The Complete Guide on Podiatry Burs

What type of bur do you most often use as a podiatrist or chiropodist? Carbide? Stainless steel? Diamond? The list of different bur types is lengthy, and as a foot care professional, you are probably familiar with most of it. 

If you are new to the field, a podiatry bur is a small tool that debrides layers of excess toe nail or skin. It is inserted into the handpiece of a podiatry drill and then rotates to thin the surface in contact efficiently. Burs can be used to thin the nail plate, smooth the nail after reduction, remove painful corns and calluses and even to sand and smooth dry, flaky heels. They come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and levels of aggressiveness to allow for convenient debridement of different areas of the nail and skin. 

In this post, we’ll highlight some of the most common types of podiatry burs, as well as some of our best-selling burs and most popular bur shapes. 

Podiatry Bur Compositions

Carbide Burs

Carbide burs are very aggressive and often used to debride dystrophic nails such as thickened mycotic nails. They need to be used with caution to ensure that they don’t go too deep into the nail or bounce off. 

Manufacturers often name their carbide burs according to their cut and level of aggressiveness. The Busch carbide burs that we offer come in the following types of cuts:


Type of Cut Example of Instrument
Most Common Application
Power cut with special cross-cut (SXM)
On Clinic Champ, these are: "Power Cross Cut"

1SXM carbide bur by Busch

Gentle removal of clavi and fungal nails
SPEED-Cut T426SPEED 060 carbide bur by Busch
Special cut for nails, with passive safety, medium cutting
T426SPEED PLUS 060 carbide bur by Busch
Special cut for nails, with passive safety, strong cutting performance
Coarse straight cut with cross cut
424GQSR 060 carbide bur by Busch
Strong grinding of Hyperkerathosis and Orthesis silicones
Coarse medium cut with cross cut
425MQS 060 carbide bur by Busch
Gentle grinding of Hyperkerathosis and Orthesis silicones
Very coarse double cut
429SGX 060 very coarse carbide bur by Busch
Strong removal of thickened nails
Coarse double cut
429SGX 060 coarse carbide bur by Busch
Coarse modeling of thickened nails
Medium double cut
425X 060 carbide by by Busch
Specific outlining of nails with changed shapes
Fine double cut 425FX 060 carbide bur by Busch
Delicate treatment of prepared nails
Special Nail Cut 431SNC 065 carbide bur by Busch
Special cut for very smooth surfaces

*Adapted from the Busch catalog

One of our most popular carbide burs is the Coarse Double Cut Carbide Bur (Blunt Cone) 429GX 060 because of its convenient-to-use shape, larger surface area and efficient debridement of thickened nails.

Stainless Steel Burs

Stainless steel burs are usually shorter than carbide burs so they are somewhat easier to control. They can be used for debridement of both tissue and nail. With moderate aggressiveness and an affordable price, they are the preferred burs of many foot care professionals. 

Some of our most popular stainless steel burs are the Medium Cross Cut Stainless Steel Bur (Round Top Cylinder) 82RS 060, and the Medium Cross Cut Stainless Steel Bur (Bud) 85RS 060. They have an average size, moderate aggressiveness, and like many stainless steel burs - they sell for about half the price of their carbide and diamond equivalents. 

One specialty stainless steel bur is the ONY Clean bur, which has a polygonal working part without any sharp blades. It is used for the gentle removal of cuticle or deposits in the nail fold.

Ony Clean by Busch - no blades
The Busch stainless steel burs come in the following types of cuts: 
Type of Cut Example of Instrument
Most Common Application
Medium cut
1RS 023 stainless steel bur by Busch
Removal of hematoma and corns under the nail surface
75RS 060 stainless steel bur by Busch Efficient nail treatment
Medium cross cut
11RS 023 stainless steel bur by Busch
Treatment of very thick calluses and corns
85RS 060 stainless steel bur by Busch Fast abrasion of callus
Fine cross cut 95RS 060 stainless steel bur by Busch Smoothing of callus
Hollow instruments
225RS 023 hollow stainless steel bur by Busch
Removal of corns, calluses and treatment callus grooves
Polygonal working part without sharp blades
406L-RS 012 Ony Clean stainless steel bur by Busch
Removal of nail fold deposits and protruding cuticles
*Adapted from the Busch catalog

Diamond Burs

Diamond burs are mainly used for filing nails to achieve a smooth finish. They are made of diamond grit particles that are bonded on the bur’s head. Because of their fine abrasion level, they produce a fine, harmful nail dust that can remain suspended in the air. For this reason it’s recommended to use them in conjunction with a quality vacuum or spray drill that will trap harmful contaminants.  

Diamond burs made by Busch are named by the manufacturer according to their level of aggressiveness, shape, and diameter. The first digit in the bur’s number represents its aggressiveness (4 = mega coarse, 5 = super coarse, 6 = coarse, no digit = medium coarseness), the following three digits represent the shape, and the three final digits are the diameter of the bur in mm. 

For example, the 6893 050 diamond bur made by Busch is coarse (represented by the digit 6), shaped like a blunt cone (893), and has a 5 mm diameter (050). 

One of our best-selling diamond burs is the Super Coarse Diamond Bur (Blunt Cone) 5894 060 by Busch. It can quickly smooth down nail and its blunt cone shape is convenient to use on the whole nail, including the edges. 

The Busch diamond burs come in the following levels of aggressiveness:


Grit Size (mean value) Color Code
Most Common Application

Mega coarse

Mega coarse podiatry diamond bur grit texture

500 2 Black rings
Removal of thick horn callus

Super coarse

Super coarse podiatry diamond bur grit texture

300 Black ring
Removal of hard callus


Coarse podiatry diamond bur grit texture

125-181 Green ring
Removal of incipient callus and coarse nail


Medium podiatry diamond bur grit texture

90-125 Without ring
Callus and nail smoothing


Fine podiatry diamond bur grit texture

30-50 Red ring
Delicate treatment of cuticle and nails

Extra fine

Extra fine podiatry diamond bur grit texture

15 Yellow ring
Delicate treatment of cuticle or pre-polishing of nails

*Adapted from the Busch catalog

Some specialty diamond burs include the DiaTWISTER, TOP/SIDE Grip and CD Diamond Burs. These specialty burs have their unique designs and benefits. The DiaTWISTER has special aperture slits that allow for internal cooling of the bur. The TOP Grip bur is uniquely designed so only the front end is diamond-coated. This minimizes the risk of injury and allows for shortening of nails. The CD Diamond Burs have peripheral cooling grooves that enable cool and pleasant debriding. 

Podiatry Specialty Diamond Burs - DiaTWISTER, TOP/SIDE Grip, CD-Version

Many hospitals use disposable diamond burs because they save time - there is no need to clean and sterilize them. Disposable burs come individually packaged, guaranteeing that they'd be sterile and eliminating the risk of cross-contamination. They are therefore perfect for certain clinics and settings.

The downside of disposable diamond burs is that they don't come in many levels of grit and are generally less abrasive and less efficient. Additionally, the use of disposable burs is harmful to the environment.  

Ceramic Burs

Many podiatrists and foot care professionals prefer to use ceramic burs. Their lower weight facilitates smoother cutting, which both the patient and the podiatrist can noticeably experience during the treatment of diseased natural nails or artificial nails. They can also be beneficial for patients who have a strong metal allergy and need to stay away from stainless steel and carbide burs. However, some of the downsides of using ceramic burs is that they are more costly and can break when dropped.

Podiatry ceramic burs

Hybrid Burs

Some podiatry bur manufacturers also offer hybrid burs, made of a combination of diamond and ceramic particles. They allow for an efficient removal of incipient, hard and severe callus, and produce a smooth surface quickly.

Tungsten Burs

Tungsten burs are made of a tough and durable tungsten carbide composition. Some vendors consider them to be most similar to ceramic burs. They are efficient at debriding toenails, last long, and produce large pieces of nail debris. Large pieces of debris means a reduced risk of inhaling harmful airborne particles, which is a considerable benefit for a practicing foot care professional. 

Disposable Sanding Caps

Some podiatrists and chiropodists use disposable sanding caps. The caps are made of an abrasive sandpaper material and are placed on a rubber mandrel. They are mainly used on heels and on hard calluses. Although the caps are disposable, the mandrel bits holding them need to be disinfected and sterilized.

Podiatry Bur Shapes

Burs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes that can be used to treat different patient cases. Although manufacturers may have a clear way of identifying different cuts and shapes of burs, there is no widely accepted naming convention in the industry for the various bur shapes. Many manufacturers use a numbering system to distinguish among bur shapes.

To make it easy for our customers to navigate through the multiple bur options, we use the following naming: 

Bur Shape Shape Name
Bud shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Bud
Pear shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Pear
Taper shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Taper
Bull cutter podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Ball Cutter
Sharp cone shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Sharp Cone
Blunt cone shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Blunt Cone
Cylinder shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Cylinder
Rounded cylinder shaped podiatry bur - Clinic Champ Rounded Edge Cylinder


In addition, on Clinic Champ, the final three digits in the bur name always indicate the bur’s diameter at its widest point. 105 for example, would mean that the bur’s diameter at its widest point is 10.5 mm.

Dust Control

All podiatry burs produce harmful nail dust or debris when debriding. Depending on the bur shape and composition, this dust can often be so fine that it can easily be suspended in the air and inhaled. For this reason, it’s important for foot care professionals to use protective gear such as masks, goggles and face shields when treating patients. Even more importantly, podiatrists and chiropodists should use a professional vacuum drill that evacuates harmful dust particles, or a professional spray drill that binds dust particles into a paste. This would minimize the harmful health effects of breathing airborne contaminants.

Podiatry Bur Cleaning

To ensure that debris doesn't stick to the bur, it's important to remove all coarse contamination (e.g. blood, tissue, composites, cements) with cellulose swabs immediately after treatment. The cleaning process of the used burs should then start within one hour at most.

Please follow the manufacturer's cleaning, sterilization or disinfection instructions. The Busch safety, usage, and hygiene recommendations for burs can be found here. 

To clean burs conveniently and effectively without accidentally lumping them together, it is recommended that you use a sterilizable bur stand

Final Point

There is clearly a vast variety of podiatry bur compositions, shapes, sizes and prices. Every podiatrist and chiropodist has their own preference of podiatry burs to use in certain situations and no professional is able to use them all. With that being said, if you've been using the same podiatry burs for a while, consider trying different compositions or shapes to see if they can make your work easier or faster. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.