Looking for a decent Tap/Die set

Ulma Doctor

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if you purchase higher end taps and dies, you will not be disappointed.
Cobalt taps are the cat's meow
 

Bi11Hudson

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The difference between quality industrial stuff and hardware store is immense. One common suggestion is to just buy the ones you need as you need them.

You could get a reasonably priced set and just use them for cleaning up (chasing) threads, and buy good ones individually for projects which you'll be creating new threads.
One of the few places a "set" worth having can be acquired is on eBay. But even there you can get royally stiffed. Most sellers have no idea what they're selling, they're salesmen not machinists. To the average person, there isn't any difference between a WalMart or Horrible Fright set and something worth having. That only comes to light when you try to use one.

There are "old school" name brands that aren't even made any more. And some known brands that also make trash. I recently acquired a "Butterfield" set, of odd threads, that I know are good. Butterfield is an old line maker that I think went out of business because they wouldn't cheapen their product. Yet I have bought Greenfield taps that, while usable, weren't up to their older standards. One of the few cases where older would pay off. On the other hand, modern metallurgy does do some wonderful things with tool steel.

The quote above says a lot. But you still need to know what is "reasonable" and what is "good". Older Craftsman Kromedge was a good brand in its' time. The more recent use of that name falls into the realm of reasonable. The first point to remember is you want "high speed steel" (HSS) or better. Carbon steel is a no-go for anything tougher than soft plastics. I use HSS even on acrylics.(PlexiGlas) The next point is that "straight flute" taps are good for general or maintenance work, but spiral point and spiral flute taps do a much better job in production work. Where to draw that line is a matter of if you are willing to scrap out a critical part to save a few dollars.

Your price range nowadays is toward the low end of reasonable. Good tools cost money, the better the tool the more it costs. I work mostly with small taps and dies. Back in the day ('70s) a 1/4-20 and smaller was considered "expendable". Meaning that it needn't be returned to the tool room. I built up a very good small set that way and have added to it a piece here and a piece there until I have a set of "good" taps. But for critical parts I still get a "new" tap for the job. One that is better than just "good". I do still occasionally buy through eBay, for stuff that is no longer available or some esoteric thread pitch. But even a "Shars" brand set is reasonable, not necessarily a good set. Have your wallet ready for "good" tools. . .

.
 

7milesup

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I have a Irwin set that I bought years ago. It is "OK" for some of my stuff. But I had an epiphany a while ago when I ended up buying a small cabinet on an industrial auction filled with industrial taps. WOW. It was a huge difference. It also showed me how well two flute taps work in aluminum vs four flute taps. Night and day. If you have time to watch industrial auctions, you can occasionally score some good items there.
What sizes do you plan on doing? Are you working on small stuff (4-40 to 8-40 size for example) or are you working on a Cat D-10?
 

mattthemuppet2

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just buy singles as you need them. Spiral point "gun" taps for through holes, spiral flute for blind holes. GTD, Widia, YG-1, Morse, Yamazawa etc are all good brands and you can usually buy them for $5-10 off Amazon. You will almost certainly need taps far more frequently than dies. It won't take you long and you'll accumulate most of what you'll need for about the same price as a low to mid quality set, many of which you'll never use (eg M7x1!).
 

better-lathe-than-never

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Well folks, I've experienced somewhat of a miracle today, this morning actually. After reading the above threads (which opened my eyes to good name brands and types) I had this inkling to go look through what my late father had left me in his tools drawer. I have previously sorted them out by size but never paid any attention to brands. I just looked through them and found that good old Dad liked good old tools too. Most of the taps are Butterfield, Greenfield, Hanson & Whitney and Vermont. I can't believe it... here I'm looking on dang Amazon when I had a treasure trove of taps right here at home. I don't have any dies with them - which is why I was looking to buy a whole set in the first place, but I see that I now have all the taps I need to get started. Here is what I found:

1/4 20NC (some spiral fluted too)
5/16/18NC
3/8 16NC
1/2 13NC
5/8 11NC
3/4 10 NC

Some other odds and ends including two metric ones (M8 x 1.25 and M12 x 1.0). Thank you Dad - you're helping me even now!
It really made my day to find these! Yippie.

So my plan now is to go find good dies to match those taps that I have to make a complete SAE set, then buy the rest as I need them here and there. I'll be looking for HSS types, of course.

Thanks so much for the information and knowledge you're sharing.

James

P.S.
There are also about 200-250 drill bits of various sizes up to, I think 1'' that I now must sort through, so I'll be picking the matching drill bits for each of those too.
 

Bi11Hudson

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Congrats Sir, for seeing the light. Pop's 'junque" usually yields more usable tools than modern vendors can even imagine. As far as drills go, consider that there are usually, especially in the smaller sizes, several different drills that can be used with one tap. First off is fractional sizes in Imperial. A 1/4-20 for example uses a 13/64 tap size. Then there are the wire sizes, a Nr 7 for 1/4-20. And the metric equivilent that falls between a Nr 7 and 13/64.

Drilling a tap size hole also depends on the thread depth requirement. It can fall anywhere between 50% and 85% for normal use. If the part is a critical part where "pull out" demands are high, the standard of 80% or better makes a difference. Such as the head bolts for a gasoline engine in a car. But a gasoline engine on a lawn mower can get by with 70%. And a cover fastener for an electrical panel can use as low as 50%. One can "get by" with much less than 50% for a sheetmetal cover. But for a gasoline engine, . . .

I would spend some time prowling for drill boxes and a way to sharpen what you found. "Huot" is about the best known box and they are available for most of the size series. I've seen them on eBay for less than 10 bux. A "Drill Doctor" is a low end sharpener for 1/2" and smaller, down to about 1/16". There are better machines, but the price goes up, fast.

Large drills, >1/2", are better sharpened by hand on a grinder. But spend some time studying what each face is for so you end up with a usable drill instead of a piece of scrap steel. I'm getting old, I used to sharpen 1/8" drills on a grinder. The really tiny ones, 61-80, I still do on a grinder. But under a 4 diopter bench glass with a Dremel cut off wheel. Those are usually better just replaced.

There is much to learn about drills, and even more about tapping. I'm 70 plus and still learning about something I've been doing my whole life. The older books have more useful information per page, but are sorely out of date. Study the older books to learn how and why, then a newer text for the more modern materials.

If you are even mildly interested in machine work, Machinery's Handbook is a gold mine of information. Older copies are showing up in estate sales these days, the "best" to me are from the mid '40s to the late '50s. I have a version from the early 2000s, but find more useful information in a copy from 1943. Entire chapters on drilling and tapping. It's a deep subject, that rabbit hole. . .

.
 

better-lathe-than-never

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"Huot" is about the best known box and they are available for most of the size series.

Dad left me with two of those boxes - I recognized the name. The rest of the drill bits I cleaned and sorted, but the fractions drive me crazy so I just converted them all to decimal inch equivalents and marked sections with them (.12xx to .75xx) - there is a bunch, but those fractions are insane to me, prefer Metric by far. Oh well - it is what it is.

Anyway, thx for all the info - I'll be looking for a book like that.
 

better-lathe-than-never

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If you are even mildly interested in machine work, Machinery's Handbook is a gold mine of information. Older copies are showing up in estate sales these days, the "best" to me are from the mid '40s to the late '50s. I have a version from the early 2000s, but find more useful information in a copy from 1943. Entire chapters on drilling and tapping. It's a deep subject, that rabbit hole. . .
Is this the book that you were describing?

 

Bi11Hudson

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First off, the listed book is something I might search for. But it is not the book I was refering to. Try:


These are just a couple that fall into the time period I refered to. There are hundreds of listings, the prices vary widely. Staying in the time period refered to, watch for a price of $20-$30 bux. If you want a "Guide", thats another book. I don't use one but you may want one.

Regarding your taps, I stumbled over a good U-Tube video on machine work. It actually is about an old magazine article:


It does cover tapping, among a lot of other information. Worth watching.

.
 
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