The tap and die set is one of those tools that may not seem necessary at first, but once you have it, you’ll appreciate how useful it could be.
Whether you need to remove a damaged screw or bolt, hang a picture, fix a lawnmower, or work on a do-it-yourself project at home, your tap and die set will assist you in forming or cutting threads.
While the concept of this toolset may seem difficult to use at first, especially if you are inexperienced, it is a skill to master this set for your projects or development processes.
To get the best out of your tap and die set, you must first learn to use it correctly. For this reason, we’ll teach you in this article about all the things you need to know about tap and die sets.
Table of Contents:
- What is a Tap and Die Set?
- What’s The Difference Between A Tap And A Die?
- Tap vs. Die
- Different Types of Thread Forms (Shape)
- How Do We Use a Tap and Die Set
- Guide in Using a Tap
- Guide in Using a Die
- Tips To Keep In Mind in Using A Tap and Die Set
- Best Considerations in Buying Tap and Die Sets
- Who Makes the Best Tap and Die set?
- Wrapping Up
What is a Tap and Die Set?
A tap and die set is a package of tools used to make screw threads in blank wood or holes.
This set includes matching taps and dies in the most popular screw sizes and a variety of wrenches. The tap itself is a metal rod with a pointed edge that resembles a drill bit.
On the other hand, the die is a circular metallic object with a hole in the middle. The pointed edges of this hole assist in forming male threads on a screw or blank rod.
Depending on the tap and die combination used, you may use these threads to cut into various materials, including metal, plastic, and wood.
What’s The Difference Between A Tap And A Die?
Taps and dies function differently, although they do work together. These two tools are intended to produce screw threads (both on male and female parts).
The female part is created with a tap. This will result in the formation of a threaded hole.
It enables a screw to be readily screwed into place. This may be a nut/bot, or it could be constructed into a solid piece of wood, metal, or plastic.
The die is used for cutting and forming the male portion of materials. You can also use it to create rings, buttons, or other shapes.
Meanwhile, chasing is the process of cleaning up a thread by using both tapping and threading.
Tap vs. Die
3 Types of Tap:
You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the correct tap and die set for your next project before you get started. The measurement of tools contained in these sets differs significantly.
Thus, you should be aware of the many kinds of taps, dies, and matching wrenches to guarantee that you’re choosing the right tools.
Taps thread the inner surface to form components such as nuts or holes into which you may screw a screw or bolt. These are classified into three categories—the taper tap, plug tap, and bottom tap.
1. Taper Tap
Taper taps are used for preliminary threading since the end tapers are lower in diameter, making it simpler to start a thread.
2. Plug Tap
Plug taps are the most often utilized kind since you may use them for finishing and initial threading.
However, they are more difficult to use for preliminary threading than taper taps and do not thread as thoroughly as finishing taps.
3. Bottom Tap
When it comes to finishing a thread design, bottom taps are the greatest option. They can cut to the bottom of the hole, allowing bolts to be threaded all the way through.
These taps are not good for first threading since they feature a short, unthreaded end, making it difficult to begin cutting threads.
Different Types of Thread Forms (Shape)
Screw threads of any size can now be made rapidly and efficiently using technology. Threading is used in various industries— from huge turbine shafts to custom machining projects requiring microscopic precision metric threads to offer consistency across industries and manufacturers.
Unified threads are a useful threading alternative for general-purpose use. Class 2 through Class 5 universal threads are available in the market.
These threads are economical and easy to use in various situations, including machine shops and automotive applications.
In addition, acme threading has many sectors, allowing for the maximum power transmission for the least amount of money.
The durability of an acme thread angle paired with a split nut advantages high-capacity loads.
Threads can sustain extremely high axial force when perpendicular to the buttress. The split nut has a high shear strength and low friction, so it may also aid buttress threads to resist degradation.
Acme threads and machined trapezoidal threads are functionally equivalent. Because trapezoidal threads are measured in millimeters, they are very adjustable.
You can now create trapezoidal threads to any specification using 2-D and 3-D modeling software through CNC milling machines.
How Do We Use a Tap and Die Set
1. Determine the thread count for each inch
When creating threads, you must know how many threads you will use each inch. It will be determined by the bolt and item chosen.
You may use a bolt gauge to measure and compute the number of threads in the lock. After deciding the quantity, choose the die that will fit inside the thread.
A tapered die will indicate which side should be worked on initially. Before choosing a die, you must first fit it into the wrench to guide and hold it.
2. Create new threads
Before making threads, you must secure the vise’s lock to prevent the item or bolt from moving. If the item or bolt is securely fastened, it will be easy to get complete threads from the dies.
While creating threads, the metal you use for cutting may heat up. You may use oil to lubricate it.
Place the die horizontally on an item or bolt. This is the phase when you may put your die to use.
Hold the die and bolt together with a wrench, then place the die at the top of the bolt. Moving the wrench causes new threads to form on the bolt.
After many rounds of the die, be careful to reverse the action by roughly a half turn. You will create transparent threads with each turn. The revolution will clear all of the thread and make it easier to cut the die.
Turn the wrench so that you can see the bolt go through the die. Continue twisting the wrench until you have the threads you want.
3. Turn a metal rod into a bolt
You may use a die to transform plain steel into a bolt. The rod should have a beveled end for you to accomplish this.
When the given rod has flat ends, the die will not operate properly. You may use a grinder to create a beveled end from a flat-end rod.
When making threads, don’t forget to add oil as a lubricant. Slowly and steadily move the dice. You will sabotage the whole process if you are impatient.
4. Make a hole using a tap
The first step is to insert the tap into the wrench and tighten it. To keep it from moving, make sure it’s tight.
Using a tap and die set to make a hole is very simple, requiring only to know the following:
- The diameter of the tap drill
- The number of threads per inch on the bolt or screw
- The diameter of the tap and screw
- The diameter of the item
Make careful to lubricate the tap as you spin it numerous times when drilling the hole.
Guide in Using a Tap
The tap’s function is to cut or shape the female threads into various materials. To begin using a tap, choose the suitable drill size for the tap you plan to use.
Once you’ve chosen the proper drill size, proceed as follows:
- Clamp the material you plan to drill to prevent it from moving while you make the thread cuts. This step is critical for achieving clean cuts and threads that perform effectively. To keep your material in place, use a clamp or a vice.
- Choose the bit size that corresponds to the hole size. It is critical to begin by drilling the hole before beginning the tap operation to cut the threads. Once you’ve determined the bit size, tighten it into your drill.
- To begin, drill gently at first. If you’re dealing with really hard materials like steel or cast iron, you may wish to use cutting oil to reduce friction heat. Take your time and drill carefully for the finest results.
- Insert the tap into your ratchet after the hole has been cleaned. After that, insert the tap into the hole and gently spin it clockwise. Turn the tap until a few threads are formed.
- To get the smoothest cuts, make two clockwise revolutions, then back the tap out by half-tracking the tap a half turn. This strategy prevents broken material or tiny particles from harming new threads as you work.
- When you’re done tapping, remove the ratchet by turning it counter-clockwise.
Guide in Using a Die
Follow these steps and begin by selecting the appropriate sized die for your project.
As long as your dies are in the right sequence in your Set, this should be quite simple. Just choose the one that seems to be the most suitable and see whether it fits:
- Using a vise or clamps, secure the material you plan to cut. It should be fastened to avoid any movement throughout the operation.
- Prepare the material by filing the end so that it is clean and square. Then, as required, use cutting oil.
- Position the die so that it is centered over the material. Turn the wrench clockwise using the same procedure you used for the tap: two full revolutions and a half turn reverse.
- Repeat these procedures until you’ve threaded the whole length of the cloth.
Tips To Keep In Mind in Using A Tap and Die Set
Here are some tips to keep in mind while using the tap and die set:
- Select a tap and die set made of a tougher material than the material you plan to cut.
- Utilize the reference guide or chart that is included with your tap and die set.
- When utilizing a tap or a die, use a slow and steady approach.
- Utilize T-handles, vises, wrenches, locking pliers, or clamps of superior quality.
- When necessary, remove debris.
- It would be best if you consider lubricating your drill or similar tool before using it. Lubricants are very important to the operation of the tool and can prevent damage to the metal.
- After each use, keep your drill bits and other instruments organized.
Best Considerations in Buying Tap and Die Sets
A tap and die set is an essential tool for any DIY worker. Buying a new one can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure what to look for in the process.
This section will aid you in selecting the finest tap and die set for your requirements.
You need to examine the size of your workshop. If your workspace is small, you’ll want to purchase a set designed for users with smaller spaces.
However, if it’s more spacious or used in a larger industry, then you might want to go with a larger tap and die set that has many more pieces in it.
Also, consider your project or be aware if you’ll need a certain sort of tap or die. Make sure you acquire a set that includes everything you’ll need.
For example, if you are using it in your garage, a basic set will suffice, but working in an engineering workplace will need more expensive sets with higher quality.
Type of Material
Tap and dies are manufactured from different materials, including steel, high-speed steel, carbide, stainless steel, titanium nitride coated, or ceramic coated. These materials have different properties that should be considered when choosing which one to buy.
For example, carbide-tipped dies are more expensive than non-carpeted versions, but they will last much longer because they are harder than other types of dies.
Also, consider the type of material you plan to use the tap and die set with most often.
If you do the majority of your work with steel or aluminum, it’s a good idea to invest in tools designed for this purpose.
Steel tap and dies are generally more durable than their aluminum counterparts because they resist high-pressure drilling.
Your tools should be safeguarded, just like any other items we give importance to.
A sturdy, durable steel or plastic storage box is ideal for preventing rust, corrosion, and impact damage when storing or transporting the tap and die set.
In addition, consider buying a storage container that effectively retains the parts in place when closed.
There is nothing more frustrating than carefully putting your tap and dice set in its box only to discover that all of the parts have fallen out of position when you take up the case to transfer it.
Who Makes the Best Tap and Die set?
You’ll need a high-quality tap and die set if you want to repair any old nuts or bolts or if you want to make a couple from scratch.
Here are some of the finest Tap and Die sets to consider:
Irwin Tap and Die Set
The Irwin Tools 26377 Tap and Die Set is one of the finest selections on the market.
This set is made of high-quality carbon steel for maximum strength and longevity, and it includes all of the taps, dies, drill bits, and fasteners you’ll need for any project.
In addition, this tap and die set includes 117 total items, the majority of which are widely sized taps and dies as well as T-handle wrenches.
Gearwrench Tap and Die Set
It’s not your ordinary tap and die set; the GearWrench 3887 Tap & Die Set is made with precision and quality you can depend on.
Gearwrench is not the cheapest, but it’s still a fantastic set for most homeowners and do-it-yourselfers since it’s so high-quality for the price.
The GearWrench 3887 has 75 tools. This set contains 34 taps and 34 dies, as well as a ratcheting “T” wrench, an SAE and metric screw pitch gauge, a #5 screwdrivers, adapters (small, medium, and tap), and a sliding T for the adapters.
With only this set, you have enough tools to provide you with a lot of options. Moreover, GearWrench tools are known for their high-quality manufacture and use of heavy-duty materials, including premium carbon steel.
Craftsman Tap and Die Set
Craftsman produces some of the most popular and cost-effective tools on the market. The Craftsman toolset has 75 components, including 7 drive tools with accessories, 17-inch plug taps, 17-inch hex dies, 17 metric plug taps, 17 metric hex dies, and a robust storage container with a handle.
The set’s elements are all constructed of robust, durable carbon steel, and they can therefore thread through most soft to medium surfaces.
Sizes are given in both inches and metric, so you shouldn’t have any problem browsing this Set.
Tekton Tap and Die Set
What you get here is quality above quantity. Just 45 parts are included with this tool), but the tapered plug tap and die components chosen are the most regularly used type.
They are particularly intended for those important hand threading applications. And the degree of strength that an HSS set provides is remarkable.
These tools, made of tungsten alloy HSS, will cut mild carbon and alloy steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, bronze, and other materials.
Can I remove a broken bolt with a tap and die set?
Yes. First, drill out the damaged bolt with a narrower drill bit so that it just pierces the damaged bolt and does not cause any additional damage.
After that, using a gauge, measure the Thread Per Inch (TIP) and cut threads down the newly made hole. Then, insert the new bolt into the hole and tighten it firmly.
How to measure for a tap and die?
In four simple steps, you can determine the thread size you’ll need:
- Measure the thread’s outer diameter.
- Count the Thread Per Inch (TPI).
- Determine if your thread is a national fine or national coarse thread. You may identify your thread by glancing at an identification chart.
- Compare the numbers and thread type you just collected to the numbers on the taps and dies.
For example, a tap marked “1/4-20 N.C” says it has a 14-inch diameter and 20 national coarse threads per inch.
What are the three basic types of tap?
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of taps. The first is the taper tap, which is the least often used. When threading a whole, this tap makes it simple to get started.
The next kind of tap is the plug tap, which is widely used for general-purpose applications. With this tap, you may finish threads nearly to the bottom.
Lastly, there’s the bottoming tap. These taps, unlike plug and taper taps, have no threads ground down at the starting end.
What’s the difference between threading and tapping?
The actions of threading and tapping create screw threads. Threading is a process that produces threads on the exterior of a component, also known as external threads, using a die.
While tapping is an activity that produces inside threads using a tool known as a tap.
How to read a tap size?
For example, we have 1/4 – 20NC:
- The 1/4 denotes the thread’s diameter in inches.
- The number 20 denotes the number of threads per inch (TPI).
- Standard taps have coarse series threads NC (1/4-20), fine series threads NF (1/4-28), and extra-fine series NEF (1/4-32).
- For tapered pipe threads, alternative standard tap names such as NPT or NPTF are used.
- Separate taps are commonly denoted by the letter NS, which stands for a certain thread size.
A tap and die set or threading and rethreading set may be useful for a variety of tasks. It is mainly used to make screw heads.
Taps are used to cut or shape the female of a mating pair, while dies are used to cut or make the male or bolts. It is important to understand how to use each tool to complete your task successfully.
However, it is also essential to choose a high-quality set for the particular work. Because a tap and die set is mostly used on very hard materials, it is best to choose one made of tougher steel.
This will allow you to use these tools for a wide range of heavy-duty activities for an extended time.