What Drill Bit To Use To Remove Acrylic Nails?

The right drill bit makes acrylic nail application and removal so much easier. It also allows you to work faster, with less strain and better results.

But picking the right drill bit is easier said than done, given the wide range of drill bit styles, materials, and textures. This guide simplifies the selection process to get through your next acrylic nail removal project faster.

What drill bit to use to remove acrylic nails?

A coarse-grit typhoon drill bit is the best for removing acrylic nails. Its unique shape allows easy handling, while its coarse texture lets you ease through tough artificial nails. We recommend diamond bits, but carbide bits are equally good and often more affordable.

What’s a Nail Drill Bit? 

Nail drill bits are special drill bits designed for artificial nails. The extra-hard cutting bit goes on a special nail drill, which rotates, removing tiny bits of material off the nail plate.

Drill bits come in many shapes and sizes. The materials and textures vary too. Although most common in nail salons, they are perfect alternatives to sanding bands for DIYs.

What do you Use Nail Bits for?

Nail drill bits have many applications. Nail technicians primarily use them to prepare the nail for artificial nails. They also come in handy during acrylic nail removal.

During prep work, the drill bit removes bumps to flatten the nail plate, eliminates blemishes like surface marks, and trims the nail to the desired length. The nail technician may also use the drill bit to shape the nail at the edges and smooth out sharp parts.

Also, don’t be surprised if the tech calls on their favorite drill bit to buff your nails. Fine-grit drill bits are as effective as professional-grade nail buffers. They smoothen the nail and give it an attractive luster. You can also use it for cuticle removal.

The drill bit is just as valuable during artificial nail removal. The following are a few ways to use it during false nail removal.

  • It removes gel nail polish.
  • Removes dip powder
  • Remove loose cuticle
  • Trim and shape the natural nails.
  • Buff the natural nails.

Do you Need a Drill to Remove Acrylic Nails?

No, an e-file isn’t compulsory when removing acrylic nails. It’s helpful but optional. For instance, you can easily remove acrylic nails at home with a regular nail file.

The most important thing is choosing the right file. Use coarser grits to remove acrylics and finer grits to smooth or buff natural and artificial nails.

How do you Remove Acrylic Nails with a Drill Bit? 

To remove acrylics with a drill bit, you need an e-file. An electric nail file, also known as a nail drill or e-file, is an electric-powered rotary tool that rotates the drill bit, creating the friction necessary to remove material from the nail surface.

So, the first step is choosing the right nail drill. Fortunately, most nail drills work the same way. But make sure it offers a comfortable grip.

Here’s how to remove acrylics after selecting the right drill;

  1. Find the right drill bit: It’s often better to start with finer grits. Advance to higher grits only if the lower ones don’t do the job. Mandrel and barrel bits are the best for removing acrylic nails.
  2. Load the drill bit onto the drill’s head: Most drill bits are screw-like. Turn it clockwise to tighten, remembering that loose bits can come off during operation.
  3. Set the right speed: You can use higher speeds for acrylic nails. However, lower the speed if you feel uncomfortable.
  4. Gently sand down the top layer of the acrylics: Be as gentle as possible to avoid injuries to the natural nail surface.
  5. Soak the remaining acrylics in acetone: Soak cotton balls in 100% acetone. Then wrap them over the nails using aluminum foil and wait 10-15 minutes.
  6. Finish up: Remove the acetone-soaked balls, rinse the fingers with warm water, and hydrate the nails with cuticle oil.

Are Nail Drill Bits the Same?

No, nail drill bits aren’t the same. Instead, the bits come in various materials, shapes, sizes, and grits. Moreover, different nail drill bits have different uses and purposes. Therefore, you should choose the right drill bit for each project.

Types of Nail Drill Bits

We classify nail drill bits by style (shape, size, and purpose), material, and texture (grit). Here’s what you need to know;

Type by Style 

Mandrel and barrel bits are the most common drill bits. However, you can find several unique styles and shapes for special tasks.

  1. Mandrel bits: The mandrel bit is the oldest artificial nail drill bit, some as old as 40 years. It’s a basic tool but extremely versatile and relatively inexpensive. Most importantly, it’s the only drill bit you can use on natural nails as it resembles emery boards and the traditional nail file.
  2. Barrel bits: Barrel-style drill bits look like mandrel bits with built-in abrasive elements. However, they are made from higher quality materials, like stainless steel, high carbon alloy, and diamond. Some are even gold-coated.
  3. Typhoon bits: A typhoon drill bit is relatively modern. It is a paraboloid with rounded tips and a smooth surface for top application. Typhoon bits are mainly used for dip powder, gel nails, and acrylics.
  4. 5-in-1 bits: A five-in-one drill bit is a highly popular multifunctional tool with five primary uses. You can use it to clean the cuticle area, prepare the nail bed, and shape and shorten nails. It also cleans under the nail, smoothens it, and removes the top surface.
  5. Cone drill bits are specialty nail drill bits for cleaning or removing excess acrylics or gel deposited under the nails during application. They are cone-shaped, often with pointy or rounded tips.
  6. Tornado bits: A tornado nail bit is a paraboloid with a rounded tip. It’s named so because it’s perfect for fast speeds (high RPM). Nails techs use it to remove products quickly and effectively.
  7. Safety bits: A safety bit is designed for safe cuticle work. It features a rounded tip but comes in many shapes to help you reach the cuticle area and sidewalls without damaging the nail. It is also great for in-fills.

Others: You’ll come across many other nail drill bits, from the flame bit to nib bits and needle bits to ball-top bits. Many of them are special-purpose drill bits targeting specific manicure procedures.

Type by Material 

Carbon tool steel, diamond, and ceramic are the main materials for making nail drill bits.

  1. Carbide nail drill bits: Carbide bits are steel but have a tungsten carbide metal tip. They are extremely strong and durable. However, the nail bits are made from low-carbon steel, which is softer than high-carbon steel. Carbide nail bits are ideal for cutting or shaving off layers of the mani-pedi.
  2. Diamond bits: Diamond bits are made from artificial diamonds made in laboratories. So, they are extremely durable and easily tear through the toughest surfaces. However, they’re expensive. Diamond bits are best for removing build-up by lightly scratching the nail surface.
  3. Ceramic nail drill bits: Ceramic bits are a mixture of clay, earthen elements, powders, and water. So, they’re less strong than the other two materials. However, they produce the least heat, making them perfect for safe manicures.

Type by Textures 

Finally, nail drill bits come in three main textures – fine, medium, and coarse grits. The lower the grit number, the coarser the drill bit.

  1. Fine-grit bits (#240+): Fine-grit drill bits are primarily for smoothing out the top of artificial nails. However, you can also use them to clean or smooth out powder along the cuticle line.
  2. Medium-grit bits (#150-#180): Drill bits in this range are ideal for smoothing lumpy spots formed by artificial nail products. In addition, you can use them to contour the nail and prep it before applying a new product.
  3. Coarse-grit bits (80-120): Coarser grit drill bits are best for removing top coats, thinning down artificial nails, and speeding up false nail removal. Also, you can use sharper grits to shorten the nails and shape the side walls and the free edge.

Best Drill Bit for Removing Acrylic Nails 

Unfortunately, the market is awash with nail drill bits from different manufacturers, making selecting a challenge. The following are three of the best products to consider.

FTM Drill Bits for Plastic Nails

This is a set of seven hi-molybdenum acrylic-point drill bits. The industrial-quality drill bits are constructed from tool steel and coated in gold. You’ll also note the 60-degree inclination.

The angle enables gradual penetration to avoid cracking and chipping of the acrylic material. Meanwhile, the flute body maximizes lubricity.

The seven drill bit sizes are 1/8-inch, 3/16-inch, 1/4-inch, 5/16-inch, 7/16-inch, and 1/2-inch. Fortunately, the vinyl porch is conveniently marked with the bit sizes to avoid confusion. All seven work on handheld drills and automatic machines.

Depvko Upgraded 3-Piece Nal Drill Bits Set

This 3-in-1 multifunctional carbide drill bits set solves most of your acrylic nail installation and removal needs. The first piece is a 5-in-1 purple nail bit with changing roughness across the barrel. It works equally for right-handed and left-handed operations.

Meanwhile, the next is a tapered-barrel carbide nail drill bit with finer grits at the tip to minimize damage or injury to the cuticle area and surrounding nail wall. The coarser grits are at the bottom.

Finally, the third is a cone-shaped carbide bit. It features a rounded tip with a skinny barrel to reach problem areas, cuticles, and sidewalls, without problems.

MelodySusie Safety Nail Drill Bits

Only some people enjoy switching between three, seven, or more drill bits when removing or installing a set of nails. It’s confusing and slows you down.

For this reason, you may prefer an all-in-one tool to tackle all the artificial nail installation and removal processes. If so, MelodySuisie’s Safety Nail Drill Bit is perfect.

The large-barreled, smooth-top tungsten carbide drill bit features a cross-teeth design to quickly contour the nail while protecting the cuticles and side walls. Moreover, it cuts clockwise and counter-clockwise and works for left- and right-handed operations.

How to Clean Nail Drill Bits 

Cleaning nail drill bits is easy. Soak the drill bit in acetone to dissolve dried gel polish, hard gel, glue, or acrylics. Alternatively, you can wash your drill bits with soapy water. Mix hand soap with warm water and gently brush the drill bit head using an old toothbrush.

How to Sanitize Your Nail Drill Bits

The easiest way to sanitize drill bits is by soaking them in a 10% bleach solution. Alternatively, you can disinfect your nail bits in a UV-disinfecting light cabinet. Isopropyl alcohol is another highly effective disinfecting product. Don’t store your drill bits without disinfecting them.

Can you Sharpen Nail Drill Bits?

Unfortunately, no. You cannot sharpen nail drill bits. Instead, you must replace the drill bit once the texture wears out. One may also wonder whether nail drill bits are reusable. Yes, you can clean and reuse drill bits many times. Only replace it when it no longer meets expectations. 

When to Discard Nail Drill Bits

Drill bits can last between a few weeks and a year, depending on the quality and frequency of use. For instance, a busy nail salon replaces drill bits every 1-2 months, while regular salons replace them every 2-4 months.

The material also matters. For instance, diamond bits are extremely durable, while ceramic nail drill bits are softer.

Cost of Nail Drill Bit Set

Drill bits cost between $10 and $20. Price primarily depends on style and material. For instance, diamond drill bits are more expensive than ceramic bits because they’re stronger and more durable. Similarly, special-purpose drill bits are more expensive than general-purpose units.


Mandrel and barrel units are the most common drill bits for acrylic nail removal. However, you can find more than a dozen other drill bits for artificial nails. Consider coarser grits for material removal and finer grits for smoothening and buffing the nails.

Meanwhile, tungsten carbide drill bits offer the best balance of durability and cost-effectiveness.

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