How to Make a Nail File: DIY Tips to Smooth Your Strands

When it comes to maintaining healthy-looking nails, filing is an essential part of the process. But buying a nail file may not always be the best option especially when you want a custom shape or prefer a certain grit. The good news is that you can make your own nail file at home with just a few basic tools and materials. In this article, we will guide you on how to make a nail file from scratch with easy-to-follow steps.

What You Will Need

The first step to making a nail file is to gather all the necessary materials. Here is a list of what you will need:

  • Emery paper or sandpaper
  • A nail buffer or a soft, clean rag
  • A file guide (optional)
  • A nail file holder (optional)
  • A pair of scissors

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make a Nail File

Step 1: Choose the Grit of Your Emery Paper or Sandpaper

Emery paper or sandpaper comes in various grits or levels of coarseness. The higher the number, the finer the grit. For instance, a 100-grit sandpaper is rougher than a 400-grit sandpaper. Choose a grit level that suits your nail texture and the shape you want to achieve.

Step 2: Cut the Emery Paper or Sandpaper

Measure and cut the emery paper or sandpaper to the desired size with a pair of scissors. Ensure that the paper is long enough to fit your fingers while still having enough area to file your nails. A good size to go for is 2 inches by 5 inches.

Step 3: Fold the Emery Paper or Sandpaper

Fold the emery paper or sandpaper in half with the abrasive side facing in. This fold will create the double-sided nail file.

Step 4: Shape the Emery Paper or Sandpaper

If you want a particular shape for your nail file, get a file guide or use a pre-existing nail file holder to shape the custom nail file. Place the folded emery paper or sandpaper onto the nail file holder and follow the shape to get your desired shape. Alternatively, you can shape the emery paper freehand by cutting it to shape using the scissors.

Step 5: Emery the Edges for Smoothness

The edges of the emery paper or sandpaper may be rough due to the cutting process, so this is the right time to smooth them by rubbing the emery paper against itself. Do this gently, so as not to rip the paper.

Step 6: Buff Your Nails First

Before using your homemade nail file, it’s best to buff your nails first to remove any ridges that could cause snagging. Buffing also helps to create a smooth surface to file.

Step 7: Use the Nail File

Holding the nail file against your fingernails, start filing from the sides towards the center in one direction with a light pressure. Do not saw back and forth motion on your nails, as this causes nail breakage. Repeat the process until you achieve your desired nail shape. For better results, use the fine grit side for finishing touches.

Tips on Using a Nail File

Tip 1: Choose the Right Grit for Your Nail

As mentioned earlier, choosing the right grit level is crucial when it comes to filing nails. If you have delicate nails, then it’s best to go for a higher grit number, while if your nails are tough, go for a lower number. A lower grit number can wear away your nails quickly.

Tip 2: Always File in One Direction

File your nails in one direction to avoid creating splits in your nails. This will also help to avoid tearing the nail and creating rough edges.

Tip 3: Don’t Overdo It

Over-filing your nails can lead to damage and can make your nails weak and brittle. It’s important to take it easy and not to file your nails excessively.

Tip 4: File Wet Nails with Caution

Filing wet nails is not recommended as wet nails are weaker and more likely to split. Allow your nails to dry before filing them.


Nail filing is an essential step in maintaining healthy-looking nails that complement your overall appearance. Instead of going to the store and purchasing a nail file, you can make your own nail file at home to suit your preferences. By following our simple guide on how to make a nail file, you can achieve beautifully manicured nails without leaving home.

Common Questions About Making a Nail File

  • Q: Is it cheaper to make your own nail file or buy one?

    A: Generally, it’s cheaper to make your own nail file at home than buying one.

  • Q: What kind of sandpaper is best for a nail file?

    A: The best kind of sandpaper for a nail file is one with a high grit number. Sandpapers with 300 to 400 grits are perfect for creating a smooth nail surface.

  • Q: Can you reuse homemade emery paper or sandpaper nail files?

    A: Yes, you can reuse homemade emery paper or sandpaper nail files as long as they are still intact and not worn out. You can replace them when they lose their grittiness or become worn out.


[1] “How to Make a DIY Nail File” Retrieved from

[2] “10 Tips for Perfect Fingernails” Retrieved from

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