How to Set Up a Tattoo Machine Properly
Monday, May 20, 2024
How to Set Up a Tattoo Machine Properly

For aspiring tattoo artists, apprentices, and beginners looking to deepen their understanding of the art, mastering the setup of a tattoo machine is foundational. This guide is here to make things simpler, talking you through the different machines, how to set them up, and the must-know safety and sterilization steps. With clear and precise info, we'll ensure you're fully prepared to begin your journey into the art of tattooing.

Types of Tattoo Machines

Tattoo machines are the heart of the tattooing process, with different types serving various purposes:

  • Pen Machines: Known for their ergonomic design and ease of use, resembling a thick pen. They are used for intricate designs, shading, and filling.
  • Coil Machines: Coil tattoo machines use electromagnetic coils to move the needles in an up-and-down motion. They are versatile and can be adjusted for different needle groupings and speed.
  • Rotary Machines: These machines use a rotating motor to drive the needles. They have a smoother movement compared to coil machines. These machines feature a quiet operation and smooth performance, favored for their consistency.

Brands like Bishop and Critical offer a range of machines catering to the preferences and needs of tattoo artists.

Kingpin carries a wide range of all styles of machines. See each section below for a list of artist favorites.


Setting Up a Pen Tattoo Machine

Pen machines prioritize simplicity and comfort. To set one up:

  1. Assembly: Connect the pen machine to its power supply, either a cord or a wireless battery. Ensure all connections are secure.
  2. Needle Installation: Insert the cartridge needle into the pen, ensuring it clicks into place.
  3. Power Settings: Turn on the power supply and adjust the voltage according to the needle type and desired effect.

Artist Favorite Pen Machines:

The Bishop Power Wand is a popular choice for its adjustable stroke length and high-quality build.

The Critical Torque is another favorite, featuring a powerful motor and customizable grip options.

The Prime Pen by Prime X Critical is a lightweight option ideal for precision work.

How to Set Up a Rotary Tattoo Machine

Rotary machines provide artists with a smooth and consistent needle motion.

  1. Connect the Power Supply: Use the clip cord to connect the machine with its power supply.
  2. Needle and Grip Attachment: Insert the needle into the grip, then attach the grip to your rotary machine.
  3. Adjustments: Fine-tune the machine’s voltage to match the technique—lining or shading.

Artist Favorite Rotary Machines:

  • Cheyenne Hawk Spirit Recognized for its versatility and reliability, ideal for a wide range of tattooing styles.
  • FK Irons Spektra Xion Offers precision control for both lining and shading, making it a favorite among professionals.

Setting Up a Coil Tattoo Machine

Coil machines are praised for their control and versatility.

  1. Attaching the Needle and Tube: Slide the needle into the tube, ensuring it's perfectly aligned, then attach this setup to the machine.
  2. Connecting to Power: Hook up the machine to the power supply using a clip cord or RCA cord.
  3. Voltage Settings: Adjust the power supply’s voltage settings based on the coil machine’s specifications for lining or shading.

Artist Favorite Coil Machines

Choosing the right coil machine is crucial for achieving the desired effects in tattooing. Here are some top picks from experienced artists:

Other Tips for Setting Up a Tattoo Machine

  • Stroke Length Adjustment: Customize the machine’s stroke length based on your tattooing style and the details of the design.
  • Machine Testing: Always test your machine on practice skin to verify the needle’s movement and ink flow.
  • Machine Maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain your machine to ensure its longevity and performance.

Safety & Sterilization Procedures

A crucial aspect of setting up includes adhering to strict safety and sterilization standards:

  • Sterilize Equipment: Use autoclaves to sterilize needles, tubes, and other reusable components.
  • Use Barrier Protection: Cover your machine, power supply, with machine bags, sleeves, or wraps to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Wear Gloves: Always wear medical-grade gloves while tattooing and during setup.
  • Dispose of Needles Properly: Use a sharps container for used needles to ensure safe disposal.

By following these detailed steps to set up your tattoo machine—be it a pen, rotary, or coil machine—you'll be well on your way to creating art safely and effectively. Remember, each type of machine and brand, from Critical to Bishop, might have its unique features, so referring to the manufacturer’s instructions can provide additional insights. Whether you're browsing through clearance items for your first machine or upgrading to a custom piece, understanding the setup process is key to your growth and success as a tattoo artist.

For more information on tattoo machines, supplies, and to take advantage of current promotions, feel free to contact our support team or visit our showrooms. We're here to support your tattooing journey every step of the way.