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.
The ABN tap and die set is well-priced with a great case and versatile selection of tools. Made of hardened alloy steel, very durable and capable of cutting through harder materials.
Hardly any downside, but although the case is rugged and well-organized, some of the tools won’t fit snugly in it.
The Tekton 7561 tap and die set contains a total of 45 tools, including 20 taps and 20 dies. The key highlight is that the tools are made of high-quality alloy steel, allowing them to be durable and hard enough to work on different types of harder metals including cast iron and carbon steel.
Be advised that this set only contains metric taps and dies. Therefore, if you need both metric and standard you may want to have a look at some of our other options below.
This Nieko tap and die set is a very affordable and versatile option. Although the tools are made of steel, the cutting edges are made of titanium so they are capable of cutting through harder materials.
The downside with this set again is that you have to choose between a Metric or SAE version (no dual compatibility), so it’s not as versatile as other sets we’ll discuss.
The key highlight of this IRWIN tap and die set is the inclusion of 117 different tools in the set, making it a very versatile set, and definitely a great choice if you just want a set with a lot of different pieces of tools in it.
The main tools are manufactured from high carbon steel to provide durability, accuracy, and hardness, capable of threading harder materials.
Also, it includes a pretty durable and handy plastic case. A great overall value.
A great set from Gearwrench that includes 114 different tap and die tools in the set for both SAE and Metric measurement systems.
Well-made with nice attention to detail, and includes a durable case. One of the key highlights of this set is the handle featured on the tools, as they are very ergonomics and comfortable to handle.
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.
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:
Similar to taps, dies also come in mainly three types: die nut, circular die, and split-circular die.
In sets that include wrenches, there are also three different types of wrenches:
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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