When the threads of bolts and screws and inside fastening holes wear out or break in place, you’ll be faced with swapping entire assemblies or repairing bit parts. But how do you return operation to like-new condition?
With a good tap and die toolset, you’ll be able to clean existing internal threads or cut new ones for screws, bolts, and many hard-to-find threaded fasteners. You’ll also be able to refurbish old bolts and various external screw-on parts such as automotive spark plugs and household pipes.
Having the best tap and die set around can be very advantageous if you have lots of shop work at hand. They can particularly convenient when you have lots of overhaul jobs on engines and other machinery as well as repairs of household fittings.
Quick Comparison: Top 4 Best Tap And Die Sets
We list here a picked selection of tap and die set reviews, featuring toolsets with parts and accessories that are designed to perform well.
Below, you'll find my more detailed reviews about tap and dies set, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
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A Quick Guide To Threading With Taps And Dies
Here are a few things you’ll need to figure out before selecting a tap and die set.
A quality tap and die toolset can be useful in many fixed tasks. You’ll be able to renew and recreate expensive or hard-to-find parts with stripped or cracked threads, including a variety of bolts, screws, and pipes.
For one, you’ll be able to take on more involved engine jobs right in your garage, once you’ve learned the methods. Having such skills will come in handy at times, making you more effective and resourceful as you go.
Dies are employed for reforming threads on old fasteners and parts and for slicing new patterns onto metal blanks. Taps are conversely employed for reforming threads inside bores that accommodate matching threaded male fasteners such as screws, bolts, and pipes.
Tap and die sets typically contain the most common types of taps and dies needed for redoing both external and internal threads. Their contents are usually arranged in several compartments in a supplied storage case.
You can read this to get more information about how to use tap and die set.
You start off all jobs by figuring out the number of threads per inch, or TPI, that is involved. You’ll need a gauging scheme for assessing the TPI of the problematic bolt or threaded part. Following this, you choose a die with the corresponding TPI measure for fitting into the appropriate diestock frame and T-type wrench.
When renewing the thread patterns of stripped bolts, you first prepare by emplacing the problem part in a vise. The vise must grip the old bolt securely, which is critical for you will steadily rotate the die onto and around its axis with the specialized wrench.
With the die horizontally positioned atop the part’s end, you twist the wrench around continuously to cut new angled channels. You will be reversing the wrench every few turns for a half-turn, in order to sweep each recut channel clear of debris for smoother cutting.
Cutting oil is important for lubrication and for minimizing frictional heat from the action of metal-on-metal cutting. You should apply oil before and at times during the cutting process, until the entire threaded portion passes through the die.
Shaping Rods Into Bolts
Aside from renewing problem threads, you can also use a die to shape brand new bolts from alloy blanks, so long as they feature angled tips. Grinders are used to prepare beveled ends in such cases.
As with refurbishing threads, the proper die is positioned above the prepared blank. After the die initially grabs the end, you will similarly rotate it in a horizontal turning/cutting motion as you apply oils, continuing until it’s fully cut.
To renew a bolt hole, you must select the first correctly-sized tap piece that fits snugly into the bore opening. With the tap held tightly in T-type tap wrench, the cutting tip is centered and then rotated slowly into the bore as cutting oil is applied.
As with cutting bolts using dies, the oil lessens friction, and you will be reversing the turns every so often to clean the bored channels.
Right-hand and left-hand threads. Screws bolts with right-handed threads are screwed on clockwise for tightening. In contrast, left-handed threads are screwed on counter-clockwise for tightening. The majority of tap and die sets are designed for handling right-handed threads, but you can order left-handed pieces as needed.
Do remember that metric-sized taps typically comprise three dissimilar thread pitch patterns, corresponding to coarse, fine, and extra-fine metric types. None of these can be interchanged, so you must figure out first which type you are making.
A video on using dies to cut threads:
Take A Look At The Best Tap And Die Set Reviews
Our Best Tap and Die Set reviews below will give you a comprehensive guide to help you catch the best choice quickly.
Neiko 00908A SAE
Heat-treated alloy steel
Precision ground pieces
Value for money
Some incorrectly marked pieces
The many professional-quality features of Neiko’s budget-priced toolset has that are good for occasional heavy use. Individual pieces are drop forged with special-alloy steel. Titanium brazening is applied to make sure the edges will stay sharp for much longer than ordinary unhardened steel alloy.
Included are 20 common metric-sized taps and dies for cutting, 2 T-type adjustable tap and diestock wrenches, die adapters, a screw-pitch gauge, and screwdriver. The pieces are each marked with SAE standard and metric sizes, to help you organize and select pieces according to the job at hand. A handy plastic storage case keeps everything together.
Although every tap is durably built, the package did come with a very few pieces that were incorrectly marked. The included comb gauge was fortunately good at identifying the one or two offending taps quickly enough, all of which bore accurately once properly applied.
The professional-grade features simplify set up and cleaning. Neiko’s 00908A SAE and Metric Tap and Hexagon Die Set may not be for the heaviest workloads, but it’s more than good enough for occasional use and casual repairs.
Craftsman 75 pc Inch
Heat-treated alloy steel
Precision ground pieces
Some pieces did not fit frames perfectly
This toolset comes from the well-known Craftsman brand that many mechanics and repairmen have come to rely on over the decades. The tap and die pieces come in both standard and metric sizes for more convenience.
Each tap and die piece is made of polished carbon-steel alloy for maximum durability and smooth removals. These are precision-made to cut accurately and cleanly, resulting in smoother bores and slices. A very few pieces did not fit snugly in either T-type wrench, which is probably due to variable machining quality.
The dies come in ex-shaped for use with jaw and socket wrenches as well as diestocks. There are 17 Plug and 17 Metric Taps, 17 Hex and 17 Metric Hex Dies, plus a handy plastic storage case for storing and organizing things. The 7 tools and accessory items include three tap and die wrenches, two screw-pitch gauges, a diestock, and a screwdriver.
Craftsman’s 75 pc Inch & Metric Tap and Die Set doesn’t cost as much as high-end shop sets, but performs just as well. Among proven tap and die toolsets, it remains our economical choice for DIY and light-duty shop work.
Precision ground and well-fitting pieces
Logically compartmented case
Markings can be hard to read
Some loose case slots
Among the more durable and complete sets available is GearWrench’s popular toolset. A premium product that’s still relatively affordable, its superior features and quality make it a good choice for repair shops.
The set comprises a ratcheting T-wrench that offers a five-degree curvature, other die wrenches, adapters, diestock, index holders for the tap bits, screw-pitch gauges. This professional-grade package features some 75 items of mostly carbon-steel construction for lasting durability and precision.
Due to the angled wrench design, the toolset is good for use in narrow spaces. Integrated twist-lock mechanisms help to minimize the need for reversing back walks in operation while using the die guide.
Dies and taps are tightly locked in to ensure smoother threading. The reversing lever allows ready changes between positions by the user, thus avoiding the need for hand turns that must be alternated.
Each tap is secured by its index holder for more logical organization and easier storage, although the text on some pieces can be difficult to read. A compartmented case keeps everything well organized and ready for jobs, although some dies tended to come loose in their slots.
You’ll be threading and boring taps like the pros with this toolset. GearWrench’s 3887 Tap and Die 75 Piece Set is a literally well-rounded set that engine and machine shops will find well worth the price.
IRWIN Tools 76 Piece
Precision ground and well-fitting pieces
Heat treated and hardened
Cuts to exact standards
Well-organized compartmented case
IRWIN Tools’s 76 Piece Machine Screw Super Set is simply one of the best tap and die sets available. Every tap and die is made of carbon-alloy steel of great tensile strength for maximum durability.
These are precision tools that will perform well in the most difficult repairs and accurate parts builds. Those working on engines and other machinery will find this toolset particularly useful.
The package is a bit expensive, but comes highly recommended by many due to the design and precision of its pieces. The pieces come in both imperial (inch) and metric sizing for greater versatility, including various machine and screw and metric and fractional plug taps and both 5/8- and 1-inch hexagonal diestocks.
Included are machine screw and metric plug taps with 5/8-inch hexagonal dies as well as fraction and metric plug taps with 1-inch hexagonal dies, adjustable diestock, adjustable handle and two-in-one T-type wrenches, and standard and metric screw-pitch gauges.
All 76 pieces come in a nicely laid-out compartmented storage case. It organizes the inventory in ways that can help you readily retrieve the needed sizes, and this arrangement can be critical to efficient shop work.
With its full stock of commonly used taps and dies, this package will cover almost all right-handed threading jobs. It will likely become a shop’s go-to toolset for manually refurbishing and creating bolts/screws and most other threaded fasteners.
The fact is that busy repairmen work best with high-end toolsets like IRWIN Tools’s 76 Piece Machine Screw/Fractional/Metric Tap and Hex Die Super Set (26376). You’ll be cutting threads and boring taps professionally with this toolset, which is our pick for the best tap and die set.
A Better Set To Work With
Whichever you choose, with a high-quality tap and die set, you will become more effective and have less need for replacing pieces over time due to wear and breakage.
Once you’re able to cut and renew internal and external threads to exacting precision, you can learn how to fix any mangled bolt, nut, or pipe. By investing a bit more in a set that you will actually use a lot, it will eventually pay back over the years.
We think IRWIN Tools’s 76 Piece Machine Screw /Fractional /Metric Tap and Hex Die Super Set is the best tap and die set. It’s especially useful for professionals and others who have lots of jobs schedules at the shop.
For those who need a good basic toolset for light-duty jobs, Craftsman’s 75 pc Inch & Metric Tap and Die Set remains our budget pick.
If you enjoyed reading this story, do leave a comment to let us know what you think of our tap and die set reviews!