You have just bought a new tattoo machine, or your current tattoo machine is getting somewhat old and has some wear and tear. You start tattooing, and suddenly your tattoo gun starts to spark. What is going on? Is this supposed to happen?
Your tattoo gun may spark from time to time. If the sparks go away after a few minutes of use, then the tattoo gun should be fine. However, if the sparks are excessive and do not dissipate, this isn’t normal, and you may need to go through a few steps to find out what the issue is and how to fix it.
There may be some causes to why your tattoo gun is sparking. Luckily, you do not have to throw out your machine and buy a new one just yet. Here are some things to go through before you get to that conclusion.
Reasons Why Your Tattoo Gun Sparks
Some tattoo guns may give off a few sparks every now and then, and that is normal; however, if your tattoo gun is sparking quite excessively, then there may be a problem with your machine. The following are some reasons as to why your tattoo gun may be sparking.
You may have just replaced the front spring in your tattoo gun. Replacing this spring may make your tattoo gun spark a little bit more than usual. Front springs sparking is a regular occurrence with new springs.
The rear spring in your gun may be bent too tight on your tattoo gun, and this could cause tension in your tattoo gun that can cause excessive sparks.
The capacitor in your tattoo gun may be causing your gun to spark. If your capacitor is the wrong uF (microfarad), this can cause the problem. Your capacitor may also be old and might need to be replaced if you are using an older tattoo gun.
You may want to go over your tattoo gun and look for any loose or exposed wires. Wear and tear could damage some wires or the casing of the wire, which could cause the tattoo gun to spark.
You must check that your tattoo gun has been set up correctly and all the parts have been put back into your gun the correct way with the right amount of tension where necessary. If you do not know how to do this, please consult one of the more experienced tattoo artists in your studio for assistance so as not to cause any further damage to your machine.
Ways To Fix Your Sparking Tattoo Gun
Now that you know what the reason could be behind your tattoo gun sparking, how do you fix the problem? Here are a few ways to combat the above issues that could make your tattoo gun spark.
If you have just replaced the front spring and your tattoo gun is starting to spark, these sparks should die down after a few minutes of use. Providing that your gun did not spark before you changed the spring. There is no reason to panic about this unless the sparks do not subside.
This may be caused by plating that is put on the front spring during the manufacturing process, and once the contact screw in your tattoo gun wears this plating off during the use of the tattoo gun, the sparks should stop. If your tattoo gun is new, then this could be the reason for your gun sparking as well.
If the rear spring is bent too tight, the way to fix this is the opposite procedure of bending the rear spring for tension. First, you need to unfasten the back spring screw and then turn over the rear spring along with the armature bar and front spring assembly.
Then turn everything around so the front spring is facing downward on the other side of the fixture. Carefully bend the spring to face upward to lessen the tension. Once that is complete, put the assembly back in its initial position and secure it again. This should fix the issue and help your tattoo gun stop sparking.
Your capacitor is the wrong uF; remember that Liners run at a lower uF, and shaders will run at a higher uF. If you are new to this profession of being a tattoo artist, then you may want to talk with an experienced colleague about this problem.
You will need to test your current capacitor to make sure it is running at the right uF. You may need to buy some more capacitors and test them with your setup to find the most suitable capacitor that works for your needs. They are easy enough to solder on and off your tattoo gun. This is a typical trial and error process to find the right one for your setup. Make sure that you put the capacitors on the right way, as this could also be a cause for some issues.
If you suspect that some wires are loose or that the wire casings are damaged, then you may need to take your tattoo gun apart. If the wires are loose, then simply tighten them where necessary. If the wire casing is damaged, then depending on the amount of damage, you may need to replace the wire, or you may be able to use some electrical tape to cover the wire again.
Ensure Your Gun Is Set Up Properly
The following are a few things you should check to make sure your tattoo gun is set up correctly to rule out any manufacturing faults or user errors, especially for a new tattoo artist that could cause your tattoo gun to spark.
- Make sure that there is a dime-sized space in-between the contact screw and the front spring
- Check that the clip cord is connected in the appropriate slot
- Confirm that the needle is inserted correctly in the tattoo tube
- Ensure that you are using the right size needle for the work you are going to be doing
- Make sure that all the screws on your gun are tight, as the vibrations of the tattoo gun can cause them to unscrew
- Rub a clean cloth over the contact screw to remove any carbon build-up at this connection point, as this permits for stronger electrical contact
Although they may seem minor, these factors are important and make a vast difference in the effective performance of your tattoo gun, and can help ensure that there are no problems later on.
Tips For Setting Up Your Power Supply
The following tips are to ensure that your power supply is set up correctly for tattooing so as not to cause any surges that can make your tattoo gun spark.
Ensure that your foot pedal and your clip cord are connected to the right slots. Check the clip cord connection; if it is correctly fastened, hold your tattoo gun in your hand and use your foot to push down on the foot pedal.
If your machine does not buzz immediately, then the voltage is probably not turned high enough. Slowly start turning up the voltage until your machine starts buzzing evenly.
Visually check how far the tattoo needle is going out of the tube’s tip to ensure that the needle will provide the right strokes that you prefer for your tattooing style.
Then turn your tattoo gun towards you and look at the armature bar. The armature bar nipple should be moving up and down extremely fast. Ensure that nothing is in the way of the armature bar and that the movement is consistent; if it is not, then adjust the voltage accordingly until it is consistent.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):
You may have a few sparks every so often coming from your tattoo machine, and unless the sparks are excessive and do not go away, there should not be anything to be concerned about.
If you are still slightly concerned and want to make sure that everything is in order with your tattoo gun, that is perfectly fine. Follow the steps above, and they should hopefully assist you with getting some peace of mind about what your tattoo gun is doing. If you have any questions, concerns, or nagging doubts about the way your tattoo gun is operating, then definitely go and talk to a more experienced tattoo artist and ask for advice.