So the first question I’m answering is one I get asked a lot, both by other tattooers and by clients; “why do you wrap your machine grip so big?! What are the benefits?”
First things first; I have larger than average hands. I’m not a small human, and as one would hope my hands are in proportion. So from when I first began tattooing I preferred a larger grip size.
But as my career has gone on, like most artists, I’ve tried to find as many ways as I can to make tattooing as comfortable as possible for myself (Making your client as comfortable as possible is a whole other challenge- which we will cover another time).
One of those things is making my machine grip as large as possible without compromising the balance and control of the finely tuned piece of equipment that it is.
Carpel tunnel syndrome is a really common problem amongst tattoo artists, one that can rarely be reversed due to the nature of the work we do and the demands it makes on our hands. (Don’t worry I’m not about to bore you all with details of what carpel tunnel syndrome is, but if you want to know, here’s a link that’ll tell you more: https://www.webmd.com/
pain-management/carpal-tunnel/ ss/slideshow-carpal-overview )
One of the ways to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome or ease it in the early stages is to enlarge your grip on any writing based tool. The reason for this is that a larger grip size means less compression of the hand and fingers for extended periods of time. It is this compression that pinches the median nerve and the tendons that run with it through the Carpel Tunnel causing that horrible feeling of pins and needles.
But just making the grip larger isn’t enough, it should ideally be soft or ‘spongy’ not rigid. This is especially true in relation to tattooing because if the grip is rigid then there will be transference of vibration from the machine into your hand. This is unavoidable to some extent depending on what machine you use to tattoo, but the more reduced the vibration is the better for your hands long term.
So what do I use to wrap my grip?
At present I use a combination of a fantastic product made by @durbmorrison called @truetubes. They have a great range of different sized eco friendly disposable grip pads that fit easily onto any machine and /or grip.
However for me even this isn’t quite enough,so I also fold over quite a few sheets of kitchen towel and wrap that on top of the true tubes grip, giving me a grip roughly – as one fellow tattooer described it – the size of a coke can!
It’s pretty oversized and I’m sure this wouldn’t be right for everyone, but it works just great for me and as yet I have had zero problems with carpel tunnel syndrome so I’m going to keep using it. Facts are facts, and whatever your individual preference is as a tattoo artist, a larger grip will benefit you in the long run.