A word on Tattoo Machines….

So i’ve been slaving away (after the holidays and what-not) on a new batch of tattoo machines…

I’m calling this one Barnacle Bill….

UPDATED!! -with new photos of Bill…..

A quick primer on tattoo machines, and why mine are weird:

( by the way, there is more information on this subject at my other site: norcaltattoo.net )

(apologies to anyone familiar with the art: I intend this as a primer for those without experience in the field)

A tattoo machine (don’t call it a gun) is basically a metal frame with two electromagnets that convert DC power to AC through a simple mechanical oscillation. Tattooists use them everyday, and they are a vital tool for all tattoo studios. Therefore, they have to be reliable, sufficiently strong, and well-tuned. In use, the machine is connected to a (sterilized) tube with a long needle running through it. The needle has a little loop on the end which connects to a little nipple at the tip of the armature bar. Power is connected to the circuit, and when the artist steps on the pedal, the electromagnets yank the armature bar downward, driving the needle into your skin, and releasing the top spring from the contact screw, which breaks the circuit mid-stroke. The spring then bounces back, closing the circuit once more, and the whole cycle starts again. This happens anywhere from 80 to 150 times per second, depending on how an artist is using that particular machine.

Here’s a photo of your basic Tattoo machine. A chunk of steel (sometimes iron, brass, aluminum, etc.) has been cut, drilled, and bent into a shape that can accommodate two coils, the springs, contact points, and a tube vise. This particular model retails (allegedly) for $135. A really basic, no-frills machine. (I can’t vouch for its reliability or strength, but it looks like a halfway decent machine)

Now, on the other end of the spectrum are guys like Aaron Cain, Junebug,  John Clark, and a few others, who have elevated the creation of these tools to a true art form. Using just about every metal craft known to man, to create machines that are more like exquisite jewelry than cheap tools. One of my studio tenants in the foundry up here in Humboldt, has his own tattoo shop, and wanted to take a shot at making custom machines. After he saw some of my bronze work, we got to chatting, and he convinced me to take a shot at it. Tattoo machines are an interesting niche market. On one end, you’ve got poorly made mass-produced Chinese crap for $20, and on the other end, people are paying many thousands of dollars for unique works of art that just happen to be tools for an artist. There are fetishist collectors out there with hundreds of machines in their stable.

Much of the custom tattoo machine world is about getting a basic frame, and carving on it with various high-speed tools, to achieve a bio-mechanical look, which is all the rage nowadays (think H.R. Geiger). I came at it from a bronze sculptor’s perspective, and wanted to figure a way to get rid of the blocky, square-and-flat quality that seemed to pervade a lot of the more common carved machines.

Essentially, If you can find a way (any way) to get metal in the right place for all the contact points (some of which are negotiable, geographically) you can do whatever the hell you want to do with the rest of the frame. The first one I designed is now called the U-Frame, and we’ve shipped quite a few of them off by now. Here’s a few shots of the U-Frame:

-lots more images of the U-Frame here

With the original U-Frame, I wanted a really simple elegant shape, with zero flat spots. (other than the mechanical contact points, which had to be milled in.) There are 21 different machining operations involved in each piece, and they are extremely labor intensive to produce. As a result, for the last month or so, I’ve been refining my process for creating the machines, using a few different techniques.

In order to get the little intricate details, and to maintain precision, I’ve rebuilt a piece of equipment more commonly used for casting jewelry, called a centrifugal casting machine. It is designed to spin the metal into a mold sideways, instead of pouring it in using gravity. (this amplifies the speed and pressure of the molten metal, making castings more reliable on a small scale.  I’m working with a much bigger centrifuge flask than normal, and it gets a little hairy when the mold flashes (or cracks), and molten bronze goes flying across the room (working out the kinks, here..)

Any how, it has allowed me to get a little crazier with my designs, and will hopefully speed up my production process, by saving the mill work on each unit. (from here on out, I’m hoping to use a machined prototype, some high-resolution prototype molds, and the centrifuge, to cut out that step on each one.)

A few more shots of Bill:

Alongside barnacle bill, I’ve been working on a few other pieces, and the scorpion is on the way.

stay tuned…..


Thanks for looking!!

Tags: , , , ,

30 Responses to “A word on Tattoo Machines….”

  1. jeremiah Says:

    that thing looks fucking awesome. Almost makes me want to actually get a tatoo

  2. Kym is Awesome Says:

    have I told you today that I think you are amazing and so freaking talented?

  3. Ash Says:

    That is amazing. if you plan on making anymore lemme know.

  4. Thom Mask Says:

    Just wanted to say that your work is stunnning. There seems to be a revival of quality hand made tattoo machine building lately. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing pics of the scorpian when its finished.

  5. Anonymous Says:


  6. jeff Says:

    hey how can I purchase the barnacle bill or get one made for me?

  7. Sugarbear Says:

    Jon.. Bill is looking good when does the updated website come up… ooops did I leak a secret???
    I think the scorpion is fantastic…
    and buy the way that Kym chic might just be biased??? Just a rumor…

  8. rafy s art Says:

    hey man how can i buy from you??? let me know im interested in your machines

  9. Zoe Says:

    Hey Jon, was wondering if you were interested in making me a “Bill” machine? and if so how much?

  10. jon Says:

    Sure Zoe, as long as you are a tattoo artist.. send me an email, or check out my store here…

  11. skin artist magazine Says:

    we like the style.to bad only one.if you make more we would like to do a page on you.thanks.staff

  12. skin artist magazine Says:

    We will call you on the matter we talked on.Read your email.Thanks.CEO-Tattoo Bob

  13. Ada Says:

    pls . i want some information about the machine

  14. alex ramirez Says:

    how does ur machines cost and how can I see more thanks great lookin machines

  15. jon Says:

    Hey folks, just wanted to let you know, I’m getting my shop back up after the big move, and I’ll have some new machines soon. I still have a few available in my online store at:

  16. JUDY PARKER Says:


  17. christian harrison Says:

    this is one of the sickest machines iv’e ever seen created.i have quite a collection and would love to obtain one .my fasination and love for octopods has gotten me several of them tattooed on me as well as inspired art for years.PLEASE let me know how to get one.

  18. amc Says:

    would love to but a barnacle bill! how much do you usually sell them for?

  19. amc Says:

    would love to buy a barnacle bill! how much do you usually sell them for?

  20. Christian Harrison Says:

    Hey Jon,
    I usually call you every couple months for the last 2 years. I have been patiently waitng for you to finish your new workspace and build me a barnical bill for me and my collection. I am hoping that you have finally gotten settled in and built one that is available. Not only is it an incredible pice of art bit looks to be a machine I will love. I currently use Aaron Cain and junebug machines exclusively but coming up on 20 years and having a deep love for Octopods I still long for one of these. Please get back to me via email or call me at the studio 203-878-3167. I look forward to hearing from you,hopefully with good news…… B well keep creating , Christian

  21. scott sheldon Says:

    i found this machine barnical bill.. on a china bassed whole sale web page, and they will not respond to me, as far as purchasing one, are you they acutal one off custom builder for this machine? i have to have one, and it seems that that web site is the only one that sells them , do you have any? and… if not where else are they being sold, i’ve been looking all over for one. please let me know. thanks scott

  22. jon Says:

    Hey Scott, I’d love to get a link to the page where they are selling the chinese knock-offs. (I’m in the process of re-building my shop right now, and I’m sold out of Barnacle Bills.) -In my experience, the chinese knock-offs are usually of very low quality, and are mostly for looks. (The last time a Chinese company copied my design, the result was unusable. (The armature bar and the frame were mis-aligned so bad that you couldn’t even load the machine.) Their craftsmanship is shit.

  23. scott sheldon Says:

    so they actually stole your design? thats a damn shame.. law suit? anyways..the web site is tattoo-machines.com i found the machine in yahoo’s (images) and saw your design, and then found your web site through the same sceanrio, its item # on the web page is jl-1143,… the frame is so unique thats why i want one, what do you charge for the machine, and guesstimate when you might make more.. please let me know, i want to be the first on the list.. were thirsty for your work JON.

  24. j.g. Says:

    i don’t know whether you found it already, so here it is:


    seems that they just copied a pic out of your homepage or blog, doesn’t mean that they even made a single one at all- they want money via western union or telegraphic transfer, that sounds like a simple try for a complete rip off- people who order will highly unlikely recieve anything in return…

    btw.: do you already know, when you wll build a few new barnacle bills again? i fell in love at first sight some time ago with the twine coil version, but every bill was already sold… i desperately want one…

    greets from germany,

  25. seo process india Says:

    Virtually all of the things you state is astonishingly appropriate and that makes me ponder why I had not looked at this with this light before. This article truly did switch the light on for me personally as far as this particular subject matter goes. But at this time there is 1 factor I am not too cozy with and while I make an effort to reconcile that with the core theme of the issue, permit me observe what the rest of the subscribers have to point out.Very well done.

  26. Campervan Rental Says:

    It’s an amazing article in support of all the internet visitors; they will
    take advantage from it I am sure.

  27. campervan Says:

    I believe that is one of the most significant information for me.
    And i’m happy reading your article. However want
    to commentary on few common issues, The website style is wonderful,
    the articles is in reality excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  28. Ted marks Says:

    Hey John send me a machine or two?

  29. Reginia Kraner Says:

    thanks a lot !

  30. amazing molten coffee tables CANADA Says:

    I can’t perhaps know the way I ended upwards listed here, on the other hand believed the following distribute used to be beneficial. I would not find out individual preference may be however undoubtedly you’ll your well-known digg in case you are not presently.. amazing molten coffee tables CANADA Best wishes!

Leave a Reply

  • coryell auger sample trio youtube
  • 25 aout 44 discours
  • main contributors forensic science
  • 1and1 ifmodule mod_rewrite.c
  • hello kitty fashion walkie talkies
  • the annotated mother goose by william baring-gould
  • brandes zgb
  • lauri kien kotcher godiva chocolatier
  • tra cuu diem thi lop 10 nam dinh
  • bolens st110
  • smythe wool blend peacoat
  • sony str ks360 manual
  • graph x y plot mathcad
  • dhhs of nc
  • chattahoochee floors
  • core competencies in business
  • hoya 67mm hmc nd400
  • randy orton new theme song mp3 download
  • yasemin ipek can
  • naot loop gray lizard
  • bash numeric comparisons
  • gregor mendel's theory heredity based
  • tarps wholesale
  • insufficienza respiratoria ipercapnica cure
  • cubist art movement
  • woodchuck wood riddle
  • diabetic ketoacidosis in children ppt
  • eine frau ist eine frau 1961
  • 3mtm electronics vacuum 220v
  • ryougi shiki theme
  • sanctions against southern rhodesia
  • dickie roberts movie soundtrack
  • bigcash.all freebie world
  • biotin 2500 mcg hair growth
  • imtoo zune
  • willa mulhollan neale
  • byui blackboard quiz generator
  • woodward 723 governor manual
  • chicagoland fitness camp reviews
  • post rut deer behavior
  • johnny cash i won't back down lyrics traducida
  • tarifs accessoires 5008
  • richest hip hop artist in nigeria
  • are greenberg turkeys kosher
  • installs as a driveway crossword
  • yak paks
  • satimo near field antenna measurement
  • pokemon platinum skuntank moveset
  • jaeger lecoultre grande reverso ultra thin
  • touro x peixes
  • fazer macarrao queijo facil
  • viktor krum figurine ds
  • amor entre sartre y simone de beauvoir
  • brunel biosciences office
  • sungkyunkwan scandal episode 4 viki
  • energies no renovables. avantatges i inconvenients
  • le cadeaux melamine dinnerware sets
  • huile moteur 10w40 castrol
  • hidden beach presents unwrapped wiki
  • foto dei personaggi inazuma eleven
  • gizmo 2000
  • massive headwound harry dana carvey snl
  • 1185 rue st-mathieu
  • mazda miata junkyard
  • corner desks with hutch for home office
  • travelsmith taste for travel
  • midsouth regional emmy nominations
  • wintv windows 7
  • lund floral tacoma
  • 2008 escalade platinum wheels
  • cosmic gate exploration of space extended mix mp3
  • hardik bhatt facebook
  • job centre felling gateshead
  • mantones de manila antiguos de segunda mano
  • endearment words portuguese
  • topcon 24x automatic level at-b4
  • relaxation beverages
  • draw katniss everdeen step step
  • hodson northern ireland
  • 60 magnavox projection tv
  • mlife express comps
  • campervan hire kilmarnock
  • termite reproduction rate
  • optional media update jtag 13599
  • klaaswaal apotheek
  • vizio vw37l owners manual
  • censored children's books
  • mandarin orange fruit salad
  • rohn r-jrm23810
  • libertador cusco rates
  • tcp udp assigned ports
  • psychiatry degree programs online
  • brent averill 1073 price
  • orkut video scraps
  • stubbs bbq sauce testimonials
  • otsego outfitters oneonta ny
  • porch decking material
  • us forces afghanistan 2024
  • trix indicator mt4 download
  • telefoon abonnement opzeggen brief
  • jose mota y frank de la jungla
  • target dadeland station hours
  • chronological order melancholy haruhi suzumiya
  • papa louie 2 agame
  • como funciona el sistema educativo de finlandia
  • groucho marx disguise glasses
  • woman hears her voice for first time hoax
  • dayna eubanks detroit
  • l lysine herpes zoster
  • agencije za osiguranje vozila beograd
  • optoma xga dlp projector review
  • shuffleboard york pa
  • narcissus echo analysis fred chappell
  • blue foundation zeds dead mp3
  • wrt54gs open firmware
  • maladie vigne feuilles
  • lobster roll rumble new york
  • americans allowed to enter cuba
  • esperanza tiburon naples
  • was the later wittgenstein a transcendental idealism
  • inyecciones anticonceptivas bajas en hormonas
  • little jordan primordial world
  • world warcraft rotations death knight
  • uitextview placeholder color
  • garlic confit modernist cuisine
  • white house correspondents dinner 2012 video dog
  • advance fee fraud
  • diy nano protein skimmer plans
  • how are haploid and diploid cells related to mitosis and meiosis
  • equations and graphs of hyperbola
  • bouvier des flandres weight
  • privacy black static-cling window film
  • youtube worksite trouble
  • testimoni produk ronasutra
  • lexique juridique quebecois
  • male mons pubis liposuction
  • david yurman albion black onyx bracelet
  • cinemark pearland summer movies
  • homo coprophagus somnambulus
  • wolverine braze flux
  • empirical audio pace-car relocker
  • ideal protein phase 3 menu
  • aroma arc 998 manual
  • restroom access act michigan
  • engelmann and carnine 1991
  • cena vs brock lesnar bloody
  • poorly endowed slimeball
  • 1928 stutz blackhawk
  • b&b dundrum northern ireland
  • cursors in sql wiki
  • grandma we love you
  • drew watkins director
  • sibyls sistine chapel ceiling
  • spooky organ music cd