Setting up the tattoo machine

By Vlad Barikhin, Vlad Blad Irons CEO
Mai 26, 2024
Table of contents:
Setting up a tattoo machine is one of the most important steps in the tattoo creation process. Correct setting of the machine affects not only the quality of work, but also the safety of the procedure for the client and the master. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the process of setting up a tattoo machine, focusing on the importance of cleanliness and precision. Following these principles helps to avoid infections and damage to the skin, and also ensures better results. We will guide you through all the key steps, from preparing the work area to checking that the machine is ready for use.

Preparing to set up the tattoo machine

The first step in setting up a tattoo machine involves thorough preparation to ensure safe and efficient operation. This stage consists of several important steps:

Hand washing and using fresh gloves

Before starting work, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, paying special attention to the spaces between your fingers and under your nails. This helps remove bacteria and contaminants that may get on the equipment. After washing your hands, you should put on fresh gloves. Using new gloves for each procedure helps minimize the risk of infection and maintains a high level of hygiene.

Opening grips and separating plastic boxes for recycling

Tattoo machine grips usually come in plastic boxes that need to be opened carefully. It is important to ensure that the packaging is not damaged and that the grips are in a sterile condition. After opening the grips, the plastic boxes should be separated for later recycling. This helps keep the workplace clean and helps protect the environment. It is important not to throw away plastic waste, but to recycle it to reduce your environmental footprint.

Preparing machine components

The next stage of setting up a tattoo machine involves preparing its main components. This process requires precision and care to ensure comfort and stability.

Covering the grip with wrap or tape for comfort and stability

In order for the work to be comfortable and the grip not to slip in the hand, it should be covered with a special wrapper or tape. This will reduce vibration and provide better grip, which is especially important for long tattoo sessions. Wrap the grip evenly, avoiding wrinkles and bubbles, to create a smooth, comfortable surface.

Preparing grommets, including cutting them or using ready-made ones

Grommets are used to secure the needle in the machine and ensure its stable position. You can use ready-made grommets or cut them yourself from suitable material. It is important to make sure that the grommets match the size and shape of the needle and fit securely into the machine. If you are using a grommet tube, cut it into pieces carefully to avoid any unevenness or distortion.
«However, along with the increase in popularity, an important challenge arises - ensuring hygiene and safety in tattoo parlors. Improper handling and cleaning of tattoo machines can lead to serious consequences, including infections and other health problems.»
Vlad Barikhin
Vlad Blad Irons CEO

Preparing and installing the needle

Proper needle preparation and placement are critical steps in setting up a tattoo machine. The quality of tattooing and the safety of the procedure depend on this.

Opening the needle from the end of the eye, avoiding damage

The needle should be opened from the end of the eye (eye) to avoid damage or bending. Be extremely careful when removing the needle from its packaging so as not to damage its sharp end. Using sterile instruments and careful handling of the needle will help keep it in perfect condition for use.

Checking the compatibility of the needle with the grip nozzle

After removing the needle, you need to check its compatibility with the grip nozzle. The needle should fit freely into the nozzle and leave a small gap to avoid blockages and ensure smooth ink flow. Incompatibility between the needle and nozzle can result in uneven ink application and skin damage.

Slight bending of the needle for correct positioning

To position the needle correctly, it needs to be slightly bent. Start by bending slightly in a few places so that the needle is centered and parallel to the tip of the grip. This will help prevent unnecessary ink splatter and ensure accurate lines. Try not to bend the needle so as not to disrupt its integrity and functionality.

Assembling the machine

The tattoo machine assembly phase involves several steps that must be followed to properly set up the equipment and ensure it operates efficiently.

Inserting the grip into the machine clamp

Start by inserting the prepared grip into the clamp of the machine. Make sure that the grip is securely fixed and has no play. Correct fastening of the grip will ensure stability and comfort when applying a tattoo.

Attaching a grommet needle to a rebar

The next step is to attach the grommet needle to the machine's reinforcing rod. Insert the needle into the grip so that its end is fixed in the grommet. Then carefully secure the grommet to the rebar, avoiding excessive pressure so as not to damage the needle. Proper fixation of the needle ensures its stable position and accurate application of ink.

Adjusting the needle stroke for contouring and shading

Adjust the needle stroke depending on the type of work you plan to do. For contouring, it is recommended to set the needle stroke to approximately 1 mm from the end of the grip at rest. For shading and using magnums, the setting may vary depending on the characteristics of the needles and the personal preferences of the artist. It is important that the needle moves smoothly and evenly to ensure a quality tattoo application.

Using elastic bands

Elastic bands play an important role in ensuring the stability and reliability of the tattoo machine. They help keep the needle in the correct position and reduce vibration.

Installing an elastic band at the center of the reel for stability

Place an elastic band on the center of the machine spool to provide additional support for the needle. The tape should be tight enough to hold the needle in a stable position without creating excessive pressure that could damage the needle or interfere with its movement.

Additional measures in case of insufficient belt strength

If one elastic band does not provide sufficient strength and stability, a second band can be used. This will help improve grip and reduce vibration. It is important to ensure that the bands are installed correctly and do not interfere with the free movement of the needle. If necessary, you can experiment with the number and placement of tapes to achieve optimal results.

Hygiene procedures and final checks

At the last stage of setting up the tattoo machine, it is important to pay special attention to hygiene procedures and final checks. These measures will help ensure safe and efficient operations.

Use of protective barrier bags

Barrier bags are designed to additionally protect the machine and its components from contamination. Place the clipper in the barrier bag, leaving an opening for the grip. This will prevent paint and body fluids from getting onto the surface of the machine, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

Checking the cable connection and the working ability of the machine

After the machine is assembled and placed in the barrier bag, you need to check the cable connection. Make sure the cable is securely connected and undamaged. Connect the machine to the power source and test its operation to make sure there are no failures and all components are functioning correctly. This check ensures that the machine is ready for use and will not fail during the tattooing process.

Preparing the workplace and replacing gloves before starting work

The final step before starting work is preparing the workplace. Remove all unnecessary items and thoroughly wipe the work surface with an antiseptic. Lay out the necessary tools, ink, napkins and water so that everything is within reach. After this, remove the used gloves and put on new ones. This ensures maximum hygiene and preparation before the tattoo begins.


In this article, we took a detailed look at the process of setting up a tattoo machine, from preparing components to final checks. Key points such as the correct use of grips, needles, elastic bands and barrier bags play an important role in ensuring quality and safety of work.

Compliance with hygienic procedures and careful attention to every detail of the setup helps to avoid possible problems and ensures high quality tattoo application. Proper setting of the machine not only contributes to the achievement of professional results, but also protects the health of both the master and the client.

Setting up a tattoo machine is a process that requires care and attention. By following the recommendations presented, you will be able to provide ideal conditions for your work and achieve the best results in your practice.

Understanding the different types of tattoo machines is crucial for every artist aiming to excel in this field. The journey of exploration doesn't stop here; in the next article, we will delve deeper into the realms of tattoo machine performance and reliability, aiding artists in making informed decisions for their craft.
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