Every electrician, mechanic, and even DIY enthusiast needs a good tap and die set in their toolbox.
A tap and die set is useful in repairing any broken nuts and/or bolts, but is also useful if you want to craft a new thread from scratch.
However, tap and die sets come in different variations, price tags, and features, so choosing the right one according to your exact needs can be quite confusing.
This is why in this buying guide, we will help you examine the important features you’ll need in a tap and die set, as well as our recommendations for the best tap and die sets available in the market today.
Without further ado, let us begin.
Best Tap and Die Sets for Electricians
- 60-piece (both ABN Metric and SAE) rethread set for cutting external and internal threads
- Metric taps: 3×0.5, 4×0.7, 5×0.8, 6×1.0, 7×1.0, 8×1.25, 9×1.25, 10×1.0, 10×1.5, 12×1.75;
- UNC taps: 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-24, 12-24, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2;
- UNF taps: 10-32, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2;
- Metric dies: 3×0.5, 4×0.7, 5×0.8, 6×1.0, 7×1.0, 8×1.25, 9×1.25, 10×1.0, 10×1.5, 12×1.75;
- UNC dies: 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-24, 12-24, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2;
- UNF dies: 10-32, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2;
- NPT tap 1/8-27; NPT die 1/8-27;
- Tap wrench M4-M12 3/16-1/2”; T-type tap wrench M3-M16 1/16-1/4”
- Constructed from hardened alloy steel for maximum strength and longevity. Can cut hard materials like cast iron, steel, aluminum, and copper.
- Coarse and fine threaded and numbered taps and dies from #4 – 40 to #12 – 24
- Fractional taps and dies from 1/4″ – 28 to 1/2″ – 20, 1/8″ – 27 NPT tap and die
- Metric tap and dies from M3 x .5 to M12 x 1.75
- Thread gauge
- Tap handle
- Die handle
- Small tap chuck
Pros and Cons
- Include a durable case with organized compartments, very good quality
- Versatile set with a large selection of tap and die tools, has both Metric and SAE tools
- High-quality hardened alloy steel material
- 1-year manufacturer warranty
- The tap and die holder in the case is not very secure
- Includes 20 taps and 20 dies:
- Coarse Thread: 6 x 1.0, 8 x 1.25, 10 x 1.5, 12 x 1.75, 14 x 2.0, 16 x 2.0, 18 x 2.5, 20 x 2.5, 22 x 2.5, 24 x 3.0
- Fine Thread (NF): 6 x 0.75, 8 x 1.0, 10 x 1.25, 12 x 1.5, 14 x 1.5, 16 x 1.5, 18 x 1.5, 20 x 1.5, 22 x 1.5, 24 x 1.5
- (1) 1/4-inch T-handle tap wrench
- (1) 1/4 – 1-inch T-handle tap wrench
- (1) 2-inch T-handle die stock
- (1) 1-1/2-inch Die stock adapter
- (1) Screwdriver
- (20) Taps
- (20) Split dies
- (1) Storage case
- High-quality milled alloy steel
- 3- and 4-flute plug taps and dies for hand threading applications
- Storage case included
Pros and Cons
- All included tools are made of high-quality alloy steel, solid and durable
- Includes tapered coarse and fine taps and dies for easier initiation
- Excellent and reliable performance for both cutting new threads and repairing damaged threads
- Hard enough for cutting cast iron, carbon steel, alloy steel, bronze, brass, and aluminum, among other materials
- The handles aren’t very durable, might snap
- Metric Only
- 20 taps and 20 dies
- M6x1, M6x0.75, M8x1, M8x1.25, M10x1.25, M10x1.5, M12x1.5,M12x1.75,
- 5, M14x2, M16x1.5, M16x2, M18x1.5, M18x2.5,M20x1.5, M20x2.5, M22x1.5, M22x2.5, M24x1.5, M24x3?
- Allow steel, titanium-coated material. Hold sharpness up to 20 times longer than steel material, perfect for both small and large projects
- 1 die stock handle wrench,1 adjustable tap handle wrench,1 “T” handle tap wrench, 1 die adaptor, 1 stubby screwdriver
- Include a heavy-duty molded case for easy storage and transport
- Professional-grade steel material, highly durable and built for multiple uses
Pros and Cons
- Made of high-quality steel with titanium cutting edges, durable while capable of cutting harder materials
- Excellent tap wrench, pitch gauge and die stock included in the set
- Includes a wide range (20 and 20) of tap and die sizes, very versatile
- Available only in either SAE or Metric kits, no dual compatibility
- Included case not very good
- Constructed of high-quality carbon steel for durability and hardness
- Contains 117 tools including tap and die in various sizes, drill bits, spiral screw extractors, and an adjustable handle tap wrench, 2-in-1 tap wrench, t-handle wrench, and pitch gauges
- Includes a high-quality plastic case
- Ideal for rethreading fastener holes and fasteners for machinery and automotive works
- Designed to work on a wide array of materials with various hardness
Pros and Cons
- Massive set with 117 tools included, not only both fractional and metric taps and dies but also machine screws, screw extractors, and high-speed steel drill bits
- Great construction quality with high carbon steel, versatile to use with various hard materials
- The included plastic storage case is pretty sturdy and can hold the tools securely
- High carbon steel isn’t the best material around, but with 117 pieces of tools, it would be much more expensive otherwise
- Die adapters work with the 3/8 Drive pass-thru ratchet and socket system as well as socket Accessories
- Auto-locking feature allow the tap adapters to be removed safely
- Spring-loaded cap allows for quick release of large tap adapter
- Drive extension adapters provide greater access in confined areas when used with 3/8″ Drive Extensions
- Die adapter works on round and hex shaped Dies
- Ratcheting T-handles wind Dies with a 5° swing arc and have a reversing lever to eliminate hand-over-hand turning
- Twist lock guide system reduces the “walk back” of the die guide and keeps the dies centered while cutting
Pros and Cons
- Comprehensive (114 pieces) set with a great variety of taps and dies included
- Include a durable, blow-molded case
- Has both Metric and SAE measuring system for versatility
- Carbon-steel material for extra hardness and durability
- Fairly limited threaded depth
- Not ideal for large industrial operations
What Is a Tap and Die Set?
In a nutshell, a tap and die set is a collection of tools that we can use to create screw threads (or bolt threads). As the name suggests, it mainly consists of a ‘tap’ wrench and a ‘die’ stock.
A tap wrench is used to form and cut the female portion of the screw system (i.e., the nut), while the die is used to form the male portion (i.e. a bolt or a screw).
Thus, the process of forming threads using a tap is called tapping, while the process of using a die to form the male portion of the system is called threading.
You can use the taps and dies to add new threads for older screws (and bolts), to repair existing threads, or to create a totally new thread system from scratch.
The taps and dies in the set can vary according to their diameter, hardness, and pitch, among other vectors.
You’ll need taps and dies in different diameters because you will need different diameters of holes to fit different sizes of bolts and screws.
Varying level of hardness, on the other hand, is necessary so we can work with different materials of varying hardness.
Last but not least, pitch will also dictate the types of threads created by the set.
Below, we will discuss the different types of taps and dies further.
Different Types of Taps and Dies
A common misconception is to think that all ‘taps and dies’ are made similar, but as discussed, there are actually a lot of variation with these tap and die tools.
First, taps come in three main types:
- Taper taps: With their tiny and flatter threads, taper taps don’t require much force to use, so they are also great for beginners. Used for initial threading to start a hole, then we can use other taps to create a bigger hole according to your needs.
- Plug taps: The most common type, useful for both initial threading and when finishing the holes. Plug taps feature a flattened thread at the beginning but not as flat as a taper tap. So, they aren’t easy to use as taper taps, but at the same time they cannot thread as fully as finishing taps.
- Finishing taps: As the name suggests, it’s the best option for finishing a thread pattern. Finishing taps can completely cut the thread to the bottom of the hole. Shouldn’t be used for initial threading because they possess very small and unthreaded end, so it’s very difficult to use it to initiate threading.
Similar to taps, dies also come in mainly three types: die nut, circular die, and split-circular die.
- Die nuts: Used to sharpen existing threads but cannot be used to create new threads
- Circular dies: The most common type and you can always find circular dies in any set. Used to cut threads into the exterior of screws or bolts.
- Split-circular dies: As the name suggests, can be split in half and you can only use half of them, allowing them to accept larger materials. Used to cut shallow threads in initial cutting, and also to cut deeper threads as the die is tightened around the bolt.
In sets that include wrenches, there are also three different types of wrenches:
- Tap wrench: Looks like a long and thin bar with an adjustable teeth in the rectangular opening. The tap wrench will fasten around the tap to secure it so you can cut threads without slipping.
- Die wrench: Looks relatively similar to a tap wrench, but the opening in the middle is shaped to fasten around dies. The dies are fastened to the wrench with the set screws.
- Ratcheting wrench: This type of wrench allows us to cut clockwise but the thread will not loosen when the wrench is rotated counterclockwise (unless you release it). This allows a more seamless cutting method that’s not as tiring as the usual hand-over-hand cutting technique.
How To Choose The Right Tap and Die Set
Before you purchase a new tap and die set for your next project, you might want to consider the following factors to ensure you’ll get the right tap and die set according to your project’s needs.
What’s included in the set
As we’ve discussed above, there are various types of taps, dies, and wrenches that can be included in a set, and different sets will also include different numbers of parts.
For example, a simple tap and die set specialized for woodworking may only include three pieces in the set (a tap, a die, and a wrench), while there are also sets that include more than 100 pieces.
So, first figure out your needs:
If you will use it for complex metalworking, then you might want a set that includes more diameter sizes and hardness.
On the other hand, if you are only going to use the set for simpler works, then you might opt for a simpler set to save money.
Typically the more tools included in the set, the more expensive the set will be, but not always.
Some tap and die sets don’t include a storage case in the package, but most do.
You’d want a set that offer high-quality and durable storage case to prevent the tools from various damages from weather damages, rusting, impact damages, and so on.
If the set offers a durable steel case or a high-quality plastic case, then it’s a nice plus point.
Also, consider how secure the case will hold the tools in place when it’s closed. So, if you move the case around, the tools won’t fall out of place, which can be frustrating when you are looking to use the tool in a hurry.
Measurement Systems: Metric vs SAE
Tap and die tools with metric system are measured by the distance between the thread crests in millimeters.
The crest is a protruding part (can be external or internal), and there are two flanks that connects the crest to the root. As you can see, a tap and die set with a metric system can be quite confusing to measure.
On the other hand, a SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) tap and die set is typically easier to understand, and they are measured in TPI or threads per inch.
You can simply hold a measuring tape up to the thread pattern and count the number of complete threads in every inch.
You’d want to get a tap and die set according to the measurement system used in your location, and some tap and die sets also include a pitch gauge in the set, which is a specialized tool you can use to quickly measure the number of threads regardless of the measurement system.
Material is obviously an important consideration when choosing between different tap and die sets. It’s important to remember that only sets made of harder materials can cut through the hard materials.
Sets made of aluminum (soft metal), for example, are typically intended to use on wood materials, and you won’t be able to use them to cut steel or harder metal materials.
If you want versatility, you might as well choose sets with moderately hard material like alloy steel, but if you often work with harder materials, then you’d want a set made with titanium, cobalt, or carbon steel, among others.
Selecting just one tap and tie set out of the five in this list is indeed a very daunting task. There are so many different products available in the market, and each product offers its unique take and include different tools in the set.
For our absolute best pick, although admittedly this is wasn’t easy, we’ll go for GEARWRENCH Ratcheting Tap and Die Set.
It includes 114 different pieces of tools in the set made of carbon steel, and include a rugged, high-quality case.
However, that’s not saying the others on this list are bad products. We are confident that based on our tests, these five sets we have reviewed are indeed the best choices you can you can make right now at their price-points.
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