Many tattoo artists want to learn how to make a tattoo gun to save money and extra costs, and if you think it’s not possible, you’re wrong!
You can make a DIY tattoo gun according to the style you want with parts and components you specifically want, and in this guide, I’ll be detailing everything you need to learn about it!
READ MORE: The Best Permanent Makeup Machine Kit
Table of Contents
What Materials Do You Need to Make a Tattoo Gun At Home?
Before you start planning and strategizing about creating your homemade tattoo  machine or tattoo gun, you need to learn the ropes by understanding the materials you’ll need for it.
Mark Blanchard, Professional Tattoo Artist & Owner at Tomb Gallery, says that there’s no magical machine for him.
“So long as it works and I’m comfortable with the results I’m getting at, I’m good.”
That being said, what do you think are the parts and components that make an excellent DIY tattoo machine?
This guy says it’s so easy you can make it from prison.
@scconvict Reply to @lisa_hart how to make a tattoo gun in prison..#prisontok #prisontattoomachine #bidmode #prisonwrap ♬ original sound – Dee
The tools you’ll need include scissors, pliers, electric motors, sellotape (electrical tape), lighters, screwdrivers, knife, 9v battery, and super glue.
If you thought that the process of how to make a tattoo gun is a walk in the park, think again. You need these materials if you want to create a quality tattoo gun.
If you opt to buy, check our review of the best tattoo machine kit for beginners.
1. Frame (Toothbrush)
The frame is the component of the tattoo gun that will serve as the base and support for the entire device. It’s the outer or external structure of the tattoo gun.
“You have to heat the space between a toothbrush’s handle and head and bend 90 degrees. Ensure that the handle is longer than the head,” says Piereeno, a tattoo artist.
Other than a toothbrush, you can use different materials to stand as the frame or the handle and base of the gun; anything with the same shape, length, and girth as a toothbrush would be good.
What’s a tattoo gun without a needle? And I’m not just talking about regular sewing needles, too.
If you just had your first tattoo  recently and you’re looking to start a career in the tattoo industry, the needle will be one of the things you’ll initially look at.
In finding a needle, make sure to purchase a clean, sterile tattoo needle with a thicker tip.
A sterile needle will go a long way for you and your canvas.
“Allergic reactions caused by tattoos are rare, but it is possible. However, it’s not fairly common,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, a NY-board-certified dermatologist.
Should you not have a sterilized needle, you can use a guitar string for it. Others even recommend using sewing needles so long as it’s able to puncture through the human skin.
3. Ink Tube
When you’re finished preparing the needle, the next step is to find the ink tube. It’s also where you’ll need to slot your needle through.
I recommend you use an empty barrel of a ballpoint pen or drawing pen. On average, you will need about half the size of the ballpoint pen barrel, so you’ll have to cut it.
EXPERT TIP: For cutting the ink tube, I would highly recommend using an electric cutter or a regular cutter instead of scissors as they wouldn’t be as efficient and effective.
When the exterior of the tattoo machine is finished, the next thing you want to tackle would be the wiring or the electric component of the equipment.
For this, I would recommend using batteries clips because they’re easier to find and source out. You want to take the red wire and then cut it in half.
5. Electric Rotary Motor
Last but not least would be choosing the rotary motor and transmission you’ll use for the tattoo gun.
You have two (2) options. You can choose either AC or DC motor for your DIY tattoo gun. The type of results you’ll get will depend on the motor type.
Check this video out by Linxy so you can see how he creates and assembles his very own DIY tattoo machine using the recommended materials.
How to Make a Tattoo Gun? Here Are 8 Steps You Can Follow!
Some of you, especially new owners of tattoo shops, could find this problematic. But with my years of experience, I am confident that this method will yield the best homemade tattoo gun!
ALSO READ: What Tattoo Equipment Do I Need?
Step 1: Gather All the Tools and Materials
You need to ensure that all materials and tools are placed where you can quickly get or see them.
Gather everything from the tools you need to the materials and relevant components of the tattoo machine you’re making.
Prepare them accordingly and place them where you’ll be able to reach them easily.
QUICK NOTE: Also, double-check if all materials and tools are complete so you don’t have to go back and forth if you notice that there are some components and materials missing.
Step 2: Choose a Motor
Then, the next step is for you to find an electric motor.
Should you find a rotary machine equipped with a motor, you can use that motor to be the component of your tattoo gun.
As a recommendation, you want a motor that will work and function in at least 12v to 18v.
Step 3: Start the Frame
After preparing these, the next task is building the frame or the support or handle of the handmade tattoo machine.
If you’re using a toothbrush or any other object that has the same shape and make, light up the slope area of the toothbrush (between the head and handle).
Bend it up to 90 degrees and make sure that the handle is substantially longer than the headpiece.
Step 4: Set Up the Ink Tube
The next step is to set up and create the ink tube. This is the sterile component of the machine and is where the needle passes through.
Since you are learning how to make a homemade tattoo gun, you need to find an object that is the closest representation to a tube – a ballpoint or drawing pen.
Clean it up and make sure that it doesn’t have any residue of ink inside. Once done, cut it halfway through using your power cutter or regular cutter –you wouldn’t need the entire tube.
On the tip of the pen, remove the metal tip using pliers. Do note, though, that you will make a mess while doing this. Don’t be anxious, I had it worse as I almost ruined the paint in my office!
Step 5: Plan and Prepare the Needle
When the frame, tube, and motor are all available, the next step is to prepare the needle.
As I mentioned above, those who wouldn’t have access to actual tattoo needles  can use a metal string as an alternative.
Then, using a wire cutter, get rid of the ring at the needle’s end, and then fold the base at about 90 degrees so that it fits well inside the tube.
Make sure to also check our guide about using a tattoo gun correctly!
Step 6: Assemble the Gun
Now comes the fun part – the assembly! My first time making a homemade tattoo machine wasn’t exactly a headache because I had initial knowledge of how things worked.
Don’t fret if you’re clueless, though, because I’ll dictate it to you like how I would if you have no experience in tattooing!
- Fasten and connect the frame and the tube. Make sure that you position the two (2) components accurately.
- Once that’s done, the next step would be to install and strap the motor with the short end of the frame. When doing this, make sure that the motor is secured and installed properly (it should not wobble or move). It’s also advisable to make sure that the motor wouldn’t tamper or distract you from the job.
- From this position, bend the needle so that it will fit the ink tube that is attached to the frame or brace. Do this by putting one end of the needle through the tip of the frame, and then threading it through the tube. You should see it come out of the other edge.
- Lastly, attach the needle to the motor. Make sure that the connection between the needle and the motor is direct to the extent that the connection between them is seamless.
To be frank, I initially thought that the assembly of a tattoo machine is as complicated as rocket science, but as time went on, I knew it wasn’t.
This 6-step process is key in making a good-quality DIY homemade tattoo gun without spending a fortune on the materials.
Check this video out to have a better and clearer sense of how a jail tattoo gun is made.
Whether you have other questions regarding tattoo needles, tubes, and the gun itself, I found out some of the most asked questions about how to make a homemade tattoo gun.
How Do You Make a Prison Tattoo Gun?
A basic prison tattoo gun can be made from a toothbrush or ballpen, with a needle, ink, and battery, and all of them pieced together.
What Can I Use Instead of Tattoo Ink?
Other than tattoo ink, you can use other types of ink such as graphite ink, pen ink, sharpie ink, India ink, BIC pen ink, food color, and others.
Would You Try a DIY Tattoo Gun?
Learning how to make a tattoo gun is a skill that you can use to your advantage, especially if you’re an aspiring tattoo artist.
You can make a homemade tattoo machine and let it serve as a backup in case your machine or your gun ceases to work.
In the future, if you ever need help in making a DIY tattoo machine, you know where to go!
- Tattoo – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. www.sciencedirect.com. Accessed March 16, 2022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/tattoo
- Tattoo Side Effects and Risks. Healthline. Published October 24, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/tattoo-side-effects
- etheme.com. The Ins and Outs of Tattoo Needles. Tattoo Addict Wholesale. Accessed March 16, 2022. https://wholesale.tattooaddict.co.za/blogs/news/the-ins-and-outs-of-tattoo-needles#:~:text=This%20is%20the%20tattoo%20needle