s edge.

My nails are somewhat flexible, if yours are particularly hard or stuff you might not be able to bite through them?

There are differing degrees of hardness/flexibility/brittleness to people’s nails. I only bite my nails in an emergency now - meaning, I’ve broken a nail, it’s got a dangerous point on it, and I don’t have any clippers with me.

I quit biting my nails about six months ago (a 35+ year habit) - I would tend to bite them by nipping at the edge, with the edge of my incisors, so that it was only ever a small bit of nail I was biting through - and work along the width of the nail as you might if you were using very small scissors or clippers.

Good god, I must have strong/thick nails, because the only result I can imagine is unintentionally tearing into the quick. :eek:

If you’ve ever gotten a hangnail, that’s what biting your finger nails is like. It’s just creating a hangnail and tearing it off in a controlled way. Nobody’s fingernails are stronger than their teeth.

Started off employing a base 10 strategy and a few years ago went digital.

I never tore mine if I could help it, it was literal cutting of the nails with my teeth. You could hear me chomping sometimes, click click click.

Heh heh.

Sometimes my nails have “layers” and I can slide a nail in between the layers and peel one back a little. Then I’ll bite that layer off. Or if a nail is broken, I’ll nibble at the sharp bit to even it out, so I don’t tear it off or stab myself with the pointy bit.

Lately, though, I just bite the skin off my cuticles. Gross, I know, but I’m stressed out and that’s just how it is.

Right, at one point or another, I’ve tried to bite my nails to tear off a part, but in doing so, I could never get my teeth to clip into the nail… so I twist and turn to tear it, in a controlled manner, but it always seemed to get a little shaky, and I feel some uncomfortable pulling. So I wimp out, and wait until I can get my hands on some clippers. Must be all technique.

I’m more of a cuticle biter, too. I got out of the habit of biting my nails when I took up karate and had to keep them really short all the time.

My fingernails are so thin that I can notch them with just a bit of pressure from another fingernail. Then, it’s just a matter of fitting a nail in that notch and pulling up.

As for biting, I only bite them in emergencies. I only have to close my teeth on either side of the nail and then pull. I don’t actually have to bite through it.

I hate my nails.

Not as limber as you used to be, eh?

I never even realised I’d stopped biting mine until I went to pick up a courgette (zucchini) and inadvertently gouged a chunk out of it. As mentioned above, it was an extremely long-standing habit and I had tried, unsuccessfully, many times before to quit.
I attribute the success this time to distinct self-consciousness about my hands when I started making tutorial videos for my website - in which my hands are often the only part visible. I didn’t deliberately stop biting - it just happened this time.