Picture of tattoo gun

I'm showing you how I made a tattoo gun (and you could)

A few weeks ago a stoner from school offered me $100 to make him a tattoo gun. At first I was worried to construct a product that could be potentially dangerous and cause permanent damage. But while browsing instructables I saw the gun made by graphak and figured if graphak can make his out of toothbrushes and tape, then I could probably do better.

The outlines for the gun are:
+ it MUST be "stonerproof" (strong & reliable)
+ portable
+ look cool
+ accurate
+ changeable needles

Stuff you will need:
+ a moderate variety of tools
+ metal pipes & plates
+ a strong motor
+ battery pack

Step 1: Planning

Picture of planning
Common tattoo guns work off the use of electromagnet coils (patent here) . Since I haven't had much success with coils in the past I have decided to use the rotary method.

As in the use of most rotary tattoo guns there is no mechanism to convert the rotary motion of the motor into a linear motion. To create a more accurate tattooing gun I must create this motion without loosing too much torque through friction.

To do this I plan on having a separate linear mechanism in the shaft connected to the cam through a bent wire. This also allows for a more functional method of changing needles by having an opening in the pipe allowing the user to simply unscrew the needle. As well as creating a much more accurate gun.

The gun must be comfortable to hold and easy to use. I will also try to avoid as much vibration as possible, by counterweights ect.
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jdemoss3 months ago
Can you make me one and ship it too me I know you made this so I could make it but I don't have the time 100$+25$ for shipping
JosephB.Ortego10 months ago

the fact that most of you do not even realize how dangerous tattooing can be, and are saying you want to build one of these, too, just further reinforces why you shouldn't. People could die if you dont have the proper knowledge you need and that takes time research and experience (preferably beginning with the first 2). dont be stupid and you wont go to jail for manslaughter( and possibly lawsuits on top of that). These things are permanent and can affect people positively or adversely for the rest of their lives. people aren't a child's drawing pad. so go pick up some crayons since you're still playing with childish things.

deathsaw1 year ago

it looks pretty cool il try it out sometime

blackfister2 years ago
very nice tutorial, and very nice machine you came to do. I do tattos, and the mechanichs you home made, are used in top grade machines.
If I could sugest, humble honest opinion, not trying to be smart, try adding two springs (up un down cam), the one on the bottom of the cam, should be a litle bit strongest, to mantein needdles up, when machine is off, safer. the cam could fit inside a linear bearring, that should take away friction, noise and vibration. You could make a conector to the cam, this conector may be used as an embrague, to adjust the strenght at whitch needles go in, or if to much force applied if starts turning but not pushing the needle. If I may, i might use your idea in an instructuble of my own, my machine :).
Sanding the wire is a bad idea. That creates small grooves in the metal that become a breeding ground for bacteria. Go with your first suggestion and use professional needles.
or you could just boil the needle in rubbing alc before every use. that will prevent bacteria. =]
maybe bacteria but not hepititis, staph, or hiv.

the only real way to sterilize tubes for a real tattoo MACHINE is in an autoclave. and needles should only be used once.

actually, if you have a pressure cooker, you can put a platform above the water and leave it in there for about 30 minutes at 15 PSI, the items will me completely sterilized. thats biscally a homemade autoclave.
Agreed but otherwise wonderful instructable.
mattk4203 years ago
thats complicated. WAY too much work for the average person. and half of us people dont want to spend more than 10 minutes making something like this. ive got a way easier way.
heart4w4r5 years ago
you should add a tutorial video plus it working pleaze
DO NOT BUY THE ULTIMATE TATTOO BIBLE. It is a waste of money, and is full of misinformation. There are much better books out there, which I will not directly recommend, as those who are not tattoo artists, or genuine about becoming a tattoo artist should not even read them. You need to place a warning on this instructable. Using this gun will lead to disease and bad tattoos. Spend the money, go to a real tattoo artist. You wouldn't perform your own dental work, would you? I thought not.
I have to disagree with you 100% on this, The Ultimate Tattoo Bible is great. The book is fantastic and is perfect for tattoo reference material. Even the book itself says that even though it gives out info, the BEST thing to do is combine it with a real apprenticeship. Nothing wrong with that. Just my two cents. I loved the book!
I wouldn't perform my own dental work but I always used to yank my loose teeth out with Maryjane candy. :D
As to the dental work: Yes. However what were the names of those books. I graduate high school in two months and change, and I'm thinking about tats as a way to help pay some bills. Want to do some research on it first though.
treerat1005 years ago
haha that stoner is a dumbass for using bic ink. and thanks cool plans
wargoth5 years ago
DO NOT bother with making a DIY tattoo machine, even in the most professional hands, they don't work worth a damn, and that isn't even getting into the myriad of health issues that could come with homebrew tattooing. FYI people, IT ISN'T JUST THE NEEDLE THAT NEEDS TO BE STERILE... everything used in the tattoo needs to be sterile and boiling or soaking in alcohol DO NOT STERILIZE. Cross-contamination is the major concern, yes, but there are plenty of other microbes out there that can cause you problems that don't require you to be "sharing needles". If you are interested in learning to tattoo, by all means, do so, but be intelligent about it. "Real" tattoo machines (though poor quality) can be purchased for $100 or less on ebay. While I wouldn't use one of them professionally, it is good enough to play with on a bannana, orange, or spaghetti squash to get in some experience.
Lemon-Duck6 years ago
This is un-safe...
xorshift7 years ago
Neat!, very resourceful. Can you provide more detail how you welded the cam to the shaft, materials/tools etc?
dude just get a tap and a dye that are of a fitting size to the motor shaft. then dye the shaft and tap the hole, and screw it on. then secure it with a nut. it will be both more reliable and easily serviceable when it/if it breaks.
saint.hate7 years ago
As a professional tattooer, I will tell you this is a horrible idea. First off, you will not get a good tattoo. Even pros are hard pressed to use one of these contraptions to put in a decent line, let alone shade. Second of all, you will risk a Staph infection (or even MRSA- if you need to google that, you shouldn't be tattooing anyway), or Hepatitis C. Hep C can live for 2 weeks outside of the body, ready to infect the next sap your stoner "friend" decides to scratch up. Third, I hate having to cover up these kinds of tattoos- it's such a pain to plan a design around a blue blob- it limits options for your artist, and I for one charge for the frustration and the headaches associated with scratcher work. So yeah- it's unsafe and you won't get a good tattoo. Also, you can't buy a good machine unless you're a pro. The crap you get from suppliers that sell to anyone need a complete overhaul before they function well. Tattooing is not easy- that's why it's expensive... check my work on myspace, ronnyvtattoo- so you know I'm not blowing smoke up your bums. Be smart, and uh- don't do drugs...
Thank you both saint.hate and vampyredh for your cautionary comments. This can't be emphasized enough.
I agree... Except for the "don't do drugs" part. ;)
I agree.
I would think that the needle and pencil method would be better, more time consuming but harder to screw up. Great Instructable regardless of potential danger, very well thought out. Thank you,
My first tattoo i did was on my brothers and some of my friends
did you have any tattooing experice if you didnt then why did your bro let you 9or did you do it wile he sleot?
eer last word is slept
sollu6 years ago
when you use it for own tattoos then you don't get anything aids or something
only if its a dirty needle (i think)
spudling96 years ago
I was watching history channell and these prisoners jack the freaking parts from machines and give each other tattoos.!! XD
tom irons6 years ago
this is a nice one! upload photos of yer finished work to grimycharms.com when you got somthing cool?
pandaboy2926 years ago
nice job. i want to make one.
limpach6 years ago
First off great ible, as said well documented. But to those of you who question the safety of "jail tattoos", as long as YOU are not retarded about what you are doing there is nothing to really worry about. I myself have 2 different tattoos done in this manner and have not received any disease. Like chaosrob said, if it is a clean needle you won't get anything. In my case I had a friend do the tattoos, but I setup the rig. All the needles were brand new from the store, were boiled for 30 minutes (not under pressure, but would have preferd to), and then let soak in rubbing alcohol.
salottos6 years ago
Sure, you spontaneously 'generate' something like 'hepatitis' when applying a tattoo on someone when using a clean set of needles. Can we spontaneously create a 'get rich' infection?? ;-)
Charles IV7 years ago
Well I finally finished mine but I don't know what to tattoo...
Practice on fruit such as a grapefruit
alexhalford6 years ago
I have little knowledge of tattooing so I will not pass judgement on the 'ethical' (for want of a better word) aspects of this device. But what I will say is that the writeup is very good and I like the mechanism. Did you consider using an inductor fed with square wave DC and a magnet fixed to a springy piece of metal to generate the linear motion? The advantages of this are that it will be much easier to replace needles etc. and it would probably be a little quieter :-) Great 'ible. AlexHalford
nibbler1256 years ago
those things hurt....
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