Cleaning tubes and needle bars. Continuation

If a heat sealing system is not used, Red Fox bags, prelabeled for contents, can be substituted. However, they will not have the shelf life of the plastic bags, (1 year) and are not waterproof.
After autoclaving, remove the trash bag from the autoclave and dispose of it – it is now sterile. Place all bags in the clave and lock the door; start the cycle. 273° F, 15-17 PSI, for 30 minutes. At the end of the cool down cycle, remove the bad needle bars to the solder bench for destruction.
Heat the soldering iron and hold the needle end of the bar over the sharps box. Melt them off the bar, wipe the excess solder off the bar onto a wet towel and place it in the rebuild box.
The machine rack test tubes should be cleaned with a test tube brush and soapy water, rinsed under tap water, and rinsed again with distilled water. These tubes should be inverted and allowed to air dry before bagging and sterilizing them.
Though not required by regulation, the straight razor and bandage scissors can be cleansed, dried, bagged, and sterilized at the same time the bars and tubes go in; it’s just good practice.
Also remember, animals carry more bacteria and viruses than humans, some of which are transferable to man. To promote a sterile work environment it’s best to leave your pets at home.
A closing note of caution on the use of household bleach as a cleansing agent -never let it come in contact with ammonia, as chlorine gas will be liberated. This gas will KILL anything that breathes.  Bleach also corrodes aluminum.
Adhere to the laws of sterilization and you will be a survivor; fall short and you’ll be out of business.
To comply with current federal government regulations, regarding the sterilization of needle bars and tubes, we have obtained validation certificates from inde-pendant testing laboratories.
We have on file, quality assurance compliance reports verifmg that all of Spaulding & Rogers tubes and needle bars can be successfully sterilized using the autoclave or dry-clave sterilization methods described before on this tattoo site.

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We have 2 types of cleaning here; one is for re-usable and the other is for disposable items. The process is the same except for packaging the items for the autoclave. After 30 minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner, cleaning needle bars and tubes is a snap. Simply brush off any debris with a denture brush and green soap or soap powder. Hold the needles in your left hand against your index finger for support (points away from you) and brush away from you, never towards yourself. Roll the bar over and clean the other side. Rinse the bar under running water and examine it with an eye loupe for damage (barbs, excessive wear, etc.).

If it can be re-used place it on a towel and clean its respective tube. There are several devices that make this easier. One is a pipe cleaner, others are nylon brushes and special denture brushes all available from good tattoo supply houses.

Cleaning, first use the brush, then bore swabs. The pipe cleaners are pulled through it like a bore brush then rinse. The nylon brushes enter through the back (open) end of tube – the special denture (with variable tips) do a great job from entering in from the needle end – then always rinse. See Figure 8.
Place it with its needle bar. Do the same for all remaining bars and tubes. If a needle bar cannot be re-used after the cleaning, drop it points first into a glass test tube. Using machine rack test tubes, push a cotton ball (not rayon) to the bottom of the tube and place the re-usable bar in its respective tube gently, points first, onto this cotton ball. Plug the open end with another cotton ball and place it in a plastic autoclave bag with a tag to identify it e.g. 3 needle liner, etc. Heat seal all of these bags and put a small piece of autoclave tape on the bag with the date on it. Plug the tube with the bad needles in it and seal it for autoclaving.

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The Work Area and The Tattooist

The Work Area
The area where the actual tattooing is done has to be considered the “STERILE ZONE,” so never allow clients’ friends or onlookers beyond this obvious point. The decking should be covered with an elite grade of inlaid linoleum that does not have to be waxed. Wax and carpet in this area are forbidden, as bacteria thrive on and in both surfaces.
The worktable top should be covered with formica or high grade, non-porous Micarta, colored white. White shows dirt, dust, blood, ink, etc., more readily and sure looks good. A cover for the table and its contents can be made from a clear plastic or white #70 Denier nylon, coated with Scotchgard. This cover will protect the area from dust and dirt when not in use, and that area of the table that is not used when tattooing is in progress.

When you open the shop, put on a plastic apron and a good grade of commercial rubber gloves. Prepare a solution of Sodium hypochlorite 5.25% (1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water), and wipe down the table and chairs. Use the same solution on the floors, and re-cover your table. 70% alcohol is excellent to wipe down the table with, but it is also flammable. One may want to weigh its advantages against this disadvantage.
The work area should be well lighted at all times, even when you are closed, as bacteria like the dark. Utilize an air conditioner and a ceiling fan to not only cool, but dry the air and keep it circulating. Hot, dark spaces invite bacterial growth; a humid, stagnant area also adds molds and fungi.

The Tattooist
As we well know, bacteria love hair and the subaceous glands that lubricate it. If you wear a beard, it should be cropped short and your hair arranged in such a manner as not to compromise sterility. If you think it’s clean, have your doctor culture it for you. The results will shock you.
Keep your nails clean and cut short. They should be free of hangnails that can cut and puncture surgical gloves. Wear clean clothes and be fully clothed, e.g., shoes, pants, shirt. No rings or watches should be worn. The wearing of latex gloves (or vinyl) is MANDATORY while you are tattooing. A lap cloth of a disposable type is a good idea, as it should be changed between clients. If you have a skin disorder, such as an eczema on your hands, you are not to tattoo until it is resolved.

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Tattoo Placement

Some areas of the body are easier to tattoo than others. On a male, the easiest places are the forearm, upper arms and legs. The most popular and easiest areas for the female are on the shoulder blades, breasts and hips. The fleshy portion of the upper breast (above the nipple) is the easiest spot for a woman to get a tattoo. Women seem to take a tattoo a lot easier than a man. This is due to the fact that they have a naturally higher threshold of pain and also an extra layer of fat in their skin than men do.
Some thought should go behind the actual placement of tattoos, such as the size and shape of the design as opposed to the size and shape of the skin area being tattooed. A large flying bird spanning left to right would look a little awkward on a skinny arm that hangs basically up and down. Try to use the lines of the tattoo to enhance the curves of the body part, this will be making more of an artistic statement than just slamming any tattoo in any position.

Use a design that is compatible in size and shape to the area it s going to be on. For example, on the forearm, use a long design that goes up and down the arm from elbow to wrist, also taper it so it conforms to the bulge in the upper forearm and slims down as it comes down to the wrist area. Small, rounder shapes work well on shoulders. Large, round ones on the chest or back. Oblong designs are great for biceps and legs.

Small tattoos don’t usually look that good on large areas and seem to get lost. Large tattoos squeezed into small areas are confusing and usually the entire picture isn’t visible from one angle.
Sometimes what looks the best isn’t necessarily what the customer wants. It isn’t your job to argue with them, after all, they’re always right, but it does help to make a few suggestions and to state how you view things. People will usually consider what you have to say.
The direction a tattoo faces also should be considered. Although the customer always has the final say, a general rule to follow is that a tattoo that is in profile (or partial view turned) should always face to the front of the person. That is, don’t have them pointing backwards to the rear. Some examples are shown on the following page.

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Skin Streetching for being tattooing

One of the major bonuses that you have working with skin is in its elasticity. It stretches a lot. In order to perform any kind of precise work and to get the ink in correctly, the skin must be taut. It’s important that the skin be stretched tightly like a drum so the needles don’t bounce, or get hung up in the skin. If the skin isn’t very tight, your lines will go from too strong to too weak. If it is too strong, you have gone way too deep and a big fat line with “knots” in it may occur and scar tissue will usually result.

If the skin isn’t stretched tight, it will be difficult to get the color to go in the skin. The needles will bounce off the skin instead of penetrating it. It may look like the ink is getting in all right, but it could be an illusion and be getting in on only the very top layer of epidermis. Keep the area you have just finished clean so you can see how solid the color is. Use a magnifying glass, if necessary, and stretch the skin while you are examining it.

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The needles of tattoo machine have to be “Tightened”

Take hold of the handle with the shelf on the bottom and the hollow tube open at the top. Insert three good needles carefully in the hollow tube. The points are down touching the shelf and the blunt ends are facing up. Make sure the points are all touching the shelf and are all even. “Tack” the blunt ends with a little piece of solder just to hold them together. Let off on soldering gun trigger when soldering needles as it will magnetize and pull needle from jig, making an uneven set of needles. The key here is to use just a little bit of solder, this will keep the needles in alignment, then remove them from the jig. After this step, the needles have to be “tightened” as a group. You will need a Spaulding needle bar jig for this, and the next steps. This is a great device, taking all the guess work out and it is also just about indestructible. The one used here will be the jig for three and five needle liners. There are ten holes on the side of this jig. Three needle for the top and fives on the bottom. You will be using the holes made for three needle groups. Insert the “tacked” three needle group carefully into one of the holes. This will tighten them up. This will go in about 1/4 inch, leaving the rest of the needles hanging out.

Solder these needles together with just enough solder to do the job and no more. No blobs or inconsistent messes here, just a good clean solder up and down the needle shafts. Carefully pull them out. You should have a nice tight three needle group soldered all the way from one end to about 1/4 inch from the sharp needle end. They will lay in a triangle, two needles on the bottom and one between them and on top of them. No matter which way they are turned, you can’t help but get this.

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Making needle bars on tattoo machines

Needle making is an art and science in itself. It is not just some process that is performed, but an acquired skill to perfect. You want to make your own needles to be strong, but to achieve a high level of skill in this field, the technique has to be practiced over and over again through the course of many months. Just like anything in life, the more you do something, the better at it you become. This is very true with needle making. It can become really frustrating at first and it seems you will never get it right. This is the time not to quit, but to just keep trying. Stick at it, and eventually you will be making needle bars as good as, or better than the ones you get from your supplier.
The following equipment is needed for making needle bars:
Solder Gun: A good one with a pistol grip for easy maneuvering, and developing
a lot of heat quickly. Solder Flux and Solder: This must be stainless steel flux and solder for soldering
stainless steel needles and bars. Absolutely nothing else. Tinning Fluid: For tinning the tip of the solder gun so you don’t burn the tip
through from high heat. Stainless Steel Shader and Liner Bars: To accept needle groups. Needles: Stainless Steel Sharps #12 needles. Eye Loupe: The highest power of best quality. A 15 or 20 power loupe is recom
mended. Needle Jigs: A great time saving device. These are manufactured (at the time of this writing) by only Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc., others are copies. Clippers: Small pliers for wire cutting. File: Small file assortment (jewelers) Stones: Sharpening stone, around 1″ x 1/4″ x 3″. Plastic Aligner: Make yourself. 1 square inch x 1/4 inch.
This equipment is not stored out in the tattoo shop but in the back room or at home. Keep it somewhere quiet where you can concentrate on what you are doing. Once you get going, you will most likely tattoo all week long, and on Sundays or free nights, make your needles for the upcoming week. You are going to be making a lot of them, about a week’s supply or more at one time.
Before even starting, following the suggestions of the previous chapter on needles, you should have a good supply of needle bars (both liners and shaders) already on hand.
The pre-manufactured needle bars should be examined very carefully. Study them to see how they sit on bars, how the needles are soldered, which side is soldered and all the small details like arrangement of needles and order of grouping, etc. Before you begin, read this entire chapter several times and try to perform all of the steps in your head as you go along so you have some idea of what you are trying to do.

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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 needle groups.

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Light or heavy tattoo machines?

Some tattooists prefer light machines and some prefer heavy ones. This is why some manufacturers offer such models as “lightweights,” but it should be kept in mind that any machine, no matter how hefty it might feel at first, will take some getting used to. But in the long run, it will feel quite good and stable to use. The heft of a machine also acts as a “shock absorber.” The tattoo machine when being used gives off vibrations and these can get you tired awfully fast. Just like certain stabilizers or heavy barreled guns, the more metal there is, the more energy it will absorb, passing less vibration on to you. This is the idea behind tattoo machines and it should be kept in mind that the heft of a machine can actually move in your favor.
Practice holding machines and drawing with the clip cords engaged. The slight pull to the rear caused by the clip cord has a different feel than a machine that is not hooked up. Get used to this since this is the set-up that will be constantly used.

When tattooing, the hand rests on the skin, just like writing with a pen. The tube is held in the hand like a pen and the rest of the machine is naturally behind and above the knuckles. The palm of the hand is rested on the skin or the base of the work. This is a steady position and creates what is commonly called the “bridge.” The palm always goes down fírst and then the machine is brought down.
The machine is moved around on the skin by using the palm as a pivot. By swirling the hand on this palm pivot, the machine swings easily into position. Sometimes rubbing a little carbolated vaseline on the palm and little fínger makes it a bit easier. Just make sure too much is not put on to cause slipping and sliding.
The Bridge gives a solid foundation for tattooing and must be practiced for perfection. It will keep the hand steady and give you confídent lines. In tattooing, every line counts and the professional builds on a solid foundation.

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Frame Alterations

Tension is achieved by the rear spring. Remove needle bar and holding machine in left hand by the tube, depress armature bar with left thumb and ease it upwards until contacts meet. There should be enough tension so you can see the front spring rise a little more when contacts meet and you release your thumb – then you’ve got it right. You can buy a gauge from a tattoo supply house to duplicate this same tension when you replace the rear spring.
When coils are set where you want them, add a drop of liquid thread to the machine screws the last time you turn them in. This will assure a secure and tight fit. This can also be done with the two screws that hold the posts.
If you choose to wind your own coils, use #24 insulated magnet wire and a hand turned coil winder. Use a point file to keep points clean.

Once the machine is just right, never make any further adjustments. The more it’s run and the older it gets, the better it will function.
On the left side of the machine you will see where the wire from both coils are soldered together. Squeeze some G.E. Silicone rubber into this area to prevent bare wire from short circuiting on frame. As a matter of fact, it’s a good idea to do this all around between the base of coils and base of frame to prevent moisture from entering coils. Use a toothpick to smooth.
While the machine is running, there will be continuous arcing. Most machines come equipped with capacitors to eliminate arcing and cut down on point wear. If you put them on yourself, use one that is 25 volts and 10 MFD. This isn’t critical and you may want to experiment with different ones.

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