How to Set Up a Tattoo Gun

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Setting up a tattoo gun begins with identifying the various components. The primary component is a polished metal frame. Electric motor coils and a small capacitor are mounted in the frame. The armature arm rides across the upper end of the motors, and the front binding post extends just above the armature. A brass contact screw on the binding post arm adjusts the speed of the needle. The needle tube and grip attach at the lower end of the binding post arm. Typical kits include a DC converter within the control box that provides low-voltage power to the tattoo gun.

Insert the needle tube into the tube bracket at the bottom of the binding post arm. Tighten the tube clamp by hand to hold the tube in place.

Insert the needle into the tube and slide the eye over the top hat grommet at the outer end of the armature arm. Use small rubber bands around the gun frame and needle to prevent the eye from jumping off the grommet.

Remove the wire caps from the leads at the end of the power cord. Use needle-nose pliers to bend the wire leads in a ā€œUā€ shape. Attach the leads around the terminal posts on the gun frame. Tighten the brass thumbscrews to secure the leads. Insert the other end of the power cord into the labeled jack port on the front of the console box.

Insert the foot control jack into the labeled port on the console box. Plug the AC cord into an electrical outlet. Fill one of the small plastic cups with tattoo ink. Hold the needle tube by the grip and step on the foot control switch to start the gun. Dip the needle point into the cup to refresh the supply of ink.

Refer to the instruction manual for tension settings and needle speed adjustments. Some models have a dial on the console box for making fine adjustments while working.


Pointed needles are used for lining. Flat needles are used for shading.


Return tattoo needles to the package and discard after use.