Spring Gauging

There are two springs on the standard tattoo machine, the front
and the rear. In the standard spring setup the rear spring is basi-
cally rectangular, while the front is triangular. Springs will generate
resistance which is converted into potential energy when
the magnets pull the a-bar down. How much energy each spring
has the potential to possess is directly related to the gauge of
the spring. The gauge of the spring is basically the thickness
of the metal. It is generally agreed upon that a stiffer spring will
make your machine hit harder, while a thinner gauge spring will
make your machine hit softer. There are other factors to take
into consideration in relation to the springs. The spring area or
the length of the spring multiplied by the width of the spring will
also increase the stiffness. When the ratio of the width to length
is modified by adding more to the width side of the spring, the
spring becomes stiffer. This holds true in reverse as well; when
two springs with the same width are compared, the spring with
the longer length will be less stiff. Another important feature to
pay attention to related to the springs, but not directly on the
spring, is that of the deck clamp or fastening piece (the piece
that holds the rear spring to the deck of the frame). If your spring
is a certain width (x), yet the spring is fastened to the deck by
a circular washer, a lot of the potential energy will be lost. This
is because the width of the washer (y) is less than the width of
the spring (x). The spring’s pivot is now reduced to that of the
counter pressure imposed upon it by the circular washer. This
is not always a bad thing, and sometimes you do not want to
utilize all of the rear spring’s potential energy. If you do with to
take full advantage of the spring’s width, then you should use a
deck clam with a flat end to fasten the rear spring to the deck.
This is where you see a lot of artists with a coin that has been
cut in half, fastened to the rear of their tattoo frame holding the
spring in place. The bottom of the spring will be pressed against
a straight edge (the frame), and with a deck clamp, it will now be
pressed equally on the top and the bottom (allowing for maximum
stored energy potential to be realized).

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