The first coil tattoo machines were developed in 1891 by Thomas Riley of London and were patented only days after the first rotary machines were created. Traditional coil tattoo machines were made from a modified doorbell assembled in a brass box. As you can imagine, these historic devices were quite heavy.
Modern coil tattoo machines function on the same basic concept but they are very different from those first inventions. Today’s machines use an electromagnetic circuit to move the needle grouping. There are quite a few different types of coil tattoo machines available on the market today and these machines can be made of various materials. They are also available in different sizes and shapes. Dual-coil tattoo machines are the standard coil tattoo machine and usually, consist of a range of 8 – 10 coil wraps.
Today coil tattoo machines are the most popular type of tattoo machine available on the market and you can find them at just about any online shop.
How Do Coil Tattoo Machines Work?
Coil tattoo machines consist of a set of coils. As electromagnetic currents pass through the machine the coils are rotated in order to drive an armature bar. This bar sets needles into motion and allows the machine to expose the needle to the skin and retract automatically as you work. In order to work the machine has to be plugged into a power supply.
Biggest differences between the coil and rotary tattoo machines
Next to coil tattoo machines, the rotary machine is also hugely popular. But these two machines don’t just differentiate physically. They are a lot different in function in the following ways;
Heavier – Coil tattoo guns are a lot heavier and as a result, more time is required for finely detailed tattoos.
More specific – Rotary tattoos are adjustable and the same gun can be used for different shadings. Coil tattoo guns are more challenging to alter and as a result are preferable for specific tasks based on their coil wraps, current, and the type of needle you use.
More challenging to use – These tattoo guns are usually preferred by skilled tattoo artists because they are more challenging to use than rotary tattoo machines yet better for specialized work.
Bigger variety – There is a much bigger variety of coil tattoo machines available on the market than rotary tattoo machines in terms of brand, style, and functionality.
Scarring – Coil tattoo machines tend to be rougher and can cause more scarring when used by an inexperienced tattoo artist.
What About Coil Tattoo Gun Voltage?
When you shop around for the best coil tattoo machine you will quickly note that quite a lot of information about the voltage of the machine is shared. A tattoo gun functions through a power supply box which allows you to adjust the voltage control knob. Most power supplies offer a voltage range between 7 and 12 volts. For lining the recommended voltage level is between 7.5 – 8.5 volts but for shading, a much higher voltage of 8 – 12 volts is required.
Coil Tattoo Machine Types
There are quite a few different types of coil tattoo guns available on the market and these are available in all sorts of styles, shapes, and brands. The two major types include a shader that is used for coloring and shading and a liner for filling in dark areas or for creating lines. There are also other more specific types like the following;
- Soft shader
- Color packer
- Conventional liner
- Power liner
Tips for Picking the Best Coil Tattoo Machine
There are quite a few things you need to keep in mind when you are considering the best coil tattoo machine. Hopefully, this little guide will help you find the best possible machine for your unique need;
Weight – The lighter your tattoo gun is the better. A heavy tattoo gun won’t allow you to move with ease or to work for long periods of time because it can put a lot of strain on your hands. With a lighter tattoo gun, you can work for longer periods on end and you can work a lot more carefully on tattoos with plenty of small detail.
Size – Your tattoo gun should fit comfortably into your hand. An uncomfortable fit from gun that is too small or big will only cause your hands to cramp up. If possible, look for a type that suits your hand size best.
Price – Of course, you want a good quality tattoo machine but if you are only starting out then a cheaper gun might be the better solution. If you do end up giving up on tattooing you wouldn’t have wasted quite as much money. Modern tattoo guns are also pretty affordable for their quality and price which means you really don’t have to dish out too much for a good quality machine.
Brand – Some brands like Dragonhawk and 1TattooWorld stand out in the tattoo industry and for good reason. These tattoo brands are known for creating functional and good-quality tattoo machines. When in doubt, always go with a good quality machine.
Function – Most coil tattoo machines are restricted to a single action or best suited for a specific action. Be sure to invest in both lining and shading tattoo machines so you can function with ease and master this skill without feeling frustrated by using the wrong type of equipment.
Cleanup is Crucial
Unhygienic tattoo practices such as a dirty work surface, unhygienic tattoo application, or unsterile needles can cause terrible tattoo infections that could even result in fevers, blistering, and scarring that might require medical treatments and even antibiotics to cure. It is crucial for you to work on a clean surface for all aspects of tattoo application and machine handling. The tattoo gun itself needs to be disassembled and properly cleaned before each tattoo application process and it is incredibly important to use clean sterile needles for these types of tasks. Always work on a clean table with clean hands and clean tools.
Coil Tattoo Machine Setup
Coil tattoo guns differ hugely in terms of shape, size, and brand but most of them have the same basic design. It is important to understand the setup of your gun properly or your machine won’t function well. Here are a few of the basic steps to follow for most coil tattoo guns;
Needles – The first step is to insert the needle into the barrel. You then hold the barrel carefully and attach it to the tattoo machine’s frame. The armature bar of the tattoo machine should reach the back end of the needle and the needle will be hooked onto this bar.
Rubber bands – Rubber bands are used to secure the needle tightly onto the tube. This prevents the machine from wobbling during the tattoo process. When you adjust the tube your needle is exposed to the right size and your tattoo gun setup will be done.
Operating voltage – The tattoo machine now needs to be connected to your power supply after which you will need to adjust the voltage level and tune your coil tattoo machine.
Best Coil Tattoo Machines
Coil tattoo machines are tremendously popular and are often preferred by plenty of experienced tattoo artists. Finding a good quality tattoo machine in online shops should be no problem because there are so many to choose from on popular online shops and you should be able to find all applications or accessories such as needles, tubes, inks, and more with ease. If you don’t care about the type of tattoo machine you use, check out our guide on the overall best tattoo machines.
Out of the entire terrific coil tattoo machines available on the market, there are a few that stands out from the crowd and that customers seem to love. Here are the best coil tattoo machines available for you to try right now;
#1Tattoo World Iron Liner Tattoo Machine
This is one of the most popular coil tattoo machines available. This 8 wrap coil tattoo machine has a pretty interesting design with beautiful floral details. It is made of iron and is mainly used for lining. The tattoo machine is available at a rather affordable price and is a perfect tool for apprentice tattoo artists.
You can pick this machine up here.
#2 Dragonhawk Starter Complete Tattoo Kit SAN-2
Dragonhawk has a strong reputation for bringing out high-quality tattoo machines time and time again. This brand is particularly loved for its starter tattoo kits that are perfect for apprentice tattoo artists. The Dragonhawk starter complete tattoo kit SAN-2 is a good investment for anyone looking to get started in the tattoo industry. This tattoo kit consists of two 10 wrap tattoo machines, one for lining and one for shading. The kit also includes a power supply, foot pedal, needle, rubber bands, and much more. It is a perfect kit for newbie tattoo artists.
#3 TattooWorld New Cast 10 Laps Tattoo Machine OTW-M703
1Tattoo World really outdid themselves with the New Cast OTW-M703 tattoo machine. This tattoo gun looks very stylish thanks to lots of delicate graphics and a beautiful overall design. The tattoo gun is specifically for shading although it can also be used for lining. The 10 wrap tattoo gun is available at an affordable price, is made of durable cast iron and brass materials, and will give you plenty of movement freedom thanks to its light design.
#4 Dragonhawk Complete Tattoo Kit D139GD
If the Dragonhawk Starter Complete Tattoo Kit SAN-2 seems a bit small then we highly recommend this terrific kit. It comes with 4 standard tuning tattoo machines that are designed for a specific purpose. Two lining machines are for dark thick and softer thinner line tattoos, a soft shader, and the color packer for all types of color filling work. The kit also includes lots of extras such as fake practice skin, inks, needles, a carry case, rubber bands, and much more. It is the ultimate kit for someone who is serious about creating tattoos.
Solong TK212 Tattoo Machines
These beautiful tattoo machines are also a very popular gun to choose for your studio. The Solong TK212 tattoo machines are available in shader and liner tattoo guns and come as a full kit along with lots of added goodies such as inks, power supply, foot pedal, needles, tips, and much more. These tattoo machines are quite affordable which makes them a good investment for tattoo apprentices. These tattoo machines are CE certified and many kits even come with a warranty.
These are all superb tattoo machines or kits for beginners and the Dragonhawk tattoo machines do certainly take the lead in terms of quality and reputation. If you are a beginner artist then we can recommend any of these coil tattoo machines although it should be noted that plenty of skilled and qualified tattoo artists enjoy investing in these affordable machines simply because they are so functional and practical.