How to Use a Tap and Die Set? (Proper Guideline with VIDEO)

Not everyone who has a tap and die equipment enjoys using it because it can be difficult getting acquainted with it and mastering it. To others, it sounds way too technical or even frightening. However, it doesn’t have to always be so.

Using a tap and die set could become a pleasure if you thoroughly follow and implement the guidelines of "how to use a tap and die set" written just for you.

Working with your hands brings a certain level of fulfillment and using a die and tap set isn’t an exception. It comes handy when you have run out of either a bolt or nut trying to make a new pipe or repair your vehicle.

There are some few shortcuts and maneuvers that can ensure you get the best out of this conventional equipment which either serves as your garage or home box tool.

This would also improve your skillset, save your time, money and energy in the long run equally too.

A Brief Understanding of Tap and Die Set

Screw threads are produced via a process called threading; various methods of doing such are available; however, the most widely and acceptable method is that done with a Tap and Die set.

Essentially a tap and set die is a two in one tool that allows for the creation of threads both around a hole and into a thread; a tap does the former by cutting the metal from inside and the die set does the latter by carving metals from outside.

A Tap is a tool you use to cut threads into a hole so that a bolt can be screwed into it and a die for making threads for nuts (outside the metal).

Types of Taps

It is a prerequisite to know that taps come in different forms and sizes and each with its attendant benefits and challenges too. Generally, you can divide tap into 2 types; manual, and power taps.

The first-class are the manual taps. By design, they are intended to be manually operated and they include the following;

01. Bottoming Tap

This one has a constant cutting edge and basically zero taper. The number of threads is usually one to one point five per taper.

Uses – This one is employed for cutting threads for the lower part of a blind hole; its name gives away its function.

02. Intermediate Tap

Unlike the bottoming tap, This one features tapered cutting edges. The number of threads ranges from three to five.

Uses - The principal use of this to make alignments.

03. Taper tap

It possesses a more pronounced taper to the cutting edges. The number of threads ranges from eight to ten.

Uses: It’s used on delicate materials or those with a small diameter.

The second class of Taps includes;

  • Spiral Point Taps: Come with cutting edges that also have a helix angle. They are also referred to as gun taps. These are more effective than the manual ones and also consume less time.
  • Spiral Flute Taps: Perfect for blind holes. Also, you’ll notice that they feature an open spiral.
  • Form Taps: Unlike other taps, these ones aren’t for cutting threads. In fact, these are designed in such way that makes it possible for one to compress the metal into something of their choice. There are no chips to remove. Forming taps are only reserved for malleable materials such as aluminum or mild steel.

Materials Needed for Tapping and Die Setting

  • A die set and tap; You can get them in various sizes to accommodate the many different jobs that may require them.
  • Screws and bolts
  • Vice
  • Tap wrench
  • Nuts
  • Chart of screw thread sizes
  • Metal block for tapings
  • Lubricant – also called cutting oil; to soften make hard materials and make them malleable

How to Use a Tap and Die Set?

01. Drilling the Hole to the Correct Diameter and Depth

For each tap, there is a corresponding drill size to drill the hole. The exact hole diameter is determined by checking the drill and tap size chart; a standard reference item found in many machine shops and the net.

You can also use a screw piece gauge to match one of the blades to the thread profile.

02. Secure the Piece to be Tapped

Do this by using a vice, because taps are very brittle and too much movement doubles the risk of breakage.

03. Tapping the New thread

To do this, you have to follow the following steps.

  • Insert your tap into a tap wrench and line it up to the hole, make sure it is perpendicular.
  • With some pressure on the tap wrench, turn the tap continuously.
  • To break the chips off, for every full turn, give a half turn in the reverse direction.
  • Finally, turn the tap out.
  • Steel requires lubrication.

Apply Cutting Oil

Next, at this point, your die comes in handy. Apply your cutting oil into the threaded material. Your die is simply an inverse of the tap; it cuts threads on the outside of the rod.

  • Insert your die into a die stand and screw it firmly.
  • Clamp the rod on the vice for support once more, and the die is attached to it.
  • To create the thread, apply some pressure and turn continuously, after a while for every full turn, always give it a half turn in the reverse direction.
  • Once you are done, remove the rod from the vice.

You Should Always Apply Lubrication Oil

The process of tapping and die setting requires lubrication to ensure an efficient and fast threading process. These following lubricants are suggested for you; the lubricant to be used depends on the material in question.

  • For carbon steel – petroleum-based cutting oil should be used.
  • For alloy steel – petroleum-based oil mixed along with kerosene.
  • Bronze – kerosene mixed with a small amount of petroleum-based cutting oil.
  • Cast Iron – usually no lubricant is applied.
  • Brass – kerosene or mineral spirit.
  • Aluminum – no lubricant is applied.

Measures to Adhere to When Tapping and Die Setting

  • Tapping operations create chips, therefore protect any parts of your work piece or surrounding that can get damaged by chips.
  • Do not neglect reversing the direction of turning during tapping to avoid getting stuck with debris.
  • Always ensure the tap and holes are lubricated.
  • Also, ensure the hole is free of debris.
  • If your tap fails to turn, ask a plumber.
  • Always keep your work area clean, tidy and orderly.
  • Do not change the angle of the tap, especially at the initial stages of threading.
  • The tap should be perpendicular to the workplace.


Tapping and die setting at first can be scary, but such fears can be countered by following this tutorial line by line to the later and also by understanding that mastery comes with some degree of patience and practice.

Hence do not give up at the encounter of any difficulty. And don't forget to continue your visit us regularly. 

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