As we see the popularity of the sale of so-called "handmade" machines, if you think about it, EVERY tattoo machine is handbuilt. Even the cheap chrome plated cobalt crap that is pouring out of China has to be assembled by someone, so they call them handbuilt, or handmade. The difference in these and a TRUE handmade machine, IN MY OPINION, is the method in which one is built.
First of all, a true handmade tattoo machine is constructed of high quality material such as machine steel, brass, copper, iron, etc. NOT potmetal like most of the chinese crap sold online or the local flea market. Secondly, the procedure in which a machine is handbuilt varies widely depending on whether you have a fully stocked machine shop with computer controlled CNC machines, mills, casting apparatus, etc. or if you just have hand tools (like me) such as metal files, hacksaws, and maybe a drill press. The goal either way is to build a smooth running machine that will last.
I feel handbuilding tattoo machines is an artform in itself and enjoy doing it. It's a great feeling to use a machine that you built with your own hands and is a handy skill to be able to set up and tune a machine to your exact liking. The design of the electromagnetic "doorbuzzer" machine hasn't changed much in over a hundred years, but with the explosion of true "handmades" has opened a new door in the tattoo community. There are many machines out there that are works of art and I get inspired when I see them and this reflects in my work.
Click below to see some of Mark's machines!