How to put a tattoo machine together

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How to put a tattoo machine together
(Photographed by William Rafti of the William Rafti Institute)

Putting together your tattoo machine is easy and will become second nature after you go through the process a few times. If you are not familiar with the steps, you could find them a little confusing, which can make for a frustrating few hours. It is essential that you understand the way a tattoo machine functions. Having your machine properly assembled and running smoothly will make for a better experience for both you--the artist--and the person receiving the tattoo.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tattoo gun
  • Grip
  • Needle housing
  • Steel guide tip
  • Needle
  • Power box
  • Power cord
  • Clip cord
  • Grommet

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    Assembling Your Tattoo Machine

  1. 1

    Begin by assembling the tattoo gun. Gather the grip, needle housing, steel guide tip and the machine's engine. Take the needle housing and put it through the hole with about a 1/4 inch showing above the clasp. Tighten the adjuster so it is snug and held in place.

  2. 2

    Slide the grip over the bottom part of the needle housing and tighten the top screw to secure it to the needle housing. Then insert the steel guide tip into the grip and secure it by tightening the lower screw.

  3. 3

    Insert the proper tattoo needle down the top of the needle housing. It should slide in without resistance. Take the top of the needle (the end with the loop) and connect it to the tattoo machine's hook. Then pull the needle down about a 1/8 inch and turn it a quarter of a turn placing the loop on the protruding vibration nub. Place rubber grommet over the nub to secure the needle while in operation.

  4. 4

    Assemble your power station by plugging in your power box. Then plug your foot pedal into the power box and place it on the floor. Plug your clip cord into the power box and attach the two clips to the posts on your tattoo gun. Some guns have holes and the clips are secured by tightening a screw; others have scissor-like clips and grab on to the posts.

  5. 5

    Turn on the power button and test the gun by depressing the foot pedal. Adjust the gun with the power box control until the desired speed of the needle is achieved. Adjust the grip so it is comfortable and start tattooing.

    How to put a tattoo machine together

Tips and warnings

  • Adjust the spring on top of the gun to get the perfect amount of flow to your needle.
  • Always check with your local government on laws of tattooing.
  • Always wear gloves and properly sterilise all equipment prior to tattooing.

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