How to Make a Tattoo Gun

Two Methods:Creating the ComponentsAssembling the Gun

Tattoos are personal and creative forms of self-expression. What's more personal or creative than making your own tattoo gun? Follow these easy steps, and you'll be ready to add to your tats or ink a friend in no time.

Method 1
Creating the Components

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    Find a motor. You'll need an electric motor or similar type rotary motor that runs on at least 12 volts; 18 volts would be ideal.
    • The motor will have a small shaft protruding from the center. Take a small four-hole button and attach it to that shaft with superglue. Be careful not to use so much glue that it seeps through the holes of the button and blocks them. They need to be open so that you can attach the needle. Set it aside to dry.
      • Instead of a button, you can use an eraser. Take the eraser from a mechanical pen and push it firmly onto the small shaft of your motor.
    • You can remove the motor from a VCR or remote control car, but the power will be considerably less; it's about 3.5 volts.
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    Create the tube. The "tube" will guide the needle. It's easy to make one from a pencil or pen.
    • Use a mechanical pencil. An inexpensive plastic pencil will work fine, or you can choose one that's metal. Depending on your preference, you can leave the pencil as-is or cut it down to about a 3" to 4" length.
    • Alternately, you can use an everyday stick pen like a Bic and remove the ink cylinder from inside. If you want a shorter tube, cut the pen to about a 3" or 4" length. File down the brass tip of the pen to get the ball out and make the hole big enough to allow passage of the needle.
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    Design a brace. The brace will support the tube when it's attached to the machine motor for the tattoo gun.
    • Take a teaspoon and break off the bowl (the part you eat from). Then bend the spoon back to create an "L"-shape.
    • A second option would be to cut the bristles off of a toothbrush leaving about 4" in length. Use a lighter to heat up the plastic toothbrush handle and bend it into an "L" shape. Hold the bent handle in place until the plastic cools, and it becomes stiff.
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    Make a needle. Cut a metal guitar string an inch or so longer than the length of your tube. It should reach from the center of the motor to the tip of the tube after assembly. Put soap and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Drop your needle into the pot and boil it for five minutes. Rinse it in clear water and then boil it again in water only.
    • You can prepare several needles in advance. If you do so, store them in a sterilized jar.

Method 2
Assembling the Gun

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    Attach the tube to the brace. Remove the eraser and any lead from your mechanical pencil. Hold the short end of the spoon (or toothbrush) brace in your hand the way you'd hold a gun and tape the pencil to it. The open "eraser" end of the pencil should line up with the bend in the spoon, and the shaft of the pencil should lay on the straight plane of the brace. The point of the pencil will extend off the edge of the brace.
    • Be sure to tape the pencil to the brace very securely; it should not wobble or wiggle in any way.
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    Attach the motor to the brace. Tape the motor to the short end of your brace. Be sure that it's straight and that the button is centered along the shaft of the brace.
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    Insert your needle. Place one end of the guitar string through the tip of the pencil and thread it through the tube. When it comes out the other end, pick up your pliers and bend the end of the guitar string into a 90-degree angle. Then bend the tip of the string again to create a second 90-degree angle You're basically creating a hook at the end of your needle. Snip off any extra wire from your hook; it doesn't need to be that long.
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    Attach the needle to the motor. Take the hook you just created and set it into one of the holes in your button. When you spin the button, you should see the needle going in and out of the end of your pencil tube. If necessary, trim down the needle.
    • If you used an eraser instead of a button, create just one 90-degree angle on the end of your guitar string and firmly press it into the eraser so that it's secure. Please note: it's important that the needle is intentionally off center. Do not line it up exactly in the middle of the eraser.
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    Connect your power source. Use a plug-in adapter from a CD player, a phone charger or other power source that's made up of two wires. Split the wires apart and attach them to the contacts of the motor.
    • If you don't want to repeatedly unplug and re-plug your power source when you stop to clean the skin, purchase a small On/Off switch from an electronics store and attach it to your motor connection.
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    Discard single-use items. Once you've finished your tattoo, you must throw away the needle and the tube (mechanical pencil/pen). Do not under any circumstances reuse these items. They can spread diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Even if you plan to use the materials only on yourself, it's not worth the risk, especially when guitar string and mechanical pencils and pens are so inexpensive.


  • Make many needles so they can always be thrown away after use.


  • ALWAYS follow proper sterilization procedures.
  • This is NOT a toy. It should be considered a medical procedure. Use care and sterile practices and practice on yourself before messing anyone else up.

Things You'll Need

  • Rotary motor
  • Mechanical pen or Bic pen
  • Teaspoon or toothbrush
  • Guitar string
  • Black electrical tape
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Multi power supply
  • Tattoo ink (available online or from a tattoo shop)

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Tattoos and Piercing