Tap and die sets are used to create threaded holes and make nuts and bolts from scratch. You can also use them to repair the old ones. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional, you’ll find that having one of these sets around is very important.
Trying to find the best tap and die set just by looking online can be very difficult. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and where you find it, you can find yourself sifting through different online shopping sites without being able to find anything that catches your eye.
Fortunately for you, I’ve already done the heavy lifting and chose the top tap and die sets available today. We’ll also be providing a buying guide if you still want to do some extra digging and need to know what to look for in the best tap and die set.
Best Tap and Die Set – Our Picks
#1. Irwin Tools 117-Piece Tap & Die Set
We kick off the list with a strong contender for the best tap and die set. This set from Irwin Tools is meant to be the epitome of quality. It is by all accounts a premium product and you can clearly tell by its price. It’s also one of the biggest sets on this list.
With this tap and die set, you’ll have everything you might need for making or repairing nuts and bolts. The set includes 10 SAE Taps and 10 Dies, 16 Metric Taps and 16 Dies, 2 pipe taps and 2 dies, along with all the drive tools needed for the included taps and dies. In other words, this set will be perfect for your workplace regardless of whether you’re located inside or outside the States.
You’ll also be getting a wide range of pitch gauges and tap wrenches. The high carbon steel material also means that you’ll get some of the most durable and elegant sets out there.
With that said this is by no means the perfect tap and die set. One minor issue we have with this one is the overabundance of drill bits. Out of all the 117 pieces of this kit, 41 are drill bits. This is far more than you’ll need. If you already own hood power tools, you probably already have a good drill bit set.
All in all, if you’re looking for something premium that covers a wide range of sizes, you’ll find that this is the best overall tap and die set for you. It offers a wide variety of pieces all packaged in a large, elegant case.
- Wide variety of tool sizes
- Precision tools with robust construction
- Hexagonal shaped threading dies
- Tap and die set is Made in USA
- High-quality storage case
- Bulky kit
- The included wrenches are non-ratcheting
Review Summary: The Irwin 26377 tap and die set is made out of high quality alloy steel and well machined. The set has both metric and SAE threading tools and covers all the common sizes. And finally the set is made in USA and comes with a quality storage case. Click here for the best tap & die set.
#2. GearWrench 3887 75-Piece Tap and Die Set
This one is yet another large tap and die set with a wide bevy of pieces. However, unlike the first entry, this is meant to be an entry-level product and it is the best tap and die set in that regard.
Surprisingly, this is a very affordable set despite its size and the amount of piece it offers. You’ll be getting 34 dies and 34 taps. Furthermore, you also get a large T wrench as well as a die adaptor and medium tap adaptor. Just like the Irwin Tools set reviewed above, the GearWrench 3887 includes both SAE and metric taps and dies.
There are two features I really like in this set. First, the external of the threading die is hex-shaped as opposed to the regular round dies. This will provide a better grip inside a corresponding sized die wrench. Secondly, the included tap wrench and die adaptors are ratcheting.
All in all, this tap and die set is a heaven-sent for people looking for an excellent entry-level product. It features everything you’d expect in a comprehensive tap and die set with a very attractive price tag.
- Comprehensive set
- Hexagonal shaped dies
- High-quality storage case
- Full set of ratcheting adapters and wrenches
- Carbon steel construction
#3. Neiko 00911A 40-Piece Tap and Die Set – Budget Pick
If you’re on a budget and don’t need a tap and die set that covers both the SAE and metric standards, then the Neiko Tap and Die Set is all you need.
This set comes with a wide range of SAE taps and dies, with both coarse and fine sizes. You’ll also get all the drive tools needed for the included taps and dies, which is quite convenient considering the price. In total, the set includes 17 taps and 17 dies, which should cover most of your threading needs in your mechanic shop.
In addition to that, the set also includes a tap wrench, t-wrench, die wrench, and pitch gauge.
Despite its low price, this tool includes tools that are made of durable material (high carbon chromium alloy steel) and that are crafted to perfection. Normally I recommend high-speed steel over high-carbon steel since HSS has better tool life. However in this case the threading tools are titanium coated and considering the price it is a steal.
- Affordable price
- Titanium coated cutting edges
- Hex shaped dies for better grip.
- Wide variety of sizes
- Great quality to price ratio
- Only SAE taps and dies (Separate metric set is also available)
- Won’t last for long if used extensively
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Tap and Die Set?
Now that you’ve seen our top picks for the best tap and die sets, it’s time for the buying guide. This guide is meant to help you find the best tap and die set for your needs and budget. I’ll also be answering some of the most frequently asked questions, so keep reading to the end.
Why You Need the Good Quality Tap and Die Set?
There are many reasons why you need a decent tap and die set in your tool arsenal, including:
- Creating new threads and holes: The main use for tap and die set is creating new threaded shafts and holes in a wide range of materials. For instance, when you’re working on your car, you might need to create threaded holes which you can later use if you need to attach anything to the frame of your car.
- Creating custom-sized bolts: Sometimes, you might find yourself in need of a specific size of bolts. Since bolts come in pre-determined sizes, you might not find anything that’s readily-made for your needs. This is where threading dies come into play. They allow you to make bolts outs of any metal rod which means that you can create your own custom-sized bolts.
- Repairing and removing old bolts: Not only can you use tap and die sets to make new nuts and bolts, but you can also use it to repair old ones. With that said there are tap and die sets that are better for making new bolts and there are thread repairing tools meant for repairing old ones. Your choice will boil down to what you need.
Types of Tap and Die Sets
When you’re looking for the best tap and die set, you should keep in mind that there are two main types of sets to look out for.
The first type of tap and die set is used to cut new threading into cut holes as well as metal rods. They are very common.
The second type of tap and die set is used for repairing old bolts and holes that have been eroded or damaged. They are known as re-threading set or thread restoration kit. As you can from the image below, the thread repairing and restoration tools have slightly different designs.
Dedicated thread repair and restoration kit. – Click here for details and price.
These sets can be extremely useful especially if you’re the type of guy who does a lot of automotive restoration work.
What to Look for In a Tap and Die Sets
Tap and Die Bit Diversity
One of the main things you should be looking for in any tap and die set is the bit diversity. The best tap and die set should have a wide range of different bits. This will allow you to tackle almost any task involving repairing or making new bolts.
Right after the bit diversity, you need to make sure that these bits are mounted in a wrench. While the wrenches in these sets are mostly the same, there are a couple of notable exceptions. For instance, the GearWench set’s wrench is easily among the best on the market. They even sell it as an individual tool.
While the storage case might be more of a style or cool factor is most other sets or power tools, it’s extremely important when we’re talking about tap and die sets. Since the bits in these sets are small and somewhat fragile due to their hardness, you’ll need a good storage case with robust construction in order to store the bits in safely without risking them being lost or broken.
Personally, I’m a neat freak, and there’s nothing that grinds my gears more than disorganized tools, which is why the storage case is always one of my top priorities when looking for any tool.
Another important factor is the size of the tap and die. The United States and Canada use the SAE units while Europe and Asia use the metric measurement system. The reason I am telling you this is because this can make a big difference depending on what you’re working with. If you’re working on a car that’s made in the US, then you’ll need a tap and die set that uses the SAE measurement system. However, there are sets with dual SAE and metric compatibility.
Tip: Get a thread pitch gauge for both metric and inches which will help you identify the type and pitch size.
Quality and Material
It goes without saying that quality is one of the most important factors in any product. The reason why I didn’t put it first is that it applies to almost anything out there. The best tap and die sets don’t just offer the factors we mentioned before, but they also offer a high-quality version of them.
What we mean by high-quality tap and die sets are sets that have their parts machined from high-quality tool steel. The threads that you are going to make with these hand tools need to be cut clean and accurate and that can only be achieved if you have a high-quality tap and die set.
I highly recommend tap and die sets that have parts made from high-speed steel or high-carbon steel. This is one of the most durable materials you’ll be able to find at a reasonable price. Make sure not to skimp out on this kind of thing and you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
You can also get carbide tap and dies to work on hard materials. But keep in mind that they are brittle and are expensive.
Machine Taps vs Hand Taps
Although we are talking about hand tools here, this is something you should know. Generally, a hand tap set consists of 3 pieces.
The three types of taps are taper tap (first tap), second tap, bottoming tap or finishing tap. The first and second taps are machined with big entry taper and less than required thread depth. The bottom tap is the one that achieves the correct dimensions. Hence it is important that you pass all the three taps in order for the best results.
Machine taps on the other hand are machined to final size and hence only one piece of the tap is required. They usually have a spiral relief to push the curled chips out easily.
Number of Parts
The last thing you need to take into consideration when you’re looking for the best tap and die set is the number of parts that are included in the set, the more the merrier. With that in mind, you also need to put quality over quantity. Just because a set has more parts than another, doesn’t mean it’s better. In most cases, some companies will just stuff their tap and die sets which many parts which are shoddy at best.
Additionally, it’s also worth checking out which tools each set includes. Some tools can make the job much easier. You need to have an eye for detail as some small things can make a big difference. For instance, the way the taps and dies are turned can make a big difference.
There are also sets that include ratchets which are very useful as they help make the end result look better. However, you should be careful when using them as to not end up damaging the part you’re working on.
Last but not least, make sure that all of the parts that are included actually offer good value instead of just being there to bloat the set. Some manufacturers use this trick to artificially pump the price of their tap and die sets which is why you need to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
Tap and Die Set – Frequently Asked Questions
What is a tap and die set?
A tap and die set is comprised of two kinds of tools. The tap is a long piece resembling a drill bit. This is what you use to add a thread to a drilled hole so you can use a screw or bolt.
The second part which is the die is the round squat bits. They are what you use to revolve around a metal rod and cut threading into it. This is how you can turn metal rods into custom-sized bolts.
There are tap and die sets that specialize in repairing old and damaged nuts and bolts which are very useful in restoration jobs. Remove the stubborn nut using an impact wrench and repair the thread with rethreading tools.
How can I remove a broken bolt using my tap and die set?
Removing broken bolt using a tap and die set sounds harder than it actually is. The process is quite simple.
This works best on a drill press, but you can use your cordless drill or an impact driver as well. Start by attaching a small drill bit to your drill. Then, drill a hole into the bolt right at the center. After that, take a bigger bit and widen the hole. Repeat this process until you reach the core diameter size.
Afterward, you need to work the tap tool into the hole and cut it until the threads are clear from the remains of the broken screw. Remember to keep the drill straight and apply cutting oil such as WD-40 during tapping.
How can I remove a rounded Allen key bolt using my tap and die set?
The process is similar to removing a broken bolt. However, it will vary a bit depending on the size of the Allen key bolt.
If the Allen key bolt is big enough, you can drill out a hole and work your tap into it. However, if the Allen key is too small for that, you can etch two small parallel slots on the bolt head. Then, try to make something like a screw head. Next, grab an appropriate wrench or a flat head screwdriver and work the blades into the etches that you previously made and try to remove the bolt that way.
Now that you’ve read through the article, you should be able to go out there and get yourself the best tap and die set for your needs. If you still need to look beyond the three tap and die sets we mentioned, make sure to pay close attention to the offering of each set you look into. Having an eye for detail will help you choose the best tap and die set easily.
Back to Contents
- Best Tap and Die Set – Our Picks
- Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Tap and Die Set?
- Tap and Die Set – Frequently Asked Questions