To fully understand tattooing as an art, it is important for the tattooist to know how to put a tattoo machine together, and understand it’s components.
Even though much of this file may seem irrelevant to a client, the basic information provided will better equip one in choosing a competent tattooist. In my opinion, if an individual does not know the mechanics of their instruments, they are most definitely not prepared to be tattooing anybody (they wouldn't?t be touching my skin!).
For starters, I will give a brief explanation of the power box. It is equipped with a clip cord, foot pedal, and a voltage and amperage meter. The power box is what gives the tattoo machine its spark. It plugs in to an outlet or battery and supplies the tattoo machine with power via the clip cord. Current is then supplied from power box to machine by means of the foot operated pedal. Pressing down on the pedal allows current flow, releasing the pedal stops current flow. Power is regulated by a voltage dial located on the power box itself. This dial enables the tattooist to fine tune the tattoo machine by controlling how much voltage (electromotive force) is being supplied, hence slowing down or speeding up the machine. Smaller coiled machines would require more voltage than a larger coiled machine to operate at the same amperage. In layman’s terms, a machine with a six wrap coil is less powerful than a machine with a ten wrap coil. A tattooist’s speed and personal style will play an important role on adjustments and in choosing which machine he/she will want to employ for any given task (no two tattooists operate in exactly the same way, everyone is different).
The tattoo machine itself is composed of several parts, but to keep things simple, I won’t go into much detail with them. Basically what you have is a frame, coils, front and rear springs, capacitor, contact screw, binding post, rear post, rear ground post, tube, needle bar(and needles), hand grip, and elastic bands (which aid the needle bar from straying off it’s vertical course). When the tattoo machine is operating, needle bars and needles are moving at approximately two thousand times a minute.
Other vital tools of a professional studio should include an ultra sonic cleaner to clean needles and bars when changing pigments (this is not to be confused with a steam sterilizer as it does not kill bacteria), a good light source (white light is preferred to properly see the true hues of the pigments), running water, and all the basic elements of maintaining a sanitary environment.