With new technologies changing our lives from day to day, we often let go of skills our predecessors needed to perform our very same jobs. Nail techs are becoming more and more adept at using e-files, and are increasing their speed and booking more clients. But hand-filing skills are still essential for nail techs. The art of hand filing forms the foundation for good e-filing skills, and often techs who are proficient at both prefer hand-filing in many circumstances. We asked techs to tell us what their ideal situations are for using hand files or e-files.


“E-files are great for cutting new smile lines for backfills. Although coarse hand files can also do this, I think using a barrel or backfill bit makes it easier and faster to thin the tip and cut a new smile line.”

Vicki Peters, Vicki Peters Nail Products


“I prefer an electric file for a final seal around the cuticle area. This gives me a better seal and eliminates lifting and peeling.”

Gari Dawn Tingler, Director of education for American International Industries


“Using an e-file can help with arm and wrist pain. Hand filing nails for eight to 10 hours a day, six days a week can start to have an effect on your body, so switching to an e-file can take some stress off your joints and decrease pain and discomfort.”

Jessica Hoel, Educator for Akzentz



“I prefer hand filing when I prep the natural nail for artificial nail application. There is less danger of over-filing and damaging the natural nail.”

Somer Downes, Director of education for LCN USA


“I always use a hand file for finish filing because you just cannot get that perfect finished look with an e-file. Hand-filing has a signature finished look.”

Christie Gibson, Christie’s Nails; Christiesnails.com


“For salons that convey a day spa atmosphere and emphasize luxury and relaxation, hand filing is a must because it is more soothing to the client. Techs with superb hand-filing skills can then charge more for this service because it takes more time.”

Esmarie Ferrera, Director of education for Bio Sculpture Gels

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.