iGel Academy

The E-file Ultimate Guide: What You Should Know


Hand filing is a time-consuming yet crucial part of nail prep, don't you agree? Today, technology made e-file or electric nail files
possible. It goes by many names such as nail drill and manual nail file. 

If you're a beginner in nail tech, then the e-file should be a part of your nail technician equipment since it helps you cater to your clients efficiently.

What is an e-file?

E-file, commonly known as nail drill, is a high-tech rotary tool used for filing nails as part of the prepping process of nails from smoothing to removing nail art and more!

Nail techs use e-files to make the work faster and easier. An acrylic nail drill is used with "drill bits", which has different shapes and sizes for various purposes. 

E-files are usually lightweight, cordless and handy; therefore, you don't have to worry about catering to your clients anytime and anywhere!

Another great thing about e-file is you can wield this tool to your own needs when appropriately used. It's only a matter of mastery and knowing your preferences in using the right type. You should consider the brand and quality of the e-file you’re planning to buy and make sure it's an investment for your nail tech career.

Uses for an e-file:

1. Nail Prep- The first thing you have to do when doing nail art is prep, and one way you can do that is by filing and cleaning your client's nails. Watch out for invisible cuticles, calluses and lifting on the nail beds when doing so.

2. Buffing or shaping- Another crucial step you should do is remove the shine on the nails to make the polish or manicure last longer. It also depends on your client what nail shape they want for their nail art, so buffing is one way to shape your client's nails to their desired shape from square to stiletto nails.

3. Trimming - It's essential to trim your client's nail length, especially if you're doing nail art on short nails. Using an e-file can help cut and shape the nails better than a hand file. You can use it both on your hands and toes.

4. Smoothing- For you to work on a clean and smooth canvas, you need to use an e-file drill to smoothen any rough surfaces that can hinder your masterpiece. A smooth surface makes it easier to work with acrylic or manicure.

Parts of an e-file:

1. Hand Piece

One of the essential parts of the e-file is the handpiece since it's mainly the tool you will use. The handpiece is shaped like a pen, and it's where the drill bit is inserted. So don't forget to remove the dummy drill bit piece and replace it with the actual drill bit before using it on your client's nails.

2. Control Box

The control box is where the essential functions are; aside from storing power, it has the switch buttons to control the speed, an LCD that shows you the level of intensity of torque you're using.

When nail technicians do their own hands, they sometimes switch their gears to reverse (for example, right-handed nail technicians doing their left hand). Therefore, you will see on the LED screen if your e-file is on forward or reverse.

When the setting is at a neutral state, the e-file will not move. iGel Beauty e-files are built for right and left-handed nail techs or users, so you don't have to worry about switching. 

Does the e-file have accessories?

Depending on the brand you have purchased if it has accessories, but for iGel Beauty, we have accessories for our e-files!
Here are the accesories our e-file comes with.

  • Dummy Drill Bit Piece

This metallic piece keeps the dust out of your e-file when you're not using it. The dummy drill bit is there as a substitute for your actual drill bit. To remove the dummy drill bit, turn the silver part of the e-file counterclockwise, and once you hear the click sound, it is already unlocked.

  • Charger

The charger is essential since you will need it to charge your e-file after a long day of using it.

  • Acrylic Stand

The iGel Beauty acrylic stand has a minimalist design for your e-file device; it also has a handpiece rest clip-on.

  • Handpiece Rest Clip-on

The handpiece rest clip-on goes on the side of the e-file. So you can place the handpiece inside the rest clip-on when you're not using it to stay organized.

Common mistakes nail tech does when using an e-file:

1. Mis-speed

Your e-file speed starts at 3; it doesn't mean that it would be the optimum slow setting for applying pressure. The RPM would go up to 35, and it all depends on personal preference and comfort level between the nail tech and the client when using the e-file.
The last thing you want to do is damage your clients' nails and risk your e-file being broken for misuse.

If you are unsure about what you're comfortable with, try out the slowest setting and work your way up. Again, your speed will depend on your comfort level with the e-file, directly affecting how well you can control it. 


For example, if you hear a stuttered pitched buzzing sound when your buffer touches the nail, you may need to switch your setting again. Please don't get too obsessed with a single RPM number because it's not a good indicator of power.

2. Overcharging

If your e-file is too hot to handle, then it's overheating, it's an indicator you're using it wrong, or it has faulty features. Avoid overcharging your e-file to prevent it from overheating and having a quick-draining battery.

For e-files, it would be best to charge it a maximum of 2 hours since anything excess is not good. iGel Beauty e-files are designed to avoid overheating, and it's reliable for long-term usage.

3. Loose or wobbly bits

If your drill bits are making weird sounds, it may be telling you that it needs to be more secure. There is a lock (left) and unlock symbol (right). After two clicks, check if it is locked or unlocked, try to pull out the drill bit or dummy drill bit piece. If it does not move around, your piece is secured. Remember, If the bits aren't placed correctly, they become unstable.

Pro Tip! "Fulcrum Finger". If you're feeling shaky (it isn't the bit), try sticking your pinky out like you're having a tea party. However, your pinky should be braced on something like your other hand for stability.

4. Your drill bit is hard to use

Is your drill bit jumping and skipping, but not in a good way? This may be because you are pressing down too hard. It would cause the drill bit to hop or skip or completely stop. 

Rule of thumb: If you want to keep it in a lower RPM setting, we suggest increasing the repetition time of your drill movement from side to side and controlling your comfort level with the handpiece. Alternatively, you may use the hand buffer if you are uncomfortable with the lower setting.

5. Accidentally splashing your e-file with water

Any nail salon tools and equipment should be placed in a safe and dry area. If you accidentally drop or splash water on your e-file, speed is essential! 

Also, never use nail products to clean it, such as acetone, since it will damage the surface of the tools. Instead, keep it dry, and only use a soft cloth or brush when cleaning it.

6. Using the nail drill on natural nails

This is a big no-no! You can't use the e-file on natural nails, whether yours or a client's, since it will cause significant damage to the nail beds. Instead, e-files are used for removing shine, prep for acrylic, gel or manicure nail sets.

Benefits of using an e-file:

  • Makes the prepping or removing process easier
  • Portable
  • Flexible
  • Investment as a nail tech or for nail lovers
  • Time-saver

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Wireless E-files are an excellent investment for your nail tech journey or hobby, and nail drills should be your must-have tool when you're always on the go! We have varieties of e-files that are aesthetically pleasing and, at the same time, efficient to use. You're very much welcome to join our iGel Beauty Facebook community for more tips and tricks from fellow Beauties! 

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