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Tattoo Machine Frequently Asked Questions
- Jun 23, 2018 -

1.Are all Coil Machines the same?

No.  The frame of the machine has to be made of the right material, if not it might needs a yoke.  The geometry of the frame has to be right.  Every screw location, or where the holes are drilled like the tube vise has a purpose and a function.  The front and back springs has to be bent nearly damn perfect, cut right and and also have the right thickness.   Any of these factors can cause your machine to run weak or inefficient, or cause heating and sputtering, which mean make it more difficult to tattoo.


2.Rotaries or Coils?

I think Rotaries have its place, but as a builder and tattooer, theres nothing like a coil tattoo machine.  For one, tattoo coils are nearly impossible to destroy.  It will probably outlast your life.  But rotaries, the right way to use them is to buy the right power supply to run the right current.  How often do you hear rotary motors burning out? Alot!  With coils, you might hear a spring break every now and then, but never the coils burning out!  Furthermore, the coil machines when setup right, causes less trauma to the skin and I do find it a lot easier to put in ink.  It would be crazy to use a rotary to do a single or tight 2 liner needle, youll can slice the skin right open very easily.  Coils you can tune them however you like, resulting to less trauma and better healing of the tattoo.


3.What is the best way to clean your tattoo machines?

I do the vaseline method to clean my contact screw and spring, and alcohol and a tube brush to clean the holes for the clipcord.  The Vaseline method is you take a glob of Vaseline and place it between the contact screw and spring, run the machine pretty hard and start bouncing your thumb on the armature bar to create more friction with the contact screw and spring.  You will see a large glob of dirt build in the vaseline, and when it starts to spark, clean everything off and you are good.


4.Whats the difference between a liner and a shader?

The general belief is a liner-machines is used to make lines, and the shader machine is used to shade.  I, as a tattoo artist and machine builder, no longer follow those rules.  I can honestly say, that a machine that runs fast and soft will push in a 3 line beautifully.  But you use the same machine to push a 14 round liner needle, and it will have issues?  Why is that?  A 3 liner needle is extremely sharp and can easily puncture the skin, but the grouping of a 7 round or larger covers a larger surface area, and requires a punchier machine that can puncture the skin easier.  What setup to me works best? A color packer or color shader tattoo machine!  If you go thru the interviews on youtube on Tim Hendricks, he states that he line with his shaders.  To me there is no shader or liner, the machine just pushes large or small groupings of needles, and it really is that simple.  My liners definitely can push large grouping, but no matter how hard I try to set up the front spring to give it that punch, the shader always seems to do a better job.  5 liners or smaller, I use my Liner Machine, and anything larger, I use my Shader/Color Packer Machine.”  Dont believe me, money back guarantee.


5.How come Rotaries are so popular nowadays?

I think that it is due to a lack of real apprenticeships.  When I first started, you had to wait at least a year to even touch a tattoo machine.  And when you do get your tattoo machine, your mentor would teach you how to clean, fix, and maintain a tattoo machine.  Todays apprenticeship, they barely clean and have a art degree of some sort, and the tattoo machine knowledge arent being taught and I believe are getting lost.  So after the contact screw and spring gets dirty, your machine will run different because of a dirty contact, and next thing you know, the tattoo artist freaks out!  Not understanding why, they buy a maintenance free rotary tattoo machine, so they believe, instead, to simplify their lives.  Back in the days, we would take our whole machine apart, and clean the whole damn thing with a toothbrush and soap, put it back together, and it ran perfect.  


6.With the popularity of Rotaries, do you think Coil Machines are gonna make a comeback?

Thats a guarantee.  It seems things like rotary machines, to me, are just another  trends going through its waves at the moment, but the Classics will always stay Classic!  If you really think about the Coil Machine, it is a masterpiece, made perfect, and with very little flaws.  The only real problems that the Coil Machine has is a dirty contact screw or spring, or a broken spring?  Really, thats it?  Ask any old timer tattoo artist, they gonna laugh at you and say, and you cant fix that?”  Thats our problem nowadays, this new generation of Tattoo Artist, wants everything easy and handed to them, they dont want to learn everything about their craft, like maintaining their tool.