How Does A Coil Tattoo Machine Work? A Rookie Tattooist Question

If you have heard the ambient noise of a tattoo shop, you will be familiar with the humming, buzzing sound of a tattoo machine in action. In today’s post, we will answer the question “how does a coil tattoo machine work?” and provide you with other related information about this tool. Read on to discover!

Basic Components

There are many builds for a coil tattoo machine with its number of coils going from one to three. In general, double-coiled machines are the average and also the standard for these types of devices. So if you are nervous about your newbie status, stick to the standards, and you will be fine.

Coil designs across machines are usually universal, with cylindrical metalcore and two disks at the top and bottom. The meta core is usually made of some form of conductive metal or alloy in order to assist the coil’s function.

Two holes are usually present in the coil’s bottom disk, which helps lead the way for the magnet wire to go through. Moreover, the wire will then twist itself around the metal core up to the top, back down to go through the other hole and exit. This is to make sure that there are no mixed up between counterclockwise and clockwise wraps since that will render the coil useless.

Furthermore, the number of wraps can be from around 6 to 12 in the majority of coil designs. After they have finished with the coil, many technicians like to use a layer of electrical tape to keep everything in place, save you maintenance money, and save them the effort of re-wrapping.

When you charge the coil, it becomes an electromagnet that powers your tattoo machine! Keep reading to see how a coil tattoo machine works in detail!

How Does A Coil Tattoo Machine Work?

When the coils are charged with a circuit, they become magnets and pull down the metal armature bar. The bars usually hang above the uncharged coils, but the downward drag of the bar can lead to three other actions:

  • The armature bar takes the front spring down with it.
  • The armature bar pushes the tattoo needs into a surface, and this is how your tattoo starts to happen.
  • While standing below the circuit screw, the front spring breaks contact with it and thus breaks the circuit as well.

The circuit breaks, so the coil becomes non-magnetic, and the three steps we just mentioned undo themselves. This cycle continues as long as the tattoo machine is plugged in and provided power, and it creates the constant in-and-out motion of the needle into one’s skin. Pair that with the ink cartridge, and you will have yourself a coil tattoo machine!

If you are looking for a highly recommended machine to buy for yourself, why don’t you try reading this article on the Top Rated Coil Tattoo Machines for some suggestions? You might find your match in this writing on Solong Tattoo Kits Pros And Cons just as well!


That is the full answer to “how does a coil tattoo machine work?” We hope that with this knowledge, you’re going to have a much easier time at the parlor regardless if you’re a tattoo getter wanting to know more about the art or a novice tattooist learning about the tools!