Cutting fingernails with boxcutters?
November 4, 2012 4:23 AM   Subscribe

Is it weird to cut your fingernails with boxcutters? (Asking for a friend)

Sounds chatfiltery, I know, but serious question. I have a friend who cuts (carves?) his fingernails with boxcutters instead of nail clippers. Has anyone heard of this before? Does anyone else do this? Or use some other kind of straight edge for cutting fingernails instead of using scissors/teeth?
posted by molecicco to Society & Culture (18 answers total)
Never heard of it before, but it sounds unnecessarily dangerous.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:31 AM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Historically, blades were used to cut fingernails. It's odd today, but he would be at home in medieval times.
posted by Jehan at 4:36 AM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah it's a little weird, but it seems like something that dudes could maybe due to feel manly or tough. Trimming your nails isn't an act of manliness until you break out the boxcutters. (I know that's sexist, and I do dumb stuff to feel tough sometimes too as a girl, but I think maybe this is what's going on here.)
posted by shortyJBot at 4:55 AM on November 4, 2012

If you are asking if this hygiene behavior is weird compared to the population, I would have to answer that when it comes to hygiene practices, there IS NO population (norm). I am a healthcare provider and the range of self-care behaviors I have observed is so great that it is impossible to find the weird part of the continuum. Not that there is even a continuum, more like a scatter graph where every dot represents what everyone else does with their own personal kit.

Basically, you simply haven't had the opportunity to observe enough people trim their nails.

*Also, people get attached to their tools. There is a particular kind of nail clipper I prefer, for example, and I was so agitated, once, when I had a hard time finding a replacement that when I finally did I bought several versus adapting to a different tool. That's probably equally "weird" behavior (compared to your friend).
posted by rumposinc at 4:57 AM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I do it all the time. Not a boxcutter actually - a smaller Olfa knife - but it's pretty much the same thing. I find it leaves a smoothly finished edge to the nail. Traditional nail clippers tend to crush the ends of my nails and leave them ragged, and filing them smooth sets my teeth on edge - the scritch, scritch, scritch drives me mad. So it's not just a man thing. Not dangerous either, unless you're trying to do it on the bus or something, and if you're doing personal hygiene in a moving vehicle I think you pretty much get what you deserve.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:10 AM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

When my nails need trimming, I use whatever is at hand. Often, that might have been a box cutter (as a carpenter, I carried one on my tool belt) but more likely was my pocketknife. If I'm sitting at my desk, I might reach for a nail file. Why would one tool be more "weird" than another?
posted by Hobgoblin at 5:13 AM on November 4, 2012

I used to do it with a boxcutter, but eventually I decided to switch to nail clippers to remove the risk of slicing open a finger.
posted by Slinga at 5:36 AM on November 4, 2012

Can someone who does this describe the technique? As a clippers/emery board user I'm having trouble picturing it, especially how you would do your dominant hand.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:58 AM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

It works, but is not very safe. I'll use one blade of my scissors to do the same thing if I need to trim a nail at the office.

The way I do it is close to a paring motion - start with the blade perpendicular to the nail on the far side, then pull it across slowly, following the curve of the nail.
posted by Fig at 6:12 AM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a point of reference, my family always used manicure scissors for trimming nails and I had no idea why people would ever use nail clippers (so imprecise!) until well into my teens. It was genuinely as weird to me as this is to you.
posted by griphus at 6:12 AM on November 4, 2012

A sharp blade is always better than that hideous half-crunch of a pair of clippers that's caught your nails wrong. I use a pair of nail scissors from a beauty supply store and ask for a new pair every Christmas, so they're not dull.
posted by xingcat at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2012

Usually I chew my nails off and use my pocket knife or utility knife to smooth the now-serrated edges. If my nails aren't long enough to chew or I'm feeling figity, I'll run a blade over them to scrape them down. I probably got it from reading a book when I was young where it mentioned a character '... paring their nails with a blade'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:30 AM on November 4, 2012

A more solid blade would be likely to snap and injure your friend, and could be just as sharp/effective, so you might consider buying them something nice along those lines. However, beyond that, this is nowhere near anything like self harm and not particularly weird.

Using teeth however is a really bad habit for both the teeth and the nails.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:43 AM on November 4, 2012

My friend uses a pocket knife to keep fingernails looking nice (cutting nails but also scraping out dirt from underneath) and calls it a "dyke manicure" or something. This would possibly be offensive if my friend were not a dyke.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

If it works for him, why not?

My own weird thing is that I like using a 12" Nicholson Handy File on my nails. Never mind it's made to sharpen things like machetes and lawnmower blades. It has aggressive sharp teeth that cuts nails very quickly and leaves a very smooth nail behind. I guess the only thing is that the process looks kind of funny. I suppose the 8" one would look less neanderthal.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:47 AM on November 4, 2012

Yeah, echoing Jehan, all indications seem to be that the modern lever-type nail clippers were only invented in the 19th century, so your friend is doing it the way all humans had to do it for thousands of years.

Can you imagine before that, though? Before even stone knives had been invented and chewing them off was the only option? Besides juggling boulders and fighting sabre-toothed tigers bare-handed to wear them down naturally.
posted by XMLicious at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2012

It's been enlightening. Thank you! Myself, I will stick with nail clippers. We only ever had scissors around as a child and always hated using them. But I will pass it on that his behaviour is not only fairly common, but historically correct.
posted by molecicco at 6:41 AM on November 5, 2012

My grandfather used to (probably still does) trim his fingernails with a small pen knife. He keeps it extremely sharp, though, so it's not as barbaric as you'd first imagine.
posted by odinsdream at 6:51 PM on December 16, 2012

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