How to set the speed of a tattoo gun

Written by josh baum
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How to set the speed of a tattoo gun
(Karen Andrews)

The kind of action you can get from the business end of a tattoo gun is determined by two things: armature bar speed and amperage. By making slight adjustments to either or both of these elements, you can change the performance of a tattoo gun in slight or dramatic ways. Here we will explain how adjusting tattoo gun speed works, as well as how speed is different from amperage.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Tattoo gun
  • Tattoo gun power supply
  • Tattoo power supply pedal
  • Alan or Torx wrenches for your gun

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Plug your tattoo gun into its power supply unit and plug the power supply into an active electrical socket. Make sure that an on/off foot pedal is attached to the power supply as well. Turn the power supply on.

  2. 2

    Point the tattoo gun safely away from others and step on the pedal to test the power. The gun should start buzzing. If you have a traditional pedal, it will stop buzzing as soon as you take your foot off. If you have a sustained pedal, it will continue buzzing when you lift your foot. You must press your foot down again to cut the power. Turn the power off after you've tested it.

  3. 3

    Examine the contact screw. The contact screw is located at the top of the tattoo gun on the very back. Check to see if you can turn it freely. On most guns, the contact screw is locked in place with some type of retaining bar, which should be plain to see. This bar can be removed with either an Alan wrench, a Torx wrench or a special key designed specifically for that model of gun. Loosen the bar and take it down.

  4. 4

    Turn the contact screw by hand to adjust the speed. Turning it to the right makes the gun go faster and turning it to the left makes it go slower. You can use the pedal to turn the gun on as you adjust the speed to make sure you set it where you want it.

  5. 5

    Replace the retaining bar when you've set the speed where you want it. Tighten the retaining bar back down with the appropriate tool.

Tips and warnings

  • The contact screw controls how many punches the gun makes per minute. To control how much pressure is behind each punch, you must adjust the amperage. The amperage is controlled by a dial or digital controls on the power source for the gun.
  • Tattoo guns can be dangerous in untrained hands. Never attempt to give a tattoo or play with a tattoo gun without extensive training in tattooing and tattoo safety.

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