Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: December 20, 2020
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Tap and die sets allow you to create internal and external threads, as well as repair existing ones. They can become an essential addition to your toolkit – whether you’re a home user or professional. One of the most convenient things about having a tap and die set is that you no longer have to look for the perfect screw or nut. All you have to do is customize an existing thread or create a new one.
The contents of the sets can vary greatly, something that we explore in-depth in this article. We considered the materials the tools are made from, the accessories included, the number of tools in each set, as well as the intended purpose of the tools. Another factor that we used in our evaluation was the case. Some taps and dies come in neat cases that make organizing your tools easy, keeping them securely and neatly in place. A sturdy case prevents your instruments from getting lost and shields them from any external damage. Other sets may come in weak, brittle cases – or even disposable packaging – which may be a significant drawback for many people.
There are so many taps and die brands in the market right now that choosing the right one is bound to confuse you, especially if you are just a homeowner who likes doing DIY repairs every now and then. For this reason, our experts went out there and carried out thorough research on the different brands and materials until they came up with a list of the best tap and die sets. Regardless of whether you are a professional or have little-to-no experience, our detailed product reviews and buying guide will help you find something on this list that you will like.
The Gear Wrench large combination comes with 114 tools inside, and it is best used for tight or confined spaces. It features the Twist Lock Guide System, which ensures that the dies stay at the center, more so when the threads are cut. The set comes with a ratcheting T-handle system, which will allow you to make 5-degree ratcheting arcs. In addition to that, the handle system also features a reversible lever, enabling you to change from reverse to forward and back.
The tools are made of carbon steel, which makes them a good choice for homeowners or handymen who will not put them through vigorous use on a regular basis. Professionals can also use them, and the fact that the company offers a lifetime warranty demonstrates the confidence GearWrench have in the quality of their product.
The set includes
Wrenches: large and medium T wrench
Adapters: large locking tap adapter, large hex die adapter, medium tap adapter, medium die adapter, female extension adapter, male extension adapter
Gauges: metric thread gauge, SAE thread gauge
A sliding T for adapters, a 4 mm hex key, and five screw extractors
The IRWIN HANSON tap and die set is one of the best sets on this list – and for very good reasons. First of all, the set includes a whopping 117 pieces, making it very versatile. The tools come in a variety of measurement system options and you can get either fractional, metric, or both combined. The set comes with numerous pieces that offer a great variety, and it works on different metals. This set is well suited for professional use, but novices can use it as well. The best thing about it is that there are so many pieces, making it convenient for any job.
The set includes
6 machine taps and dies, 10 SAE taps and dies, 2 pipe taps and dies, 16 metric taps and dies
A two-in-one wrench, a screwdriver, and a small set of extract screws
This is another product from GearWrench and yet another high-rated tap and die set. The set comes with a spring-loaded cap, which allows you to release the large tap adapters easily without a problem. You can also use the twist lock guided system, which reduces the die guard back walk, and will make your work much easier. In addition to this, the manufacturer has also added an auto-locking feature, which makes it safe to use. The adapter in this tap and die set works on hex and round shapes dies and uses a reversible lever to reduce turning. With a 5-degree ratcheting arc on the reversible lever, the efficiency of the tools is enhanced. The case is made out of strong blow mold, the tools are made of carbon steel, and they are strong enough to be used either professionally or in homes. The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty as well.
This TEKTON tap and die set comes with just 45 pieces, but they are made out of high quality material. All the pieces in this set are made of fortified tungsten alloy high-speed steel. This means that they are great to use on materials like carbon steel, stainless steel, brass, cast iron, aluminum, and bronze. Everything comes packed in the TEKTON standard hard case that will keep all the pieces in the right place. Homeowners who do not carry out many repairs can use this set, but you should check in advance whether what is included in the case is what you need.
The set includes
A ¼ inch T handle tap wrench
A ¼ inch T handle tap wrench
½ inch T handle die stock
1 ½ inch die stock adapter
20 split idles
3-,4-,5-,6- flute plug taps and dies (metric)
What we liked:
Made from durable material, ensuring longevity
The toolkit is universal, meaning you can use it on new or used materials
Comes with a variety of channel plugs
Comes with tapered and small taps, which prevent inverting
The Lang Tools is a 26-piece tap and die set particularly designed for car restoration. The set comes in SAE measurements and includes fine and coarse threaded taps.
The reviews for the set are positive, and given that it is a small kit for thread restoration, is definitely handy to have in the home and worth considering when looking for a tap and die set. On the downside, the packaging cannot compare to a sturdy, durable case, and once you remove the tools, you need to find somewhere safe to store them, or risk losing them one at a time. However, this is only a minor drawback, as the majority of people most likely already have some sort of toolkit at home. The most important factor is ultimately the quality, and the tools in this kit definitely tick all the boxes in this department. The measurement is also SAE-only, so if you need metric – then you might want to consider some of the other options in this list.
The set includes
6 fine thread taps
6 coarse thread taps
6 of each type of die
What we liked:
Taps and dies are designed for restoration
Strong metal that is not prone to warping or breaking
What could be better:
Lack of case
Less tools in the kit
Geared toward one kind of job
SAE measurement only
Things to Сonsider
A good tap and die set is a must-have for advanced DIYers and serious artisans. Having one at home can make a lot of tasks a whole lot easier. However, picking the right set can be quite the challenging task, especially if you are making your first purchase. If you have been in search of the perfect tap and die set and you really don’t know where to start – here are some of the things you need to know. In this guide, we’ll go into further detail on what you should look for in the perfect tap and die set, and what factors you need to consider before making a final decision.
The Advantages of Having a Tap and Die Set at Home
Have you ever found yourself in the kind of situation where during some repair work, you screw in a bolt only to realize that the thread has been stripped? You need to stop what you are doing and head out to the nearest hardware store for another bolt. The problems with that is that you might search the entire local hardware and still not find the bolt you need, which will be such a bummer. What is the best course of action?
Well, this is one of the reasons why you should have a tap and die set at home. It will constantly save you a lot of trouble because all you have to do is re-thread your bolt and go on with your repair work. Here are several more advantages of having a tap and die set in your home:
Creating thread homes in sheet metal for electrical boxes and boards will be easy
Creating nuts and bolts when repairing an engine will be easy
Re-threading stripped bolts and bolt holes when you repair auto parts will be easy
Creating nuts and bolt replacements that are not readily available will also be possible
You can handle any metal with ease
What to Consider While Choosing a Tap and Die Set
Before you invest in a tap and die set, identify your purpose for the tools. Since different sets come with different tools, you have to know what you need them for so that you can purchase the right ones. For instance, if you need to tap more often than you die, then investing in a set that comes with more taps will be a wise choice. A set will usually come with several types of taps and dies, such as the following:
Taper tap – The taper tap is used for initial threading. The diameter of a taper tap results in the diameter of the thread in a ratio of 1:1. This is usually the first tap you will need when creating a thread.
Second tap – Once you are done using the taper tap, you use the second tap to deepen your thread. It looks similar to the taper tap and also has a similar tapering angle. This tap is only used to deepen the thread and not to create one.
Plug tap – The plug tap is used to finish the edges of the thread, making the threads more refined and polished. This is the last tool that ensures the thread is ready for a bolt.
Circular die – This is the most common type and it is used to thread in the clockwise motion.
Two-piece adjustable die – You can customize threads very easily with this die since it has two pieces and its adjustable.
Die nut – The die nut is a chaser used to sharpen existing threads, but not to create new ones.
Having one tap and one die will not work, because one simply cannot make everything you need. You need to pick the sizes you work with most.
The best thing you could do here is to pick a tap and die set that comes in both Metric and SAE measurements. These are bound to be more expensive but will be well worth it.
Even though most tap and die sets are made from similar materials, some may last longer than others in the long run. Ideally, the best thing to do is get a durable tap and die set that will last as long as possible. For instance, steel alloy is hard and durable, and very dependable. In addition to this, you should avoid buying a cheap product as it will not only score low in quality, but it will wear sooner as well. Low-quality stuff tends to snap and break in the middle of a project, which is not only disappointing but extremely frustrating. It would be better if you made a lifetime investment.
In some cases, dies are not that hard to do manually. However, doing a tap by hand is not that easy. For this reason, you need to choose a tap and die set that comes with accessories, such as complementary ratchets, adapters, thread gauge, drill bits, and wrenches. Accessories make the job so much easier and more efficient.
A storage case for tap and die tools is simply mandatory.
Taps and dies are tiny tools and it could be very easy to lose one. A storage case means security, and you will have the ability to organize them nicely.
It is also a great way of ensuring that nothing is missing once you are done with the job.
Storage also means lesser chance of rusting, corrosion, damages, and anything else that could happen to exposed tools. In addition to that, carrying them with you will be easy. Ensure that you scrutinize the case just the same as the tools because some of them can be loose and faulty.
It’s a good idea to pay attention to the build of not only the tools but the case, too. Some cases are made of plastic while others are made of steel. The steel cases will last longer, but some plastic cases come with very durable designs as well.
Consider the handle
Working with tools that are uncomfortable to grip can be a pain. Once you get tired from using the wrong kind of handle, your job will be compromised, and you won’t get your desired results. So, make sure that you check the design, the strength, and the convenience of the handles.
As mentioned earlier, it is wise to invest in a tap and die set that you can work with for years to come. A good quality set will, of course, not come cheap. However, an expensive one is likely to come with feature-rich tools that will make your job easy and add convenience to your work.
Number and types of pieces in a set
Different tap and die sets come with a different number of tools inside. Once you figure out your purpose, you will know whether you need more tap tools or more die tools in the set. The types of pieces are also different and you need to pick a set that has the ones you require.
Most tap and die set companies provide warranties for their products, although some usually come very limited. Some brands offer up to a lifetime warranty, which shows that they are confident about the quality of their tools. The warranty depends on the quality of the materials, and the brand you purchase from.
A tap is a threaded tool that is used to cut or repair threads in the inner side of holes. This is to say that, taps create female threads that hold nuts in solid materials like metal. This process is known as tapping. A die, on the other hand, is the tool used to make threads on fresh bolts or to repair damaged male bolts or screws. This process is known as threading. These tools make it very easy to repair cars, motorcycles and boats, to name only a few. There are several types of taps and dies used for different purposes.
Most professional tap and die sets are made of high-speed steel, while the standard tap and die sets are made with carbon steel. The HSS tap and die sets have a higher quality of course, but homeowners don’t need such tools since they will not be using them so vigorously. Home use tap and die sets can also be small with less tools inside than professional tap and die sets, since homeowners only need a few of them for minor repairs every once in a while.
This highly depends on the kind of material your tap and die tools are made of. Carbon steel tools use petroleum or synthetic based cutting oils, while alloy steel tools use petroleum-based cutting oils mixed with small amounts of mineral spirits or kerosene. This mixture also works well with stainless steel. On the other hand, caster iron tools use no lubricant, aluminum tools use kerosene or petroleum-based oils, brass tolls use mineral spirits or kerosene, and lastly, bronze tools use kerosene or mineral spirits mixed with small amounts of petroleum-based cutting oils.
This is our ultimate tap and die set, and we have compiled a list with something for everyone. For instance, if you are a professional or a handyman that carries out repairs often, the IRWIN HANSON is the best pick for you. The variety of tools is convenient for many kinds of jobs, and the build material is strong enough to last long.
The GearWrench 82812 is the next best tap and die set on the list and also boasts a lot of the advantages of the HANSON. There are numerous tools included for various jobs, the tools come in a strong case, and it is our budget pick – meaning that it is a reasonable purchase, even for home users.
Our third pick is the GearWrench 3880, and we can confirm what you may already suspect – that GearWrench is one of the best tap and die brands in the market. The GearWrench 3880 comes highly-rated due to the twist lock guided system, the spring-loaded cap, as well as the unlocking feature most sets don’t come with.
Overall, all the sets we have presented on our list are high-quality, and you can pick the one that suits your needs best.