Electric Nail File Bits Explained – Choose & Use Guide

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Electric Nail File Bits Explained

There are so many tool options you should take into consideration when you pick electric file bits. Nail drill Bits come in a variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and grits, with different uses and purposes for each kind.

High-quality bits can do so much more than just shave off products from your nails. Having the right bit for the job will make your life so much easier and will save you some valuable time when working on a client. Actually, there are some specifications you need to know before you purchase your electric file bits. If you haven’t bought your nail drill yet check our top best nail drill review & buyers guide.

There are so many nail drill bits you can find online; all this info can make it hard to decide which nail drill bit you should choose for the job. In this article, you will find the full guide for electric nail file bits for beginners. All the info you need before choosing your nail drill bits is here.

Electric Nail File Bits Explained

Sanding bands/mandrel

The Mandrel bit is typically made of metal or rubber. You can slip the mandrel top into the sanding band and you good to go. Sanding bands cannot be disinfected. That is one of the reasons why sanding bands are one-use-only paper bits, so you have to change a sanding band after every client. The sending bands are commonly used for surface work, removing gels, and pedicures. They come in various grits: coarse, medium and fine.

Gold/silver Carbide Bits

The carbide bits are made of carbide metal (which is 20 times stronger than steel). The carbide bits are meant to be long-lasting. They have flute-like cuts on the carbide bit. These cuts enable the carbide bit to shave the enhancement product off and not scratching it like the diamond bits. The grid scale is determent by the flutes on the bit. Dip and large flutes give you coarse grit. Shallower flutes commonly indicate a finer bit. Carbide bits are a great tool for advanced users and are ideal for removing acrylics. The carbide bits can be cleaned.

Ceramic bits

The great thing about ceramic coated bits is that they are long-lasting. The ceramic bit also has flute-like cuts, which help the bit to shave off the product. You can find the ceramic bits in several grids such as medium coarse and fine coarse. The ceramic bits is intended to reduce heat. Ceramic bits can also be cleaned and sterilized.

Diamond Bits

Diamond bits are typically made of synthetic or natural diamond partials. They are strong and long-lasting. Diamond bits come in a variety of grids from fine to extra coarse. Diamond bits, unlike ceramic and carbide bits, scratch the material off the nails instead of shave it off. Sometimes, this can be a disadvantage. Low cost diamond bits may remove the product unevenly (you don’t, however, have this problem with higher priced diamond bits, which are often higher quality). Diamond bits can be cleaned, too.

Tip: If the nail drill is used properly, the client shouldn’t feel heat with any of the bits you are using

Electric Nail Drill Bit Shapes & Uses.

Natural Nail Bit

This kind of nail bit is commonly made from synthetic rubber. The natural nail bit is used to buff the surface of the nail, remove dead cuticle on the nail, and smoothen the cuticle area. Synthetic rubber bits wear down fast, so remember to reshape it with a simple hand file after every use.

Large barrel

Large and Small Barrel bit

The barrel bits are great for doing surface work on the nail. You can also use the barrel bits for backfill cutting, shortening, and shaping the nail, and to make a smile line.

Tip: Make sure you don’t use this bit in the cuticle area! You may cause some damage to the nail (rings of fire).

UNC bit




The UNC bit is an under the nail cleaning bit. The shape of the UNC bit is pointed and small. The point size changes from manufacturer to manufacturer. This particular shape helps the bit to get in tight spaces. The UNC bit is commonly used not only for under the nail cleaning, but also for sidewalls. Some nail technicians also use this bit for making designer holes in the nails.

Cone bit

Cone Bit

The cone bit has a long, slim and tapered shape. You can use this cone-shaped bit for several purposes, such as preparing the cuticle area and sidewalls, and cleaning under the nail. You also can use the cone bit on the top of the nail. It is a great shape for toenail surface work, but not the best shape for fingernails surface work.

Tapered Barrel

The Tapered barrel bit has a flat top and a cone shape to it. It is shorter than the cone bit and is great for surface work, in-fill preparation, cuticle, and sidewalls preparation.

Safety bit

Safety Bits

These are actually cuticle safety bits and are designed for safe cuticle work. They are rounded at the top and come in a great variety of shapes. With these bits, you can easily reach the cuticle and sidewalls without damaging the nail. They are great for in-fill cuticle work.

Mandrel Bit

Mandrel Bit

This bit is commonly made of rubber or metal. You can work with the mandrel bit only after slipping it into the sanding band. The sanding band is made of paper and needs to be replaced after you work on a client.

Sanding bands

Tip: Take extra notice when working with sanding bands, especially if you are a beginner. Sanding bands tend to heat very quickly. Heat can cause your client some discomfort.

2 week bit

Maintenance bits/backfill bits

The maintenance bits or the backfill bits are great for replacing the white tip powder on a French manicure and correcting and redoing the smile line. There are several types and sizes of maintenance bits.
The 2-week bit is used exactly for what it sounds. It trenches backfill after two weeks of growth. The size of this bit is a quarter of a large barrel bit.
The 4-week bit is used to trench backfill after four weeks of growth and is half the size of a large barrel bit.


Pedicure Bit

This cone-shaped bit is commonly made of synthetic diamond partials. Some of those bits come with hollow stripes in the center. The hollow center prevents it from heating up too quickly. This bit’s main purpose is to remove dry callus easily.

How to Choose Bits for an Electric Nail Drill? 

Knowing the work you need to do on the nail is very important when picking the right bit for you. This includes the grit and material you will need the bit’s compatible with your nail drill shank size.

Shank size

The standard nail drill shank size is 3/32.″ Remember that the shank size of electric files that are for craft use are usually 1/8″ and they will not fit a professional electric file.


You can measure the grit of your nail drill bit by the number of abrasive partials per square inch. The more partials you have, the smaller they are.
In coarse bits, for example, you will see large partials on the bit and the number of grits will be lower.

High-quality bits

Buy only high-quality bits (not the $2 bits) which will do the work perfectly. Many times low-quality bits may remove product unevenly and can be difficult to work with. Make sure you are replacing your bits every 3-4 months (depends on how much you actually use them).

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How to Clean and Sanitize Nail Drill Bits? 

Proper sanitation of tools and bits is very important whether you’re working on yourself or on others. Good cleaning and sanitation will prevent you from getting or transferring infections such as fungus and more. You should never work with a dirty bit or tool. Remember to properly clean and disinfect your tools after every client.
There are several ways you can disinfect your bits and manicure pieces. Follow these steps and get your tools clean and ready for work.

First step: Cleaning
The cleaning part is super important because it reduces the number of germs significantly. Use a clean & small brush. Then, soak it in a bowl with warm water and soap. Scrub and clean your tools with the brush from every visible debris or dirt.
Another way to clean your metal nail tools is to put them in acetone for 7-10 minutes.

Second step: Disinfecting
The easiest way to disinfect your metal tools and nail drill bits will be to use a liquid disinfectant. Pick a liquid disinfectant which is approved by your state and immerse your metal bits and tools only for the time that is recommended on the disinfectant label.
If you have rubber bits, you need to remove the used portion of the bit. Use your electric nail drill with a coarse bit and very carefully remove the used part of the rubber bit. After removing the outer used layer, immerse the rubber bit in an approved liquid disinfectant.

If you liked our electric nail file bits explained – Choose & use guide please let us know and leave a comment.


15 thoughts on “Electric Nail File Bits Explained – Choose & Use Guide”

  1. This article is amazing, as a newbie, it is great to have a comprehensive piece of information that I can refer to, making sure I can use the tools accurately.

    • It may depend on the company in some cases. But from my experience — in regards to soft ceramic bits — with bits that have an all-over color (the entire bit is one solid color), white is coarse, pink is medium and blue is fine. Ceramic bits that have a white bit with a colored stripe (usually made of plastic) at the base of the bit are as follows: green is coarse, blue is medium, and red is fine. With these colored stripe bits, they also have pink for 3x course, orange for 2x coarse, black for extra coarse — then your traditional green, blue, red for coarse, medium, fine — and yellow for extra fine. Like I said though, it could vary depending on the brand. So always try to find that specific brand’s description of bits.

      Additionally — from what I understand — they also make something called silicone bits which seem to have somewhat of a color code as well. I can’t attest to what the grit grade is for those as I’ve never used them. But I’ve seen them all over eBay and Aliexpress for very little money.

    • Black, pink, purple, orange are various degrees of extra coarse. Green is regular coarse, blue is medium, red is fine, yellow is extra fine. If you’re a beginner stick to blue and red to start off with so you can get a handle on things. Never turn your drill up to stop speed and that your time. You can practice using your drill and bits on a piece of white pvc piping from a hardware store. This way you can see how all the bits work and test your machine at different speeds. It’s good practice for handling of the drill too.

  2. Thank you for the article it was very informative, but could you tell me what are the best drill bits to buy. I’m a newbie and it’s very confusing.

  3. Hi, I’m awaiting on my items to arrive so I can start to do the nails for myself and others, I was just wondering with the drill bits what is the best size to use? As on eBay I found that there’s 3 main sizes 80,120 and 180


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