tap/die question

I need a set of taps/dies. Mostly, I need them to chase threads, and to thread some light thin work. Nothing really heavy or any quantities. Only up to 3/8 diameter.

Can anyone suggest a name brand or source of a decent set that won't set me back an arm and a leg. Standard sizes, standard threads, USS. Are el cheapos acceptable for light use?

Geez, my dad used to have sets and sets of these, and boxes laying around with tons of them. What was I thinking? But, then, he had all Starrett tools, only one of which I ended up with. I really should have been paying attention.


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For your light use get a cheap set and treat them like they are made of glass. When near the edge get a good tool for the job.

Reply to
Tom Gardner

If you know nothing of taps, avoid the super cheap carbon taps and dies. They are usually black. These are extremely brittle and are much more prone to breaking off in a hole. All taps are very capable of breaking off in a hole!!!!! Maybe I should reconsider: if a carbon tap breaks in a deep hole and it is important to get it out it can either be shattered with a sharp blow, annealed and drilled, or dissolved in acid - all of which are easier with carbon steel compared to HSS.

Home owner use should be alright with name brand HSS taps. Morse, Hanson, Triumph, etc. You may not need dies, you are more liable to use taps. The Morse tap and die set that includes coarse and fine threads from 1/4" through 1/2" is about $100. Add the smaller taps individually as you develop a need. I prefer the hex dies as they are easier to catch in a vise which I find handy sometimes.

(top posted for your convenience) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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Several schools of thought on this one. My own personal philosophy is that taps and dies are tooling you can not afford to skimp on, not if you want them to work reliably. A cheap tap will often have flashing still in it and so you'll have to run it into wood or something a few times and maybe do a bunch of work with a needle file just to get clean threads.

I like OSG, Nachi, Greenfield, Cleveland, names like that. However, there is something to be said for using carbon taps -- they are tougher than HSS taps and thus don't break off as easily, and when they do they can be drilled out with carbide tooling. Busted HSS taps are a real bummer. But don't try to cut stainless with a carbon tap.

I tend to shop around used places a lot and I generally keep a list of what taps or dies I'm looking for. I need more sizes of taps than I do dies, it seems. I keep mine clean and in labeled compartments in a little plastic compartmented box and it works great.

One other thing, taps come in taper, plug and bottoming, and for the commonly used sizes you should really have some of all 3.

Taps and dies must be started straight.

Taps that you power are different taps than those you twist in by hand. The ones you power are called gun taps and they should only be used in through holes since they drive the chips out ahead of the tap.

Tapping fluid is a must, period.


Reply to
Grant Erwin

Please don't specify tools based on their colour, unless the colour is standardized.

We use Dormer premium quality HSS spiral-point taps at work which are excellent. They also have a black oxide coating.

Because I sell cutting tools retail, I see quite a bit of this mentality. TiN coated drill bits get a bad name because certain borg stores sell awful drill bits with TiN coatings. We sell Dormer premium HSS drill bits with TiN coated tips. I sometimes have trouble convincing people they are worth the $99 (for a 1/2" 18pc set) because the borg sells a "similar" set for $9.99.



Reply to
Robin S.

I gotta agree with Grant on every thing he's said. FWIW I have a set of Crafstman HSS taps and dies that are 40 years old and belonged to my father and they ALL still work perfictly fine.

Over the years I've accumulated my more. Like several other responses have said don't scrimp on quality here, cheep taps and dies *ARE* false economy and generaly do a poor job.

Mid level names like Vermont are quite adequite for Hobby/home use. I do a lot of 1/8 scale work and have a Vermont 5-40 (no typo, it's a 1/8 clearance hole and scales to 1 inch) that I have tapped well over 1000 holes with in every thing from cast iron to brass to steel to stainless, and it also works as good as the day it was made. Just use LOTS of cutting oil and go slowly. As Grant said starting straight when tapping is a MUST. I've posted this link before, it's a cheap tapping fixture I've made, beleive me it's worth making, if you have any skill at all I doubt you'll ever break a tap again.

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--.- Dave

Reply to
Dave August


Thanks for the posting the link to the tapping fixture.


Dave August wrote:

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All that plus... Strive to throw away dull taps, not broken taps. They do get dull.

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My pleasure Rich,

FWIW along with my comment in that article about making a half sized one for smaller work, I'm about to build a bigger one too. Probably the same basic size but bigger handle. I've been doing some 1/2 and 5/8 stuff lately and those are too big for that handle, made me remember why I built it in the first place.

Happy tapping :-)

--.- Dave

Reply to
Dave August

Give your dull taps to your enemies.

that will fix em.


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I don't take that as a rant, Robin. I've bought both qualities. The cheap sets have TiN on 'em; sure -- 'bout a hundredth of a micro-inch. They start rust-spotting in just normal ambient humidity. How'd they protect against drilling friction?

(and have you ever seen the GRIND on those garbage bits?)


Reply to
Lloyd E. Sponenburgh

KEEP your dull taps, just mark them permanently by grinding a bit off the tip. Dull taps are great for cleaning out dirty threaded holes, where you don't want to cut metal, just clean & burnish,

Reply to
Nick Hull

Rudy Kouhoupt always suggested keeping broken HSS taps. He made boring bars with round cross-holes and ground the boring bits from broken HSS taps .. - GWE

Reply to
Grant Erwin

I'll echo Tom's suggestion. I've got an old Craftsman set that I bought almost 40 years ago. One inch adjustable dies, through 1/2", Krome Edge I think they called them. They have served me well.

But, whenever I have had the opportunity, I have picked up tap sets (3 taps)in single sizes. Good brands. Most have been the typical taper, plug and bottom tap sets, some serial taps instead. Plus assorted gun taps and others. All very cheap - only once, I think, did I have to buy a new set (a special size).

I prefer the HSS taps, of course. But, when I have to remove a tap that someone else broke off, I prefer that he used carbon steel.

John Martin

Reply to
John Martin

Rudy was a better man than me. There's too much temptation to reuse a dull tap. I throw them away.

Reply to
Jim Stewart

I sharpen em. Easy if you have a surface grinder.


"Considering the events of recent years, the world has a long way to go to regain its credibility and reputation with the US." unknown

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Quality tools do hold up, but good as new after 1000 holes is just plain not logical.

Reply to
Chuck Sherwood

Coated roll taps do.......

I would say that anything you buy in a store is dicey

coated gun taps , faster stronger and tougher, get osg, greenfield etc

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Makes sense, how do I know when they're dull? No, I'm not trolling. I don't tap much, so I can't rely on experience. Is there an easy test? Bob

Reply to
Bob Engelhardt

I keep the bigger ones & put a backward angling flat grind on them - makes excellent & very hard easy-outs.

Reply to
Stephen Young

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