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Time is money. Any nail technician knows that the speed with which she applies acrylic nails determines how many services she can fit into a day. This directly affects her income. To increase your speed when completing a full set or a fill in of acrylic nails, consider using an electric nail file, also known as a nail drill. The file not only expedites certain steps in the application of artificial nails, but can produce a more realistic-looking nail. Educate yourself on how to use it safely to protect your clients from painful injuries.

Shorten Tips

Attach a round barrel diamond or carbide bit to the electric file according to manufacturer’s directions.

Turn the nail file on high.

Grip your model’s finger firmly with her palm facing down.

Hold the barrel of the nail perpendicular to the nail.

Move the bit from side to side against the free edge of the nail with firm, even pressure until you achieve the desired length.

Smooth Acrylic Application

Continue with the same round barrel bit and turn the file on medium speed.

Hold the nail you are working on to the side so that you see the profile.

Start at the free edge of the nail and work toward the cuticle guiding the barrel of the electric file on the surface of the nail from side to side. Do not leave the file in one place. Keep it moving to prevent heating up the acrylic product and burning the model. Do not touch the model’s skin with the file.

Change to a cone-shaped tip and lower the speed of the file before proceeding to the cuticle area.

Sand the product gently with the electric file until the acrylic becomes flush with the nail. Angle the tip of the barrel and sand the product gently around the cuticle area until it becomes flush with the nail plate.

Clean the Underside

Attach a small cone shape bit to the nail file.

Hold your model’s finger in your hand with the palm facing up.

Turn the file on medium speed and guide the bit from side to side of the surface of the underside of the nail until it looks smooth.


Hold the hand piece in your hand like you hold a pencil and use the table to balance your forearms.

Purchase a foot petal to control the speed of your file. You will save time if you don’t have to stop to manually change the speed with your hand.

"Nails" magazine recommends that nail technicians replace their bits every two to four months. A worn bit becomes dull and will slow your working speed.


Do not buy an electric drill from a craft or hobby store. The manufacturers of these drills design them for use on metal, wood and glass. A file designed specifically for nails features a safe amount of rotations per minute so that you won’t cause harm to your model’s nail plate.

If you file the nail too aggressively, your model will develop “a ring of fire,” a red painful patch on the nail plate.

About the Author

Nicole Whitney

Nicole Whitney started freelance writing in 2008, with articles published on various websites. She has worked as a spa therapist and consultant. She participates in a volunteer program and writes on subjects related to the beauty industry. She graduated from the International School of Skin, Nails and Massage in Atlanta.