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Setting up Tattoo Machine

Updated on January 4, 2010

Tattoo Machine Parts Diagram

Tattoo Machine Basic Setup

So you purchased a tattoo machine. As you know over the years tattooing has become a big deal in modern society, almost anywhere you can see a tattoo shop or some one sporting a new tattoo. The modern tattoo machine creates a tattoo by using alternative electromagnetic coils to drive the needle up and down to implant pigment into ones skin. It is important for you as the tattoo artist to understand how to set up tattoo machines before using them.

Ok lets get started. First of all I cannot stress this enough always wear rubber gloves when handling your machine and equipment, even if you are just setting up the machine. This prevents bacteria being tranfered to parts of the gun. If you don't practice sterile habits you should not be tattooing. Plug the power cord into the wall.

Connect the power cord to the pedal. Plug the other power cord running out of the power supply to the tattoo machine. Usually the connections at the power supply are jacks. The connection to the tattoo machine is a spring clip, or can be a jack depending on what machine your running. Decide which foot you feel most comfortable pressing up and down very often while you are sitting. It is very important to be comfortable, because you may be sitting like this for hours working on a tattoo. The pedal on a tattoo machine is your on off switch causing the up and down motion of the armature bar that runs the needle in and out the tube. Every time you press your foot down on it, it makes the tattoo needle go up and down. When you take the pressure from your foot off of the pedal, the needle stops working. Set your voltage on the machine to where the machine sounds uniform not to fast or to slow when you actuate the foot pedal. Make sure the machine is running smoothly and not choppy sounding. For Reference: Outline 6.0volts to 8.5volts

Now its time to set up the tattoo machine. First you are going to want to set the tattoo machine as a liner. You should have to machines one for lining and one for shading. On your liner machine you want to adjust the gap between the tip of the contact screw and the front spring{on the armature bar} to about 1.25mm, which in reference is the thickness of a dime. Now tighten your adjustment so the gap wont change. On your shader you want to set the contact gap to about 1.85mm, which in reference is the thickness of a nickel.

Now that you have the proper gap, it is time to install your needle and tube. Remove the needle from the sterile package. Notice the needle bar has a series of needles soldered together at the tip. Hold the needle solder up and carefully put a slight curve to the needle downward. This will prevent the needle from jumping around in the tube. Now remove a sterile tube from the packaging, and insert the needle solder up through the tube avoid hitting the tip of the needle on the sides of the tube as it might dull the needle. A dull needle does not work very well. now attach rubber grommet to armature bar on gun and slide the needle and tube through the hole in the gun frame. Attach the loop of the needle to the armature bar over the grommet securely. Make sure the solder is facing a way from the front of the gun. Adjust the tube over the needle where the needle is not protruding through the tube tip but flush. Tighten the tube clamp securely you donot want the tube to move. Now double wrap a rubber band around the needle and the coils on the machine under the armature bar, this will apply pressure to the needle and keep it at the right spot in the tube. Adjust your voltage to desired for lining or shading, and pour your ink in the cups. Make sure your area is sanitary and you have clean gloves. Make sure you have green soap and A and D ointment available in sterile containers. Clean the skin you are to tattoo thoroughly and apply some ointment for swelling and now your ready to tattoo.


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    • profile image

      Wayne 3 years ago

      Setting aside the negative comment, it is good that people who are interested in tattooing do their homework. Reading this is a great bit of research into the craft.

    • profile image

      Chris 4 years ago

      If you have to read about this on here, you probably shouldn't tattoo on someones skin. It is permanent.

    • profile image

      martellawintek 5 years ago

      hello there gerry sorry mate i`v took so long this is there site

      and details , they have a deal on at the mo ,tell them mrs wintek told you to ring him

    • profile image

      snypa 5 years ago

      Very beautiful and helpful,thanks

    • profile image

      jeans 5 years ago

      This is exactly what I needed to know. No other site would straight up say this

    • profile image

      dock 6 years ago

      i appreciate that someone cares enough to be honest around this joint!!! been slingin since 87 myself...


    • profile image

      6 years ago

      Useful information about an aspect of the process which is all too unknown.