How to Make Tattoo Machines Work Better

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A tattoo machine is an extension of the tattooist and needs to be finely tuned to produce the best quality artwork. Getting your machine to work perfectly will make you more of a professional and your artwork will be better. There are several easy tips in this article that can help you avoid problems and have your tattoo machine working better than ever.

  • Cover your tattoo gun with pleated sandwich bags instead of polyethylene bags. These bags are thinner and looser than the bags made specifically for tattoo guns and will increase airflow to avoid the tattoo gun from overheating. Many states require bags over the tattoo gun to avoid possible splatter of blood.

  • Insert a nipple, grommet or tape if the machine is running but the needle bar is not going up and down. Excessive play will not let the needle bar move, causing the needle to be stuck. The insertion of the grommet, tape or nipple in the center of the needle housing will reduce this play and have the needle work properly.

  • Place a layer of petroleum jelly on the area that is to be tattooed. This will help the needle glide smoothly over the skin and help the machine do its job.

  • Ensure your needle is set properly to avoid ink becoming clogged and not flowing properly. 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.

  • Clean your machine by disassembling the needle and the tube assembly and soaking in a bleach solution. Check with your local health department on regulations regarding sterilization. Besides being hygienic, proper cleaning will keep the machine running well.

  • Change worn parts at the first sign of wear. Using a tattoo machine that has worn parts can damage other parts and quit in the middle of a tattoo. Keep your machine updated and lubricated.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult local laws before tattooing. Always sterilize all equipment prior to tattooing.

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