Tap and Die recommendations

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Forum topic by sawdustrich posted 01-05-2012 11:19 PM 3962 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 4094 days

01-05-2012 11:19 PM

I am currently looking to get a Tap and Die set to make some threads in my bandsaw table.
Any suggestions on brands? Good and Bad.

-- Rich, Columbus, Ohio

11 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3333 days

#1 posted 01-06-2012 12:02 AM

I’ve had a Vermont-American set for about 20 years. Since I don’t need one very often, this set has been great for my limted use.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3439 days

#2 posted 01-06-2012 12:05 AM

And since I don’t need one very often, I’ve had GREAT luck with my SAE and Metric sets from [wait for it] Harbor Freight.

Truly. I tend to use them in bike repair stuff, but … they’ve … always worked !

-- -- Neil

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5167 posts in 4225 days

#3 posted 01-06-2012 12:11 AM

I gotta repeat NBeener’S disclaimer ” (wait for it)”. I have a Craftsman set that I’ve used for YEARS.
Tapping is a bit of an art form. Might want to study a bit before starting. Not super complicated. Just learn.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3913 days

#4 posted 01-06-2012 12:30 AM

Get a set that includes the drill bits for the taps. If you
use the wrong size drill it is easy to break a tap off in
a hole and can be really hard to get the broken tap out.

Use cutting oil and follow directions for tapping.

Vermont American or whatever is available at your local
shop is fine for cast iron.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7696 posts in 3065 days

#5 posted 01-06-2012 01:13 AM

Neil- I’m surprised to hear someone liked the HF set. I’ve never tried it because I always assumed it was junk. Maybe I’ll check it out…

I usually just go buy a tap at thehardware store in the size I need at the time rather than a whole set.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 3296 days

#6 posted 01-06-2012 01:35 AM

Tap and Die sets are IMHO a waste of money. The practical thing to do is to buy the tap, a wrench and the required drill, and use the rest of the money for wood, or other necessaries. Buying a set may satisfy a need to own tools, but the majority of the tools in that set will simply occupy space that could be better utilized.

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3439 days

#7 posted 01-06-2012 01:39 AM

Stump: You and Mickey are probably right.

I simply did it because … if I didn’t get the set … there’d always be one more hardware store run, that comes—as we all know—when you’re knee-deep in grease, and can’t POSSIBLY get clean enough to even drive a buddy’s car


-- -- Neil

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3363 days

#8 posted 01-06-2012 02:00 AM

+1 cr1
Also I can tell you what NOT to buy
Menard’s crap sets in the yellow boxes/labels, “Tool Shop” They won’t thread a pencil. Anything in Menard’s labeled “Tool Shop” are utterly useless

View jaydubya's profile


183 posts in 3077 days

#9 posted 01-06-2012 02:45 AM

I worked at menards for a long time jim C. the advice I gave customers was stay away from anything with the word “shop” in the brand name

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jim C

1472 posts in 3363 days

#10 posted 01-06-2012 04:59 AM

Here’s a long read on a perspective from a machinist who took the time from his experience’s to write a blog about taps, dies and cutting tools. He knows what he’s talking about.
Excuse the spelling, I just copied it word for word.

I am a retired maintenance pro with years in the trade , The real test of any cutting tool is how it works on Stainless Steel , Stainless can work harden and become vary tough to drill as well as Tap and Dies have lots of problems on Stainless round stock as well , Just to get you started , I can tell to not wast your time and cash on any discount store sets of Taps and Dies , IE. China ,Taiwan ,Japan, Mexico . They just can’t make good cutting tools out of Old scrap Cars ,from USA.junk yards .Not all retail items out of China are bad ,like guns their AK47ens seem to work vary well but gun steel is vary soft and EZ to work with .And Japan made good Cars many years back (but getting junker every year) .And Mexico has lots of good oil we could buy ,but they will not drill for it, maybe thats why they are so poor and also will not let USA baced drillers come in and drill (Their Beer is OK). Even Taps that are made in the USA can have problems with Alloys like stainless ,and its no fun digging a busted tap out of say a cast iron engine block . You can get into a real mess , You must chip ,beat ,dig and drill out the screwed up mess and weld in the hole back in,re-drill and try to re-tap and god help you because ,Taping a weld is harder then the base cast Iron . So on with the show! Brands that I have used and will work well , Greenfield ,not priced to bad and hold up well . Hanson Vary good Dies and Taps .Reiff & Nester good . Little Giant older sets USA made, Good and only buy Ridged for pipe dies .Ace (not from Ace Hardware) just usable and For Home use Sears Hex Dies and tap set are usable on most stuff other than Stainless Steel and the Taps will flex some before they snap off And as for the Sears cheaper round Dies and tap sets not listed as Craftsman ,just marked Sears Don,t buy them most likely Asia junk,. A set made Dommer made in the USA are low ball junk on Stainless and maybe everything else other then wood and plastic. So you can see that all USA stuff may not be good . I have used Taps made in England with no problems and some Cobalt cutting tools from Spain have fared well . Real nice Tap holders are made by Starrett as well as Brown and Sharp (BEST) .Brown and Sharp,s stuff is light years ahead of all the rest and will hold up . Tool holders from General are just usable ,Hobby and Home fine light maintenence work also good ,But are not heavy duty! Some Greenfield sets are now made in Japan , I would try to stay away from Greenfield Jr.and O.K sets out of Japan . If you need to re-cut threads on say a bolt .Re-threading Dies are better than New cut Dies , Standard New cut Dies can under cut a Bolt then your nut will be vary loose and might not stay on under vibration .You should get good Quality Rethreading Die set ,Try Hanson .or look for USA or England .Also keep in mind TIN coated Taps that are cheap junk are still cheap junk .TIN coating will not fix poor Quality tools .Brubaker makes good TIN coated taps as well as Greenfield USA . If you by stuff that has Mack , Snap on , Ace Hardware (not ACE tools )NAPA ,Stanley , Irwin , Northern Hydraulic stamped on it , You don’t have the foggiest idea as to who made it and if it states made in the USA it could be that just 20% of what is in the package was USA made and the rest came out of Asia (our bad advertising laws, state things like, if you say something like ITS SOLID OAK it must be at least 70% OAK and the back side can be card board and thats Bull SHi#) . And China Junk has Most favered nation statous and sometimes Made in the USA only meanes that the box was made in the USA and the JUnk in the box came from China so look out ! I have used cheap Discount Asia Taps and Dies and I can tell you they bearly work on Pot metal, Plastic and wood , Maybe China makes usable Tooling for use at home in China but the Junk that is exported to the Discounters is not worth owning ,as far as tools go And that includes the rest of Asia and Mexico for all cutting tools. And a lot of other stuff I am sure . Jet Makes Tap&Die sets Give them a pass(don’t buy) ,Also If Taping soft steel use cutting oil or taping compound to coat the tap and hole.On Iron (not steel) water base oils or Pipe cutting oils or slow and dry with a sharp new tap ,Taping compound (like a soft wax ) is good, and Beeswax also works… ON Aluminum Alloys use no oil ! use air or Water as coolant or automotive Anti freeze and water . ON Stainless Steel use Tapping Wax compound also band saw blade cutting paste(green in a tube) or mineral oil (super thin oil Best) water mixed cutting oils OK .Taping into Copper use air or water . Tap Plastics Chilled as cold as possible and Dry. Tap hard rubber Frozen in dry ice , Tap Brass and Bronze also Bell bronze with Cobalt taps light oil or water or dry.Sand cast #1Navel gun bronze is one of the hardest things I have ever tapped Use wet Colbolt and go slow. Super hard steels must be heated dull red hot and cooled slow to remove hardness , if possible , Never over heat Stainless Steel dul red,even blacken ,It will become vary hard and Taps will brake . Drill slow and keep it cool (Cooltool good for pre drill and Tap as well). If for some stupid reason you want to tap wood coat the hole and the tap with hand bar type soap(thin coat) ,and use a clean sharp tap .IF the seller is honest and stated the Taps &Dies are imported STOP right their and don’t give them a penney for that junk . (Other than England and they will not be cheap) Taps that snap off in a hole are a real job to get out and if the cutting teeth snapping out of a Die it will just scrap what you are threading . A good rule for the dumb is avoid all import cutting tools TIN coated carbide steel or not .Tin coat ,Cobalt ,High Carbon ,And High speed steel all mean nothing if its Junk cutting tools , What is Tin ,its Titanium coating ,or a way to extend a cutting tools life . What is High speed steel -it is a some what softer cutting steel and works vary well for most hand tap & cutting jobs on most materials , (but not good on stainless steel ) High speed will dull fast but will not snap into as fast under load as High Carbon steel .Cobalt Cutting tools – if you want to hand drill out a vary hard bolt Cobalt steel drills are the way to go .Cobalt tools are for cutting Stainless ,Alloy over Rc 32 ,High heat steel , Bronze & tough Brass , Magnesium Alloy (hard) and a lot of Plastics(plastic will dull tools fast) .Cobalt tools are not cheap .High Carbon Steel Taps and Dies are for Difficult maintenance applications – They will cut almost anything but will chip and brake if not handled just right .Almost all rethreading die sets are High Carbon steel and if they are not they will not recut hard bolts .Last You can get Chrome treated Taps and Dies – Penta gray chrome will give a better thread finish on most soft to high carbon steels under Rc30 .Also standard Chrome finished Taps will hold up in damp or wet locations Reff & Nestor makes chrome treated cutting tools . If your taps and Dies get oily (not water based)don’t wipe it off .Rusted Taps and Dies are scraped out and should not be used . Or clean and re oil them before storage .Let me know if this helped or not ,vote yes or no.Once more If you need a Tap for just one job just buy a good tap and a good holder (just what you need),It might be less than a full set of Junk Asia Taps that will not do the job at all .Look for a industral supply outfit ,not a discount store for all cutting tools .Avoid Imported Asia Junk cutting tools at all cost they may do more damage then good

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jim C

1472 posts in 3363 days

#11 posted 01-06-2012 05:02 AM

Thanks jaydubya,
I returned everything I bought there that was labeled “Tool Shop”
But why do they continue to sell that crap?

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