The Complete Guide to Using an E-file Nail Drill

The Complete Guide to Using an E-file Nail Drill

In the last century, advancements in technology have changed and improved our lives in too many ways to count. It seems that every aspect of our culture has been affected by new technology somehow. The world of nail art is no exception—the e-file nail drill changed the game for nail technicians everywhere. 

E-file nail drills, also called e-files, nail drills, or electric files, are an essential tool for any professional nail technician. Even if you’re not a pro, you’ve probably seen one of these tools before. Walk into any given nail salon, and you’ll probably see someone using an e-file. 

Simply put, an e-file is an electric nail drill that contains a handpiece, a motor, and series of interchangeable drill bits. These tools help nail techs to shape and smooth nails, buff away calluses and cuticles, removing acrylics, and much more.

E-files are indispensable for most professional nail techs. Because e-files are powered by an electric motor, they greatly reduce the amount of physical exertion needed to do a manicure or a pedicure. Likewise, they allow for a greater degree of accuracy, precision, and efficiency. 

In general, these devices make the nail tech’s job a whole lot easier. 

It should be noted that e-file nail drills are intended for use by professionals only. Without the proper knowledge and training, using a nail drill can be pretty dangerous. However, if you’re a practiced nail artist, an e-file would make a valuable investment.

The Basics of E-files 

Let’s get into all the nitty-gritty details of e-files. Whether you’re looking to purchase your first-ever e-file or upgrade the outdated model you’re currently using, you’re going to need some key information before making a decision. 

Now, let’s delve into the rundown on everything there is to know about e-files.

Firstly, will probably come across the term “RPM” as you browse through e-files. The RPM, or rotations per minute, of an e-file, tells you how fast it can spin. Typically, the higher the RPM, the better. 

Next, it’s important to understand the differences between the most commonly used drill bits. These bits come in a range of sizes, materials, and shapes, and they all serve varying purposes.

Allow us to provide a quick explanation of some of the standard e-file bits:

  • Carbide bits are strong and durable—they’re made from metal that is 20 times stronger than steel. These bits are perfect for tasks like taking off acrylics and cutting/shaping gel and acrylic nails.

  • Mandrel bits, made of rubber or metal, are meant to be used in tandem with sanding bands. These sanding bands are ideal for smoothing surfaces, taking off gel polish, and doing pedicures.

  • Ceramic bits, like carbide bits, are very durable. They are often used for shaving purposes. The ceramic also helps reduce heat created by the e-file.

  • Diamond bits are intended to scratch off residue and product buildup on nails (instead of shaving it off, like ceramic and carbide bits do). 

As you can see, these materials use slightly different methods to achieve results. Similarly, there are a variety of bit shapes that should be used in particular situations. Let’s explore a few of those shapes here:

  • Natural nail bits help buff the surface of the nail, get rid of dead cuticle pieces, and smoothen the cuticles. 

  • Barrel bits come in many sizes and have equally many uses. In general, these bits are good for surface work, shortening the nail, and shaping the nail.

  • Cone bits can be used to clean underneath the nail and remove extra acrylic or gel product in that area. These bits are small and thin, making them ideal for reaching small spaces.

  • Safety bits are meant to be used on cuticles and sidewalls. These bits will help you touch up these areas without damaging the nail itself.

These are just a few of the many types of bits available. If you’re a beginner, keeping all of these shapes, materials, and labels straight may be difficult at first, but it will get easier with practice.

Now that we’ve covered some of the technical info about e-files, let’s transition to discussing a few tips about how to use an e-file to achieve amazing results.

Tips for Using an E-file 

As we mentioned earlier, e-files are so essential because they make doing nails so much easier. Not only do they lessen the physical work necessary to do a mani/pedi, but they allow for greater precision and efficiency. If you’re a pro nail technician, there’s really no reason not to use an e-file.

Now, if you’re a nail artist who prefers a classic nail file over the electric version, you may be questioning that claim. What is so great about e-files, really?

Well, there are a million ways to make your life easier by utilizing an e-file. Read on for a compilation of some of the best tips and tricks for making the most of this tool.

  • Taking off acrylics is one of the most obvious uses of an e-file. To remove lifted acrylic, you should use a tapered bit to thin out the acrylic product close to the cuticle. Then, move the bit side-to-side, keeping it flat. This should take off the product.

  • Prepping nails for a full set is so much easier with an e-file. Use a sanding band and a diamond/coarse silicone bit for this process. Using your e-file, you can use the flat bit to smooth out each nail and remove dead skin from around the cuticle.

  • Cleaning between toes is another great way to use an e-file. To do so, you can use a cone bit to gently remove dead skin and other buildup. This will leave the client’s skin feeling smooth and silky.

  • Shaping nails using an e-file will save you plenty of time and energy.  

  • Buffing away calluses with an e-file drill is an easy way to go the extra mile during a pedicure. You can use a cone or barrel bit to smooth out dry, hardened skin on the feet. This technique will certainly make your life easier. 

There are so many ways to use e-files—it would be impossible to list them all here. As any nail technician knows, the more you practice with an e-file, the more skilled you will become, and the more techniques you will discover. The opportunities are seemingly infinite. 

Just remember that only professionals should use e-file nail drills. You shouldn’t attempt the methods above without proper training and supervision. E-files are powerful, and they can be dangerous in the wrong hands!

If you’re a newbie, consider attending training to learn how to use these tools safely. Maybe you’ll discover a few exciting new techniques along the way, too.

How to Choose the Best E-file Nail Drill 

Now, let’s discuss purchasing an e-file nail drill.

If you don’t have experience with these tools, they can be incredibly confusing. Likewise, they are relatively expensive. Even if you’ve been using a nail drill for years and you’re simply looking to make an upgrade, you may want some extra info before making this investment.

Choosing an e-file doesn’t have to be stressful. Just consider a few key factors:

  • Rotations Per Minute (RPM): As we mentioned previously, RPM is a major component to consider when browsing for an e-file. 

  • For natural nails only, an RPM level of at least 15,000 should suffice. However, for acrylic nails, you should look for a drill with an RPM capacity of 25,000 or higher. Also, in addition to RPM, you may want to consider rotational power or torque. This measurement signifies how much pressure an e-file can handle. 

  • Weight: The weight of your e-file is a practical matter to consider. If you are professional working long days, you know that you’ll have to hold your e-file for hours. Look for a lightweight, easy-to-handle e-file that won’t cause you any pain.

  • Vibration: E-files should vibrate very little. One that vibrates excessively will be much more difficult to use in terms of accuracy and safety. Be sure to consider vibration when you’re testing out e-files.

  • Charging Method: Finally, the charging method of your e-file is something to consider. Some e-files are rechargeable, while others require you to change the batteries. This really depends on personal preference.

  • Of course, you will probably want to think about financial factors like cost and warranties. Buying an e-file is a big investment, so be sure to take your time and keep all of these factors in mind.


    Here at V Beauty Pure, we are huge fans of e-files. They make life so much easier for nail technicians, and they help us take nail art to the next level with efficiency and precision. What’s not to love?

    Visit our website to browse through all of our professional-level products today (including our e-file).