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Threading dies that don't suck?

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ttabbal

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#1
I have been trying to get threads on 6061 with HF dies. It's not happening. I broke both handles off the die stock, I'm reasonably sure it's made of plastic painted to look like metal. And I'm no closer to having threads.

I think I'm going to grind a custom tool to single point them for this project, but I would like to know how to identify dies that are worth buying. I found some taps that I like, I'm just trying to plan ahead and order them before I need them. But dies are proving more difficult to sort through the trash out there. I'll probably put a die holder for the lathe on the project list, but a decent hand holder might be nice to have as well.

Or maybe I just need to single point everything...
 

The_Apprentice

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#2
plastic painted to look like metal.
LOL!

Are you referring to the Pittsburgh set? Otherwise infamously called "s***tsburgh set" by most machinists? If so, I have the same, and it was a nightmare to work with.

One good tip I have to give you, is if you ever pick up some good old fasionsioned Made in Germany stuff, which everyone loves to borrow (and never return), you can hide those in your HF packaging and suddenly no one will want to borrow your stuff again. Best tip ever!

Another great tip, is visit a lot of garage sales this spring/summer if you can. Often you can grab an old-timer's stuff on the super cheap because family members don't know what to do with it. Most don't know value of HSS vs Carbon...
 

4ssss

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#3
You can't have any die last if it's not HSS. Don't waste your money on carbon steel dies, and those are most of what is sold nowadays, so you have to look and make sure, You will have to pay for the HSS dies though.
 

vocatexas

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#4
I've got a Gearwrench tap and die set that I really like. It also has a ratcheting die handle with adapters for taps.
 

benmychree

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#5
Good ain't cheap, cheap ain't good -------
 

benmychree

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#6
I should have also noted that the only really "good" die is an automatic die, such as a Geometric (and others, but Geometric is the easiest to set up).
 

ttabbal

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#7
LOL!

Are you referring to the Pittsburgh set? Otherwise infamously called "s***tsburgh set" by most machinists? If so, I have the same, and it was a nightmare to work with.
Yup, that's the one. I have actually twisted one of the taps up. That stuff doesn't deserve to even be recycled. I've tempted to build a foundry just to melt them down. And get and anvil so I can literally beat the $hit out of them.

I've been buying HSS taps from YG-1 and been happy with them. I only have a few, but I don't mind standardizing on a few sizes to start with. That's what I was looking for in dies, though they are rare it seems. Most of the commonly available stuff is the carbon steel type.

I've been watching local classifieds and such. I'll try to hit garage sales and such as well. I guess I might be doing more single point threading for a while.
 

Tony Pisano

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#8
Just as a reference, McMaster has HSS dies, and the smaller sizes up to around 5/16" are in the range of 30 plus dollars each. If you can't find some used from an old machinist or at auction, by them one at a time as you need them and build up a good quality set.
 

MrWhoopee

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#9
I just picked up a pretty complete assortment of 15 HSS dies up to 1/2 in. on eBay. All U.S. made. Didn't pay that much, about $32. Be patient and NEVER pay retail.
 

David S

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#10
I don't do a lot of threading large stuff with dies, however all mine are carbon steel. If the job isn't that demanding I will start with a slightly smaller diameter if I don't need 75% thread. Also I try to make a taper or lead in for the die to start, and part it off if it can't be left on.

What size are you using?

David
 

ttabbal

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#11
I tried to add a taper to the part, it helped a little, but I still couldn't get it to run the thread. It's a 7/16-14.
 

RJSakowski

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#12
I bought my 40 piece Craftsman tap and die set in the late sixties for around $30. Most of the set is still intact after fifty years. They were advertised at the time as Chromedge. I don't know for sure if they were HSS or carbon steel but had always assumed HSS.

MSC sells some HSS sets. There is a 40 pc. Interstate brand set for $144 (Enco user discount applied). I have bought Interstate individual taps in recent years and have had good luck with them.
 

RJSakowski

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#13
What I have found to work was to provide a lead section at the the tap drill diameter or slightly larger. This gives some forward driving force insteady of relying on hand pressure. An added benefit is there is a greater likelihood of the die running true. When finished threading, cut the lead portion off and finish the end.

If threading with the lathe, I will apply pressure with the tailstock to get the die started and running true.
 

mksj

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#14
There are NOS US made dies that you can pick up, and they hold up well. If I need new dies these days, I purchase Toolmex TMX (made in Poland) adjustable round dies for around $10-12 each and they work very well. I prefer to use the adjustable size so I can size the thread to the tolerance I need. Taps have a finite use and will eventually fail, so I replace mine periodically. I typically buy these in sets of three (taper, plug, bottoming), usually Morse, Cleveland, OSG etc. for about $12-15 for a box. Suncoast Tools also sells the YG-1 line of taps at reasonable pricing. I do not use Interstate, or the other knock off branding, taps and dies as they do not cut as well/nor last in my experience. When doing threading on the lathe, I will do single point threading on the lathe to about 95% of the thread then follow with an adjustable dies to clean up the threads and finial sizing. I use a tailstock holder to hold the die/tap true if I am just using the die/tap for threading.
https://www.suncoasttools.com/crm/VendorPages.aspx?Vendor=Toolmex#subnav
 

Ken from ontario

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#15
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The_Apprentice

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#16
I tried to add a taper to the part,
I tried that trick in the past as well, as you also found out, it does not work with the Harbor Freight 'Sh--tsBurgh' set of dies.

And honestly, if one has to resort to these sort of tricks for their jobs, you are using the WRONG TOOL FOR THE JOB.
 

RJSakowski

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#17
One obvious thing. There is a correct way to use a die. Some dies are labeled "start this side". If the die isn't labeled, usually, the start side is marked with the thread size but check the chamfer. Both ends are chamfered but the start side has a larger chamfer.
 

Silverbullet

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#18
Many of the old sets will work well past anything new the hobbyists will use. I like the real full adjustable dies with two piece cutters Greenfield made about the turn of the century . But I have and use others too. I have two sets metric and sae these use a screw in the split of the die to adjust. Many things I've made I require a tighter thread tolerance then slop free spinning nut to bolt.
I have single pointed to fit items like a grinding vise and replacement parts on all types of tools. To many times I buy a decent brand tool to find so much clearance the threads pull or strip.
This reason alone is one reason I don't like new tools. There made to use for short periods and then disposed. AKA HF , now craftsmen , Milwaukee is still about the best. Even some tools that use to be German made are going Chinese and it really shows.
Get yourself some very old sets you won't be sorry. Melt your HF sets and make hammer heads then really beat the s it out of them.
Craigslist and yard sales there out there because they just don't go bad .....
 

wlburton

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#19
I have heard that the old Craftsman KROMEDGE sets are HSS and quite good,they are not that expensive on ebay, new old stock or used. seem to be much better than HF stuff.:
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Craftsman-K...966584?hash=item3d5ec4e338:g:IH0AAOSwLI1acunv
Edit:
Here's a search I did on ebay USA:
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.TRS0&_nkw=Craftsman+Kromedge+Tap+&+Adjustable+Die+Set+&_sacat=0
I looked back at some of my old Craftsman catalogs and it appears that the high speed steel dies all had a black oxide finish and were much more expensive than the carbon steel sets. The Kromedge dies were chrome plated carbon steel. I have Craftsman standard and metric tap and die sets I bought in about 1991, and while they've worked well for me they are not high speed steel (mine, which appear to be fairly high quality U.S. made taps and dies, were "homeowners" sets--the least expensive at $34.97 per set). In 1991 a high speed steel 59-piece standard set cost $276.99, metric $284.99.
 

ttabbal

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#20
One obvious thing. There is a correct way to use a die. Some dies are labeled "start this side". If the die isn't labeled, usually, the start side is marked with the thread size but check the chamfer. Both ends are chamfered but the start side has a larger chamfer.
Thanks for mentioning it! Sadly, that was not the issue, I did double check that. But sometimes we all need someone to ask the obvious question. :)

Get yourself some very old sets you won't be sorry. Melt your HF sets and make hammer heads then really beat the s it out of them.
That's the plan right now, watch for some old school gear or just pick up high quality parts one at a time as needed. I'll probably just do a lot more single-pointing. I like the HF hammer idea. I might have to look into that. :)
 

RJSakowski

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#21
I just spark tested some of my Craftsman taps and dies, c.a 1968 and they test as high carbon steel. According to the 1968 catalog, all Sears taps and dies were Kromedge treated.
 

Ken from ontario

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#22
I looked back at some of my old Craftsman catalogs and it appears that the high speed steel dies all had a black oxide finish and were much more expensive than the carbon steel sets. The Kromedge dies were chrome plated carbon steel. I have Craftsman standard and metric tap and die sets I bought in about 1991, and while they've worked well for me they are not high speed steel (mine, which appear to be fairly high quality U.S. made taps and dies, were "homeowners" sets--the least expensive at $34.97 per set). In 1991 a high speed steel 59-piece standard set cost $276.99, metric $284.99.
Thank for for clarifying that, I remember Mr Pete in one of his videos mentioned the early Kromedge tap & die sets from the early days(sixties or fifties?) was of better quality and I could swear he said they were HSS but I guess I was wrong, as you mentioned, even those days the price of HSS sets were much higher than what was available to average homeowners.
Alright then ,no more Kromedge, old sets or new.lol.
 

Ken from ontario

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#23
I just spark tested some of my Craftsman taps and dies, c.a 1968 and they test as high carbon steel. According to the 1968 catalog, all Sears taps and dies were Kromedge treated.
Now we know for sure they were not actual high speed steel, just Kromedge treated, man I learn something new today. .Thanks RJ.
 

P. Waller

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#24
These dies are readily available and as you might say do not suck, however you will not like the pricing.

Such a question would be more easily understood if phrased "threading dies that actually work that may be purchased at the same price as ones that do indeed suck".

Round split dies are excellent if one needs to closely control the PD as they may be adjusted, thread a part and gauge it, if it does not measure adjust the die.
https://www.mscdirect.com/browse/tn...288237407+4288237409+43+4287909744+4287650517
 

ttabbal

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#25
Well, obviously like most home guys I would like to keep cost down. While those Vermont dies look nice and likely work well, is there a middle ground? If that's the price of entry, I guess it is what it is and we can all make our choice.

Since I have more time than money at the moment, I'll likely use single point for now while keeping an eye out for some good used stuff or maybe try one at a time from some of the mid priced brands.
 

C-Bag

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#26
My tap and die sets were separate Christmas gifts in the 70's. A new Craftsman metric set from my brother and a used SnapOn set from my father in law. Both have served me well and not until last year did a break a tap, the SnapOn 3/8". The best I could find was a Vermont and it's nowhere near the quality, but it's hanging in there. Recently found in the last hours of a garage sale a complete Greenlee tap plate set in the original wood box for $50! They were obviously used but still work wonderfully. The "dead men's tools" deals are out there, just gotta know what you're looking for and be patient.
 

whitmore

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#27
I have been trying to get threads on 6061 with HF dies. It's not happening. I broke both handles off the die stock, I'm reasonably sure it's made of plastic painted to look like metal. And I'm no closer to having threads.
..
6061-T2 is pretty much pure aluminum, and it's gummy. Not as bad as copper, but not easy, either.
If you can run the dies on an old bolt, and if the edges don't look bad, it should work on 6061 with a suitable
lube. Carbon steel should be adequate for hand die users, all my granddad's old tooling
works fine, but the better quality new products are all HSS. For aluminum, to prevent galling,
TiN (titanium nitride) coating is said to help.

Granddad's old die stock seems to be forged steel; zinc alloy is the breakable stuff, try to avoid it.
 

P. Waller

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#28
MSC has what they call a Value Collection (VC) line of tooling which I have never used so have no experience with, therefore have no opinion.

If making only a single or a handful of parts then single point them as you said.
If doing the work in a lathe that does not support threading such as a turret lathe then a die is the only choice.
Either way have at it.
 

kd4gij

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#29
Most of the cheaper tap in die sets are thread repair dies. And don't have enough lead to cut new threads. Threading dies have a lot more lead.
 

agfrvf

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#30
HF quality is all over the board. My set from 6 years ago is still going strong after many projects. HF is not consistant in anything.
 
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