What Bits to Start With

by NLS Staff | June 1, 2007

Choosing new bits can be such a confusing and overwhelming decision when first starting out because we have so many choices. All KUPA-made machines come with three bits — a mandrel with 10 medium-grit sanding bands, a medium silver carbide barrel and a silver Under the Nail Cleaner (UNC) bit. That’s enough to start with but not enough to cover all aspects of what you will eventually need. You need one additional bit to start with, the VP Safety Bit, and later a backfill bit when you start to offer backfills.

Here is a description of each bit KUPA makes and what they are used for:

Natural Nail Bit  This slender rubberized black barrel is slightly longer than a traditional barrel with a flat top. The flat top needs to be sharpened by holding it flat on a file for every use, as it is soft and wears down. Perfect for prepping the natural nail plate during manicures and removing dead cuticle.

UNC  UNC stands for “Under the Nail Cleaner” and that’s exactly what you use it for. The carbide is cut into a plain shank so it’s thin and has a new safety tip. You can get right underneath all those tight spots to gently bevel the undersides of the nails without cutting the fingertip.


Cone  This slim, longer tapered bit can be used under the nails as well as at the cuticle or sidewalls. This cone can be used on top of the nail as well. However it is not the preferred shape for surface work on artificial nails. But it is perfect for use on top of the toenails because of its slim size.

Tapered Barrel  This is a cone with the top cut off so it’s flat on top like a barrel bit. Perfect for under the nails and on the top surface, however we recommend you stay away from the cuticle area with the flat tip of the bit as you may cause rings of fire. Some techs use this bit for cutting a backfill because of the small circumference at the tip.

VP Safety Bit  This is a tapered barrel with a rounded tip for safety at the cuticle area.  The small circumference allows you to get right into the groove walls and cuticle allowing you to gently touch the natural cuticle and bevel the product perfectly smooth down to the natural nail. This bit preps the artificial product at the cuticle area for fills perfectly. It can also be used for surface work on smaller nails as well.

Small Barrel and Large Barrel  These bits are used for surface work, shortening, and backfill cutting. The only difference is the size of the circumference of the bit and tech preference.

Mandrel/Sanding Bands   Sanding bands or arbor bands are barrel-shaped paper sleeves that slip over a mandrel. Surface work and pedicures are the preferred service these bits are used for. The sanding bands are single-use only and cannot be disinfected.

Pedicure Bit  This precision diamond bit has been designed to use on callus on the feet. Larger in size, this bit is to be used in one sweeping direction on dry callus for removal and has stripes of diamond material for cooling. This high-end bit also has diamond material on the top cylinder for hard-to-get spots around the toenails.

Prepper Bit  This slim, flat-topped diamond bit is so smooth it can be used on the natural nails — with caution — to prep the nails and smooth ridges on the nails and toenails.

Backfill Bits  Backfill bits are smaller versions of the barrel bit and we have three choices: 

The 2-week backfill is 1/4 the size of a barrel bit and created to trench out two weeks’ worth of growth. 

The 4-week backfill is 1/2 the size of a barrel bit and created to trench out four weeks’ worth of growth. This bit is large enough to be used to cut and remove the tip’s entire product. 

The Inverted Backfill  bit is angled and larger on the top.   It is 1/2 the size of a regular barrel bit. This bit can be used to cut and   remove the tip’s entire product.

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