Tap & Die set

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Geoff A

Active Member
Apr 3, 2009
SLK280 Sport
Anyone recommend a tap and die set? Bought a mid-priced set from Screwfix but it was a bit Buffalo Bill, so that's gone back. It's a minefield out there, and there's lots to choose from and prices that seem to escalate wildly.

Thoughts please, from those who have a good set they'd be happy to recommend.

Ta, Geoff.
The one just suggested looks good at the price. Whichever one you go for, the important thing is its made from HSS (high speed steel)

Only other thing to consider is that all standard metric tap/die sets will be metric coarse thread pitch. Metric fine is sometimes used on cars which would need to be bought seperately
1st question is what do want/need them for?
2nd would be do you really want/need dies? Die cut threads have their place but, at best, they are a bit pants and NOT suitable for highly stressed fasteners. Large sizes aside commercially made bolts have rolled threads. Cutting threads interupts the grain structure i.e. die cutting a couple of extra threads on a bolt 'cause the shank is too long will weaken it although obviously this doesn't matter in some apps

For 'just in case' thread cleaning/restoring + the occasional bit of tapping then HSS is less of a deal IMO. I'd go with the widest range of sizes within budget as otherwise you're bound to end up missing the pitch/size needed. If it's for making stuff then i'd consider a top quality set of taps and tapping drills and pass on dies personally

I'm a welder/fabricator and tap holes virtually daily (strictly speaking i often use thread rolling taps as i work with ally a lot). Very rarely die cut threads, if i'm making something they get lathe cut

From the 'cover as many sizes as possible approach'... BERGEN 115 pc Tungsten Steel Tap & Die set Metric & SAE sizes - Hand Tools - Span-Trade Power Tools & Kitchen Appliances - (Powered by CubeCart) Yes, they're only tungsten steel but for occasional use they're fine, might be available in a metric only flavour and i've no idea if i posted a cheap source. I have a set like that but usually find myself reaching for a boxed set of taps that contain drills too... this sort of thing (although mine aren't cheap/draper). Don't think i've ever used any of the dies in the big kit. Another approach would be to replace the commonly used sizes in a 'big kit' with better quality... kinda like the buy a cheap socket set and replace with Snap-On quality as needed because there's not much point in paying for a top quality 11mm socket, 10 or 13mm on the other hand...

Can't remember what they have in the way of sets but worth bookmarking for good quality at good prices with great service... Taps and Dies | Reamers | Tracy Tools Ltd Uk Their site is a bit of a PITA to navigate due to the huuuge range of stuff but MSC Industrial Supply Co. have a 'value' line (as well as top quality kit) which is probably similar to Clarke stuff but may well be cheaper as Machine Mart are bit like hellfrauds... not cheap, little in the way of good kit but convenient.
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Like others have said, it depends what you want and how much you are willing to pay.
I have had a carbon steel draper set for a number of years and it has bee a get out of jail card on a number of occasions.
If you want quality take a look at G & J Hall of Sheffield.
Proper stuff for commercial use.
If they do what you want I will see how much you could buy it for.
Toolbank list some of their tools for a quick comparison.
Otherwise you can get Draper expert quite easily. Cheaper than GJH but not too bad a quality

Quality in taps and dies is pretty important if you are looking at doing high end jobs. I use a Draper set which is perfectly adequate for my uses (apprentice CNC machinist). Seen colleagues using a company called 'laser' which also dont seem to be too bad, although they are a bit more pricey (£150ish). The Clarke set shown earlier does also look good. But again, it depends what your looking to get out of the set and how often you will use them. Good luck

Wow, thanks guys. Far more info in there than I expected, and I appreciate the guidance. It's all started from a couple of broken studs/bolts on my lad's year-old moped.
"Dad, can you help/fix....."
So at this stage, I only need to stud extract, clean and refit. Worse case, drill out and re-tap. Metric fine and metric course, probably.
I'm not looking to fabricate parts (yet), but would like to have a get out of jail free card available for when trouble surfaces. And there's trouble with the 'ped. Figured if I'm going to buy, then I may as well get something that's not Buffalo Bill quality, as I'm sure it'll come in handy with the cars too (TVR, Merc and Golf).
And I won't over-look good cutting lubricant too.
Thanks again, this forum is an incredible resource.
If you are drilling bolts out you can't do better than cobalt drills.
Again I can help if you get stuck

I ranted about cobalt drills recently...
I know this style of wheel bolts makes things even more of a PITA but i wouldn't have thought they'd be harder than the usual grade 10.9 used for wheel bolts? More important than 'colbalt' or other 'fancy' drills is decent quality i.e. Dormer, Presto, Sherwood, Guhring. HSS-Co (there's two flavours, M35 is 5% Co, M42 is 8%) are harder than plain ol' HSS, the upside is that they can be run at slightly higher speeds without softening, the downside is that they're more brittle i.e. easier to snap. Having said that cheap colbalt drills are often junk compared to quality HSS... too brittle, often poorly ground so they don't cut properly etc.

HSS-Co can be handy when using a hand drill as they don't have the range of speeds- rpm is related to diameter as cutting speeds are figured in metres/min or surface feet/min. Larger drill and/or harder material = slower speeds, too fast and the tool rubs instead of cutting, overheats and softens. The other problem with having to using a hand drill is feed. Hard materials/larger drills need leaning on to get them to cut rather than rub, easy enough when drilling something in a drill press or lathe, trickier when working freehand and trying to keep the hole straight. A DIY variable speed drill (rather than something with a gearbox) doesn't help either as you lose all the torque when you slow the rpm and then it stalls/overheats when you lean on it. Some cutting compound/coolant, while a ball ache with a hand drill, will help some too

FWIW with HSS tooling mild steel is typically machined at around 90ft/min give or take. Tool steels and some alloy steels as low as 30 - 35ft/min. For a 10mm drill bit that equates to around 900rpm for mild steel and 300-350 for the tougher flavours. 13-14mm drill and it's more like 600 and 200rpm respectively. Colbalt can be run around 10% faster or, at the same speed, will hold it's edge for longer

It is possible to attack this sort of job with a welder but it ain't easy and a MIG won't cut the mustard. Using a bit of thin wall tube down the bolt hole to protect the wheel you build up a pad of weld on the remains of the bolt until you're past flush and can weld a nut on. Again, not easy as you're working blind for most of the job.
Very technical but what's the rant
I agree with your statements but is it not the case for the correct tool for the job?
Same with the OP.
If he requires a quality tool he needs to be looking at a higher spec.
Carbon steel will work but HSS is better

Sometimes you only have room to use a hand drill and you have to weigh up the pros and cons and keep a steady hand
It was about cobalt (and other flavours/coatings) being perceived as 'magic' in some circles and that top quality plain HSS can be better than cheapnese HSS-Co. Yeah, rant was a poor choice of word. More of a ramble really but brought on because i often hear cobalt drills being touted as the solution for drilling tough materials... stainless is the classic example despite the fact most of the problems people have are caused by technique and cheap drills.

I agree with the right tool for the job thing, the point i failed to make is that HSS can be the right tool for the job when things are bought on price. Rambling further off topic but all of my large morse taper drills (talking upto 2" diameter) are HSS. If i owned HSS-Co versions i could drill a hole slightly faster but given the cost of large diamer MT drills most of mine were bought second hand. I also favour HSS over carbide tooling in my lathes for some jobs as they're not capable of the rpm that carbide needs to work properly
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Hi Hotrodder
I agree with all the points you have made on how just because it says cobalt in the discription that it must be the best thing since sliced bread.
I got some for another member on here recently who had previously bought some cheap co drills. His new ones were Dorma and did the job a treat.
I bet your old MT drills are a better quality steel than their modern counterparts.
There seems to be a trend for popular brands to trade on their past reputation rather than deliver the quality you believe you are buying. Hungry is the new China for cheap labour.
This is why I chose to name the brands of tap & die I know will do the job or if they didn't live up to expectation I know I could get the matter resolved rather than have anyone dissapointed.
I bet your old MT drills are a better quality steel than their modern counterparts.
There seems to be a trend for popular brands to trade on their past reputation rather than deliver the quality you believe you are buying.
Yeah, i bet they are too. I dunno how much of their product line or what the pattern is (might just be a grey import type deal) but there are Dormer drills that are made in Sheffield and Brazilian made ones doing the rounds too. Unsurprisingly some sources claim the Brazilian made ones ain't as good. Between buy outs and mergers a lot of 'the good names' from the past are now just another brand... the Britool and Facom thing... my favorite brand of aviation snips were bought by Irwin a few years ago along with Vice-Grip and both have been cheapnesed :(

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