Can anyone recommend a tap and die set that isn't made
of cheese, but (also) isn't full blown
top of the range pro standard (dormer, etc).
I want it for (very) occasional use, mainly
Requred range is 3mm - 6mm (AFAIK)
Most sets, cheese or otherwise will have a wider range than you need.
I would suggest you buy the sizes you need in a quality brand together
with matching tapping drills (diameter = thread size minus the pitch)
2.5 for M3
3.3 for M4
4.2 for M5
5.0 for M6
If you didn't see the thread "Taps and Dies ?" in uk.rec.models.engineering
started on the 14th Feb. I will repeat the suggestion that I made which
would be fine for what you want (although the Chronos set of taps is at
present out of stock) and others made suitable suggestions in that thread:
"HSS taps and dies have been more expensive because of the cost of grinding
them to the correct profile but now that they are made by the million for
industrial machines they are both accurate and often can be bought
cheaply. Over the last few years I have bought at shows from stands of
companies like Proops many HSS metric taps and dies of good quality for
around a pound each. I assume that those shown on the Proops website are
the same but slightly more expensive
item on the page)
item on page)
They are made by the million for industrial processes and thus are both
accurate and cheap. The downside is that the taps come in one type rather
than first, second and plug with the M1.5 to M6 having a point (used for
locating in the thread cutting grinders used to manufacture them) so are
best for cutting through threads. However I have found that it is quite
easy to use a bench grinder to remove the points and produce a plug tap.
(I tried to purchase an M3 plug tap from my local engineering supplies
Cookes in Chadwell Heath but it also had a slight point and was a lot more
Last year I bought from Chronos for around 14 pounds a set of HSS taps in
a metal case there are 21 in all with 3 types each of M3, M4, M5, M6, M8,
M10 and M12 which I have found are good quality. I see they are now
20pounds including VAT and postage. See: the 4th item in:
I recently needed some Metric Fine taps and was pleased to find them at
ArcEuro at a very reasonable £4 per set. I then needed some 6BA which
ArcEuro hadn't got so I looked on the Chronos site - yes in stock, so
I ticked the [Buy] box. It was only after I'd hit the 'Confirm Order'
button that I realized that the price (£3.60) quoted was for a _single
tap_ rather than a set! - even though the image shows a set.
I've just checked the Chronos price for Metric Coarse - M3 are £3.85
each compared to ArcEuro's £4 for the set of three. Similar prices
persist throughout the range.
The Chronos price for an M3 split Die is £9.91 compared to £3.50 at
I know who I would buy from.
One caveat here, and it's quite a big one - AET sell sets of serial
taps, rougher-intermediate-finisher, rather than the traditional
The difference is that in a serial set the taps get bigger as you use
them in sequence, while for a traditional set they are all the same
size, just the taper changes.
Serial taps are better for hard stuff in non-blind holes, but you have
to use all three. Traditional taps are better if you only want to use
one tap (in a non-blind hole) or need to use a plug/bottoming tap to tap
to the end of a blind hole.
Both have their places and uses, but for general purpose use, if you
are only going to buy one set, then the traditional type of set is
-- Peter Fairbrother
In my somewhat limited experience, bicycles don't have many 3mm-6mm
For a cheap metric set try this:
Not HSS, "alloy steel", but for the price not too bad. Seems better than
the average cheap stuff anyway.
Otherwise there are some HSS sets available, beginning at around £40 -
how much were you thinking of spending?
On this note, is HSS actually a good material for hand taps and dies?
What is needed in a hand tap or die is hardness so they stay sharp and
dimensionally stable, and toughness so they don't break - but high
temperature sharpness retention, the main selling point of HSS, is not
Carbon steel is plenty hard enough (and takes a good edge) for
occasional use, but fails on the toughness criterion. It's too easy to
break a tap in the work.
I haven't ever broken a carbon steel die tho', and even if I did I doubt
it would be catastrophic - it isn't likely to get stuck in the work.
HSS is hard enough too, and because it's a bit tougher than carbon steel
it's considerably better for hand use - but are we not paying for high
temperature performance which is unnecessary?
( I've only tried one "tungsten steel" tap/die set, I broke two dies
trying to thread some 316 - won't try it again, unless someone else pays)
-- Peter Fairbrother
I would recommend that you have a look at the Tracey Tools site
Their sets are not the cheapest but they are of good quality and they
are very helpful people there. They also sell individual taps etc.
They have a large range of metric and imperial taps and dies, drills
etc. Over the years I have bought lots of tools from them with no
complaints. I have no interest in them apart from being a satisfied
But watch out for the "times 3" gotcha for their HSS taps. When I was
looking for an M2.5 tap they quoted £3 for carbon steel and £9 for HSS
(plus delivery plus VAT). And the HSS wasn't a Dormer or anything plush
--- news://freenews.netfront.net/ - complaints: firstname.lastname@example.org ---
I also fall into the very occasional user category and have
bought odd taps in UNF and UNC for specific jobs paying two/three
quid or so each from a local tool supplier. I did manage to break
their 2BA but that was in stainless steel. I did have a Blackspur
(spit) metric set containing about 20 sizes that was very cheap
and almost useless. Then on recommendation I bought a German made
set from Aldi (or was it Lidl) which I have now owned for about 5
years, about a quarter of the taps have seen use, 5mm a lot of
use, and so far no breakages and the 5mm produced a clean thread
on one job in mild steel for 40 holes.
The reason I go for HSS is not that they are "better" but at least you
know they will have had to have been ground to the correct profile whereas
carbon steel in its unhardened state can be cut with another tap or die
and then hardened which can distort the profile - I was caught out by this
with the first set of taps and dies I bought - although not particularly
cheap, they turned out to be of dubious Far Eastern manufacture. A good
carbon steel tap or die will need the further process of grinding to
restore the correct profile which adds to the price. So to avoid this
possibility I would recommend HSS taps and dies unless of course you get
the chance to examine them with a magnifying eye-piece before purchasing.
Cheap HSS full set, then buy metric tap sets from Presto or Dormer as
and when you need them. Also exactly the right tapping drill sizes and
keep them with the taps. Double up on M3!
You'll find that almost all of your work is tapping, not dies, and
it's only using a couple of sizes. Outside of a lathe, you'll make
even less use of a die.
A good tap wrench is worth having - tee handle sort with a chuck.
Certainly in my hands, I'm much more accurate with it than with a big
Who was the inside a tent tool stall at the Castle Coombe steam
rally? They had top-end kit, not just the usual junk, for some very
good prices. I was buying Facom ratchets more than taps, but they were
well worth a look (I think three of us spent over =A3200).