View Full Version : Tap and Die Set

From Mystic
01-31-2013, 05:17 PM

I'm looking to pick up a tap and die set. My budget doesn't allow for Snap-on but I do want something decent. Any thoughts on a good set that doesn't break the bank?

The Bigfella
01-31-2013, 05:31 PM
Your local cheap Chinese tool seller should be able to help.

Chip Chester
01-31-2013, 05:50 PM
Are you going to be cleaning up existing threads, or cutting threads in new parts? Brass or SS?

In the reasonable-priced arena, I've had very good luck with, of all things, Craftsman. But the sets I have are from the early 70s... pre-value-engineering.

You can be money ahead by buying quality taps and dies in the sizes you actually use. And, use the right tap for the job... standard tapered, bottoming, spiral, or thread forming. They all have their place.

I must say, though, that HF has a very nice (larger) ratchet tap handle. Hefty, tight, well-finished, and around $20 or less, I think. Never tried their actual taps, though.


01-31-2013, 06:05 PM
Have you looked on eBay?


This looks like a good start, and went for about $45.00, the price is right.

Here are the active auctions for used, including Snap-on and Mac, in addition to Craftsman and other American makers:


Paul Pless
01-31-2013, 07:33 PM
I have a few older sets of various qualities that I might use a couple of times a year to chase the threads on a damaged bolt or piece of hardware. But generally I buy jobber taps and dies only in the sizes that I need from Grainger for any 'regular' work. They are Widia branded high speed steel, taps run up to about $10 for anything 3/4" and under and dies run $20 to $40 from small diameters on up to about 3/4". Much larger than that and individual dies start getting expensive. . .

01-31-2013, 08:02 PM
P&N (Patience and Nicholson; an Oz mfg) used to be very good.

01-31-2013, 09:30 PM
Irwins aren't bad


01-31-2013, 11:13 PM
if youre like me, you'll use the taps way more than dies. personally i'd follow C.C.'s advice and just buy what you need., for the job at hand.

02-01-2013, 12:46 AM
Nothing I do requires something I can't get at the local hardware store.
I just buy 'em as I need 'em and it seems to have worked.
Over the years, I've got what I need most of the time.
If I didn't need a 13/64x23-1/2 tap, i didn't buy it and I still have the money in MY pocket.

02-01-2013, 08:13 AM
I second looking at Grainger. WWW.Grainger.com
But I also second the idea that you really only need to get the chucks (Handles) and a few common cutters (taps and dies) Buy specialty ones as you need them. I have ones that haven't been used ever over the course of 35 years, and others I have replaced 3-4 times.

02-01-2013, 03:46 PM
if youre like me, you'll use the taps way more than dies. personally i'd follow C.C.'s advice and just buy what you need., for the job at hand.

Back in my tool&die making days the go to taps we're usually gun taps which do not need to be backed off to break chips. Tap sets, which consist of the starter tap, mid tap and bottoming tap are needed in blind holes when the thread must to go to the bottom are sometimes needed but usually the hole is either a thru hole or can be drilled deep enough to use a gun tap. If I had to buy some basic taps I'd start off with the standard size gun taps and buy tap sets only as needed.

From Mystic
02-02-2013, 11:03 AM
Point taken guys. I think I'll invest in a good wrench and a few common taps. Then I'll add as I go.

02-02-2013, 11:23 AM
You might want to keep an eye open for garage/tag sales, with all the manufacturing that's left this country there's got to be a lot of old machinist tool boxes out there.

02-02-2013, 12:49 PM
I second looking at Grainger. WWW.Grainger.com (http://WWW.Grainger.com)
There's also McMaster (http://www.mcmaster.com/)and MSC (http://mscdirect.com/). The latter has 198 different items answer to 1/4-20 tap! If you ever want left-hand threads in your unobtanium gronicles.

Hugh Conway
02-04-2013, 07:22 PM
I must say, though, that HF has a very nice (larger) ratchet tap handle. Hefty, tight, well-finished, and around $20 or less, I think. Never tried their actual taps, though.


Harbor Freight's Tap & Die sets are, in my recent experience, absolutely horrible. Pure trash. At least the low/mid end offerings are. Ended up buying a wrench & a holder from a flea market and taps & dies as needed from Fastenal which was far, far, far superior.

02-04-2013, 08:34 PM
chester, you touched a raw nerve...recently i bought a ratching tap handle- i don't know the petagree or price, since it's for work. but absolutely hate the miserable thing! i have a few nonratcheting ones at home, and would almost rather bring one from home, than use the new "work" one

Mike DeHart
02-06-2013, 09:13 AM
What do you plan to use the taps and dies for? Most people will be cleaning up and cleaning out existing threads. Or will you be making new threads from scratch? Different jobs, different tools. I have a large Craftsman set at work, SAE and metric, that was inexpensive. It works great on maintenance work, cleaning existing threads. The cutting faces are not dead sharp, so they kinda moosh the existing metal back into line to fix damage. Not very good for cutting new threads in a fabricated part. But I bought the few specific taps that I use to cut new threads and put them in the set. I have a couple of good sets at home for manufacturing, but it would be a waste to use them in cleaning rust from old threads and making them dull. Typically the maintenance grade dies will be hex shaped and are listed as rethreading dies in the catalogs. Manufacturing grade dies are round and often have a split and set screw so the thread pitch can be adjusted for proper fit. They are also more expensive. Don't waste any money on China/Tiawan/India taps and dies. They just simply do not work. I have seen offshore taps and dies that have negative rake angle on the cutting faces. That makes them jam in the hole and break since they are like fish hook barbs wedging themselves in place. Your best value, if you are a cheapskate like me, is to hunt down an older set (USA made) at a sale, flea market, or auction. Snap-On does not impress me and I would not spend that much money to get a name. Some good names to look for would be Greenfield, OSG-Sossner, Union, Butterfield, Ace, Hanson, Vermont American, little Giant, OK-Jr., and even older Craftsman can be fine if they are sharp.