How To Set Up A Tattoo Gun For Lining: Definitive Guide

Nothing can make the intricate artwork on your body pop like sharp, precise, and crisp lining work. Tattoo lining is the process of outlining your tattoo. Many professional tattoo artists prefer using two tattoo guns while tattooing; one to shade and one to the line. Many professionals like to use one gun to do both the shading and lining as well.

To achieve crisp and clean lining work on your tattoos, learning how to set up a tattoo gun for lining is essential.

To tune a tattoo gun for lining, select the right needle. Maintain a proper gap between the armature bar and contact screw. The width of your contact screw and front spring should be thicker than a dime or the width of a dime. 

If you are new in the world of tattoos or maybe an aspiring tattoo artist, this write-up is for you. We will be talking about how to set up a tattoo gun for lining and everything else you need to know about lining.

How To Set Up A Tattoo Gun For Lining?

Tuning your tattoo machine is easier than you think. The first step is knowing your tattoo machine. When buying a tattoo gun, be sure to learn about it as much as possible. Like I just said, tuning is easier than you think. And by following the steps mentioned below, you can set up your tattoo gun for lining work.

Step 1: Measure The Width Of The Contact Screw And Front Spring

Many professionals like to use two tattoo guns for shading and lining, while many use one. Our recommendation is to use two tattoo guns. It can make the tuning work easier. Besides, if you do not have enough experience, using one gun to do shading and lining can ruin your tattoo in minutes.

The point of the contact screw should sit at a 30-degree angle. The edge of the contact screw and spring should have the distance of a dime’s width. Many professionals like to make it a little thicker than a dime. The width between the contact screw and front spring matters a lot.

To find the correct width, you can follow the sound of the machine. If the width between the spring and contact screw is lesser than required, the gun will produce a loud and cracking noise.

If the width is correct, the edge of the contact screw will sit on the spring better; the sound of the gun will start to improve. And the buzz produced by the gun will sound very steady and soft.

Another way is to pull the front spring towards the armature bar, and when you let go, there should be a visible flex.

Step 2: Check The Tube 

The type of tube you want to use depends on your preference. Whether it is disposable or autoclaved doesn’t make much of a difference. You only need to ensure and check whether the tube is pre-packaged or not.

If the tube or needle is not pre-packaged, the chances of contamination are high. Don’t forget to check whether the liner needle is perfect or not. If there are any visible imperfections, discard them right away.

Step 3: Insert The Tube In The Gun 

With the needle inserted in the tube properly, insert the tube inside the machine. Place the tube in the allotted tube slot. Tighten the wingnut a little to attach the tube and gun.

Step 4: Insert The Armature Bar Nipple 

Insert the armature bar nipple through the eye loop of the nipple. Be sure to turn the needle left before doing so. If you want to make sure whether the armature bar is sitting correctly or not, practice on a gourd melon. You will not see ink touching the skin of the melon without accurately executing this step.

Step 5: Determine The Depth Of The Needle 

Press on the armature bar to allow the needle to get out of the tube. It will help you to determine the depth of the liner needle. Let 1/16 of an inch of the tip of the needle out. Once the machine is on and working, it’ll do the rest of the job.

The width between the contact screw and front spring can mess with the depth of the needle. If you want the needle to penetrate through the skin a bit deeper, the width should be more than usual.

However, always remember you should never go deeper than 1/8 of an inch into the skin.

How To Set Up A Tattoo Gun For Lining: Definitive Guide

By following the above-mentioned steps, you can pre-tune your tattoo machine within minutes.

Frequently  Asked Questions 

What should a tattoo machine be set at for lining?

The ideal voltage for a tattoo gun is from 4 volts to 12 volts. The power supply varies for shading and lining work. During lining work running the tattoo gun at 7.5 volts to 8.5 volts is recommended.

Many like to use 6 volts while lining. Lining requires more voltage as it is faster than shading.

What is the difference between a shading and lining tattoo gun?

The main difference between a shader gun and a liner gun is the front spring length. On a liner tattoo machine, the front spring is set back further than on a shader tattoo machine. The contact screw sits far on a liner as well.

It is because, during lining work, the tattoo machine runs faster than during shading work. Liner work requires faster speed for crisp and sharp lines and, shading work requires a slow pace for shading. Shading tattoo guns also require more power than liner guns.

When tattooing, how deep should the needle go in?

When tattooing, the needle shouldn’t go deeper than 1mm to 2mm. You should never go any deeper than 1/8 of an inch on human skin.

Final Words 

Lining can become the make or break step in a tattoo. Linework with a crisp and sharp finish will make the tattoo shine. And poorly lined tattoos can look pretty botched up. With the provided steps on how to set up a tattoo gun for lining, you will not have to worry about tuning your liner gun anymore.

If you are not confident about your linework yet, practice on a gourd melon. If you are not convinced about your tuning either, practicing on a gourd melon can be a good solution. Many professionals eyeball settings and measurements and tune their machines the way they like them. It is not a rare thing among professionals.