Natural Nails

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Files (Now you don’t have to ask.)

Simply the one item you cannot do without, the file is the work horse of the nail salon. There is no nail service that you don’t use if for. It is probably your least expensive tool and it’s very likely the tool every one of your clients has at home. But as nail care has become more complicated and more sophisticated, so too even the simplest of implements.

Simply the one item you cannot do without, the file is the work horse of the nail salon. There is no nail service that you don’t use if for. It is probably your least expensive tool and it’s very likely the tool every one of your clients has at home. But as nail care has become more complicated and more sophisticated, so too even the simplest of implements.

Never one to lag behind in technological advancements, the file now comes constructed of space-age materials and built to last well into the next century. But you can choose the $2.50 fluorescent cushioned board or the 14¢ wood emery board to do the exact same thing. For a clearer understanding of the files you need in your “basic file wardrobe,” you need to understand how they are built and the purposes each are best suited for.

When Joe Lupo invented the emery board in the 1920s, he was looking for a less expensive alternative to the commonly used metal file. Lupo experimented with materials and came up with the emery board, which remains virtually unchanged from its original form.

BASIC CONSTRUCTION

All files have three main components: the abrasive, the material that the abrasive attaches to, and the core to which the material is attached.

ABRASIVES: As diverse as abrasives may seem, nearly all abrasives used in the nail industry today are one of three types: garnet, a hard mineral that is typically found on tan emery boards, and silicon carbide and aluminum oxide, very hard synthetic compounds that can be ground very coarse or very fine. What makes the surface more or less rough is the degree to which the abrasive is ground. Obviously, rougher files are ground the least and smoother files are ground the finest.

Abrasives are categorized and numbered by the coarseness of their grit. The lower the number, the more coarse the grit. A typical acrylic file is about 100 grit, while the typical buffer is about 1200 grit, what is called a microabrasive. Microabrasives came to the nail industry by way of the aerospace industry. An engineer used buffing blocks made of this super-fine grit to remove scratches from airplane windows. That same material brings a high shine to fingernails.

Abrasives come in a variety of colors. The coloring process does not affect either the board’s ability to file or its quality. The common tan emery boards are usually garnet, while most colored files are silicon carbide or aluminum oxide. Some technicians favor colored files so they know at a glance what file to choose for what purpose.

 

ABRASIVE BACKINGS: Abrasives can be attached to a host of materials, and file manufacturers have shown a remarkable cleverness in finding new surfaces. The most common surfaces to attach abrasives to are paper, cloth, and film. In the film category, polyester film is the most popular. None of the abrasive backings makes a file inherently superior in its filing ability. What will be most important in choosing files is the purpose for which they will be used.

If you’re disposing of files after every client and will factor the cost of the board into your service price, you will want a less expensive file. Some manufacturers make a washable paper file, which they claim is impervious to water. However, most paper files cannot withstand prolonged contact with water.

Enjoying popularity among manufacturers is polyester film backing. The most well-known, perhaps, is Mylar. Films are washable, highly durable, and sanitazable. The material comes from its manufacturer in a variety of colors. Film files, especially if cushioned, are usually the most expensive of the files surfaces.

 

CORES: The abrasive-coated surface is attached to a core, which gives the file strength and rigidity. In the early emery board days, the core of all files was wood. Wood boards are generally less expensive.

At the center of most colored and cushioned boards are thin pieces of plastic (generally about 1/16 -inch thick). Some companies use what is called “virgin plastic,” which means the plastic has not been recycled from other plastic. This type of plastic, they claim, provides for greater spring-back of a file, more rigidity, and a longer-lasting file. “Reground plastic” is composed of some virgin plastic and ground plastic, all melted together. To test a file’s spring-back, put the kind of pressure on the file that it would have to endure during heavy filing.

Plastic cores come in all colors. The color has nothing to do with the quality of the file. Like colored abrasives, colored-core files may be preferred because they’re recognizable to a glance. A nail technician may simply enjoy the aesthetic appeal of colored-center files as well.

In the core of cushioned files are two layers of foam or cushion. A layer of foam (usually 1/32-inch to 1/8-inch thick) is adhered to each side of the plastic. The abrasive is then mounted on each side of that. A cushioned file may conform to the nail better than a non-cushioned file. There are nail technicians who prefer a still file without cushion for better control.

 ADHESIVES: Adhesives are used in two phases of file construction: adhering the abrasive to a surface and adhering each file layer together. Although manufacturers guard information about adhesives as trade secrets, there are manufacturers who use adhesives designed to hold up through many washings, sanitizing, and intensive filing.

COATING/SEALING: There are files that have a resin coating over the abrasive material so that the grit doesn’t come off either in normal filing or in cleaning. The coating seals the abrasive on the paper to reduce grit shedding. The resin coating can also enhance the durability and waterproof properties of a file.

Keywords:   FILES     how products are made  



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