Featured Tool: Tap and Die Set

With so many options available, our inventory can be overwhelming when the functions of some of the tools are unclear. That’s where our monthly Featured Tool post comes in: we’ll give you a quick run-down on a lesser-known tool that can be used in your future projects.

Many tool users can attest to the slight crushing feeling of having stripped a screw during a project. It can be frustrating and limiting. Luckily, if you’re working with bolts, there is a way to fix that issue.

This month’s featured tool is the tap and die set. It would be easy to write off this tool as being too complicated due to the number of pieces included in the set. The tap and die set consists of two types of complementary tools: a tap, which is used to cut threads into a bolt hole (or nut, to which it is colloquially referred) and a die, which is used to cut threads into a bolt that has been damaged or stripped. Even ordinary pieces of steel rod can be made into a bolt (if you just happen to have some lying around)! These tools are used mainly by mechanics and woodworkers, but can be used for bicycle and small-engine repairs as well.

Usage involves first determining the correct size of the piece from the tap and die set; this will fit into a wrench which will be used to turn the piece. The bolt or bolt hole is then held in place with a vise and turned with the wrench in ¼ turn increments until the threads are cut down the bolt or bolt hole. One reverse turn may be required every so often to clean up the threads. Cutting oil can be extremely useful in this process, as it allows the tap or die piece to move more easily.

Make Magazine has an informative video on the use of a tap and die set.

Ever used our tap and die set or another one like it? Tell us about your experience: lauren [at] vancouvertoollibrary [dot] com.