Brother PJ Stencil Printer
A Quick Start Guide for Tattooists
Follow these steps and you’ll be up and running in no time. And you’ll avoid wasting sh*tloads of paper trying to figuring it out. Believe me I’ve been there!
Brother PJ Stencil Printer - Quick Start guide.
1. It's not actually a Stencil printer
Contrary to what you may have read the Brother PJ printers were not actually designed to print stencils. Like almost all the products that we use everyday in tattooing they were ‘repurposed’ by ingenious tattooists looking for a modern solution to an old problem. The Brother PJ is a Thermal Printer designed to print text and simply graphics onto fax paper.
Distributers and resellers (not Brother themselves) make all kinds of wild claims about the printer in order to get you to part with your hard earned cash. Claims like ‘simply plug & play!’ raise your expectations of the device and can lead to all kinds of disappointment. Just like most of the tech we use. There IS a learning curve! Everyone makes stencils slightly differently based on their needs. And you may find that it’ll take a moment to get your printer ‘dialled in’. Thankfully once it’s there, it’s done. Set it, forget it.
But when you’re setting up your printer for the first time remember, this device was designed to print on fax paper and NOT stencil paper so you have to give the little guy a break every now and then!
2. 12v 2amp Power Supply
90% of all Brother PJ stencil printing issues come from the stencil paper creasing as it’s getting printed to. This is caused by too much heat. The PJ is designed to print onto fax paper perfectly using a 15 volt brother power supply. But its simply too much for our delicate stencil paper. Using a 12 volt 2 Amp Power supply means that the printer can’t get hot enough to crease the paper. This eliminates almost all stencil printing issues instantly. It’s my number one tip to getting the printer to work flawlessly. Most of the time!
This is the one I use. It’s on my Amazon Shop. Get one, you won’t regret it.
3. Firmware and Stencil mode
Your Printer should ship with the latest firmware installed and stencil mode turned on. However its a good idea to download the printer setting tool from your countries Brother website. This is Brothers Software Download page.
Follow the steps in the ‘Using the Printer Setting Tool’ Brother support documents »HERE« to connect your printer to a computer via usb. Once Connected via usb you can us this tool to change the default settings for your Brother PJ. You only have to do this once. Each time you turn your PJ on it’ll remember those settings.
4. Brother Stencil Quick Start. Best Settings
If you’re not sure what the settings are best and don’t fancy reading the manual (who does?) you can always just download my settings for your machine »HERE«. Just simply follow the instructions to download and install my settings and you’ll have the best setup possible for your PJ in about 5 minutes. The settings file comes with a settings PDF for manual input, just in case the install doesn’t work. They sometimes dont and I’m not a coder. So, you’ll have to put them in manually. Thankfully there’s only a couple of settings that need to be adjusted from the default.
5. Don't rip off the yellow sheet
You’re going to be feeding the paper into the printer from the top and you need the yellow sheet still attached at the top to keep the purple sheet and the stencil sheet in place. Just fold the yellow sheet back and tear off most of it, leaving about 30mm at the top. Spirit paper now comes with a perforated line across the yellow sheet to help you with this part of the process.
6. Get your Paper Straight & Avoid Creasing
The PJ was designed to be used with rolls of paper and not so much with single sheets. This means that the process of feeding paper into it can lead to creases at the edge of the sheet that mess up stencils due to it not being ‘straight’ in the machine. Over time you will become quite expert at feeding the paper straight by eye.
The easiest way to feed stencil paper into the machine and get it straight is to:
- Feed the paper.
- Short press the paper feed button a couple of times.
- Lift the flap at the from of the machine to release the roller.
- Adjust the paper in the feed slot.
7. Print Stencils NOT Pictures
Your PJ can print pictures with tones but this is no substitute for a proper tattoo stencil. It may seem like a huge timesaver but it isn’t. You will achieve far better results by making a proper stencil. Just like everyone else!
8. Print at the Bottom of the Page
If you want to save some money (and paper) print your stencils starting at the bottom of the page. Then you can cut the bottom of the page (and your design) off the sheet without affecting the glued section at the top. This means that you can still feed it into the printer for another stencil or 2. Just remember to move your artwork up as you go 😉
9. Printing Patterns
Printing patterns can sometimes cause the printer to ‘catch’ whilst printing which messes up the pattern. To eliminate this problem just rotate the pattern 2 degrees in either direction before you print it. Problem solved.