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What to Look for in an E-File, Experts Weight In

by Holly Schippers | April 9, 2013 | Bookmark +

I sometimes get questions about how to choose an e-file. Not being an e-file user I don’t feel qualified to answer those questions and don’t like leaving questions unanswered! To solve the dilemma I asked three well know e-file experts for some tips on selecting the right e-file if you choose to use one. Hope this helps!  — Holly



Table Space

Do you have enough space on your table for an electric file?

Would a portable machine be more useful?

Handpiece Quality

Shorter, thinner & lighter handpieces are easier to use when you are using them all day.

Hold them like a pencil and try them out to see how they feel.

If the handpiece is very heavy it will take a toll on your hands.

Ease in changing bits

Changing bits should be quick and easy with a twist lock or push chuck.


You should not feel or hear any vibration or whining. A good machine will almost be silent.

Variable Speed

This allows you a large range of speed to perform several different techniques.

There should be a slider or a dial to adjust the speeds. High, medium and low buttons are


Most machines do not come with a speed scale on the dial, so don’t look for one!


This is the amount of resistance (horsepower) as the bit turns and is measured in pounds

per square inch.

Most electric file manufacturers do not disclose the amount of horsepower is in each

Machine, but if the bit bogs down when you apply pressure it’s an indication there is not

enough horsepower.

Forward & Reverse

Although you may not need reverse often, it is a good option that most machines offer.

In most cases left handed techs work in the reverse mode.

Foot Pedal Option

Foot Pedals are optional and if you are a high user you may consider using a foot pedal.

Check to see if the machine has a plug for a foot pedal. Most foot pedals are universal.


Revolutions per minute should range from 0-20,000 RPMs or more.

High-end machines usually have 0-25,000-35,000 RPMs.

Machine Design

Is the machine attractive and acetone proof? Does it look industrial?

Are the buttons and dials readable and easy to use?


Ask about the warranty and repair options before you buy.


Don’t be afraid to purchase a good machine even if you are not skilled yet.

If you purchase an inexpensive machine you will end up replacing it eventually.

You get what you pay for.

— Vicki Peters, Drilltalk,


I was actually trying to put myself into a position, if I didn’t know anything, what would be some important factors in choosing a file? 

  • First, anything under $200 is likely not worth owing. 

  • You want a balanced handpiece, otherwise you will be prone to fatigue and carpal-tunnel effects. The Erica MT-20 is a good machine, however, it is heavy on the rear, and thus, can have that effect on the user.

  • It should have a variable speed control that reaches at least 20,000 RPM, but more importantly, has good torque so it does not slow down when the user applies pressure on the nail.

  • Try to purchase your e-file directly from the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s main distributor. You want to make sure the person from whom it is purchased can service and repair your e-file at any time.

  • Most importantly, try to purchase an extra hand-piece for your unit because these handpieces will eventually need to be serviced and can stop in a moment’s notice. Don’t be caught in that situation. Always have a back-up.

  • Also, make sure you do not use cheap bits. Most of the carbide bits in the marketplace are out-of-round and will cause vibration in your handpiece and are very uncomfortable for your client.

  • Remember — you get what you pay for! The best machines in the marketplace today are:

UPOWER 200 (Purchase from Kupa or Atwood. They do the servicing.)

Pro-Power 20 & 30K (Purchase from Medicool or Atwood.)

Erica’s MT-20 (Purchase from Erica’s ATA.)

Supra (Purchase from Atwood.)

KP-36 (Available from Young Nails, Kupa, and Antione. Atwood also services these.)

Primosa (Purchase from Ram Products. Atwood services these.)

The “Ultimate Filing Machine” (Atwood)

The “Atwood Slimline” (Atwood)

 Since I’ve been doing this for 30+ years, the Upower machine has the best track record of all, and I really don’t have the reason for this, because most of these are made practically the same. I hope I have helped, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate contact me (800) 451-6733. You can see some of these on my website  

— Bruce Atwood, Atwood Industries

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