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High Quality Taps and Dies

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CIncinnati

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#1
I was About to pull the trigger on a new tap & Die set, but I remembered how my 50pc router bit set is about 90% unused. I should have invested that same money in the 5 or 6 bits I needed and get the best I could buy. My most used thread is 1/4-20 with the next bigger and smaller sizes use falling off rapidly like a bell curve.

So instead of buying a gazillion pc set at Lowe’s, I’d like to invest in the highest quality sets I can afford in just 3 or 4 sizes. What brands or features should I look for?

I tap mostly by hand. But I have few polycarbonate projects for which I’d like to use a tap in a drill. I use mostly aluminum, polycarbonate, mild steel, and wood. But I could see possibly needing to cut threads in stainless at some point.
 

Boswell

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#2
I have no idea how they compare to others but I have been favoring Widia brand and been very happy. I use them 95% on Aluminum and 5% on 360 Brass.
 

RJSakowski

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#3
I would definitely stay away from buying a tap and die set at Lowes for any serious threading. Most of the tap and die sets are carbon steel. You can buy HSS sets but prices are daunting. I have a fairly complete set of taps and dies, including my four decade old Craftsman set. I buy my replacement taps and dies from MSC. I have had good luck with their Interstate brand although I will say that I have seldom put them to some challenging situations.
My preference is to have a complete set as I get really annoyed when I need a particular size and have to wait several days to get one shipped. However, I can see building up a selection of your most used sizes. I just finished tapping 80 2-56 holes. I use 4-40, 10-32, 1/4-20, 1/4-28, 3/8-16, 3/8-24, 1/2-13, and 1/2-20 fairly often but I have used every size in my collection at least once.

As to which flavor to buy, I would get the tapered and bottoming taps,; you can get by without the plug tap. The tapered tap will start more true and tap easier. If you are tapping to the bottom of a blind hole, the bottoming tap is essential. If going with only a single flavor in each size, then I would choose the plug tap. This is usually what you will find in the DIY stores.
 

Bob Korves

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#4
Past needs for drill and tap sizes do not necessarily predict future needs, unless all you do is production work...
 

ttabbal

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#5
I've been very happy with YG-1 spiral flute bottoming taps. They cut far easier than any other taps I've used. I have some of the taps from Lowes and Home depot, they are okay. Don't even consider Harbor Freight, those are worthless. I had a set from years ago before I knew better.

I decided to skip the sets and just order high quality for a few common sizes I use frequently as needed. I tend to spend about $15/ea. I find myself picking fasteners based on the taps I own. :) Not always possible, but it works frequently.

I haven't had any luck with dies. I single point external threads, perhaps running a die for a final pass depending on the requirements.

It can be frustrating to have to wait for taps in the mail when I need to order them. But I'm a hobby user so time isn't that big of a deal and I usually have something else to do while I wait. If you have Prime, Amazon has a surprising amount of decent tooling with 2 day shipping. With a little planning, I can usually order at the start of the project and have them when I need them.
 

Ken from ontario

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#6
This is just my view as a new hobbyist, the logic behind buying the sizes you need the most does not apply to tools like taps/dies or wrenches .
I would not hesitate to buy a complete set of HSS tap and die , or a complete set of open end wrenches, items like these will all get used eventually, you can buy screws and bolts of the same size as the taps you own but when it comes to repairing a machine or an equipment ,you may get stock right in the middle of your repair because you don't have the right size tap or wrench .
I would not forget about pipe taps either,both in NPT and BSPT, you never know when you need them , many regular T&D sets do not include pipe taps.
 

MrWhoopee

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#7
I was in your position recently. I bought several lots of assorted HSS taps and dies off eBay. I ended up with some duplications and some unusual (3/4 npt LH), but I spent less than half the price of a new HSS tap and die set. That got me complete from #6 to 1/2 UNC and UNF, plus a fair number above and below, and NPT.
 

royesses

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#8
I purchased 3 complete sets of Interstate taps and dies in HSS from MSC. Fractional and Metric. They have 60% off sales and that's when I purchased mine. I also purchased many left hand thread taps and dies and bottoming taps at the discount price. I had one 2.5mm tap break when taping a piece of plastic - the tap was defective. I replaced it and have not had a problem with the replacement. No other problems taping in stainless 304, 4130, aluminum, 1018, 12L14 and cast iron. The dies have also been sharp and reliable. Interstate are made in Japan, China and Europe. Compared to the really big names Interstate is not the same quality. But for hobby work they are good and very inexpensive.

Roy
 

brav65

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#9
Check out Drill Hog on eBay I purchased a metric and SAE setfor a very reasonable price. They are mad in the USA as are his drills.
 

P. Waller

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#10
The tap best suited for a given operation will be dictated by the operation itself, blind hole or through hole for instance, 2 different animals there.

Material being tapped is also a major consideration therefore buying "sets" is a waste of money, buy what is needed for the job at hand.

OSG, Guhring, Accupro and others make excellent tools
 

jdedmon91

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#11
I've been very happy with YG-1 spiral flute bottoming taps. They cut far easier than any other taps I've used. I have some of the taps from Lowes and Home depot, they are okay. Don't even consider Harbor Freight, those are worthless. I had a set from years ago before I knew better.

I decided to skip the sets and just order high quality for a few common sizes I use frequently as needed. I tend to spend about $15/ea. I find myself picking fasteners based on the taps I own. :) Not always possible, but it works frequently.

I haven't had any luck with dies. I single point external threads, perhaps running a die for a final pass depending on the requirements.

It can be frustrating to have to wait for taps in the mail when I need to order them. But I'm a hobby user so time isn't that big of a deal and I usually have something else to do while I wait. If you have Prime, Amazon has a surprising amount of decent tooling with 2 day shipping. With a little planning, I can usually order at the start of the project and have them when I need them.
I have 2 Craftsman sets. The standard set is over 40 years old. However I do have quality taps in my most used sizes. In fact on the smaller ones I keep several sizes


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Glenn Goodlett

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#12
Buy the big tap set so that you have all the bases covered. Then buy high quality taps and dies for the most commonly used sizes. Then figure out a way to store them all so you know what you have. I hate waiting 3 or 4 days for a tap to arrive so I usually end up ordering from McMaster-Carr and have it the next day.
 
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