Liner tubes on tattoo machines
The liner and shader tubes are the machined tubes which encase the needle bars. They commonly have knurled grips on them for easier handling control. Each tube is designed specifícally for the type
of needle bar it is to be used with. For example, a four needle shader is used exclusively with a four needle shader tube. The exception is with the three needle square tip liner tube. It is also
used with the single needle liner. It is important to remember that suppliers make their needle bars to fít their own tubes. So be sure to order your machines, tubes and needle bars all from the same
supplier to keep things consistent and fítting together right.
A Word About Liner Tubes
There are two types of liner tubes. One with a round tip and the other with a square tip. Which one you choose to work with is a personal preference, but each one has an advantage over the other.
Let’s take the round tip tube fírst… You will not have many problems with ink splatter, and if you do, usually a rubber band adjustment will take care of it. If you make a sharp córner while
tattooing, the needle could move over, causing a wider or crooked line. Also, if you have too much needle hanging out the end of the tip, it will tend to hang up in the skin. To correct this, move
the tube down.
Now let’s go to the square tip tube which is the true professional’s tube. With a square tip tube, the needles will never move no matter how sharp or fast you go around a córner the line will always
stay the same width. Everything has to be in perfect alignment on a square tip tube with the tip slightly slanted up so the needles hug down in the groove. There cannot be any excess solder on the
needles or you will have a splatter problem, this also holds true if the tip is worn badly. If you continue to use a worn out tip, you will get short use from a needle bar, the tip will not feed ink
correctly to the skin and the bottom needle will wear fíat and sharp, causing it to cut. If the tip feeds out too much ink, a rubber band adjustment is in order and also, you might try using a bit
less power. You should always have a small amount of needle protruding from a square tip when not running, and a short or long stroke is a personal preference. It’s up to you if you want to ride the
tip of the tube on the skin or work off the points of the needles. Whichever is most comfortable for you.
Plain steel needless and steel needless on tattoo machine
The actual needles that get soldered on the bars come in two types. Plain Steel needles and stainless steel needles. Stainless needles are better to use because you won’t have to
worry about rust or pitting. Many tattooists use different makes of needles, but the industry standard is the #12 .014 sharps needle. This is what you will get from your supplier, already perfectly
soldered onto the needle bars. You must make it a habit to constantly check the ends of the needles for perfection. Many things can happen to them. A vital part of your equipment is the eye loupe.
They are like a microscope, but for just one eye. A high powered, high quality one is a wise investment and a definite must. They are used so you can always check the end of the needles for flaws.
They must be checked right when you fírst receive them, right after you have sterilized them and while you are tattooing. A needle can get bad at any time. It doesn’t take much at
all to spoil one.
Tattooing with a bad point results in: The ink not going in properly, excessive paín for the customer, skin damage and ripping, leaving scar tissue and a terrible tattoo. The needles you get from a
supplier are usually perfect, but always check them anyway. They could get damaged in shipping, while sterilizing them or just careless handling in setting up the machine. They must be treated with
extraordi-nary care at all times. If not, you will not last long as a tattooist. The causes of needle damage vary and can happen at any time. Rough handling while washing or sterilizing will do it
also. They can get damaged while running the points into the bottom of the ink cap. Too tight a ñt of the shaders in the tube end will do it also. Be careful and check them often with the eye loupe.
Pay attention to the tattooing. If the customer starts flinching or the lines come out wrong, stop and check your needles. Bad needles look like this as seen through the eye loupe.
Types of Needle groups on tattoo machines
One needle groups actually have three needles in them. Two are soldered slight-ly back and the third needle (the tattooing one) is sticking out just ahead of the other two. The
two that are back add stability and guidance to the one which is forward and this group is popularly called “single needle.” This is the one that you hear so much about.
It makes a very fine line on the skin. Three needle groups are three needles soldered together and are perfectly flush with each other on the tattooing end. It makes a little
thicker line and fíve needle groups make even a thicker one. All of these groups are soldered on liner bars and are generally used for just outlining a tattoo. The outline of a tattoo gets thicker as
the size of the tattoo increases. Single needle for small pieces, the three needle for médium pieces, four needle for bigger pieces, and fíve needle for larger pieces such as back work. As the size
of the tattoo increases, the outline of it (in thickness) also increases proportionally.
The above also holds true for shading needles. These groups are soldered fíat on shading bars. One needle is right next to the other, on a fíat line, as opposed to liners which are soldered in a
circular group. The most common sized shaders are four needle shaders and six needle shaders.
The four needle shader is used for smaller áreas being shaded and the six needle shader being used for larger áreas. The only exception is the big 14 needle round shader, used for
large work. This group holds so many needles that it is made round instead of fíat.
Needle groups on tattoo machines
Needle making in itself is an exact science. This is the process of actually sol-dering the needle groups together as a unit and then soldering this unit to the needle bar. As a
tattooist, you will no doubt be doing this yourself in the future. The entire process is explained in detail in the next chapter. For now though, do not attempt it because you already have enough to
do. The beginning tattooist should purchase needle bars (with the needles already on them) from a reputable dealer in tattooing equipment. There are several reasons for this. First,
you will get to know what good ones look like. Needle bars from a supplier are just about always perfect and made by an experienced professional. Study them and get to know all the aspects of the
various kinds. Second, it gives you a chance to start building up a collection of needle bars. When the needles are no longer useable, the needle bars still are, and can be used over and over again.
With care, they can last for many years.
A tattoo needle’s lifespan is very short. If you get three médium tattoos out of one, you are stretching it. Needles cannot be sharpened and when they are used up, solder them off and save the bars.
Many professionals use one needle for one tattoo. If it is a big tattoo, it may take two to three needles. This ensures sharp needles all the time. Don’t keep using the same needles.
Use them once and get rid of them. Be liberal and you will be better off.
Needle groups used for outlining come in four common sizes. Needle groups are the number of needles on the end of the liner bar. They are one needle groups, three needle groups, four and then five
One of the most important aspects of all the various mechanics in tattooing, would be the tattoo needle. Sterilization is important, the machines are important and designs are
important. But, the tattoo needle is the only link between you and the customer and it is there where all of the other factors meet with the skin. Needles actually puncture the skin and for this
reason they must be perfect, absolutely flawless, sharp, straight and in perfect condition.
Needles are soldered on bars called needle bars. There are two types of needle bars, liners and shaders. Liner needle bars are round on the end where the needles are soldered. Shader
needle bars are fíat on the end where the needles are soldered.
Liners are grouped tightly together to do outlining with. Shaders are grouped flat, next to each other, to do shading. Use the best needles and needle bars money can buy. They are that important.
Don’t mess around with inexpensive needles or sale Ítems. High quality needles are easier on the customer (pain and health wise) and on you (making the tattoo cleaner and sharper). They are not that
much more expensive. As a matter of fact, the best needles and bars in the world are not that much at all. Don’t compromise on these Ítems, or you will never be a good tattooist.