How to Assemble a Tattoo Kit

Written by elio lewis
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How to Assemble a Tattoo Kit
Tattoo kits help beginners get started with tattooing. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

So you have a tattoo kit, but you don't know how to set it up. It's surprising how many companies will sell you a tattoo kit without adequate instructions. Fortunately, with a little determination, you can assemble all the components you need and be ready to tattoo. Though there are many parts involved, with a little practice, most people can be set up in under 10 minutes. Even mechanically challenged people can get the hang of assembling a tattoo kit. The machine is the main component of the tattoo kit, and it is also the least obvious to get set up.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Gloves
  • Tattoo machine
  • Power supply with foot pedal
  • Sterilised needle tube
  • Sterilised needle
  • 3 small rubber bands
  • Latex or latex-substitute gloves
  • Tattoo ink
  • Tattoo ink holder with caps
  • Tattoo flash (optional)
  • Tattoo stencils (optional)
  • Transfer paper (optional)
  • Speedstick unscented deodorant (optional)
  • Practice Skin (optional)
  • Gentian violet marker (optional)

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    Setting up the components of your tattoo kit

  1. 1

    Take the tube from its package and insert the end into the slot on the front of the tattoo machine, using the thumb screw to secure it in place. Wear gloves to assemble the machine.

  2. 2

    Insert the needle into the tube, being careful not to bump the end of the needle against the inside of the tube, as this will dull the needle and lead to a more painful tattoo.

  3. 3

    Place three rubber bands around the tattoo machine's coils and over the bar of the needle, then secure the eye of the needle around the plastic grommet on the machine.

  4. 4

    Plug in the power supply, connecting all the pieces to one another with their various wires. You will be able to tell which wire goes where because tattoo kits come with wires that each have a differently shaped head for the differently shaped acceptors. Attach the red and black leads to the small holes in the back of the tattoo machine. It does not matter which of the red and black leads from the power supply is attached to which hole.

  5. 5

    Turn on the power supply and depress the foot pedal as you gradually turn up the dial on the power supply until the tattoo needle freely buzzes up and down in its tube. To check, put your finger under the grommet that holds the eye of the tattoo needle. If the machine bogs down or gets too slow when you do this, turn the power dial up farther until the machine can handle a little bit of resistance.

  6. 6

    Pour ink into the ink caps resting in the holder, planning which colours you will use and putting each colour in a different cap.

  7. 7

    Create a design on real or practice skin. You can do this by free-handing with a gentian violet marker, or by tracing flash or a stencil onto transfer paper. Once the transfer paper has the design, apply a thin coat of the Speedstick deodorant to the skin, and press the transfer paper down firmly and smoothly. Peel off the transfer paper and you will see that the design is now on the skin.

Tips and warnings

  • If your tattoo kit did not include practice skin, you can also tattoo a banana or a melon for practice.
  • If your tattoo kit did not include flash or stencils, search for designs online.
  • When setting up, be sure there is no standing water in your work area, as this poses a risk of electrocution.

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