How to Make a DIY Tattoo Machine for Less Than $1 Buck!




About: Interested in all kind of projects, mainly electronics but other stuff too! I try t publish everything I make. CONTACT: BTW, please like my page on facebook.

This is a tutorial on how to make a fully functional tattoo machine for cheap. Why wont you do it? it's mainly house-hold items that you probably have lying around, and its allso fun ans easy to make.

This tattoo machine really works and its able to tattoo a person but lets be clear, this tattoo machine must NOT be used to tattoo a person or any living thing since the parts we'r using are not sterilized and you may end up causing MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

Step 1: Collect the Supplies

what we will need for this tattoo machine is:

  - A mechanical pencil.
  - A low E guitar string (must be metal)
  - A broken spoon or any piece of scrap metal.
  - A small electric motor.
  - A clothes button.
  - An electical button or switch.
  - Some batteries or power supply.
  - Some electrical tape.

Step 2: The Spoon.

bend the spoon and attach it to the mechanical pencil with electrical tape.

Step 3: The Needle

take apart the low E string, we're only using the nucleus.

then bend it as shown in the picture.

Step 4: Putting the Needle.

pass the needle,s bent part thru one of the button holes and then pass the long part of the needle thru the mechanical pencil.
Finally attach the button to the motor, make sure it fits nice and snug so it needs no glue or anyting else.

Step 5: Power

add the batteries (or power supply of ur choice) and we are done.

Step 6: Switch (optional)

I added a piece of aluminium foil tape attached to the batteries and a paperclip on top (not touching) conected to one side of the motor to use as a switch. When u press the paperclip down it touches the aluminium foil tape and completes the circuit.



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    46 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Great Job this is just what the world needs a Hep C outbreak. That is why tattooing became illegal initially, because of blood borne pathogen outbreaks. Leave tattooing to the professionals, and anyone who wants a tattoo should go to a professional, or you might as well get a tattoo they says REGRET. Although, your kitchen wizard with their tattoo pen might spell it Regert! Lol! Hey you know Tattoos are only forever!

    2 replies

    Reply 8 months ago

    what makes you think sterilization is difficult? all ya gotta do is not be lazy as f*ck, cleanliness just takes discipline


    Reply 2 years ago

    Someone has seen the Milky Way commercial one too many times.


    5 years ago

    Could you use a sewing needle instead??

    First, I want to state that this is NOT a hate letter. At all. Second, this was a good instruct able. Third, I am not a professional tattoo artist, but I do "scratch" from home using real machines, one of which i hand built, and sterile, single use supplies. I want to address a few things, though. First- much respect for the warning tag on the first step! Second; I have built one of these, and the person who was the recipient of it's torture said it was the most painful body mod experience he had ever endured (and that's in comparison to the 10mm dermal punch I used for his ear conch). That said:
    -This is a very basic and clean cut tattoo machine, known in the industry as a "rotary machine". In it's refined and retail-sold state, the concept is identical and varies only materials and the addition of a separate, not on-board power supply.
    -speed. The speed of a reciprocating needle is VERY important to the quality of a tattoo, the trauma the skin suffers, stability of the machine, and the speed at which you tattoo the person with. Your best bet in this case is to tinker with resistors of variegated capacities and resistance. They are very inexpensive and available at most electronics stores and hardware stores. They will make a world of difference.
    -the needle and tube. The needle itself is not sterilized. Many people do not realize that an open flame, bleach, nor boiling water come anywhere near sterilization. Sterilization is the sum of two factors- pressure of at least 18psi and temperature of at least 250°+. the plastic tube, which should never be used, is not able to withstand the temperatures required without melting. But- great news! The retail world is brimming with people willing to sell anybody-even me- tattoo supplies. If you look on any number of sites, you will find that not only will a 50-pack of single liner needles made of surgical steel and extremely sharp that are already sterilized cost LESS than a set super slinky strings, but the accompanying tubes that match the needle size and are also sterilized cost about +/- $0.80 each. That's probably less than you'd pay for value pen! Could that get any better. And those plastic tube/tip combinations they sell also have nice chunky grips at no extra cost! That's using your noggin AND saving money!
    -ink. The ink in a printer cartridge is EXTREMELY TOXIC. It has all sorts of compounds in it, that when dry on paper, are harmless. Think lead, cobalt, and in some cases chromium. Do you really want that in your skin? Ink doesn't "dry" under the skin like it does on paper. Real inks, or pigments, are made using water, glycol, glycerine and sometimes alcohol(not the drinking kind) as binders. So, let's have a look at some more boring economics: inks are pricy. They yield maybe 1/4oz of useable ink in a cartridge. Say the cheap brands cost $20 each. And if you're being fancy, you're doing some color for that awesome effect. So you buy a color cartridge- yellow blue and reddish/pink. You're now at $80. Or $80 you owe to your parents for tearing their cartridges up. Now, open that thing we call interwebs and go to the google. In the google you will again find a plethora of tattoo suppliers. Use that $80 and see what you get- the lowest commonly sold size of ink is 1/2oz, already twice what you get from a printer cartridge and many times what comes out of a pen tube (which is even less safe!). For $80 I'm willing to bet you can get a lovely assortment of at least 10 colors including black and white, in 1/2oz sizes with money still left over to buy a pack of needles and a few tubes with. How can that get any better?
    -needle depth. 7mm is extreme. You might as well use something that deep to tattoo from one side of a persons arm and have the ink show up on the other. Okay, that won't really happen but here's what probably will- the ink, at 7mm deep, is below the epidermis, below the subcutaneous, below the connective tissue, and in most places below the skin. 8mm is the size of the large bottom ball on a navel ring. Now way is your skin just a mm less thick than that! So, you may end up with a blur, that in a year may look like a permanent bruise, or more likely, it will quickly fade to nothing, except a scar where the skin suffered the effect of a combined chainsaw-scalpel-blade. 5mm is more realistic, but still too deep for your skin. However, many artists to have machines with a 5mm throw. This isn't to say that all 5mm enters and exits the skin, however. Personally, my lining machine is run on low voltage- around 5.5volts, high output coils, stiff springs, and has a hard hitting throw of only 3mm. And I have it tuned to it's lowest possible throw because I'm heavy handed. That said- the depth of the needle you are using is very easily tunable to whatever desired depth by simply moving the bar closer or further from the center. That's one of the cool things about it!
    All things said, your design is not really flawed, just the material execution. In fact, I am going to use this instruct able to build an exact replica using sterile equipment, not even the resistors. I will post results and pictures of what happens!
    Best of luck, maybe one day you will unknowingly be an artist working on me :)

    2 replies

    Tattoo pigments contain all kinds of rotten constituents that you'd generally expect to see in automotive paints. I am a professional tattooist of twenty years, and anyone who tells you their colors are made of organic fairy pee and daffodil powder is selling you lies. Chromium, cobalt, mercuric sulfide, and a gang of other bad elements and compounds (check the wikipedia page) are what make the pigments which we apply to skin. Some aren't so bad though, like carbon for pigment in black.

    Also, the amount of exposure to said elements is another consideration. There are acceptable, safe levels of exposure for just about everything out there, even radiation. Not saying sourcing colors from found objects is cool, just that if you're going to choose to spread information, spread facts.

    Your information on throw is a little flawed too, but that's another entire talk. Like you, I run short stroke, cutback liners, but I've seen pros who demand huge dollars working with up to 11mm of throw with no negative effects on the skin. Voltage, spring gauge, how many wraps per coil, machine geometry, and capacitors all have their part in how a tattoo is applied. Unlike most jobs, there seems to be an infinite number of ways to tattoo properly.

    When I apprentice someone, I'm not teaching them how to tattoo. I teach them how to keep it clean, and can provide guidance, but ultimately, each artist determines which methods they're most comfortable with.

    Finished reading, thanks for all that explanation and things, it is true, my machine is not really suitable for tattooing a person, but can be easily adapted to do so, evendough, i do not intend to tattoo a real person, only some oranges and maaybe a dead piece of pork.

    I would be glad to see pictures of your finished machine when ur done!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I have done tattoos with home made guns needle and thread and a proper gun the least pain full is a real gun the others don't give good quality tattoos like you do with a real gun if you are goin to do a tattoo on a person ues a real gun


    7 years ago on Introduction

    They make these in prisons all the time you can use a paper clip for the needle instead just sharpen the end. What do you use for ink?