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Untangle the web of confusion by comparing our top-rated picks! Produced by a proud member of the DIY community, this guide brings together all you need to know about tap and die sets.
Having a great tap and die set makes repairing old nuts and bolts easy. The problem is finding the right one for your needs. There are so many different ones to choose from, and getting a poor quality set is relatively high. Taps are used in conjunction with a tap wrench to cut the thread into the metal. However, dies are used for cutting the thread onto the outside of a piece of metal or wood. Quick guide: taps for female threads / dies for male threads.
So you can get the best value from your tap and die set purchase, we have scoured the market and chosen the best five currently available. We have written a detailed review of each model and laid them out side-by-side in an easy-to-read comparison table. At the bottom of the article is our buyer’s guide, packed full of hints and tips to look out for when deciding to buy a tap and die set. We are confident that you will know everything you need to know about these fantastic tools by the end of the article!
Here’s a quick rundown on what we provide in this best tap and die sets article:
- First, we showcase our top 5 picks in an easy-to-follow comparison table
- Next, we take a look at the features and benefits you need to know about
- Then, we explore the drawbacks of each model
- And finally, our buyer’s guide will give you a better insight into the product
Sound great? Let’s get to it!
Comparison of Our Favorite Tap and Die Sets
CLICK on any image below to see Ratings and Reviews on Amazon
5 Best Tap and Die Sets – Reviews
1. GEARWRENCH 114 Pc. Ratcheting Tap and Die Set (Best Overall)
2. EFFICERE 60-piece Master SAE / Metric Tap and Die Set (Best Value)
Further reading: Best Engine Stands – Reviews and Buyers Guide
3. ABN SAE & Metric Tap and Die Set
4. TEKTON 7559 Tap and Die Set
5. MUZERDO 110PCS SAE & Metric Tap and Die Set
Video: All You Need to Know About Tap and Die Sets
Tap and Die Sets Buying Guide
You need the best tap and die set if you love repair projects or work in a garage. You can also get one if you love fixing your car. In short, a tap and die set is a brilliant addition to your tool kit. However, given its popularity, getting the right one can be pretty challenging.
Before we delve into our main subject, we should first define a tap and die set. This is a collection of taps and dies used to make or re-thread a screw, nut, or any other type of fastener that you know. Therefore, if you are a DIY enthusiast, this is something that you need. Taps are specifically used to cut threads into holes, whereas dies are used to create threads on steel rods. We hope that you now have an idea of what this set contains. To help you settle on the best product, here are a few factors that you should look out for:
You should first identify your intended purpose before getting a tap and die set. Keep in mind that different sets have varying components. Therefore, you need to know the components in your intended set and what they are used for before acquisition. Remember, you might need to tap more often at times. In such a case, you should settle on a set with more taps than dies. If you die more often than you tap, get a set with more ties and fewer taps.
Depending on your purpose, here are some of the components of a tap and die set:
Taper tap– This is usually used for initial threading. It is the first component that you will use when threading.
The second tap– As suggested by the name, this tap comes second to the taper tap. It is used to deepen the thread after creation. However, it closely resembles the taper tap and even has the same tapering angle. Keep in mind that this is not used to create threads but only to deepen them.
Plug tap– The plug tap does the final job-finishing the edges of the thread. It polishes the thread, making it look as natural as possible. It instantly turns the thread into a bolt.
Here are some dies;
Die nut– This is a chaser. It is mainly used to sharpen already-made threads. It does not create new ones.
Circular die– The circular die does the threading when used in a circular motion.
Two-piece adjustable die– this is what you need to customize your threads. It has two adjustable pieces that make it highly qualified for its purpose.
Metric or SAE
Tap and die sets are found in two measurement systems – Metric and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Here’s a brief explanation about both types.
- Metric tap and dies – In simple terms, the distance between the thread crests is measured in millimeters. This is more common in European sets.
- SAE – Probably an easier way of measuring is the SAE method, threads per inch (TPI). You only have to count how many threads there are per inch to get your measurement. Some tap and dies sets have a pitch gauge tool, which helps determine metric and SAE tap and die measurements.
This is a significant factor that you should ascertain before obtaining any tool. The build quality determines other factors such as durability and general usage. Therefore, when going for such a set, make sure that you settle on premium quality.
Keep in mind that most quality items cost a dime. Well, you can be lucky enough to find a quality, affordable set, but most of the time, you will have to spend a little bit more. To be on the safer side, do not rush for the cheaper sets lest you end up hugely disappointed.
Would you mind taking some time and assessing the type of material used to make the components of your set? Well, the taps and dies are always made of steel, but also steel differs. This factor takes us back to the build quality, which usually entails the type of steel used in your tools.
I would highly advise you to settle on high-quality carbon steel. You can be sure that the taps and dies will be sturdy enough to withstand heavy usage. Low-quality settle is usually cheaper but does not last long. You’d rather spend more on an item than keep buying it at a lower price over and over again. Alloy steel may struggle to cut a much harder metal, such as stainless steel.
Most people do not know that the handle of different tools plays a huge role in their general operation. The type of handle that you go for determines whether you will be comfortable using the tool or not.
If you settle on an uneven and awkward handle, be sure that you will make several mistakes, some of which may be costly. Also, make sure that the handle is easy to use. It would be best not to spend a lot of strength on an activity that should not drain you. Also, if you apply too much strength, you will break your dies and taps, which is another costly venture.
To use a tap and die adequately set, it must have a tap wrench and die wrench.
- Tap wrench – is a long, thin bar with adjustable teeth that enables it to cut the threads without it slipping
- Die wrench – has a similar appearance to the tap wrench but has a different shaped opening
- Ratcheting tap and die wrench is the best option as it enables less effort for the user. You can cut clockwise and won’t loosen when rotated the other way (unless it has been released) and works similarly to the ratcheting socket wrench. This tool helps prevent hand fatigue and is highly recommended.
The size of your taps and dies will influence the usage and results of your projects. This is usually measured as SAE and metric sizes. When getting your die and tap set, a notable hack is to get one that will be versatile and accommodating to as many projects as possible.
All the components of your tap and die set should be safe. Therefore, ensure that you settle on a robust plastic storage case that is weather resistant. Also, the proper storage case means that you will be more organized and better placed. You should easily access your tools.
I would highly recommend that you settle on products with warranties. Luckily enough, most companies offer a warranty for their products. The warranty protects you from faulty items since the manufacturer assumes responsibility for any malfunction discussed in the warranty terms.
You should check the warranty period, and if possible, get an item with a lifetime warranty. Also, the warranty reveals just how much the manufacturer has faith in the products. Lastly, the warranty period depends on several factors: the build quality, the type of material used, and the manufacturing brands. Therefore, strive to get your products from reputable brands.
How to Use a Tap and Die Set
Taps – put the tap in a tap wrench and ensure it is lined up with the hole that needs threading by turning clockwise one complete turn and then counter-clockwise half a turn to get rid of the metal chips. Continue like that until you have cut the thread you need.
Dies – Using a vice, secure the bolt and then place a die onto the end of the bolt. The cutting process is the same as the taps, and you carry on until the bolt is threaded as you want.
You don’t have to pay professionals for things that you can easily do. If you are a DIY enthusiast, this is a must-have toolset. However, before settling for one, ensure that you know your intended purpose of getting the tool and look out for the factors that we have discussed.
The GEARWRENCH 114 Pc. is our Best Overall pick as it comes with a huge variety of pieces, a superb ratchet, and plug and taper taps.
Our Best Value choice is the EFFICERE 60-piece Master Tap and Die Set as the quality is outstanding for the price you will pay. It is a high-spec set and we highly recommend it.
We hope you have found our reviews and buyers guide helpful and you can now buy your tap and die set with more confidence, knowing that what you buy will suit your needs and is right for you.
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