How to Use an Electric Nail Drill: An Ultimate Guide

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If you’re a nail technician, you know that electric nail drills are essential for providing professional manicures and pedicures. But if you’re new to the nail industry, you may not know how to use an electric nail drill or what types of drills you should look for.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about electric nail drills and their operating mechanisms.

What is an Electric Nail Drill?

How to Use an Electric Nail Drill

An electric nail drill, also known as a nail file or an electric nail file, is a tool that uses a rotating bit or bur to shape or remove the material from the surface of natural or acrylic nails.

Electric files were first used in the 1950s and are now a standard tool in nail salons. They are powered by either an AC/DC adapter or a battery and are used to perform a variety of nail treatments, such as filing, buffing, polishing, and removing dead skin from the nail bed.

These drills are available in various sizes and shapes and can be used with various bits and attachments. The most common type is the rotary drill, which has a rotating head that spins at high or medium speed to help file or buff the nails.

Electric nail drills also use an oscillating head that moves back and forth in a circular motion, which is useful for polishing and smoothing nails. 

How to Use an Electric Nail Drill

Using an electric nail drill is not difficult, but it does require some practice and skill. Here are the basic steps for using an electric nail drill:

  1. Plug in the drill and turn it on.
  2. Select the appropriate nail drill bit or attachment for the job.
  3. Start with a slow speed to adjust the correct position.
  4. Increase the speed and pressure of the drill as needed.
  5. Place the bit or attachment on the nail and begin filing, buffing, or polishing.
  6. Keep the drill in constant motion while working.
  7. When finished, turn off the drill and unplug it.
  8. Detach the bit and clean it.

The Nail Career Education channel has elaborated on the dos and don’ts of learning e-file, which first-time users can learn from to avoid accidents during nail work.

Before working on clients, it’s important to practice using the drill. This will help you get comfortable with the drill and ensure that you use it properly.

Before using an electric nail drill, prepare the nail. Start by trimming the nails to the desired length, then use a nail file to shape the edges. Finally, use a buffer to smooth out any ridges or bumps.

Taking safety measures when using an electric nail drill is also important. As the drill rotates against the surface of the nails at high speed, some of the particles will likely fly around. So you should always wear protective eye gear while operating the drill.

Ensure you use the correct attachment for the desired job and set it to the right speed. You can learn more about nail drill bits from Nailcou’s video. Avoid using the drill on wet nails. Use a dust extractor to keep the area clean and dust-free.

In addition to these safety precautions, you should also take good care of your drill to extend its life. Clean and disinfect the drill after every use, and store it in a dry place. Try to lubricate the motors, as it can ease the friction and allow the drill to operate smoothly.

Basic Electric Nail Drill Techniques

using electric nail drill

Once you understand how to use an electric nail drill, you can move on to more advanced techniques. The first and most common technique is filing, where you use the drill to transform the nail into the desired shape.

If you are looking for a smooth finish to the surface of the nails, you can achieve this by buffing or waxing, in which a layer of wax is applied to the nails, giving them a smoother feel.

Shiny nails never go out of style – you can add shine to your nails with polishing techniques. Electric nail drills have made this technique much easier because of their high-speed rotation.

To shine, start at the cuticle and move outward. Make sure to use light pressure and keep the drill in constant motion.

Benefits of Using an Electric Nail Drill

Electric nail drills provide several benefits for nail technicians. The most obvious benefit is convenience – they are much faster and more efficient than manual nail files.

If you use a manual file, there are more chances of errors resulting in nail damage. Electric nail drills make this easier by providing better precision and control with different speed settings. 

Electric nail drills are also much easier on your hands, as they require very little effort. On the contrary, manual filing requires a lot of effort and can cause fatigue.

How to Choose the Right Electric Nail Drill

While choosing an electric nail drill, there are several things you should take into account. First, you should consider the size and weight of the drill. If you use the drill frequently, it’s best to choose a lightweight, ergonomic model.

Next, you should consider the power of the drill. The more powerful the drill, the faster and more efficiently it will work. Make sure to choose a drill with enough power for the job at hand.

If you travel frequently and want to keep up with nail grooming, you might prefer the wireless version. Look for a portable or rechargeable nail drill that can retain a few hours of charge.

Finally, you need to consider the type of bit or attachment you’ll use. Drills can be used with different bits and attachments, so choose the one that can accommodate the type of bit or attachment you plan to use.


The advancement of technology has revolutionized and simplified nail technicians’ work. You no longer need to manually file nails, which can take time and cause fatigue. Electric nail drills have made filing easier, and you can also use them to buff or polish.

This article explains how to use an electric nail drill and gives suggestions for choosing the right one to suit your needs.

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