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What Is a Tap and Die Set: Detailed Explanation

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Written By John Gibbs




» Hand Tools » Taps and dies » What Is a Tap and Die Set: Detailed Explanation
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A set of dies and taps is essential for domestic and industrial work. It can be either a relatively small or a very massive set that is able to help out even in very difficult situations. In this article, we will discuss what is a set of taps and dies, what kinds of such a set exist and what nuances in the use you may encounter.

What Is a Tap and Die Set

A set of taps and dies will save us in situations where we need to create threads. Both of these tools are designed for tapping. Taps are used for calibrating and tapping internal threads on workpieces and parts.
Dies, respectively, are used for calibrating and tapping external threads. They have a similar principle of operation, but each is used for specific tasks.

making female thread by die tool

Type of Taps and Dies Set

Taps and dies are classified as machine or hand tools. With hand taps and taps, threads can be made by hand, without the use of additional fixtures and tools. This option is suitable for carpentry work. And if you need to thread on stronger or more ductile part materials (e.g., titanium alloys), then machine versions of tools are needed.

Depending on the purpose of use, several types of tap and die tools are distinguished.

There are most often three types of dies on the market according to the type of construction:

  • One-piece (lerca);
  • Cut;
  • Sliding (clip-type).


One-piece models are used when it is necessary to obtain the highest quality threads. Perfect quality is achieved due to the high rigidity of dies. This type of dies has one significant disadvantage – not versatility. There must be a separate die for each size.


If there is no need for high-quality threads, you can use cut dies. When using such models spring, because of this there is a high probability that the diameter of the thread may slightly change or warp. This is due to the low material stiffness of the split die. The result of the work is not perfect.

machine tapping a bronze stud with a die ona lathe


Sliding dies allow you to pick up the thread size yourself. They are the most common in kits. There are models of dies that allow you to make a left-hand thread, that is, a thread in the opposite direction. Strange as it may seem, such tools are also in demand among craftsmen. They are also called left-handed dies.

Taps in tool kits are more commonly found as machine-hand taps. They are considered versatile, and suitable for both machine work and home use of a screwdriver. Regular hand taps are suitable for carpentry work on wood. The accuracy class of the applied thread in such options is low. Machine options create a thread much more accurately and are suitable for work on metal.

According to the specialization, taps are divided into

  • Wrench;
  • Tap;
  • Special.

Wrench Taps

As you can see from the names, wrench taps are used to thread nuts. In production, they are used on machines where a large number of nuts are machined in one approach.

Wrench tap tapping


This type of tap can help correct (calibrate) threads in dies.

Special Taps

It is used in narrow profile work. They are distinguished by the type of tips and the shape of the thread they can make. Here you can find round, conical, trapezoidal, pipe, adjustable, prefabricated, and many others. Each is used only in a specific situation, which depends on the type of product material and the function of the tool.

trapezoid tap на белом столе

How to Tap and Die Properly

The process of tapping a thread into a small opening or casting is a difficult operation. If you have a question “how does a tap and die set work?,” I’ll go into more detail below. A few tips and methods will help you be successful and avoid problems.

  1. Always use a center punch to make a small dent in the middle of the opening. This will help keep the drill bit from wandering and will help prevent the casting from cracking.
  2. If the hole is more than ¼” in diameter, or 6.35 mm if you use a metric tap and die set, drill a pilot hole slightly smaller than the tap’s diameter. This will help keep the tap from breaking.
  3. Always use a tap wrench that fits snugly on the tap’s square shank.
  4. When starting the tap, make sure the tap is perpendicular to the workpiece. Use light pressure to start the tap.
  5. Always keep the tap and die well lubricated with cutting oil. This will help keep the tap from breaking and will make the tapping operation go smoother.
  6. When the tap is close to the bottom of the hole, use a tap extension to keep the tap from breaking.
  7. To remove the tap from the hole, reverse the direction of the tap wrench.
  8. When starting the die, make sure the die is perpendicular to the workpiece. Use light pressure to start the die.
  9. Always keep the die well lubricated with cutting oil. This will help keep the die from breaking and will make the tapping operation go smoother.
  10. Use a little light tapping with a hammer on the die holder to help loosen the die if it is stuck.
Related Posts


What Are Taps and Dies?

Taps and dies are tools used to create threads in materials such as metal and plastic. Taps are used to create threads in holes, while dies are used to create threads on rods or bolts.

Tap vs die? Which is better?

This is not a valid question, because these two tools are designed for different tasks. They both simply thread on different surfaces. So it is impossible to say that one is better and the other is worse, it all depends on your needs. If the question is about the manufacturer, one of the market leaders is Irwin tap and die sets. Irwin makes one of the best taps and dies sets.

What Is a Die?

A die is a tool used to cut or form material, typically metal or plastic. A die can be used to cut a thread on a screw, for example.

What Is a Tap?

A tap is a tool used to cut internal threads in a workpiece. A tap is screwed into a workpiece and then rotated to cut threads into the material.
What does a tap and die set to do?
A tap and die set is used to cut threads into a blank, or to chase threads that are already cut but have become damaged or deformed.

What is the difference between a tap and a die?

Taps are used to create threads in holes, while dies are used to create threads on rods or bolts.

The Bottom Line

A tap and die set is a toolset used to create threads in metal. Taps and dies are used to create internal and external threads, respectively. A tap is used to create female threads, while a die is used to create male threads. Both taps and dies are available in a variety of sizes and styles, depending on the application.
Tap and die sets are used in a variety of applications, including automotive, plumbing, and electrical work. Hopefully, in this article, we’ve dealt with “what is a die set and what is a tap set?”. If you have any questions about this topic, please leave a comment below!


About John Gibbs

Hello everyone! My name is John Gibbs. I am 60 years old and have been in the family construction business all my adult life. Construction is not only my profession but also my passion. I know everything about building and repair materials, tools, advanced methods, techniques, and approaches. I will share the same knowledge with you in my articles.

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