Coil Tattoo Machines! How Does it Work?

Coil Tattoo Machines

The traditional tattoo tool is a tweezer. The coil tattoo machine Have a history of over 131 years. Samuel F. O’Reilly, a New Yorker, invented and patented the first electric tattoo machine on December 8, 1891. (US Patent 464, 801). This machine was adapted from Thomas Edison’s 1876 rotary stencil pen (US Patent 180,857). It revolutionized tattooing and brought it to a modern age. Coil tattoo machines come in single coils or double coils. Double coil machines are the standard for tattoo artists.

The majority of machines have 8-10 coils but this number can also vary. Shader coil machines typically have 10 wrap-coils, while liner coil machines tend to have 8 wrap coils. Tattoo artists prefer to use liner coils for small shading or lines and shader coils to cover a larger area.

The Coil Tattoo Machine

These make it easier to shade and smooth lines, making it possible to customize tattoos. Since coil tattoo guns are made with iron armature and coils, they weigh more than rotary machines. If tattoo artists work all day on large tattoos, their hands will cramp and they’ll be tired. Each tattoo machine produces noise. You will know if you hear a buzzing noise that the tattoo artist uses a coil tattoo machine. A coil tattoo gun makes a clicking noise when the needle moves continuously up and down. Tattoo artists who use coil tattoo machines have probably been harmed by the buzzing noise. When using traditional machines, changing a needle and adjusting needle depth takes longer than with tattoo pens. Most beginners do not know how to adjust the contact screws or armature bars before using a coil gun. Finally, I went crazy and thought that the tattoo machine was the default. Many tattoo artists do not recommend it for beginners or inexperienced artists.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Coil Tattoo Machine

The coil tattoo machine has been the preferred tool of professional tattoo artists for decades, and for good reason. It was first invented in the late 19th century and has undergone numerous improvements and innovations since then. However, like any tool, it has its advantages and disadvantages.


1. Versatility: One of the biggest advantages of using a coil tattoo machine is its versatility. It can be used to create both bold lines and delicate shading, making it ideal for creating detailed designs.

  1. 2. Speed: The fast pace of the needles on a coil tattoo machine allows artists to work quickly without sacrificing quality. This means more tattoos can be done in a shorter amount of time, increasing productivity.
  2. 3. Precision: The design of a coil tattoo machine allows for intricate details and precise line work that would be difficult to achieve with other types of machines.
  3. 4. Customization: Coil machines are highly customizable, allowing artists to adjust various components such as needle depth, speed, and voltage to suit their individual preferences and artistic style.
  4. 5. Durability: With proper care and maintenance, a high-quality coil machine can last for years without needing frequent replacements or repairs.


  1. 1.Noise: One disadvantage that many people mention is the loud buzzing sound produced by a coil tattoo machine while in use. This may not bother some people but can be distracting or uncomfortable for others.
  2. 2. Learning Curve: Compared to other types of tattoo machines, mastering the technique required to operate a coil machine can take longer due to its complexity.
  3. 3. Weight: Another issue with traditional coil machines is their weight; they tend to be heavier than modern rotary machines which may cause hand fatigue over longer sessions.

4 . Need for Maintenance: While proper maintenance can prolong the lifespan of a coil machine, it also requires regular upkeep such as lubrication and changing worn parts like springs or coils.

5 . Price : High-quality traditional coil tattoo machines can be expensive, making them less accessible for beginner artists or those on a tight budget.

This post was written by J Michael Taylor. J Michael Taylor is an artist and owner of Black Amethyst Tattoo Gallery. Looking for Tattoo shops in St Petersburg Florida? Black Amethyst has you covered! They provide an art-first approach to custom tattooing in a gallery setting.