The tattoo machine is an integral part of the tattooing process. Ink flows through the machine, and your designs begin to take shape and form. However, it is important to remember that the machine does not make the tattoo, the artist does. Learning how to setup and maintain a tattoo machine will go a long way in elevating your skills as an artist. Before you begin setting up your machine using the four steps below, ensure that you are in a clean environment.
Step 1: Choose Your Parts
Starter kits are a great place to start since they offer all the required parts in a single package. These kits help people learn how to operate and maintain tattoo guns. However, consider your gun’s quality before tattooing anyone, cheap kits can hurt or even infect someone. There is the option of going for individual quality parts. This is also an excellent way to upgrade the starter kit. Most tattoo artists prefer upgrading the gun. The tattoo gun is the most complex part of a tattoo machine and is in direct contact with the skin; therefore, use a quality one.
Step 2: Assemble Your Gun
Care should be taken at every step of setting up the tattoo machine. This includes washing your hands with antibacterial soap or wearing latex gloves as you handle tattoo guns. The gun’s frame is used for holding together all the pieces. Two electromagnetic coils provide power for your machine and they in turn move the armature bar connected to the barred needle. You will also need a power supply to connect to the electromagnetic coils. All the components are removable and replaceable when need arises.
Next, inspect the gun’s grip. You will find two sides; one for the tip and another for the tube. Set your preferred length and tighten the screws on the grip. It is advisable that the needle should not go past the tip by more than 2 mm and not less than 1 mm. When you ordered the gun, there should be needles of different sizes included in the package. Install one of them by inserting it through the tube via the tip. Take care not to dull the needle during assembly as it may lead to an uncomfortable tattoo experience. Secure the nipple, also known as a grommet, which attaches the needle and grip to the gun base. Once you are done with the assembly of the grip, adjust the needle’s length using the tube vise located between the needle and armature.
Step 3: Assemble Power Station
Power supplies used in the tattoo industry are available in assorted voltages and specifications. A starter kit comes included with a less adjustable power supply. If you are buying individual parts, the power supply should not cost more than your tattoo gun. Also, acquire a footswitch that will be used for activating and regulating power from the power supply to the needle.
Step 4: Connect the Parts
Attach the footswitch to the power supply and connect the gun to the machine using clip cords. Once everything is connected and assembled correctly, you are ready to test your gun. Do not test on yourself; instead, just turn on everything. The needle should by now be vibrating every time you press the footswitch.
A good way to test the efficiency and accuracy of your assembly is by practicing on pears and apples. Both fruits have skin that is similar to human flesh. In case of damage to the fruits, then you are pushing the needle in too deep. This test will also allow you to find out whether your needle is too long before you can use the tattoo machine on someone.