Seriously love these tubes!
I had to adjust my last tube review because these ones just bumped up the competition. They are the easiest and most practical tubes to work with.
These tubes were purchased from Friction Tattoo Supply:
Friction, Disposable Prime Tubes – 1″ grips
I went with the 1″ grips as I tend to lean towards most of the time. Pictured left to right is the 9 mag, 13 mag, 5 round liner and 7 diamond liner.
What’s new about these tubes?
Acrylic tube and tip:
I think the biggest deal to be made about these is that they have an acrylic tube and tip running through the grip. The perfectly clear tip makes it super easy to see what is going on inside with your color and needles. It saves time and doubt when you are wondering if you got your tip clean enough to go from a dark color to white or other lighter color.
Silica gel grip:
The purple grip is really comfy with a minimal amount of squish yet just soft enough. It provides plenty of grip from the studded surface and fits nicely in the hand. I wear a medium glove and I like to use the 1? grip for tattooing all day long.
Tip size shown on tip:
Friction decided to eradicate any doubt of a tubes size by engraving it right on the tip. It allows you to make a quick selection if some tubes get mixed up in the wrong box.
They are pretty much perfect. Super clear and easy to use.
Can’t say anything bad about these.
Friction Tattoo, Disposable Prime Tubes Overview
There are three types of tubes I am reviewing in this article:
1? grip, 9 mag tip
1? grip, 13 mag tip
1? grip, 3 round tip
1? grip, 7 diamond tip
In The Box
Friction Prime disposable tubes – 1″ grip, 9 mag tip (25 in one box)
Friction Prime disposable tubes – 1″ grip, 13 mag tip (25 in one box)
Friction Prime disposable tubes – 1″ grip, 3 round tip (25 in one box)
Friction Prime disposable tubes – 1″ grip, 7 diamond tip (25 in one box)
Friction Prime, Disposable Tubes Score:
So I received my machine a few days ago. I ordered mine in black, but he has told me that he can do most any color. He also offered me a new version with an adjustable cam. Which I naturally wanted. So I received my machine about a week after ordering, living in Europe it wasn’t far for him to ship it to me. One of the best parts of any purchase of this type is communication. He went above and beyond and sent me pictures of the build along the way.
This was a nice touch and I have no idea, if he always does this but his communication was perfect.
This is the photo he sent when the build was finished.
I received the machine packaged very well, it was in a shipping envelope wrapped in bubble wrap and in its own box. The box also has foam sides, so the machine can’t move at all.
Well, enough of that., On to the good stuff. How does it perform? Very well. The over all design is smart and fairly original ( even if it looks derivative of other machines ) . It is lighter and smaller than a brass Rotary Works. If I had to compare it to another machine, I think the original Swiss is the closest mechanically. Although the motor on the Ikarus is a good bit faster, the vibration and sound are about the same. Which means very little sound or vibration.
I decided to first try it as a fine liner as the lack of vibration seemed perfect for a 3rl. This is what I miss the most about the NeoTat that I had , and it performed very comparable. It lined perfectly with a 3, and I was able to just relax and tattoo. At no point was I compensating for vibration, or having to over think what I was doing. I often consider that a measure of how good a machine is. If I have to think about the machine while using it, then it might not be for me. For fine lining I was running the machine at about 7.8 volts on a Critical CX-1 G2.
The next tattoo I did was filling in background on a chest piece and I used an 11mag and ran the machine a bit faster around 8.8 – 9 volts. Again it was very smooth and I would say that it’s ability for grey wash and color work to be fairly effortless. I also dropped it down to about 7 volts to do a bit of salt and pepper shading, and then back up to around 8 for some color blending. All of this was flawless.
The last two tattoos that I did with this machine, I used it as a liner. Both times with a 5rl, and at around 8 volts. For one I was doing some semi-old school roses and wanted to have thicker lines and wanted it to as effortless as possible. So I opened the needle up a bit with a lighter ( still one of my favourite old school tricks ) and made it about the size of a normal 8rl. Now granted I could have just used an 8rl but I am using a machine that I am not 100% used too and wanted the tattoo to be easy on me, and it was. I have always found that no give rotaries line easier with loose needles.
The last one was a walk in that wanted a little umbrella on his foot, I drew it in and tattooed it on easily with a normal 5rl.
To surmise, I truly believe this is a class act machine. The price I paid was 140€ shipped and that is very reasonable for any machine. He could charge 200€ and I would still think it is worth it. One of the most interesting features of this machine is that the motor ( Mabuchi I believe ) becomes the body, which also air cools the motor very well. I have easily put nearly 10 hours on this machine already and I never noticed it getting warm.
As for the adjustable cam, I have not even messed with it. Mine came set at 4mm and for now it will stay there. I love to have the option and may set it around 2.5 for some soft black and grey at some point, but overall 4mm works well for me.
The geometry is very good for disposables and I have plenty of room for adjustment even with a lot of needle hang. The thumbscrew on the vice is also very nice and it has a plastic washer so the in no rubbing metal on metal. It is also easy to turn and stays very secure while tattooing.
Pros: inexspenive, low vibration, very quiet, and versatile. It is a good all a rounder and good addition for anyone to have.
Cons: it is slightly heavier than say a dragonfly or a Rapier II. The washer that holds the crank arm in place on the A-bar is moved out of alignment, the machine will start to make some noise. I found out when I was switching out the stock grommet for silicone tubing. Pops rubber bands almost as often as my Rotary Works does.
All in all, I like the machine a lot. Is it a perfect liner, maybe not but it is a good liner. A little give and it could be a great liner. As for a shader it’s great and I handily believe it can push larger mags too. The amount of power it has is impressive and it was very hard to bog down the motor at all.
Ok, hope that helps and isn’t too long winded. If you want to find him, he is on Facebook as Ikarus Rotary and the price is 180$ to the Americas or 140€ to Europe. I am in no way affiliated with Ikarus, just a very happy customer. I am more than happy to answer any questions.
By: Matt L, INKquire
NORM TATTOO MACHINE
Todays review is about an incredible tattoo machine that I recently bought.
Now…in my iPhone I have a ‘note’ with a loooong list of machine builders that I’ve come across during my time as a tattoo artist. I hope to eventually add a little ‘check’ icon next to each name on this ever growing list of mine. So far I’ve checked off 3 of 20. I have some way to go.
I needed a machine that I could use for bigger outline needle groupings. When it came time to make a purchase I took a look at that long list and said, “Shit!! Where do I begin?!” With so many extremely respectable names on this list of mine, it was hard to pick one to check off. Seth Ciferri, Keith B, Rob Rutherford…I know they all make quality machines…I want them all…now!! But my budget simply wouldn’t allow. I finally decided on a Norm machine. I had been following his tattoo work for a while, and would check his website almost daily just to look at the machines he posted. A friend and fellow tattooer encouraged me, saying “Go for it, the dude is known for his machines!! I’ve wanted one for a while too!” So made the order and waited impatiently for my machine to arrive in the
Opening a little cardboard box with a brand new tattoo machine inside mailed directly from a tattoo artist that is an inspiration to you and your work encourages feelings that are indescribable. For me anyway…I don’t get much excitement in my life, I love receiving new tattoo equipment in the mail. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
I was extremely excited to use my new purchase. Within the first couple of tattoos that I had done with my new Norm machine I knew that I had made the right decision. I was actually surprised at how well the machine packed in such a solid outline. I had used a couple of machines in the past for bigger outliners but none would come close to comparing to my new Norm machine. I had a Dan Folwer Time Machine which was ok, and a Paco Rollins’ machine that for some reason would never allow me to get a solid outline in. The new Norm machine literally is like tattooing with a Sharpie. It runs super smooth and puts in a solid line every time. Im not putting down the other 2 machines, they just didn’t seem to work for me. I felt like I would almost always have some empty spots in the outline that I would have to go back and hit again.
One thing I noticed right away about the Norm machine, which I had never seen on any other machine I owned or used, is that instead of one front and one rear spring, Norm just used one solid spring. I don’t know much about machine building or tuning, so I don’t know what kind of advantage this gives to the machine other than maybe it offers a more solid hit because there is no break in the spring? Im not sure, but as I said, it definitely caught my eye.
Norms creative style of tattooing definitely carries into his machine building. I always see tattoo machines as little sculptures and Norm’s machines are definitely that. That point is what also makes machines so fun to collect. Each builder has their own creative style and mojo that makes their machines unique. The machine that I got has a simple frame design but also has his signature Louis Vuitton coil covers which I love.
All in all its a great machine, it looks awesome, its light weight and comfortable and most importantly packs in super solid lines. I can honestly say I will be buying more of Norm’s tattoo machines and would definitely recommend them to everyone. But I also think you should all make a little ‘note’ in your phone or spiral notebook if you’re old school and make a little list and experiment with all of the equipment you can!! Theres so many great builders out there its hard to try them all. I’d love to hear some machine recommendations from you guys!!
Thanks for reading!!!
Check out Norm’s website and check out one of his machines for yourself!!!
The Stigma Hyper is not your standard “Rotary” tattoo machine.
It uses what they call “Swash Plate Technology”, and runs slightly different from the average Rotary. This swash drive tattoo machine is set up with the motor vertically. Therefore changing the weight distribution from a standard coil machine (as well as most Rotaries). This along with the fact that it only weighs a mere 3.7 oz. really makes for a pretty comfortable feel.
Now I use only disposable tubes. This fact again adds to the super lightweight feel of the tattoo machine. But recently I pulled out some stainless 1” grip tubes, and found the weight and balance different, but just as comfortable.
I will admit that I tend to like a slightly heavier tattoo machine when it comes to my coils, but it only took a few minutes of tattooing to fall into a comfortable groove with these machines.
Another difference with this particular Rotary tattoo machine is there “Power control, Thumb screw”. This is a screw set at the top of the machine, behind what would be the armature bar on a standard machine. This is a pretty cool feature as it gives another unique twist to this machines set up, and performance. When the screw tightened down the armature nipple is set rigid (like most standard rotaries). But when loosened say a full turn, it gives the stroke a bit of give, mimicking the action of a standard coil machine stroke. So by keeping the screw set down (no give), you’ve got a pretty sweet liner. And By opening the screw up, you’ve enough give for a keen shader.
Now, to performance. The machine has several features I enjoyed, and a couple I did not. But everything was easy enough to get used to. I’ll go from the basics, to a bit more in depth.
1. I liked the fact that the machine (unlike some other newer rotary tattoo machines) uses all standard equipment. Standard tubes, needles, rubber bands, etc. There’s really no hidden costs here. Just a pick up and go machine.
2. I really dug the fact that this, and other tattoo machines by them, are all set up with both a clip cord, and RCA jack hook up standard. No need to purchase one or the other. And therefore I didn’t need to change anything over to use say, my standard machines, and than the Hypers.
3. Smooth, and consistent running. When using the Hyper as a shader the first week, I ran it round 9 volts. While this gave me a standard smooth running, solid packing shader. With little bleeding, and trauma to the skin. I did notice it ran a bit slow, and therefore I tattooed a bit slower for it. But upon getting more comfortable with the machine, I turned up the power (running about 9.6-7 volts), and was able to move quite a bit faster. This did add a bit more trauma to the skin. But not any more (and most of the times less), than say one of my standard coil machines.
4. I was pretty comfortable slowing down to pack an area when shading. As well as move a bit faster, open up my hand motion, to achieve some very effective, and clean shading as well.
5. Super lightweight. As I said earlier, I usually prefer a heavier tattoo machine. And as I was already using disposable tubes I was used to the slightly un-even distribution of weight. But with the way that the Hyper is set up, with the machine being taller than wider. The weight is really well distributed, and therefore very comfortable. I will admit to being a bit more comfortable using the clip cord, verses the RCA jack. As the clip cord allows a bit of room (by swinging, and not being rigid), when working in awkward spots.
6. Its frame style is both cool looking, and real easy to clean.
Now for the other side, the machine did have a few things that took some getting used to, and some things IM still not super comfortable with.
1. The Tube vice. While it’s a clean looking, and a very standard vice. I found that while using my disposables it clamps down awful hard usually dinging the tube when setting my needle depth in place. Now this makes it difficult because, if you clamp down immediately upon setting up, and need to reset your tube/needle position. It could be difficult, as the dent in the tube will make resetting the position just about impossible, and on 1 or 2 occasions I found myself changing out the damaged tube, so as to reset my needle position.
2. Another thing about needle depth setting is that I usually have to run the machine while doing so. Unlike a standard coil machine, where you can set up your needle, & just push you’re a-bar forward to set your needle depth. I’ve had to actually run the machine while setting my depth, so as to get an accurate position. Just a bit awkward, and time consuming.
3. When using standard stainless tubes. I had a bit of a difficult time tightening the vice down enough. Now this could be my big mitts, or the Teflon bead in the bottom of the vice. But I did find this to be a bit of an annoyance.
4. The stroke length is not quite the length I normally like, but it was pretty good. It would be cool if you could have a bit more control over the play in the stroke. Like I stated earlier upon loosening the screw, this will give you a bit of play on the hit of the machine. Sort of a fine tuning. It seems you either have give (for shading), or you do not.
5. The price. It’s a bit of an expensive machine. Now IM not one to balk at price under no circumstances. But I will admit that 350. Euro (roughly $430-450) is kind of steep. But I’d say worth it.
I stated earlier that I “Just about Exclusively” used the Hyper’s, and what I meant by that is It took some time to really want to try em as liners. At first it was a cost issue. Like I said $450. A pop is a lot. But, like any other, eccentric tattooer. I had to have the Lot. So I picked up another Hyper, and a Bizarre (another similar style machine, from Stigma. And one I was informed would make a very good liner). They are different. It’s hard to really put my finger on it, but they seem to lack the subtleties of my coil liners. I noticed that they took a bit longer to get used to than the shaders, but once I did, they performed well. I still line a bit slower, but they make for awesome large round Power liners. All in all, IM pretty happy with there performance, as well.
Another thing I noticed with these machines, like all machines. Is they all do not run exactly the same. Having 2 of the same machines did not mean they ran exactly the same way. As a matter of fact the two Hyper shaders I have, run ever so slightly different.
The maintenance. Simple, but awkward. A little lubricant (supplied from Stigma) is applied after several hours of work to a key area in the machine. Very simple. But I do have a difficult time with the knowledge that when there’s a problem with the machine, the solution is pretty much out of your hands. Short of sending it back to the manufacturer, or purchasing a new one, your pretty much, S.O.L. Unlike a coil machine, where the springs, and what not can be replaced, or upgraded. What you see is what you get with a rotary.
Also from the standpoint of time, and charm. A rotary seems to have a workload life expectancy. Unlike a coil machine, where one can have it for decades, in daily use. I’ve been told that the rotaries may get 2-3 years constant use, before burning out, or being replaced. Something a buyer may want to consider.
In the past I’ve said that rotaries were just not for me. I don’t know if its my need to spend money, my want to expand my technical horizons, or just my “Old Dog, wanting to learn new tricks” mentality. But I must say that my experience with the Stigma Hyper has been positive. And while IM certain I’ll not be throwing away my coil machines any time soon. I do look forward to more tattooing with these great tools.
To date my experiences with the folks over at Stigma have been short, but positive. I would think that as the company grows, so will some of the hassles of dealing with them. But check out there web site. I found it to be insightful, as well and interesting.
Slot-Lock Cartridge Needles are the Best Cartridge Needles at the Best Price!
The Slot-Lock Needle Cartridge features the highest quality components: a durable, clear lexan plastic diamond tip, press-fit into a medical grade indigo blue casing. Slot-Lock is a more efficient needle cartridge by design, featuring less tension than other needle cartridges on the market today. This allows the artist to achieve higher speeds with less voltage. Slot Lock cartridge needles are 0.35mm diameter with a standard and long taper, woven stacked configuration recommended for both color and black and grey work. Each box of Slot-Lock includes 20 pre-sterilized needle cartridges. Slot-Lock Cartridge Tattoo Needles are made of the highest quality tattoo needles with a high quality needle casing with a completely sealed plunger end that prevents pigment backflow into the tattoo tube, providing the artist with the best performing cartridge needle possible! Slot-Lock Needle Cartridges come in a variety of needles now including #12 standard taper for shaders and #12 long taper for liners!
True Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles are essential in everyday tattooing, the benefits of using True Tattoo Needles are countless! True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles are quickly becoming the tattoo industry favorite ! Why use True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles for all of your tattooing projects? True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles protect the client and gives then a sense of security and relaxation knowing that every tattoo needle is completely brand new. The majority of the tattoo industry is now using disposable tattoo tubes and needles and other disposable products.
Using True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles and True Tubes has many benefits outside of just tattooing with them. Using True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles and True Tubes eliminates the additional risks of scrubbing dirty needles, which has many cross contamination points and is a risky process in general, exposing artists to unwanted additional sanitary risks. disposable tattoo needles also eliminate the need for expensive autoclaves, ultrasonic machines, harmful chemicals used to sterilize, tube bags, spore tests, and saves the tattoo artist many hours of sterilization time, allowing the tattoo artist to have more time to focus on tattooing with a brand new needle every time. True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles disposable tattoo needles are work ready, sterilized and ready to use. Using True Tattoo Needles and Cartridge Tattoo Needles is the best possible way to ensure a brand new, sterile tattoo needle that performs like new every time!
SLOT-LOCK STANDARD TAPER FOR MAGS
Standard taper, woven stacked configuration
SLOT LOCK LONG TAPER FOR LINERS
Long taper, larger diameter needles
“Stay New, Stay True, Every Tattoo”!
* 20 True Tattoo Needles per box.
* Made with #12 Long Taper Needles for lining.
* Made with #12 Standard Taper Needles for shading.
* 0.35mm Needle Diameter.
* Woven stacked configuration.
* Recommended for both color and black and grey.
* The safest way to tattoo all of your clients.
* Made of High Quality Surgical Stainless Steel.
* High standard of manufacturing quality control.
* Pre-Sterilized, blister packaged and work ready.
* Count on a brand new, precise needle for every client.
* Never solder again, avoid dangerous, corrosive fumes.
I just received my valor direct from tatsoul, upon opening the package i was quite impressed with the presentation with the box, once opened i was blown away on the size of the machine, its small , which is awesome, and lite and feels very comfortable in the hand. enclosed was an allen key , cartridge cap to run the cartridge system and comes stock with the magnetic cap for standard needles, i was lucky enough to also receive all three stroke cams and a tube of super lube and instructions on how to care for ur new valor rotary. the machine itself is red and very sleek looking, (like a lambo). I plugged it in just to hear it run, its very quite and very smooth… i changed the stock cam of 3.5 to the 2.5 cam , it was really easy to change out….
that was the day i got the machine, the following day i had an appt so i was able to use the machine, now keep in mind i have been all hawks lately so i was a lil on the fence with using a diff setup, i had a phoenix to do in bng and red flames, so i onle did bng with the valor, i loaded a curved 7 mag in my stainless tube and with ease i was able to put the rig in without any issues. im not crazy about the needle tensioners but this one on the valor is quite pleasant. once i lined the piece i stated to use the valor for shading, i ran it at 8.0 on my critical and it gave me nice pepper shade for the wings, i lowered the volts to 7.0 and then i was able to give a very smooth blend on some smooth shading. the flames on the tattoo were solid red, so again i gave the valor a whirl, and damn gotta say it put the red in the skin with much ease, i cant wait to use it some more and give a more in depth review, i can just imagine how nice its gonna be with bigger grouping mags, also i will be doin some lining as well, so i will add more to this thread…
as far as what this machine is compared too? well its in a class of its own, its a must have and i can see this valor being an everyday successful machine, cant wait to switch out the cart piece so i can use a cart with it… i was worried it would be like a vivace, but like i said its very small. and deff not like a vivace. much better and smoother and more consistant machine, it is slightly louder then a vivace, yet very quite. i strongly suggest putting machine money to the side and picking one of these up.
Billy from tatsoul u went far and beyond with this, i take my hat of to u. well done sir and its a sexxxy bitch
Owner of Holy Cow Tattoo in Woodstock, GA
Launched at Tattoo Jam 2013, BLKPOWDER, is a new product from medical waste experts, Greener Options.
Licensed waste disposal company, Greener Options, has been involved with the tattoo industry for a number of years, therefore, bringing out a custom product for the tattoo market was a logical step for them. Dirty water and liquids can be troublesome at times so the quickest and best way to deal with it is to turn it into a solid form, thus removing the possibility of leaks and spills.
It all started when Holly Bond (Operations Manager) went to see tattooist, Paul Talbot, in 2013. For many people, including Paul, the idea of pouring contaminated water directly into the water supply was not an option, as he says, “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the existing practice of artists carrying contaminated fluids through the studio and felt there must be a way to clean and dispose of all contaminated waste within the ‘dirty zone’ that is the artist’s station. Zonal pathogen control is, in my opinion, the safest way to avoid the cross contamination challenges faced in a busy studio as our industry is moving towards single-use, fully disposable, working methods I felt that a product that could make the ‘wet waste’ disposable would be a significant step forward”
The legal impacts and implications of working as a tattoo artist range in many ways. The Environmental Agency (EA) continually updates legislature and being aware of these matters is not only sensible but in addition you, as a tattoo artist, have a duty to care legally. There are signs that the EA are looking to tighten up on waste policies so being aware of them is important to avoid being caught out unnecessarily. Hazardous waste is a topic that is coming to the forefront especially with artists, like Kevin Paul, publicly pushing for regulation of the tattoo industry.Globally, different countries have different policies on how to deal with hazardous waste, potentially hazardous waste, and bio-medical waste. In addition, different water companies use different methods to clean the water. In non-target areas they use less aggressive methods, meaning more dirty water might be passing through the system. This does raise questions such as, are artists fully aware of how much they are contaminating their environment without even realizing it, or, how many people know exactly what they are legally allowed to put down the sink in their region?
It was a result of looking at all these questions that BLKPOWDER was born as a one-stop solution to cover all of these issues. With the most important aspect being that when clinical or hazardous waste is solid you are preventing it from entering the water system.
So how does it work?
In short BLKPOWDER is a solidifying powder that is quick, efficient, and safe. Simply pour a cap full of the powder into a liquid and let the water solidify before disposing via a clinical waste bag. Paul Talbot adds, “BLKPOWDER has a large grain formulation so it cannot be inhaled like other powders on the market and it only takes a tiny amount (1/2 teaspoon for an entire rinse cup) to do its job, so it’s also extremely cost effective.
Working Together, BLKPOWDER and Greener Options use their knowledge and skills to provide cleaner and safer clinical waste procedures whilst targeting different sectors of waste industries, Greener Options provide the back end disposal system and medical waste for people like Acorns Hospice, NHS & Jazz Events, whilst BLKPOWDER is the start of a number of products that will be designed specifically for the tattoo market.
Currently Star Tattoo Supplies, Killer Ink, Abstract Silver and Tattoo UK distribute in the UK, and recently BLKPOWDER were proud to announce that the product would be available in America exclusively through US based King Pin tattoo Supplies. Closer to home EU countries are being supplied via Barbers DTS.
BLKPOWDER has been keen to be involved building ties with studios and tattoo artists globally in order to provide products that people out in the field want to use. If you are at a show and want a demo, or just want to talk to someone about the product, drop over to their booth to chat to Emma who does all their conventions. Alternatively, drop them a tweet or an email. TM
Now I’m a sucker for a nice piece of customized hardware in my studio. It makes you somehow feel special to be working every day with something that has been built or created especially for you. It also makes a nice talking point for your customers. In my work space I am fortunate enough to have chairs that have been personalized for me, arm rests that have been hang built for me, even one-off sets of machines that builders have given to me. But I must admit that I never owned a customized foot pedal…until now
I became aware of The Wedge foot pedal when I first saw a number of pictures of its Star Wars incarnations popping up in my news feed on the internet. It looked interesting enough, but a foot pedal’s a foot pedal, isn’t it? Needless to say, I never really gave it much more thought. Then, in one of those chance meetings that seems to come out of nowhere sometimes, I was playing skittles in my local Rugby club, when a member of the opposite side introduced himself to me and told me that his son was making custom foot pedals for tattoo artists…and the penny dropped. We swapped info and shortly afterwards I got a message from Steve Miler, offering to make me my very own bespoke version of his new foot pedal, The Wedge. Of course, I was delighted to take him up on his offer.
During the next few weeks, I spent more time looking into the development of ‘The Wedge’ and hearing excellent reports coming back from various conventions, where other artists had met Steve and his business partner Jay Petty, and had had an opportunity to try out The Wedge for themselves. I was intrigued and also looking forward to eventually getting my own pedal.
When my foot pedal was finally finished, it was personally dropped off at the studio by Steve’s father (not a service every customer can expect) and the first thing I noticed, as I removed the object from the box, was just how solid and heavy it was. Most foot pedals are very light and sometimes a bit flimsy. The Wedge, however, is a heavy duty piece of hardware, solid as a rock and capable of doing some serious damage should it ever be dropped onto unsuspecting toes. Resplendent with my own logo, which you can see from the images on this page, Steve had also put in a couple of spare front plates for me; one with the Skin Deep logo on it and one with the Tattoo Master logo, so I could see how easy it was to change them should I ever want to.
Upon actually using the pedal, I found it to be surprisingly sensitive and therefore very comfortable to use. The weight took a little getting used to, as I usually push my pedal about with my foot as I change position during tattooing, but this was a small price to pay for such a solid piece of equipment.
Shortly afterwards I caught up with Steve and Jay and we talked some more about their creation.
So lets begin by filling in a little bit of background about everyone involved in the production of The Wedge foot pedal. Introduce yourself to the readers…
Jay: I began working as a professional tattoo artist in May 2011, after spending 12 years in the building trade since leaving school. I’m still very new to the tattoo world and with lots more to learn still;, But I feel its my destiny now.
Steve: Since leaving school in 1998 I have worked in various jobs using AutoCAD, drawing a range of things from buildings to engineering components. I started my own little venture called Sit CutsAlot with a work colleague of mine, Matt Makins. We make any custom metal artwork ranging from tea coasters to wall signs. You can have a look at www.sircutsalot.com. It was from this that Jay and I met and developed The Wedge.
So tell me more about how the concept of The Wedge first came about?
Jay: I was working at the studio one day when my run of the mill foot switch stopped working…again. Being a sci-fi geek I had recently bought a storm trooper arm rest built by Greg Holmes (designed by Steve) and a set of storm trooper tea coasters, also made by Steve. As the coasters were made from steel, I thought it might be cool to make a foot switch out of one of them to match my arm rest. From there the product went through stages as cardboard, hand sawn wood and milled wood. During this time I sold a few to other tattoo artists, after putting a picture up on Facebook of my prototype. Deep down, though, I thought I needed to make them from metal somehow, so decided to visit various engineering firms, all of which turned me away. I then contacted Greg Holmes to see if he could help but he told me that Steve Miller might be better suited to the job, so I contacted Steve about helping me to design one made from steel. I was pondering over the name, coming up with suggestions like ‘The Big Foot’ and ‘Next Step Foot Switches’ both of which my other half, Clare, thought were stupid. She said, “Just call it The Wedge, that is what is is”. So Steve and I got together over some ink to discuss options…and the rest is history.
How does the division of labor break down between you both? Who designs, creates, and assembles them?
Jay: To start with I would ask Steve if he could make a certain design on request from a customer. He’d send them through and I would assemble them and dispatch them.
Steve: Now we both get ideas for the pedals from customers. I would raw them up using AutoCAD and convert them into a cutting code for a CNC laser. The main base of ‘The Wedge’ was designed using Solidworks sheetmetal feature, which allows you to draw in 3D then convert to a flat pattern for the laser to cut. A 270 ton press break then bends flat meta parts back into 3D shape. These are all manufactured at my place of work, EMS Mansfield Ltd. Once all components have been produced, I will take them over to Jay who installs the wiring, RCA connections and tests them to ensure they work.
They look great too. I love that you were able to make one for me using my personal logo. Is every pedal a custom build, or do you have standard models as well?
Jay: There will be 2 versions of The Wedge foot switch. The first will be cut from 2mm 304 grade stainless steel, powder coated in some cases, with stainless steel ID tags, union jacks, The Wedge floor plate, top quality RCA connector and a stainless mounting plate to enable interchangeable (customizable) top pedals The second will be cut from 2mm 304 grade stainless steel, powder coated, plain floor plate, top quality RCA connector, and a geneeric 2-3mm top plate. And will be non customizable.
Apart from how great it looks, the other thing I noticed immediately about the wedge was just how bloody heavy it is. How much does each one weigh?
Jay: It’s the heavy weight champion of footswitches. Each one weighs approximately 1.5kg. I was worried about postage costs when I first weighed it at the local post office but the weight is a sign of the quality of the product. Plus it looks awesome.
Well it certainly feels like it’s built to last. Every pedal comes with a lifetime guarantee, doesn’t it?
Steve: Yes each pedal comes with a lifetime guarantee, but only on the workings of it. Cosmetic damage is down to the artist to look after. To preserve the look we advise using a softer soled shoe.
Have you thought of maybe producing a lighter travel edition for artists traveling to guest spots or conventions? Or maybe even including a non pedal switch device that you could package with the main pedal as an optional travel extra?
Steve: We have considered making a wedge from aluminum, rather than steel. My concerns with that, though, are that aluminum is softer and more prone to bending, resulting in the possible failure of The Wedge. We are also looking into making a Wedge on-off switch that plugs straight into the power supply. This would be lighter and better for travelling with.
I’ve noticed also that the pedal works by the top plate pushing down onto a metal bump below it to complete the electrical circuit. No button as such. How have you got around the possibility that metal will eventually bend over time to complete the circuit permanently?
Jay: The top plate of the pedal moves such a small amount, I think about 1-2mm to be precise, and it’s the hardened rubber bushes tat flex slightly to allow movement. The last 4/5 months I’ve been testing different methods and ideas with several tattoo artists around the country and found using two plates is the way to go. The lower the point of contact, the better. It’s nearly impossible to bend two pieces of steel with only a 1/2mm gap, it will always spring back because of the rubber bushes. If the worst was to happen and a constant circuit was made, thanks to simple mechanics, we are able to chop and change each individual component, replacing any defective part. All of which are covered by your guarantee.
How do you recommend artists keep the top plate clean? Is there any danger of rust from moisture or spillage?
Steve: We advise artists to use a non alcohol based cleaner to clean their top plates, even though the colors are powder coated they can still be susceptible to thinning. If you were to chip the paint there are no fears of rust as all Wedge components are made from stainless steel.
So overall, what do you feel that the wedge offers artists that other pedals don’t?
Jay: Peace of mind. After getting through over £300 worth of ‘run of the mill’ foot switches in 3 years i realized something had to be done. There’s no other pedal out there doing what we are doing. If you get bored of your current design, as long as you own the premium Wedge, you can take off your top plate and order a new design from us without having to order the entire pedal again.
And how much do you charge for each pedal?
Steve: Premium Wedges range from £180 – £220 depending on the intricacy of the design of the one included top plate with extra top plates starting at £40. The basic Wedge will be £130, available in a range of colors and the same lifetime guarantee.
And where can artists order them from?
Jay: Currently you are able to buy The Wedge direct from ourselves by sending an email to email@example.com. We will ask you to send an image of your design, we will then look at it to see if it is feasible and then send you a price and PayPal invoice. These are made to order so please allow up to 3 weeks for delivery. Killer Ink and Star tattoo will also be stocking The Wedge in the UK, along with a State side investor interested in bringing the Wedge to the US. But we are awaiting confirmation on this final deal.
Sounds promising. So what do you see as the future of The Wedge?
We have our targets high and have aimed for world domination. Once “The Wedge” has become a household name we have a few other ideas for customizable, robust, built to last products for tattoo artists. With Jay being the tattoo artist and me being the engineer, we should be able to produce products that will aid and make tattooing easier, more convenient, and personalized for each artist. We have recently given three of the customized Wedges out to top UK artists: one to Dave Perry, another to Chris Jones and the third to Mark Poole. Remember, “The Wedge – Art for your Sole”
Got to love a slogan like that!
By Dave Perry, Revolver Tattoo Rooms
Like most tattoo artists that world over, there is a part of me that just cannot help constantly looking for that magical new machine that might just take some area of my work to the next level.
A colleague of mine calls it “machine chasing”… I like to think of it as not leaving a single stone unturned. So when the chaps at TATSoul asked me if I would be willing to take a set of three of the company’s new in-house coil machines for a test run, I was of course, delighted to oblige. After all, what harm could it do? But what I didn’t expect to do was to end up falling in love with these machines straight out of the box. Normally, if I am sent machines to test for a builder, I will use them very sparingly and carefully during the first few days. After all, I don’t want to risk ruining a customer’s tattoo by using machines that I am uncomfortable and unfamiliar with. You can poke, prod and run a machine all you like, but the proof of the pudding always lies in actual time spent on skin; only then do machines reveal their true worth. However, after only a matter of minutes I was amazed to find myself settling in to a six-hour session using nothing else. Since then, I have used them exclusively on every tattoo produced during the past week. In short, they are the best, ‘straight out of the box’ coil machines, that I have ever come across… bar none.
So let’s take a more detailed look at what TATSoul sent me in those boxes. Apart from asking me if I preferred a heavier steel frame or a lighter aluminium frame (I chose steel), I pretty much left everything else to the company. They elected to send me three machines from their Kronos range-a liner, a shader, and a colour packer. these machines are designed and individually hand-tuned by TATSoul’s in-house artist, Erica Kopelow. This is something that happens to ever in-house coil machine they sell. Amazingly, each machine ran perfectly straight out of the box, each with a beautiful action and perfect timing. No extra tweaking or fiddling is required, which is pretty rare for me.
The first machine I used was the liner. Weighing in at a more than manageable 7.6oz, this is a machine with enough weight to turn out good, strong lines without leaving your wrists aching at the end of a long tattoo session. It runs fast, at around 135-145CPS, undoubtedly helped by its fluted armature bar. This is a machine best suited to pushing smaller lines of around five or seven needles. It has a lovely consistent stroke and its copper contact screw makes for excellent conductivity. Loaded with eight wrap coils, this is a perfect machine for turning out those smaller daily tattoos that are so often the bread and butter of many studios.
Now, onto my absolute favourite machine in the range, the Kronos colour packer. This machine is undoubtedly the best colour saturator I have ever used. It picks up effortlessly from where the liner left off, being more than able to execute thicker lines for larger needle groups with no trouble at all. I love this machine so much that I ordered a second one within a few days of me trying it out. Weighing in a full ounce heavier than its liner counterpart, the colour packer comes ready for action with ten wrap coils and a heavier ‘Hard Hitter’ armature bar. Running at around 100-110CPS this is one of the smoothest ‘out of the box’ tattoo machines I have ever used. This action is flawless; it strokes the colour gently into the skin with a firm but non-aggressive ‘slap’. As I have mentioned, by simply turning the juice up a few vaults, it will run that bit harder and double perfectly as a large group liner for working on large back pieces and bigger sleeve designs. Furthermore, I have found a surprising mid-voltage use for the machine as a while shader. It really is like having three different machines in one box, I can’t get enough of using it. In fact, if I had to find any fault with it at all, the only one I could point out would be that the fluorescent orange tape around the could quickly becomes marked and grubby looking. But I can live with that in what I believe is the best machine I have picked up this year!
Finally, last but by no means least, I come to the Kronos shader. Weighing in at a mid-range 7.8oz, this machine is constructed and tuned to be a soft shader. It uses a similar geometry to the liner, along with eight wrap coils and fluted armature bar to help keep it speed up. This machine runs at a nippy 120-130CPS and is extremely consistent in its action. Although TATSoul says it can be run at a low voltage of around six volts, I preferred to crack it up to around eight or nine for my personal hand speed and elastic band load. Despite this extra juice, I still have not encountered the machine heating up even once. It has a nice soft hit on the skin that perfectly accommodates the gradual building up of grey shade layers. Personally, when it comes to whip shading, I prefer the colour packer, but for delicate black and grey portraits and multi-layered realism, this is one of the most subtle shaders I have come across. A real pleasure to use.
In closing, I am extremely impressed with this range of in-house coils from TATSoul. Every machine seems perfectly suited to its purpose. On top of that, they look great wit ha lovely antiqued finish and come complete with a lifetime guarantee. The machines are competitively prices at below $300 each. I have yet to try all of TATSoul’s in-house coil machines but if the Kronos range is anything to go by, they are all worth checking out. Absolutely love these machines, and as I mentioned in earlier, I have already ordered an extra colour packer.
TATSoul and renowned artists came together to produce the highest quality tattoo needles. The acute angle cut into the back of the Magnum Needles will allow them to flow more fluidly through the tube. We have also found the prefect needle taper for the most efficient ink flow into the skin. Envy Tattoo Needles are manufactured with the best quality control in the industry. We pay special attention to flat soldering that will give the most fluid and accurate needle motion.
Early on in 2010 Off the Map decided to go fully disposable, due to the nature of this shop and having 40-50 guest artists per year come through. To ensure that we maintain a completely sterile environment we cleaned up our autoclaves and put them in storage. We strive to maintain strict standards of cleanliness here at the shop and feel that the nature of disposable tubes help us in that.
Get your disposable tattoo tubes at TrueTube.com