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IndustryArena Forum > Tools / Tooling Technology > Manual Machining / Hand Tooling > What do I look for in a tap and die set?
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  1. #1
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    What do I look for in a tap and die set?

    If any of you have been through em all and have a few pointers as to what is junk and what isn't, I would like to here your advise.

    I have seen different sets advertised as being made from different metals and don't know which would be best.

    Kevin

  2. #2
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    Honestly I have not seen any of the normal offerings be very "nice"...to me they are more for saving your stones if you need a tap you don;t generally use, the tap handles and Tee handles are often very very poor, and that leads to breaking taps. I guess I'd just buy cheap harbor freight and give the tap wrenches and die handle away if it sucks, and buy good ones, then buy good taps as you see that you are using them.

    Estate sales and auctions are often a good place to get taps and dies.

  3. #3
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    quality is important in taps and dies - scrimp on the handles, but not the tooling, its just not worth it.

    Don't buy a set. Buy what you need individually. They may be out there, but I've never seen a quality set of taps and dies. Other than the junk, the market for taps and dies is mainly industry and professionals who don't buy by the set, ergo, the good stuff just doesn't seem to get packaged up as a set.

    PS, on the different metals, you'll generally see HSS and regular tool or carbon steel. Most will tell you the better ones are HSS. This is generally true, however to express it as an economist, there's correlation but not causality. Carbon is somewhat cheaper to manufacture to so the really budget stuff tends to go there, however you can have very high quality carbon taps and dies and junk hss. for manual use, I don't think there is much difference IF you comparing the same quality (dimensional accuracy, quality steel, properly hardened, tempered and ground, etc) as the main advantage hss has over carbon is it still works and is hard at higher temperatures, something that doesn't matter in hand tapping.

    bit of a digression, for the most part if you seek out high quality it will happen to be HSS, but don't assume because its hss its quality.

  4. #4
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    I think your asking for some metalugy here, some are low carbon steel (less than 20 points) which are case hardend giving you a hard shell and durable core. some are high carbon (20 points or more) which are heat treated. then you get into the alloy carbons and hi alloy or high speed ! add in process control of whichever process is used to harden and the biggy here the actual size of the pitch diameter of threads and you will find that there are many factors in the purchase of a tap or die. from what i have seen of the less expensive chinese units is that they will produce a more loose thread fit which is ok for many uses. if a specific thread fit (read pitch diameter fit control) is asked for then you'd be better off buying the tap or die indvidually whith the specs that are required for you job. a loose pitch fit will pull threads out with less torque than a higher class fit. basically i'm saying you'll get what ya pay for, so buy what ya want or need ! this could get very technical here so i kept it as basic as i know how and left a lot out, but i think maybe this will help you answer your own question. one last note, all drill bits and cutters fall into these catagories in one way or another, and has an effect on the use.
    Don
    IH v-3 early model owner

  5. #5
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    not from china
    A.J.L.

  6. #6
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    What has worked well for me is to buy a cheap set (China) with a lot of variety and then buy individuals for the ones that I actually use. The individuals are always USA brands HSS spiral point two flute. This gives quality where needed but does introduce delays waiting on a single "odd" size tap - those are in the "cheap" set. When ordering the taps I also order good bits of the correct size. Consider tapping wrenches that can be held in a chuck and making a tapping block to help get the tap started straight. There are also nice empty cases that one can get to hold the individual taps and bits. I seldom use dies.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the info. Sounds like there isn't a good set out there to buy so I will take the general advise here and get a cheap set, then buy the individual ones as needed, making them HSS.

  8. #8
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    There are good sets but be prepared to spend over $1000 to get a set with all the sizes that will be present in the huge sets that Enco/HF/etc. often sell less than $100. Having said that, your plan would likely serve many well.

  9. #9
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    MAC tools sells verry good sets. a 41–pc.,Super Tap And Hex, Die Set for $174.99 And 25–pc.,Super Tap And Hex, Die Set from 1/2 inch to 1 inch for $369.99 these are the inch versions they sell metric ones as well. I have both the small and large sets and have had nothing but good luck from them! And the best part from Mac they are warrinted against breakage. I know I have had a few made up with no problems.

  10. #10
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    I would buy them individualy also. If you look at an enco or mscdirect sale flyer you can usually get good prices on american made single taps.. The type you want are the Spiral point or Gun taps. They work far better than normal hand taps. You can chuck them up in a hand drill and tap away!


    Jeff T.

  11. #11
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    Cool

    Types of Taps

    Spiral Point Taps— Also known as gun taps, they have an angular point that shears and shoots chips out ahead of the tap. This keeps chips from clogging the flutes, thus reducing tap breakage. Spiral point taps are generally stronger than hand taps and can be run faster with less power. Use them in through-holes and holes two diameters deeper than the required thread length.

    Hand Taps— Have straight flutes for hand and machine threading. Although most are used in machine operations today, the traditional name "hand tap" lives on.

    Spiral Flute Taps— Also called helical flute taps, the spiral flute uses a lifting action to remove stringy chips that form when tapping soft materials such as aluminum, brass, copper, and magnesium. Use in deep holes, blind holes, and holes with a keyway or gap.

    Pipe Taps— Use for internal threading of pipe, pipe fittings, and holes in which you'll be assembling threaded pipe.

    Specialty Taps— Include thread forming, extension, nut, ACME tandem, and combined taps and drills.

    Materials
    Most taps are made of high-speed steel in grades M-1 and M-7, which are for use in a variety of applications on ferrous and nonferrous materials. High performance taps are made of premium high-speed steels and work well on stainless steel, nickel-based alloys, and other exotic metals. Premium steels add abrasion and heat resistance for longer tap life and better tap performance. These taps also have a special cutting design for lower machine power requirements, better chip removal and coolant flow, better thread finishes, and closer tolerance pitch diameter size. Use carbide taps for highly abrasive materials such as cast iron and aluminum. Also excellent for use on cast brass, cobalt chrome alloys, copper and copper alloys, fiberglass, and soft plastics. Carbon steel taps are for jobs that don't require the accuracy of high-speed steel taps and don't need resistance to heat and abrasion (such as in some hand-tapping jobs).

    Surface Coatings Coatings improve tap life by as much as 300 to 800 percent over uncoated (bright finish) taps. They also improve the part's surface finish and let you use faster cutting speeds.
    TiN (Titanium Nitride)— This gold-colored coating works with a variety of ferrous and nonferrous materials. Not for wrought aluminum and titanium alloys. TiCN (Titanium Carbonitride)— Harder, tougher, and more wear resistant than TiN, TiCN is becoming increasingly popular. Works in a variety of ferrous and nonferrous materials. Color is blue-gray violet.

    Surface Treatments
    Chrome Plating— Adds hardness to tap threads, improves lubricity, reduces loading, and offers cool cutting. Use on a wide variety of ferrous and nonferrous materials. Silver color.
    Oxide— Prevents buildup or welding of workpiece materials on tap surfaces in ferrous materials. Reduces friction between tap and workpiece while providing a porous layer to hold lubricants. Avoid use with nonferrous materials. Blue-black color.
    Oxide Over Nitride— Use on ferrous materials, high-temperature alloys, titanium and titanium alloys, free-machining steels, iron, high-tensile steels, and stainless steels. Blue-black color.
    Nitride— For use on both ferrous and nonferrous abrasive materials that dull taps. Improves surface toughness of the tap. Use on aluminum, cast iron, brass, bronze, die castings, magnesium, zinc, and copper. Colorless.

    Tapping Fluids
    The use of tapping fluids is highly recommended for best tapping results. Using tapping fluids increases tap life and production, provides more efficient control of chips, and reduces the frequency of tap resharpening. Fluids are more effective if applied under pressure. Using a top and bottom stream of fluid is desirable when tapping horizontally where the tap is stationary and the part revolves. Do not use a lubricant with hard plastics. Use compressed air to remove chips.

    Hope this helps!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails spirial_point.gif   hand_tap.gif   Spiral_Flute.gif   Roll_Form_Tap.gif  


  12. #12
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    make yourself a block with several sized holes to guide your tap in, if by hand.

    if you want brands, yes in industry some are better, otherwise, "motor oil is motor oil"

  13. #13
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    First let me say, buying a CHEAP imported tap and die set from a "global tool store" is in general, a very bad idea. I bought such a 40 piece set yesterday. for $16.00 tax included. Today I went to Sears and bought a 39 piece that is actually usable, and made in America for $79.00.

    EBay is filled with these cheap imported 40 piece tap and die sets. If you actually look close at the pictures, you can see the problem with these taps and dies. They are covered in burrs, every singe tooth has a burr of hardened steel between it. It is not possible to remove these burrs by normal means, it is hard nasty stuff. Also the dies were so badly formed they could not be used. The profile of the tap teeth shown on EBay is not a problem created by poor photography, this is actually what you get with a cheap set.

    I bought my set of cheap taps and dies thinking they would be good enough to use at home with my mini lathe. I was wrong. The funny thing is that I just finished training a new mechanic at work. I was careful to tell him how important it was to buy good tools, and recommended Craftsman tools as a good value, after he had bought some cheap imported tools. The metric wrenches in his import set were off by several millimeter and unusable. Im proud to say, he now owns a fine set of Craftsman tools.

    One thing I will say about the Craftsman tap and die set I bought today, they are not the very highest quality. I think Sears is now selling a cheaper grade tap and die set, than they use to. Still it is better to pay $79.00 for a usable set. A professional that might use such a set every day, should go to a local tool supply house and buy a professional set. It might cost $300.00, but is worth it. My $79.00 set is good enough for hobby use with the mini lathe. The cheap import set.....pure junk.

  14. #14
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    Re: What do I look for in a tap and die set?

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