At one time, a tech’s arsenal of electric file, aka e-file, bits was limited to an oversized mandrel and sanding bands, a diamond barrel and maybe a cone for underneath the nail. “Today we have so many incredible choices,” says Suzie Moskal, founder of Suzie’s Nail Career Education and co-owner of Nail District salon in Langford, British Columbia, Canada. Bits are available in a huge variety of shapes designed to accomplish specific tasks during each service. And for each shape there’s a range of materials (carbide, diamond, ceramic and more), sizes, coarseness and even right and left hand versions to consider.Choosing from such a wide selection can be a daunting task, so we asked a few experts to narrow down the field to eight essential bits and provide helpful advice for using each one effectively.
Mandrel and Sanding Bands A mandrel is extremely versatile since sanding bands are available in a variety of grits. “It’s also a natural sanitary choice,” says Moskal, “because you replace the band for every client.” Sanding bands can be used to prep the natural nail, as well as make detailed refinements to finished nails, says Vickie Ornellas, educator for American International Industries.
Prepper Typically a small, long barrel with a very fine diamond grit, this bit makes quick work of cleaning the cuticle area prior to enhancement application. Use this bit on very low speed with gentle pressure to minimize heat and prevent damage, says Allie Baker, global brand ambassador for EzFlow.
Large and Small Carbide Barrels Carbide bits cut rather than grind material away, which reduces friction and heat and makes them a good choice for removing a lot of product. With a medium or coarse grit, a large carbide barrel effectively removes gel and acrylic, and can greatly increase the speed of your services, says Moskal. However, in the hands of an inexperienced tech, it can also do a lot of damage if the bit slips or goes too deep. Moskal advises keeping a good grip on the client and bracing your hand while filing to avoid mistakes. Held vertically, a small barrel is a great tool for quickly removing length or roughly shaping the free edge of enhancements.
Safety Bit Usually a barrel or tapered barrel, safety bits have a rounded top with no carbide teeth. This allows you to work very close to the cuticle without cutting the client. “It’s a necessary bit for maintenance because you can remove lifting without putting lines in the natural nail.” says Greg Salo, president of Young Nails. This bit is also great for shaping acrylic and gel enhancements and removing gel polish— especially if your client has puffy cuticles, says Moskal.
Carbide Bullet The bullet shape is perfect for creating the apex or stress point area, especially for stilettos and ballerina nails, says Sean Phan, educational consultant for American International Industries. For experienced techs and at slower speeds, this bit can also be used to clean around the cuticle area.
Backfill Bit A backfill bit is similar to a barrel bit, but is normally ¼ to ½ times shorter in length. The smaller surface area allows a tech to “trench out” a precise amount of growth around the cuticle area during a backfill service.
Inverted Barrel or Inverted Backfill Bit The circumference of an inverted barrel bit is larger at the tip with sides that angle inward. This slight V-shape allows you to carve the smile line when performing a French fill. In fact, Moskal won’t do a French fill without it. “It shaves off prep time and makes the carved line more accurate,” she says. Use care not to file too deeply and injure the natural nail.
Under the Nail Cleaner (UNC) Diamond dusted or made of carbide, techs usually opt for a UNC in a cone or slender barrel shape. This bit is key for removing dirt, debris and small amounts of product that find their way under the nail enhancement, says Bruce Atwood, president of Atwood Industries. He recommends using this bit on medium to high speed, depending on your experience. —Leslie Henry
What are you’re favorite e-file bits, and why? Tell us in the comments, below.
[Images: Photos by Armando Sanchez]
This article was first published in the June 2017 issue of NAILPRO.