Efile Bits and their uses
Efile bits and their uses. Drills (Efiles) and their associated bits, have become such an integral part of the nail techs arsenal. To many, it seems hard to understand how they lived without them in the past. They save time and offer the opportunity to carry out a professional service. The humble Efile is versatile and saves loads of time too.
Thing is, how many techs understand actually which bit they need and what the differences are? Here we will discuss a few and try demystify this subject. We will also try show which are the best nail drill bits for professionals and what makes them tick (just checking if you paying attention, they don’t tick, if your bits tick throw them away 🤣)
Bits vs Burs
In the first place we should know that a drill bit is what your husband uses in order to drill holes in the wall or fix the dining room chairs (let’s not try those on nails folks😉). A dentist may use them to hurt us and fix cavities. So a bit drills a hole. Burrs are what we in the nail business mostly use. Burrs are used for sanding and filing. See the subtle difference?
Ever wonder why burrs come with a colour stripe around them? The answer is because we love colours so much, the manufacturers decided to make us feel happy and made nice colourful stripes for otherwise boring burrs. Just joking 😂!!! It is definitely not to look pretty or even help you easily find your favourite!
In fact the colour indicates the coarseness of your burr. Simply put the grit is how “rough” your burr is. You can easily tell the difference using the colours. Yellow is X fine, Red is fine, blue is medium, green is coarse, black is extra coarse, yellow xx coarse and killer 3X coarse is pink. These colours are by international convention and will always be as per the above. This is so important to be aware of in understanding Efile bits and their uses.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Synthetic Rubber Bits
These are made of soft rubber and thus unlikely to cause any damage to soft skin unless you really try of course. They generally come in the bullet shape as shown in the picture.
Uses of Synthetic Rubber Bits
Rubber burrs purpose is to assist in removal of shine off of the nail as well as to buff the surface of the nail (nice!), remove dead cuticle from the nail, and smoothen the cuticle area. Ultimately this bit is to help you prepare the natural nail.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Sanding Bands
Of all the technology in nail care these have made the most progress thanks to development of Zebra paper in Japan. They consist of a tube covered in different grits of sandpaper. These are now practical and high enough quality to be recommended.
Fortunately this sand paper is completely animal friendly and gets this name because of it’s black and white colour. In fact it doesn’t even resemble a Zebra. Having said that the Japanese are great at naming stuff. Their Mitsubishi Lettuce motor car proves that and fortunately wasn’t followed up by the Mitsubishi Tomato.
Sanding Band Efile Bits and Their Uses
With a coarse grit (#60 – #80) you can trim or shorten long acrylic nails during fill-ins or new full sets. It also is used to remove gel overlays or shorten acrylic nail and other artificial nails easily.
Medium grit (#100 – #160) is good to clean up the dead skin around the cuticles, under the nails or around the tips following acrylic application. It is also rather cool for filing the nail sidewall and shaping for a smooth finish on artificial nails. Also great for backfills.
A #180 – #240, fine or extra fine sanding band is used to gently roughen up the natural nail surface to create a good bond between acrylics an natural nails. You can prep the natural nail bed prior to any extension service, to provide better adhesion.
Sanding bands however can be tricky for natural nails. Their square (barrel) shape makes them challenging to hold flush to the natural nail. Avoiding cutting into the nail with the edge is not always easy.
Low rpm and application of very light pressure is needed for natural nails in order to prevent damage to the nail plate.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Tungsten Carbide Metal Bits
They are made of carbide metal a very tough metal many times stronger than steel (like superman?). These are the metal ones in gold, silver, blue and many other colours. Carbide burrs come in different shapes and sizes too. They are tough and last longer than ceramic, other metals or chocolate eggs on Easter. Such burrs have flute like cuts that enable the carbide bit to “shave” the enhancement product off. Large flutes and deep valleys give you coarse grit. Shallower flutes equal a finer bit. Carbide bits are ideal for removing acrylics and other enhancements. They should not be used directly on natural nail.
These days Carbide bits are available with different coatings.
Carbide bits are easily cleaned and sterilized. However most coatings may well be removed when ultra-sonic sterilization is utilised.
Uses of Carbide Burrs
Carbide bits are ideal for removing acrylics and other enhancements. However they are not recommended for use directly on natural nail.
An extra coarse grit is best used for removing acrylic and gel overlays and can also shorten and thin down enhancement materials such as hard gels.
A coarse grit is suggested to use on sidewall and also shaping both the fingernails and the toenails. Coarse metal drill bits are used to remove gel topcoat, thin down hard gels or acrylics to speed up the removal process.
The edge at the top of coarse carbide drill bits is sharp thus it is often used to fix acrylic nail cracks.
A medium grit is a great all-purpose bit and is used to shorten acrylic nails, cut in new smile lines, and can reshape the entire surface. Medium metal drill bits are also used to smooth out lumpy spots accidentally formed by acrylics, dipping powder or gel.
Fine grits are generally used to refine the entire surface. Great for shaping of acrylic or gel artificial nail. Should there be some unwanted leftover excess acrylic, a fine burr will help remove it. They are used to clean or smooth out powder along cuticle curves.
A fine grit is also useful in “cutting in” the smile line of shorter acrylic or gel nails.
Most carbide bits are square at the tip. The purpose of this is to refine the surface of the nail. A tapered version will help you get deeper into the corners and around the sides. The typical size of these bits come in 3/32.
Nail techs can choose either single cut or double cut carbide bits for polish removal. Single cut has a cut running semi-vertical down the head that allows polish removal best in one direction. The double cut carbide has cuts in both directions allowing smooth removal of polish in both directions.
Different Shaped Carbide Burr Uses
Large and Small Carbide Barrels. A large carbide barrel efficiently removes gel and acrylic and will greatly shorten the time of your services. Large and Small 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. However, in the hands of an inexperienced tech, it can also do a lot of damage if the bit slips or goes too deep.
Held vertically, a small barrel is a great tool for quickly removing length or roughly shaping the free edge of enhancements.
UNC (under nail cleaning bit). These are most popular amongst techs in a cone or narrow barrel shape. UNC bits are pointed and small. UNC burrs have a very specific design which assists the tech to reach into tight spaces.
The UNC bit is usually used not only for under the nail cleaning but also for sidewalls. This bit is important for removing dirt, debris and small amounts of product that can otherwise find their way under the nail enhancement. Some nail technicians also use this bit for making designer holes in the nails. It is recommended to use this burr on medium to high speed, depending on your level of expertise.
Bullet shape bits are ideal in the creation of the apex or stress point area. They are particularly helpful for stilettos, coffin and ballerina shaped nails. Recommended for experienced techs and should be used at slower speeds, In experienced hands, this bit can also be used to clean around the cuticle area.
Cone burrs have a long, slim, and tapered shape. They are excellent all rounders with a multitude of uses. The unique cone-shape offers excellent removal of gel and acrylic, without generating massive amounts of heat. Furthermore it is used for surface work polishing, smoothing, shaping, cleaning and more. Cones are often used in preparing the cuticle area and sidewalls and cleaning under the nail. It is a great shape for toenail. Definitely not for beginners though. Cone burrs require expertise and experience.
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 Bits are most often barrels or tapered barrels. These have a rounded, smooth tops with no “teeth”. Their design allows you to avoid damaging clients’ fingers whilst allowing work very close to the cuticle area to be performed.
They are available in both carbide and ceramic. These bits are highly recommended for beginners and experts alike. QD now have two a fine and an extra coarse (available as right and left hand).
They have an x-cut design allowing outstanding ability to reshape, polish, smoothen, grind, sharpen, carve and neaten builder gel, acrylic gel, dip powder or acrylic nails, easily and quickly. Simply perfect for surface work such as removing excess product and smoothing the surface for top coat application.
Safety burrs are just the thing to remove dip powder and gels Equally useful for backfill cutting and creating a sharp c-curve. In a more coarse texture this bit is ideal for removing excess acrylic when creating French designs, 3D cut outs, and v-tips. They offer great value for money. If your client has very puffy cuticles, the safety bit is what you need. .
Recommended for Professional manicurist and beginners alike.
Maintenance bits or backfill bits are for replacing the white tip powder on a French manicure and correcting and redoing smile lines. There are various different types and sizes.
The 2-week bit is for just 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.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Ceramic Bits And Burrs
Ceramic burrs are very similar in design and shape to carbide. They come in just about as many shapes and sizes.
These types of bits and their uses are just as explained for the carbide burrs above. However ceramic bits have the advantage of lower heat generation but do not last as long as the carbide.
Ceramic is softer and thus does not last as long as Carbide. Sure they generate less heat but are just not as strong or sharp as their carbide cousins. With the exception of black diamond ceramic (pictured here) Carbide is advisable.
In the end the choice between these two types is going to be personal and you need to find your comfortable choice. Many techs may choose to use a combination as well. In order to make an informed decision, listen to advice but in the end get some good training and make up your own mind which to use.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Diamond cuticle bits
We now examine diamond bits these are strong and diamond coated as the name suggests. They are designed for cuticle removal. Of course they come in very many styles, shapes and sizes. They are used to remove the built-up product by scratching it off, however they create more friction than other bits, and thus, more heat.
They can be used in conjunction with traditional nail tools, such as cuticle nippers and scissors or they may be used alone. A few of the most common shapes are
These are used to help slightly lift the cuticle from the nail plate and allow for easier cuticle removal and gel polish application. This shape is certainly one of the most popular among nail techs and is very versatile indeed. They can be seen here.
Ball burrs are also most popular. They are available in many sizes. All techs have their own size preference. Larger sizes give the manicurist more working surface to carry out the service. Ball bits are mainly used for cuticle removal after the previous enhancement material has been removed and the cuticle has been slightly lifted from the nail plate.
These diamond bits are used for pushing back the cuticles, eliminating excess dead skin on the nail plate and also prepping the nail plate for gel or acrylic application. See the QD barrel here>>
Efile Bits and Their Uses Diamond Grit
As with all bits three primary options are available for selection to work with, soft, medium or coarse. It is important to check and be aware of the sensitivity of the client. As the grits get coarser it becomes simpler to remove either polish or cuticle. However depending on skin sensitivity, may become uncomfortable, should the incorrect grit be used or worse if incorrectly used.
Cleaning bits properly is extremely important between uses. Cleaning is a multi-step process that is not to be skipped. Please see here>> for our article on cleaning and sterilizing for more on this.
When to Replace Efile Bits
Your bits and burrs unfortunately also get old and tired. As Albert Einstein used to say, “replacing old and sub standard tools is what separates the good from the great” Well actually he never said that but you can be sure he would have if he had been asked.
An overly vibrating handpiece is very often caused by a drill bit that is no longer balanced.
To check when your bit is damaged or overly worn, check that the shank and its head are in alignment. Best tool for this are your eyes. Do an eyeball check on your bits while they’re spinning to see if they are truly spinning straight or if they are whipping around like a lasso. If you see a sort of blurry ring around a bent bit while it’s spinning fast then you will know the terrible truth. Some will say It’s ok to use them a while longer. However if I agreed with them, we’d both be wrong.
Another way to check for a bent or warped burr is to roll it on a flat surface. Place it in a piece of glass, a tile or even a kitchen counter. Gently roll it with your hand. If the burr is bent you will easily be able to tell.
Buying New Burrs
It is obvious that it is certainly best is to buy good quality bits right? Well not always! Many techs are more than happy to buy cheapo ones from the China Mall. These are likely to suck as hard as an Eloctrolux vacuum cleaner!!
Cheap and nasty to the naked eye looks fine, however burrs can also be dangerous and definitely damage your efile as well as your hands. Why? Well good bits are cast in 1 single piece! Yup just one piece of metal. China Mall specials are 2 pieces stuck together. They are never perfectly round and are always more blunt and not as strong as good quality. This all means you will need to use much more force when working.
Efile Bits and Their Uses Final Thoughts
Ultimately bits come down to personal preference and ease of use. Various grits of the same shape could even be required to provide professional and pain free service. Before you start working with drill bits please contact an expert and take a class.
Understanding how to correctly and carefully use will ensure no damage or pain is caused. We certainly hope that it is clear that when performing a manicure, the efile bits you decide to use are of utmost importance. Burrs and bits are most certainly professional products not to be used by people who are untrained and inexperienced in the use of drills and efiles.
Finally remember to always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
Disclaimer: The above article is an overview of nail drill bits and anyone attempting to use these products needs to seek professional training to understand how to use them properly. QD and its directors, staff and educators takes no responsibility for any advice in this article being misunderstood or used incorrectly.