The Guide to Nail Drill Bits. Everything You Need to Know About Nail Drill Bits. Buying Guide, Care, Safety and More 

Your guide to some of our most requested nail bits!

An electric nail file allows you to get a perfect manicure and pedicure in less time than the classic hand filing style.

With just a push of a button, you can quickly file, shape, and prep your fingernails and toenails.

The traditional, repetitive filing movement is unnecessary because the device does all the work. The e-file rotates via a motor, and you can regulate the speed and direction of rotation. This makes it way faster than filing your nails by hand and with great results! But an e-file can do much more than just shape your nails.

There are several tools, called bit (or nail drill bits), for the electric nail file that are made for cuticle exfoliation, product removal, tip shortening, callus reduction, and more!

What is a nail drill bit?

A nail drill bit is a nail filing tool used to help with the shaping, removal or exfoliation of artificial or natural nails. A nail bit has two parts, an elongated shaft and the head. The shaft is inserted into the hand piece of your e-file, and the head is what does the actual work on your nails. There are different types of nail bits; some have curved or pointed heads, while others have square heads.

What materials are nail bits made of?

Nail bits come in a wide range of materials, but the most common ones are made out of diamond, carbide, ceramic or fabric sanding bands/mandrel.

The basic Mandrel bit/Sanding bands

Mandrel bits are usually made of metal or rubber and used to hold onto sanding bands.

Sanding bands are made out of fabric and can't be disinfected. For this reason they are only used once and disposed of after each client. Color removal is a common use for sanding bands.

Carbide bits are made out of carbide metal. They are not to be used on natural nails but are ideal for removing and shaping nail enhancements since they scoop away product more quickly. These tools should be used at a high RPM and are designed for 1 direction use. Left-handed technicians should look for left-hand specific carbide bits. 

Diamond bits are made out of diamonds and work by scratching or exfoliating product or skin. They are very durable and ideal for dry manicure cuticle work. Many companies may call their bits ‘diamond’, however, are actually made with glass, crystal, or other synthetic materials. Erica’s 100% natural diamond bits allow for better and longer lasting use.

Ceramic bits are nail drill bits coated in ceramics and have fluted teeth. They scoop away product in a similar style as carbide bits.

What's the different usage of every shape of drill bits?

Overview of Nail Drill Bits

Mandrel Bits & Sanding Bands

You use the mandrel bit with sanding bands of different grits. They come in different abrasiveness such as fine, medium and coarse, depending on what you want to use them for. Sanding bands are suitable for beginners and ideal for removing the shine off of the nail prior to product application. Unlike the other kinds of nail bits, sanding bands are single-use products. Shop Mandrel. Shop sanding bands.

Barrel Bits

Barrels are used for removal or shaping all different types of nail products such as gel, acrylic, polygel, or dip. This shape has a flat top, making it ideal for shortening and shaping artificial nails to your preferred length. You can also use the top edge to tap out lifted product or create smile lines. Shop diamond barrel bits. Shop carbide barrels bits.

Needle Bits

Because of their very pointed and slim needle-like shape, they are the best choice for narrow spots such as under the nail treatments. They are also can make a design with a hole on your fingernails for dangle artwork and charms! Shop Detail bit.

Cone Bits

Shaped like a cone, these bits are an excellent match for removing acrylics or gel nails. Because of their unique form, they really complement your natural nail curve. Shop Cone bit.

Ball bits

Nail drill bits that come in this ball shape on top are just perfect for cuticle exfoliation! Once the cuticle has been lifted up and off the nail plate, gently trace the rim with the bit. Depending on the skin type, this can replace using cuticle nippers. It is also great for removing and cleaning hard skin and trimming edges for a more polished result. Shop Ball bits.

Flame Bits

More of a second step usage bit, the flame bit is ideal for cleaning up around the nail plate and perfecting the cuticle area after initial treatments. Because of its small size, it also works excellent on sidewalls, in corners, and for the removal of hangnails. Shop Flame bits.

Safety bits

Safety bits come with a rounded top that is usually very smooth. They allow you to cut close to the cuticle and skin with confidence when filing in this sensitive area. Great for beginners, they will enable you to practice without hurting anyone easily, thanks to that added safety. Shop Safety bits.



Practicing the drill bit on your nails

Before trying an e-file on your own nails, you might want to educate yourself on which nail bit to use in which area to prevent any unwanted outcomes or even injuries. Always have a calm grip on the tools by resting your operating hand on a surface. Do not file freestyle without resting your hand on anything for safety reasons, please!

Practicing on yourself helps you give your clients the best care and treatment possible because you experience everything for yourself firsthand. You will also learn which areas you might need to improve on and get in some extra practice time this way.

You can also opt to purchase or create your own practice nail trainer hand! In this YouTube video I share my honest opinion on the different practice hands and even show how you can make your own with items from around the house!

How do I choose a nail drill bit?

Every nail drill bit has its advantages and special usage in your manicure or pedicure. You choose a nail drill bit depending on what process you want to do on your nails!

With your electric nail file, you can …

  • Shorten your nails
  • Shape your nails
  • Smooth or scratch nail surfaces
  • Remove overgrown cuticles, calluses, and other imperfections
  • Remove your old gel or acrylic nails
  • Remove nail polish and treat ingrown nails.
  • Prepare your natural nails before getting new acrylics, etc
  • Smooth the skin surrounding the nails on your hands and feet

And all these different goals are reached with specific nail drill bits to make the process faster and easier on your natural nails!

Nail Bits for specific applications

Nail bits to remove gel polishes:


Remove product fast!

Quickly remove gel polish, hard gel, structured gel, or acrylic with the beloved Gel X carbide bit. Use the diamond Lg Barrel to remove lifting or product near the cuticle. The Safety Sciver is a dry mani bit that will clean up the cuticles and remove the natural shine from the nail plate, getting it ready for product application! 

  • Gel X
  • Lg Diamond Barrel (medium)
  • Safety Sciver (medium)


Erica's ATA Acrylic Nail Bit Kit

Nail bits best for acrylics:


Quickly remove acrylic with the carbide barrel. Then shape new product with the diamond barrel and refine it with the the Acrylic Shaper. Its perfect for thinning down the product near the cuticle, so you have a smooth transition as the nail grows out. Finally, use the Safety Sciver for cuticle work and nail prep!

  • Lg Carbide Barrel (medium)
  • Acrylic Shaper
  • Lg Diamond Barrel (coarse)
  • Safety Sciver (medium)
Erica's ATA Essential Nail Bit Kit for Gel Nails, Acrylic Nails, Dip Nails 

Nail bits for dipping powder nails and enhancements:


The ultimate bit kit you need to accomplish all your manicure services. Our affiliates intentionally selected these 5 bits as their MUST-HAVE tools! 

With Erica's Essential Kit, you can remove products, whether gel, acrylic, dip, gel polish, or poly gel, and complete your nail prep, cuticle care, and shaping with high-quality bits to expedite your service time.

  • Gel X
  • Safety Smooth Top Safety Barrel (medium)
  • Long & Lean (medium)
  • Micro Taper (medium)
  • Polisher (very fine)
Erica's ATA Natural Nail Bit Kit (diamond bits)

Nail bits for natural nails:


Offer your natural nail clients beautiful, healthy cuticles with this dry manicure kit! This waterless and chemical-free technique will gently exfoliate dead tissue off the nail plate. All bits are made with fine and very fine diamond for safe and effective exfoliation.

This kit is ideal for sensitive cuticles, thin skin, and clients of all ages!

  • Sm Tapered Barrel (fine)
  • Refine Ball Bit (fine)
  • Polisher (very fine)


Nail drill for left-handed users

There are specifically manufactured nail drill bits for left-hand use, so make sure you check for this option in our shop. We offer this also in some of our kits.

Tell Me The Difference Between The Flame Bits?

We have five types of diamond flame bits and one flame carbide bit: Here's more about them:

  • Erica's Flame carbide bit removes gel and enhancements like butter- so smooth and quick! The tapered shape allows for product removal close to the cuticle area. Specialty carbides last longer and do not fill up with debris as quickly as standard carbides. Use this tool at a high RPM. Left-hand option available. View here.
  • Erica's Large Flame bit is bigger than the Russian Flame but still allows you to nicely open and clean out the cuticle pocket for a beautiful, tucked product application. Available in fine grit. View here.
  • Erica's Russian Flame bit is one of Erica's most popular high-end Dry Manicure / Russian manicure tools. Use it to open and clean the cuticle pocket, allowing you to tuck the color further back onto the nail. Its small size also helps remove excess debris and skin from the nail plate! Available in fine grit. View here.
  • Erica's Precision Flame bit is the most pointy of the flame bits Erica's offers. Use for very concise cuticle cleaning. Available in fine and medium grit. View here.
  • Erica's Rocket Flame bit is Erica's personal favorite! This shape has a bigger 'belly.' Its size is smaller than the LG Flame but bigger than the Russian Flame bits. Available in fine and medium grit. View here.
  • Erica's Soft Flame bit has a beveled tip, making this the ideal flame shape nail bit to begin working with. Available in fine and medium grit. View here.

What nail bits will take off acrylic nails?

To remove acrylic nails, we suggest you use our Gel X specialty carbide bit! We call this our go-to removal bit as it is one of the most popular bits for product removal! The unique cutting flutes remove gel polish quickly without damaging the hard gel or acrylic or underneath. It can be used on enhancements, structure base, or double base manicures. Specialty carbides last longer and do not fill up with debris as quickly as standard carbide bits.

Tell me all about the safety tool?

Safety nail drill bits come with a rounded top that is usually very smooth. They allow you to cut close to the cuticle and skin with confidence when filing near live tissue. This way you can efile with more confidently with the added safety feature.

How do nail drills work?

Nail drills, electric nail files, or e-files are devices that file or exfoliate your fingernails or toenails. Use these machines with professional nail drill bits, which you insert into the hand piece, to minimize or even eliminate the amount of manual hand filing necessary. There is a large array of nail bits that achieve different tasks, such as, removing product, exfoliating cuticle, reducing calluses, shaping product, and so much more! View Erica's recommended e-file here: Medicool 35K

How much do nail bits cost?

This depends on the quality of the nail bit and the material that it is made out of. High quality bits will last longer and work more efficiently- saving you time and money. We recommend Erica's Nail Essential Kit to get you started with your first efile bits!

Nail Bit cleaning tips

Make sure to clean and disinfect nail drill bits after each client! We have a tutorial on Youtube How to clean nail bits, explaining everything you need to know.

How often should a bit get replaced?

Erica's nail bits last 150-300 services. The smaller the bit, the sooner it will need to be replaced because of its smaller surface area.

The best type of nail drill bits

Every nail technician or manicurist has preferences for which nail bits they favor. In general, it is best to go with a great quality set for the best outcome for you, your team, and your clients. This will save you both time and money.

Tell me the main use of nail drill bits?

Nail drill bits are tools used with an electric nail file to perform various manicure or pedicure services.

Can Nail Drill Bits be sharpened?

No, nail drill bits cannot be sharpened. Once they dull down, they need to be thrown away and replaced.

Nail Drill Bit safety / safety tips for Nail Drill Bits

Make sure that the nail drill bits you want to use are suited for the type of nail or product type in which you want to use them for.

There's certain limitations for each nail drill bit that should be adhered to. Something that works on artificial nails will be too aggressive to use on natural nails. Some nail drill bits are unsuited for cuticle work and might damage your nail plate! Do your research before using any tool to prevent injuries, and be careful and gentle when treating yourself to any manicure or pedicure of our most requested nail bits!

An electric nail file allows you to get a perfect manicure and pedicure in less time than the classic hand filing style. With just a push of a button, you can quickly file, shape, and polish your fingernails and toenails. The normal filing movement is unnecessary because the device does all the work. The e-file rotates electronically, and you can regulate the speed and direction of rotation individually. This makes it way faster than filing your nails by hand and with perfect results any time! But an e-file can do much more than only file your nails. It comes with several attachments, called nail drill bits, for the electric nail file. And you can use each nail drill bit for its own specific purposes!

As an extension of the nail file, these special tools, the nail drill bits, can be set at different angles so that you only need one tool instead of two to do all the work. This makes life easier and more efficient.

July 12, 2022 — Erica Schlabach