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Tattoo Needle Types
Homemade tattoo needles

Much like machines, tattoo needles are generally separated into the two categories of liners and shader. Liner needles are generally soldered to the bar in a circular (round) pattern, while shader are either straight (in even rows), or staggered (stacked rows IE mags).

The needles much akin to sewing machine needles, are usually made of stainless steel so that they may be easily sterilized before use. Liners can range from 1-7 pre-made however many artists may choose to solder their own, or purchase custom soldered needle groupings. While shader are in groups of 4-9 needles (again, they may be purchased custom ordered, or made to suit your needs)

The needle tubes (back tubes) are generally designed for the specific needle groupings. Generally the tubes may fit sizes within 2-3 sizes within each other. It is important to use the proper back tube to prevent blistering of the needle.

A common misconception of tattoo needles, is that they will become dull throughout the tattooing process. However, this is incorrect, it instead becomes sharper by the repetitive motion. This does indeed cause problems, the sharpening of the blades often resembles the blade of a razor and has a tendency to cut and scrape the skin, rather than perforating the skin in tiny holes.
It may also effect the transfer of the pigment, knowing this any artist should change needles if the tattooing process for one client is longer than an eight hour period.

The needles, unlike the back tubes should NOT under any circumstances be re-used. Some artists may fall into the temptation of re-using the needles to save a little money. Although the autoclave sterilization process does indeed reduce the risk of cross-contamination, there is always a higher risk of re-used needles. Again, the shape may have also been altered through the tattooing process, whether by the repetitive motion or abrasion from the ink caps.

The price of a needle is far less, than having your priviladge of tattooing revoked. You may find solace in knowing that you may purchase needles in bulk that are not pre-sterilized, this way is an effective means of saving money in the shop. Although, pre-sterilized needles do cut back on the hours spent at the autoclave. As an artist, or shop owner it is a vital part to your business to know your specific needs, write out what you need, and what work best in your situation.

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