Take Care of Your E-File, and It Will Take Care of You

E-files are the workhorses of nail salons. Techs put them through rigorous daily schedules to keep appointment books well-packed, and though manufacturer maintenance is a must, here’s how you can keep yours preserved in the salon and humming over nails year after year.

Most nail techs treasure their electric files. For booth renters it’s a personal investment that needs to be kept in working order to ensure a healthy workflow, and for salon owners their fleet of e-files needs to be working at a top-notch level so techs can safely and efficiently tend to the many clients who rotate through the salon.

As far as electric files go, there isn’t much that techs can do to repair equipment on their own once it starts to operate ineffectively. This would include things like an increase in the vibration of the handpiece so that filing becomes more difficult, a slowing of the motor, a misaligned bit grip, and/or broken bit holders.

Impairments like these need professional repair from an e-file manufacturer.

But there are many things you can do to help preserve the life of your e-file and keep full-repair overhauls down to a minimum.

Time for Repairs

If you feel your e-file is in need of professional repair, do not fret. Most electric file manufacturers have full service and repair programs in place to take care of your e-file problems.

Most will have warranties in place, and many offer repair services that can accommodate a wide range of e-files, even from other brands.

Sara Smith, customer service manager at Kupa, says techs can call Kupa’s hotline number and talk to a representative about any problem they are having with an e-file. If Kupa carries the parts for that make and model, they can send it in for repairs. And even if Kupa does not carry the parts for a particular brand of e-file, often the repairman can purchase the parts and then install them.

Bruce Atwood, president of Atwood Industries, offers repairs and maintenance for e-files, but says that if techs take good care of their e-files, they will be able to prolong the time before they need service. “The most common problem techs see is the handpiece starts to make a rattling noise and vibrates more than normal,” he says. “This generally means that the bearings have dried out and may be filled with product dust. A repair like this is pretty simple. We’ll clean it out and put in new, lubricated bearings.”

For heavy users it is recommended to have it serviced about once a year for a thorough cleaning and to make sure all parts are working. Manufacturers strongly discourage techs from trying to do any internal cleaning or maintenance themselves. In some cases any work done on e-files outside of the company can void its warranty coverage.


1. Keep dust down to a minimum. “I understand your e-file is going to be covered in dust after each use,” says Young Nails’ Greg Salo. “But there are ways to lessen the dust impact.” Techs should give the handpiece and control box a full wipe down after each use when there is visible dust. And techs should use a small brush to give a light clean to the handpiece around the bit holder and the cord plug-in. This will help keep dust out of the handpiece, which is one of the biggest problems with the up-keep e-files.

2. Be careful not to drop your e-file. One of the most common repairs comes from when a tech drops an e-file and the bit breaks off inside the holder. This is an easy repair for professionals, but manufacturers do not recommend techs try to fix this problem themselves. Keep your control box safe and secure atop your manicure table and always make sure the handpiece is snug in its holder on the control box when not in use so it doesn’t roll off the table.

3. Make sure the cord does not crimp. One of the most common problems on both e-files and UV lamps is cord crimping. When cords are positioned in ways where they are bent or crimped — this could happen if a control box is placed too close to a wall or another piece of equipment — then the fibers inside the cord can snap and the connection will be weakened. When this happens the e-file will not be able to operate at full power. Always make sure cords and cables have a smooth and natural bend and are not crimped.


A Bit on Bit Care

Bits are a whole separate entity from the e-file unit itself, requiring their own care and maintenance. There are multiple kinds of bits for different functions, like natural nail bits, pedicure bits, and even buffing bits with a shammy-type cloth material. But for the most part, the most common bits are categorized by the materials of which they are made — diamond, carbide, and sanding bands. Here are some tips for keeping them best preserved.

Diamond Bits

Diamond bits are made of ­industrial diamond particles and whisk away smaller amounts of surface material as they glide over the nails. Diamond bits do not have flutes to trap product, so a simple washing and scrubbing should ­remove any product residue before
they are placed in disinfectant solution or acetone.

Carbide Bits

Carbide bits are noted by their indented cutting flutes, which cut pieces of the nail enhancement material as opposed to grinding it. The cutting gives off a little less heat than the grinding of a diamond bit. For carbides, special wire brushes are used to clean the flutes after each use and before they are submersed in disinfectant solution or acetone.

Sanding Bands

Sanding bands are made of sandpaper-like material for natural nail etching and light shaping. Sanding bands, since they are used on natural nails and are not disinfectable, should be discarded after each use.


*Rust Alert
Remember that some bits may rust if left in the disinfectant too long (10 minutes is usually enough), so always check for signs of rust, and never use a rusted bit on a client.

*Use a Cover
Keep bits in a dry, covered container when they are not in use.

*Replacing Bits
Bits should be replaced when they no longer refine the product in a timely manner. With daily use, bits can last anywhere from two to four months. You can use a bit for a year, but it won’t work properly.

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The portion of a nail service, usually an acrylic service, that focuses on reducing the moisture and oils on the natural nail so that a tip or...
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