Nail drill bit shapes and uses explained

by Anastasia Julia

10 nail drill bits ranging from ball to flame 

When performing a Russian e-file manicure, the nail drill bits you decide to use are essential. When looking for quality bits, the location of manufacturing is often a good indicator. Russian, Polish and Ukrainian bits have been the best in our experience. Every nail tech who is performing a dry machine manicure has their preference on bit shape and grit. When you choose quality not only you but your clients feel the difference. We are going to look at carbide vs diamond bits and talk about what are the differences and uses for each one.

When starting a dry machine manicure a carbide bit is used first to remove gel polish from the previous manicure. This clearly differs from using acetone to soak off polish which can lead to weakened nails and dry cuticles. Within this selection of bits, the shapes include the traditional barrel, tapered barrels, and others. 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. We prefer the double cut tapered barrel bits similar to this carbide. Nail techs also have the option of grit strength which determines how strong the abrasive is to the bit. Stronger grit will remove the polish quicker. It is important at this point of the manicure and with this bit not to hit the skin as this bit is designed to remove cured gel polish and can damage the skin. Also, it is important to note that you DO NOT have to remove the base coat of the gel polish and can leave it intact for the next manicure. Please know what you are doing when using these drill bits or seek professional guidance. Please be incredibly careful with these bits because they can take away parts of the nail plate.

Diamond nail drill bits are used specifically for treating the cuticle. They can be used in conjunction with traditional nail tools, such as cuticle nippers and scissors or these diamond bits may be the only tool used. Some of the most common shapes include:


Two categories exist within the flame shaped bits. There is the traditional elongated narrower version of a flame bit which can be found here or the flame “drop” which can be found here. They both have uses and really come down to preference. They are both used to help slightly lift the cuticle from the nail plate and allow for easier cuticle removal and gel polish application. This shape of bits is one of the most popular among nail techs and is very versatile in uses.


Ball drill bits are again one of the most popular. These bits vary in size usually in millimetres, with working part sizes ranging from 1mm up to 6mm. Size is the preference of the one performing the manicure and larger sizes give the manicurist more working part to perform the manicure. This bit is used for cuticle removal after the gel polish has been removed and the cuticle has been slightly lifted from the nail plate.


The size and shape of cone bits varies largely. Smaller cone shapes like this one all the way to large cones like this. Again this is preference for the person performing the manicure. They are ideal for cuticle removal.

Grit is extremely important and client specific. Three main options exist for when choosing the grit to work with, soft, medium or coarse. It is important to understand the sensitivity of the persons skin who is having a dry manicure performed on them. As the grits get harder it is easier to remove either polish or cuticle but depending on skin sensitivity can become uncomfortable if the wrong grit is used or used incorrectly.

Cleaning bits properly is extremely important between uses. Cleaning is a multi-step process that is not to be skipped. It is important to thoroughly clean all nail tools and especially bits to stop the spread of any disease or bacteria that can be transmitted with out the knowing of how to properly clean nail dill bits. 

At the end of the day bits come down to preference and use. Multiple grits of the same shape may be required to provide comfortable services. All our bits are manufactured with care and designed to be quality and long lasting. They are manufactured in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Before you start working with drill bits please contact a professional and take a class. Understand what you are doing and be careful not to cause damage or pain. These are professional products not to be used by people who are untrained and inexperienced in Russian dry machine manicures.

Disclaimer: This 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.