Can I Use a Regular Dremel for Nails?

Dremel is a versatile multipurpose rotary tool typically associated with DIY applications. Nail grinding is usually carried out by smaller and compact tools called nail drills. But what if you own a regular Dremel and not one of the other versions? Can you still use it for your nails?

You cannot use a regular Dremel for nails because it is a heavy-duty power tool meant for woodworking and metalworking. However, if you are willing to invest in some accessories, you can definitely use a standard Dremel on your natural nails.

It’s well-suited for use in the beauty industry, too, with applications in manicures and pedicures. This article briefly unpacks this aspect.

Nail Dremel for Humans

The Dremel Multi-Tool is often used for DIY manicures, pedicures, and even in nail salons.
Regular Dremel for Human Nails

Can I Use a Dremel on My Nails?

The Dremel Multi-Tool is surprisingly well-suited for use in pedicures. This includes standard pedicures and treatments to relieve pressure from ingrown nails and bunions and removing thick skin pads. It’s best to use the Flex Shaft attachment and work at a low-speed setting to ensure better control over the process. Control is essential when treating nails since you could easily nick some skin or edge into the nail bed, causing minor injuries if you’re not careful.

To achieve even greater control over the process, you could attach a foot pedal to your Dremel Multi-Tool. Here, you would have both hands free to handle the bit while determining when the tool is switched on and off.

How to Use Dremel on Nails?

Attach a fine sanding drum or disc to the Dremel for best results. This bit is gentle and won’t damage nails. It works well for shaping natural and synthetic nails and is often used by nail technicians.

When using the Dremel, work slowly and carefully. Apply light pressure to the area you’re working on, and move the sanding bit in gentle, even strokes in one direction only. This offers you control over the process, removing only as much material as you need. You could also use this technique to soften hard pads of skin, typically found at the side of the toes and foot. After each treatment, ensure that you apply moisturizing cream to the area to protect the nail and skin.

Is There a Dremel Nail Grinder for Humans?

Dremel does not manufacture human nail grinders. The closest tool you can get is the Dremel Stylo+ which is a lightweight rotary tool for craftwork, engraving, jewelry work, etc.

You can get a Pet Dremel which is specially designed for grinding nails. However, it is not designed for delicate human nails.

My recommendation is to use regular Dremel 4000 or 4300 with a flexible shaft attached to it.

What Dremel Tool Do Nail Salons Use?

Most nail salons do not use Dremel tools; instead, they use electric nail files (also known as e-file or nail drills). Given that they work in similar principles and accept the same size bits, I was surprised to learn that many nail care professionals don’t use it.

So, I asked some of the local nail salons and my friends, and here’s what I learned.

Electric Nail File vs Dremel

The main difference between an electric nail file and Dremel is that the e-file is compact and lightweight, whereas the Dremel is bulky and heavy. Most professionals find that the slim e-files have lower vibration and are easy to hold which really matters when working long hours on clients’ nails. The electric nail files can also be operated at a much lower RPM than a Dremel, which is essential when prepping the nails.
Electric Nail Drill in Use
On the other hand, Dremel has much higher torque and power. It can trim the nails really fast.

But this can also mean that, if you are not careful, using a regular Dremel directly on the nail can cause injuries. Many professionals are not willing to take the risk, especially because using a tool that it is not meant for may not be covered under insurance.

Electric Nail File Regular Dremel
Compact and lightweight Bulky, heavy-duty tool.
Easy on hands and work at almost any angle. Award to hold at certain angle due to weight.
The variable speed knob allows you to work at a much lower speed. Minimum speed is 5000RPM
Lower torque Higher torque
Almost no vibration (depends on model) Comparatively higher vibration.
Low noise level. The heavy-duty motor produces higher noise.

In short, the electric nail drill is easier on the hands, and your customers will be much more comfortable using an e-file on their nails as opposed to a bulky Dremel.

Is Dremel Safe For Human Nails?

Yes, Dremel is safe for human nails (hands and feet), provided that you use the correct sanding disc. The Dremel Multi-Tool can also be used to remove fungus from nails.

Before using a Dremel on your nails, wipe them down with acetone. This removes any oil build-up and ensures that they are dry during the polishing and shaping process. Working on dry nails enhances the Dremel’s performance.

For hygiene purposes, ensure that the sanding disc is disinfected before use. Also, don’t use the same disc with multiple clients since this could spread infections.

When using the Dremel filing bit to shape nails, hold it parallel to the side of the nail. This is the safest position, preventing nail breakage and ensuring an even finish. Don’t move the file back and forth on the nail edge. Instead, move it from the outer edge to the center in one smooth movement while applying gentle pressure. This ensures an even shape.

Dremel for Acrylic Nails

Applying acrylic nails, filling them at regular intervals, and removing them, is a skilled task that requires the correct tools and techniques. The Dremel rotary tool, used with the Flex Shaft attachment and the correct sanding disc, is ideal for this task. It works well to clean the nail before applying acrylic to the natural nail and for shaping and polishing the nail once applied.
Electric Nail Drill
When maintaining acrylic nails, the root of the acrylic nail must be smoothed to ensure an effective fill. Here, the Dremel rotary tool with flexible shaft works marvelously again. It gently removes the excess acrylic from the nail, leaving an ideal area to attach the fill when used correctly.

Removing Acrylic Nails and Prepping

Removal of acrylic nails is also an easy task when using the Dremel. Here, the Dremel sanding disc gently removes all acrylic from the nail’s surface without causing any damage. Once complete, the nail is ready to receive other treatments as desired.

Acrylic nails are far harder than natural nails, and thus they require coarser sanding drums and discs than you would use with natural nails. The 60, 80, and 100 grit pads are the best option here. If you’re new to using a Dremel on nails, use a finer grit since this will remove less material per pass.

The prepping part is where an e-file truly shines. With its low RPM and easy-to-use design, an electric nail file is a much better tool for prepping nails.

You could even use the Dremel engraving tool to create intricate patterns on the nails for nail art. Here, the Flexible Shaft attachment is essential, ensuring that you have total control over the engraving bit while working on a client’s nails.

Toenail Grinder for Thick Toenails

Can You Use a Dremel on Thick Toenails?

Yes, you can. The Dremel Multi-Tool is well-suited to sanding down thick toenails, which can often cause painful pressure on the toe. While working, apply gentle pressure to the nail. Working from the nail base to the tip is gentle, even strokes. Here, a thin layer will be removed from the top of the nail to relieve pressure from ingrown toenails.

Dremel Bits to Use on Toenails

There is a staggeringly wide variety of Dremel bits for use on Dremel toenails. These bits are typically smaller than the ones used in DIY applications and would usually include and sander and felt buffer.

The Dremel nail file bits have a softer grit than you would use for wood, plastic, and other materials – typically between 180 – 240. Use a lower grit (180) for preparing nails, removing acrylic, and trimming nails. A higher grit is suitable for polishing nails and smoothing edges after a manicure. Here, you would typically use a 240 grit sanding drum or disc. When buffing nails, use a felt attachment and apply buffer paste to your nails to ensure a smooth process.

If you find the vibrations and noise of using a Dremel on your nails uncomfortable, use a sanding drum or disc with a finer grit. This will decrease the noise and vibration, making for a more comfortable experience.

Dremel for Dogs vs. Dremel for Humans

Dremel offers customized nail care solutions for pets such as dogs, but not for humans. You could use a Dremel Stylo+ on human nails. These tools are similar, barring a few minor differences.

The main difference is in the type of application.

Dremel Stylo+ is used to shape, trim, polish, and buff, whereas Pet Dremel (Dremel tools for dogs) is solely for trimming nails.

You can use a regular Dremel Multi-Tool for dog nails and human nails. This is typically much louder than a specialist Pet Dremel, so your dog might shy away from the noise.

Pet Dremel also has nail guides and guards, ensuring your dog’s safety while you are trimming their nails. This isn’t necessarily needed when using Dremel for human nails since human clients won’t try to bite nail drill.

Type of Grinding Bit

Pet Dremel tools and specialized nailcare Dremel Multi-Tools use similar grinding discs and felt buffer bits. Dog nails are generally harder than human nails, so the grit count used for dogs will be lower than those used for human nails. Dog nails aren’t as hard as acrylic nails, so the grit count will be higher than those used for acrylic nails.


Dremel brand does not produce a dedicated nail grinder for human nails. However, you can get a flexible shaft attachment to use your regular Dremel as a nail drill on your nails.

That said, if you are a professional nail technician, I recommend getting a dedicated electric nail file instead of Dremel.