How to shape your nails square with a nail file

Updated April 17, 2017

The shape of your nails can provide your hands with an elegant appearance. Trends in nail length and colour change periodically, moving from dramatic to conservative and every variation in between. Shape trends change periodically too, with the simple square silhouette being an easy to craft and care for style that you can create at home with the use of a nail file. Square nails tend to be stronger, since the side of the nails and the tip are even.

Cut your fingernails straight across with nail clippers at the desired length.

Use an emery board style of nail file to create a squared top for your fingernail. Push the file in one direction at a time over the top of your nail. Avoid using a sawing back and forth motion that can cause nail damage.

Shape the sides of your nails. Use a file to rub down the rounded edges of each fingernail and sculpt a square shape. Do this on one side of the nail and then the other until both sides are even.

Round off the corners of each nail slightly. Too much filing destroys the desired square shape. File the corners just enough to remove sharp corners that can create snags. Buff your nails to smooth out any rough edges.


Depending on how quickly your nails grow, and how often your nails come into contact with objects that cause chipping, you may have to reshape your nails as often as once a week. Apply a protective coat of nail strengthening polish to extend the life of your manicure.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail clippers
  • Emery board
  • Strengthening nail polish (optional)
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About the Author

Charmiane Wilson's writing career began in 1992 as a contributing reporter and writer to "Hollywood Beat" entertainment magazine. This position lasted until 2005, when she returned to her passion of writing fiction. Her novel, "A Series of Prayers," was published in late 2008. She holds an associate degree in business from Axia College.