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Old 11-23-2009, 04:04 PM
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Tap and die set questions

Guys,

I need some info on working with a tap and die set. I am working on restoring the chassis on my 69 vette and I bought a tap and die set from Harbor Freight (yeah, I know) to chase the threads on some of the larger nuts and bolts. I did some reading on taps and dies before I purchased and, believe it or not, the HF set had some decent reviews. Anyway, when I got the set home and went to use it the dies were different from any I used before. These dies are split and you can adjust the size of the die by tightening screws into the die that either tighten down on the die or open it up. How do I use a die like this? When I went to clean up the threads on one bolt the die simply fell over the threads. It was not until I tightened down on the screws that I was able to get the threads to clean up, but how do I know where to stop? I'm afraid I could damage the threads if I adjust it down too much. I'm used to dies being just one specific size. What gives?

Mike

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Old 11-23-2009, 04:22 PM
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Just tighten it enough to where it does not remove any metal.

VInce
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:11 PM
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Do you have a part number so we can see what it looks like? i checked on the HF site but couldn't find any that are like the ones described. Sometimes their site doesn't always have what they have in store.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:16 PM
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I once bought a set like those, in my opinion do as I did throw those away and buy a good set. A good set will last you for life and not mess up the threads like those will. Some tools you need to spend more money for if you know what I mean, Jack
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:39 PM
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I buy some things at HF and they have some bargains on some items, for hobby use anyway, but taps and dies are not among them. Don't try to use the HF taps/dies for anything except rethreading and they may be OK for that but if you try to use them to cut new threads you will likely wind up with a mess and taps broken off in the holes, ever try to get a broken tap out? IMO a good set for the money is Hanson, not the best but pretty darn good, and they come with some decent dies stocks and tap handles. Like most tap and die sets they only come with plug taps so you need to get some taper (starter) taps to cut new threads, the idea behind only including plug style is that you CAN start and cut new threads so it cuts down on the number of pieces in the set. Maybe you can start threads with a plug style tap but it is a PITA and they are much more likely to break especially the smaller sizes and a taper tap will go a heck of a lot easier.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:39 PM
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Get yourself some new bolts the size your trying to clean up and adjust the die to fit, that way you'll know for sure your not over cutting the threads on the old bolt's. The new bolt's will be like a gauge for the die. When you clean up the threads and their too loose, you'll know the bolt needs replaced.
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Old 11-24-2009, 07:49 AM
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I looked up some tap and die sets listed in a previous post and I found a set at McMasters that looks good but its expensive ($500!). I only need to clean up existing threads, so I don't need something that's top of the line, but I don't like these "adjustable" dies. Since I'm doing suspension work I need large sizes, like up to 1" in both fine and coarse. Does anyone know of a set of tap and dies in large sizes with the traditional (non-adustable) type of dies that won't require me to take out a second mortgage? What do you call these adjustable type dies? Is there a specific name for them?

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:32 AM
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Hey Mikey

Hey Mike, I know this is probably elementary to you, but I thought I would comment for the benefit of some folks who are not experienced and are reading this thread.
Most all Tap & Die Sets come with Adjustable Split Dies. This allows the user to adjust for standard,oversize or undersized threads. For instance, sometimes threading harder materials requires a slight undersized adjustment to get adequate threads.
The die should be positioned in the handle with the center screw at the split, the other two screws in the indentations. Tighten all three screws finger snug,then snug equally with a screwdriver(just a tad past finger tight) this is standard thread. You can go slightly oversized for softer materials by opening the split a little with more screw pressure.
If you're finding your bolts falling thru the die, errosion is probably the cause(check with a new bolt), or you got some made on Friday(in China). Ha
As far as thread cleanup on a project, you might consider getting a set of thread chasers for tapped holes. They don't remove metal, just crud and rust, keeping your used threads in good shape. You can also make thread chasers with a hardened bolt with a groove ground or filed long ways in the bolt on each side(crud falls in the grooves). On bolts you might consider just a good cleaning on a wire wheel on your bench grinder.(Wear goggles and faceshield, one wire strand can blind you).
As far as a good tap & die set for heavier work, I look for tungsten sets. Regardless of being foreign or domestic, they are usually the best.
For machine screw sizes I use Hanson kits, inexpensive and usually break under heavy use, but last a long time if you always use oil. I know this is old hat to alot of folks, but you'd be surprised at how many young guys that start on the job with no knowledge at all about tool use. olnolan
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Old 11-27-2009, 04:50 PM
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don't buy cheap taps

I too bought a bigger set of cheap tap and dies, bad idea. most of the smaller ones were softer than the aluminum that I was trying to restore. bet you guessed they came from china. the case however is very useful to put the replacement dies into. even the autozone dies are infinitely better.those are doing very well for me as I don't use them often. buy quality, it pays.
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Old 11-27-2009, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike69
I looked up some tap and die sets listed in a previous post and I found a set at McMasters that looks good but its expensive ($500!). I only need to clean up existing threads, so I don't need something that's top of the line, but I don't like these "adjustable" dies. Since I'm doing suspension work I need large sizes, like up to 1" in both fine and coarse. Does anyone know of a set of tap and dies in large sizes with the traditional (non-adustable) type of dies that won't require me to take out a second mortgage? What do you call these adjustable type dies? Is there a specific name for them?

Thanks,
Mike

There are good taps and dies and there cheap taps and dies but unfortunately there are no good cheap taps and dies. The least expensive way might be to just buy the ones you need and not buy a whole set with sizes you may never use, have you tried Enco?

www.use-enco.com

or

http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?P...PMPXNO=5809824


also


http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INPDFF?P...MITEM=325-4739


They have expensive brand names but they also have some decent imports that may be just what you need. I would not recommend the imports for frequent use but for what you are talking about they would probably work just fine. I have several sizes of the imports from Enco and although not cheap they are not all that expensive either and if you are just buying a few sizes you need it may not cost much at all.

BTW, the imports I got were from Brazil and not China and are good quality for the price.
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:12 PM
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I've sworn never to use cheapo taps and dies again. Just about useless for anything.
I've found good taps and dies (except the adjustable ones) aren't that good for thread chasing either, they tend to cut away too much metal when threads are damaged. Enough that where a nut that took a gorilla to remove will go back on with two fingers and even rattle around instead of tightening.
I broke down and bought a "rethreading set" for work. Spoiled me rotten. I'm considering buying a second set for the home shop. I got mine from a Cornwell tool truck for just under $100. The set includes SAE and metric in most all sizes from about 12mm and 5/8" on down. Taps and dies. I thought they looked sort of cheesy compared to traditional cutting tools but I've tortured some of them pretty well and they've held up fine. They are just made a bit differently.
Snap-On sells what appears to be the exact same set, just arranged differently in the box-part #RTD48 in their catalog. Larger rethreading dies are available separately up to 1 1/4"-12 SAE threads.
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:24 PM
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I have a co-worker with a cheapie tap and die set, for "chasing threads" it is "OK", but barely that. I wouldn't use the adjustable, super high quality maybe, but there are just too many variables you are dealing with.

Honestly, I couldn't live without a good tap and die set. I have a Mac Tools one that I bought...let's see.........about 15 years ago maybe. It was about $250 and I wouldn't give it up for nothing short of twice that (to go buy another). I have cut threads, new threads mostly, and I don't believe I have ever broke a single tap or die! I may not be remembering one, but I don't believe I have ever broke one.

It has metric and SAE, both with a thread guage. You get the bolt, check the threads with the guage to find the exact thread and pitch and then pick the correct one and do your thing, it is so friggin easy it isn't funny.

All I do know is if you chase the threads with some cheapie die and it isn't quite right and you put it into a caged nut like your Vette is full of.......you will toss that HF junk as far as you can. Just ONE caged nut on that car with a locked in bolt with screwed up threads and a two or three hundred dollar tap and die set will be nothing. You would be willing to hand someone a check to take away all the pain and STILL go out and spend another two hundred for a good set.

To quote my brother.... "I have never said, darn, I wish I would have bought the cheaper tool".

Brian
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike69
to chase the threads on some of the larger nuts and bolts.
Instead of chasing the threads (which shouldn't be necessary unless there is damage to the threads), use a wire wheel mounted on a bench grinder. Use eye protection. The wire wheel will remove virtually no metal and will clean the threads back to as-new in most cases.

I'd say to use this even if you ARE going to chase the threads- your thread chasing tooling and the quality of the job done on your hardware will be better if it's spotless beforehand.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:50 PM
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I always thought Hanson was a good brand. Not so?
Currently I'm looking ot buy a good set. What would be some commonly available names that would be reliable and not break the bank?
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixdogs
I always thought Hanson was a good brand. Not so?
Currently I'm looking ot buy a good set. What would be some commonly available names that would be reliable and not break the bank?
IMHO there is nothing wrong w/Hansen taps and dies for a hobbyist. I have a set that came from Ace that I will use around the shop.

That said, you can spend more money on some sets, and there are "advantages" to some sets that my basic Hansen set doesn't have.

Wells is an upper end tool that is shown on the left, below. A Hansen is on the right.

BTW, both those dies are 1/4-20.
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