How To Set Up A Rotary Tattoo Machine For Lining?

how to set up a rotary tattoo machine.?
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An excellent tattoo machine is only part of what’s required to reach your tattooing potential. Even with the best equipment, you might not achieve the desired result. It’s all about your machine setup. If your tattoo gun isn’t correctly assembled and fine-tuned, you won’t be able to get the sharp lines and high-quality shading you’re looking for.

Following our complete instructions and valuable recommendations on how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining, you’ll learn how to assemble and adjust your tattoo machine correctly, so everything works well. You’ll reach your full potential as a tattoo artist by implementing these tips on how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for the lining.

How to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining?

how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining?

Before we discuss the details of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining, first learn about rotary tattoo machines and their types

Rotary tattoo machine and type

Rotary tattoo machines are powered by a motor. They make considerably less noise than coil machines and also vibrate much less. The exact machine can be used for both shading and contouring. As another substantial benefit, rotary machines cause fewer skin punctures because they move more slowly. Also, the needles of rotary machines sit higher above the inking surface, making contact with lower-quality ink easier to avoid and leading to fewer blotchy colors and more explicit images overall.

Types of rotary machines

Rotary tattoo machines are distinguished into three main types.


The motor inside this tattooing machine activates multiple mechanisms in conjunction with one another, such as the piezoelectric crystal that vibrates at a very high frequency which powers the movement of the needle bar. When connected to its gearbox and shaft, the entire device will rotate in a circular motion, which transfers to holders under ink cartridges by turning the motor.

Armature Bar

The Armature Bar differs from the direct drive but is like the coil tattoo machine. This is because both devices have strikers driven by connecting rods attached to the rotary motor on springs or bearing. In this case, the difference is that, there’s a rod and spring mounted just below the needle carrier, so it can’t move side-to-side during operation.


It’s evident from the name that this machine is similar to a pen. It’s easy to use, so many beginners prefer pen rotary tattoo machines.

Pens have a more complex architecture than other rotary tattoo guns. This makes their cost of operation and maintenance ever so slightly clingier than machines of more straightforward design. But, on the positive side, they’re well suited for contouring and coloring with cartridges, though they may work without them if necessary.

How to choose a rotary tattoo machine?

A suitable tattoo machine is most important to becoming a successful tattoo artist. The tattoo machine will allow you to transfer your art from imagination and paper to the body, and if you have a suitable device, the process will be smooth, and the services will be of high quality.

We have some tips to share to help you get the right tattoo machine. After that, we will jump directly to know how to assemble a rotary tattoo machine for the lining.

Quality Material

Tattoo machines create a permanent at on the customer’s skin. Therefore, you must use a high-quality tattoo gun. Tattoo machines from high brands are made of brass and iron as they are sturdy, which reduces the risk of shattering and breaking while creating a tattoo.

If you buy a tattoo gun that is made of low-quality material, you are putting the customers you’re your reputation at risk. That’s why it’s essential to ensure the quality of the tattoo device before buying it.

Right Shape and Size

After choosing the suitable material, the next step is to select the right size and shape of the tattoo gun. You know that you will be tattooing all day and every day. Hence, it’s crucial that you should buy a machine that is comfortable while hold and how flexible it is to use for extended hours.

Variety of Guns

 The best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your tattoo machines is to buy a variety of different ones that deal with specific tasks, such as shading or line work.

This will not only make your life much simple when it comes to tattoos which require a lot of different techniques to be used in one sitting but will also improve the quality of your tattooing.

Hybrid machines are also available, but we’d recommend using different devices as every tattoo gun has its own specialty, which can result in maximum output.

Now, let’s move to the steps of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for the lining.

Setting up a rotary tattoo machine for the lining.

Tattoos on the skin are drawn through two techniques, one is lining, and the other is shading.

Lining, as the name suggests, is a process through which the artists create outlines of the tattoo from the stencil on the skin, while shading refers to adding more colors and depth to the lines so the tattoo comes out as vibrant as it should be. 

The lining is the first and also an essential process of tattoo making. If you get it right, the final result will be perfect.

Building a tattoo machine could be tricky, especially for beginners, but with the help of our guide, “how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining,” you will be able to put together all the parts correctly.

Step 1: Preparation

Step one of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining is to

  • Ensure that you have rubber bands, tattoo machine tubes, and blister pack needles.
  • Always touch and handle the sterile parts of the tattoo machine with latex gloves on.
  • Assign a clear work area to set up a rotary tattoo machine and use disposable cloth for this process.

Step 2: Pre-checks

The step of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining has the following steps.

  • Bring the tattoo gun near to eye level to see the coils. It will help to see the coils.
  • Depress the armature bar and see if the front coil touches the bar before the rear coil; it means it’s magnificent, and you are good to go.
  • If the front coil doesn’t touch the bar before the rear coil, then to adjust it, you will need to buy coil shims.
  • Also, it’s important to note that the front and rear coil must not touch the bar simultaneously.
  • The front coil and armature bar should be apart by 1mm if it’s not moving. Use a dime as a handy measurement for this distance.

Step 3: Adjustments

In step 3, you will have to do the following

  • Adjust the speed of the tattoo gun by lifting the retaining bar on the contact screw. The contact screw is located at the top back of the tattoo machine.
  • If you are faster, adjust the contact screw to the correct position. Adjust the speed you are comfortable with and do not frequently change the speed as well.
  • When you are done with speed adjustment, return the retaining bar to its place.
  • Machines having volts speed, for such devices 6 volts speed is the best-balanced speed setting.
  • Adjust the spring tension controls accordingly to make shorter or longer strokes. Spring speed tensions control the needle strokes.
  • For performing lining, shorter but stronger strokes are preferred.

Step 4: Needling

In step 4 of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining, follow

  • Choose pointed needles for the lining, not flat ones, as flat needles will give a thickness to the lining that will ruin the quality of work overall, whereas pointed needles maintain the neatness of work.
  • The next step is to open the tube’s sleeves and position it in your work area.
  • As your tattooing area’s environment is sterile, it’s essential to wear latex gloves.
  • Open the blister pack and choose the required needles. Also, make a slight bend to ensure some tension when it retorts into place.
  • Make sure to place the needle into the tube gently.
  • The curve in the needle should point back towards the machine.
  • A Useful trick to increase the tension is to wrap the rubber band around the needle arm and extend the rubber band to the back of the machine.

Step 5: Final adjustments

In the final step of how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining

  • Switch on the device to check whether its functions properly.
  • Adjust the voltage of the tattoo device according to the lining job.
  • Follow the guidelines and adjust the tattoo machine to a higher speed for heavy linings.


Most artists use tattoo machines at a voltage of 7v-9v for the lining, which is considered the best voltage for the lining.

The number 12 Gauge needles having a diameter of 0.35mm are best for the lining.

The best stroke for lining is 4.0mm+.


According to a 2019 survey, approximately 30% of Americans have at least one tattoo. From these stats, we can safely conclude that tattooing is very popular in America, and it’s increasing at quite a reasonable rate.

Many emerging tattoo artists aspire to start their own businesses and need to buy tattoo machines. Newbies prefer a rotary tattoo machine because it’s simple, easy to handle and set up. If you are a new artist and wondering how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for lining, then you are at the right place. In the article above, we have discussed all the steps in detail that explain how to set up a rotary tattoo machine for the lining. If you have difficulty putting together your rotary tattoo gun, consult the article above

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