How to set up a coil tattoo machine

If you are a beginner, you probably don't know how to set up your new coil tattoo machine, what it's for, or what it can do. There are times when a machine can break and a novice tattoo artist doesn't even know about it because he or she doesn't fully understand how it works. This is not a problem!

This manual shows how to assemble, configure and calibrate the coil tattoo machine for different types of tattooing, step by step.

To set up a coil tattoo machine yourself, first of all, let's make sure that you know how the coils are built.

Here the main parts of its design:

Coil Tattoo Machine design.

Types of coil tattoo guns and their differences

It's worth starting with how to distinguish between a contouring machine and a coloring one. Coils come in and are set up for specific tasks: for example, to make thin or thick contours, shadows, dense coloring.

The main operational and structural differences between liners and shaders:

the maximum distance between spring and armature bar5 mm10 mm
the number of coils wrapslessmore
armature barchipped,
needle stroke rate120-150 Hz60-100 Hz

Assembly and first-time setting up

First, make preparations. Disinfect the work table. Prepare everything you need for assembly. This includes a sanitized set of wrenches, grip, tube and tip, grommet, needle, nipples, and bandage rubbers. Next, put on gloves and start assembling.

Tip: The needle should be bent slightly before assembling the machine to create a slight arc. Without much enthusiasm, but it is worth doing. So that in operation, when the needle will be loaded into the holder and the machine and it will be pressed by the bandage rubber band, the pressure of the rubber band will straighten the needle and walk strictly in the longitudinal direction, eliminating any transverse beating, which we do not need because they cause splashing ink, uneven contours.

The order of assembling and setting up the coil tattoo machine:

  1. The first is the grip, in which the back tube is installed, and in it the tip. Both elements are fastened tightly
  2. A needle is installed in the assembled grip
  3. A grommet is put on the pin leading to the armature bar
  4. The assembled grip is inserted into the hole of the tattoo machine and secured with the tension screw; then do not tighten the screw too much, so that there are no problems with the adjustment of the needle stroke
  5. The needle bar is secured to the frame with a bandage band to eliminate unnecessary vibrations
  6. Put a disposable film over the clip cord
  7. Turn the machine on, press the pedal, and test the sound while operating. Turn the screw to one side or the other until you get the correct stroke

Next, connect the machine to the power supply, try it out, adjust the hertz, and adjust the tension screw to achieve a clean sound during operation: no sticking, strong or uneven knocking.

Which side do the power plugs go in?

The "plus" is connected to the rear bind of the machine (round brass element), and the "minus" to the frame. Then we connect the wire to the pedal. Do not reverse the polarity on the clip cord, otherwise, it will lead to accelerated capacitor deterioration and ineffective operation of the device.

However, some devices, like the Vlad Blad, have bipolar capacitors. This means that it is not necessary to observe the polarity at all, you can connect the power on either side.

The fine-tuning

To tune your coil tattoo gun you can change these characteristics:

  • Stroke length (adjustable on the grip)
  • Force of the spring compression (sometimes, by replacing the spring)
  • The tension of the bandage gum (depending on the power of the machine and the strength of the rubber, you can put on two or three bands)
  • An air gap between the front coil and the bottom surface of the striker (by tightening the contact screw)
  • The balance point of the gap (by tightening the contact screw)


Why does the coil tattoo machine start to spark?

The tip of the contact screw may have fouled or worn off. Depending on what happened, it will need to be either cleaned or replaced.

Why does the coil tattoo machine make a lot of noise?

It's okay. Coil tattoo machines are loud because of the principle of operation of electromagnets, which creates a field that makes vibrations.

How far should the needle in the tattoo machine stick out?

When not in use, the needle should stick out of the tip's spout by about 1 mm (maybe a little more, but not less). Then you will get a good needle stroke in the operating mode, and the needle will be sufficiently wetted with paint. As for the needle bundles, the outermost needles should be hidden inside the tip, the highest needles should stick outwards (just about 1 mm).

Don't forget to service the device in time!

  • Disinfect the machine regularly
  • Periodically clean the soot (from the electric arc) on the front contact spring
  • It is recommended that grommets and bands be replaced after each run, as they are prone to contaminatio

Hopefully, we've given you the basic information so that setting up and assembling your coil tattoo gun will be clearer and faster for you.

As a reminder, we also have an article on properly setting up rotary machines.