Imperial Tap and Die Set Recommendations
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    Default Imperial Tap and Die Set Recommendations

    Morning Gents,

    I am in the market for an imperial tap and die set and have a relative coming out to visit, so needing to take advantage of the offer of free shipping 😁
    I am in need of an imperial set of taps and pondering the various options, buying individual 3 piece sets vs. a full set and have decided on a set as I don't run across much imperial stuff here.
    Dormer and Snapon sets are pretty expensive for occasional use.

    Do most of the sets cover majority of the common sizes you use day to day including course and fine pitches? I am not very familiar with imperial sizes. eg common day to day for me is 6,8,10 & 12mm in both standard and metric pitches. 7mm is an odd ball. Not sure I would use dies other than cleaning threads.

    Mainly working on older engines and various machinery. On implements and chassis I have tapped stripped holes to metric. John Deere, Inveco and Perkins mainly.

    I have read Hanson is mid range, but see they are branded Irwin and most sets come with metric which I am adequately kitted out with already. Are they any good? Or should I just bite the bullet and get NC & NF of the common sizes, and then which make and what would an acceptable ball park price I should be looking at?
    Hand taps I am leaning towards.

    https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/03959335

    Your views and input as usual are much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Greg

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    I have the Irwin/Hanson set that has taps and dies both metric and imperial. Probably bought the set 10+ years ago from Amazon for $99.00. I am well satisfied with the set. I use the imperial mostly. I buy replacement taps and dies from Cleveland Drill.
    I have many other mostly Imperial sizes that are Greenlee that I inherited. I have only replaced a couple of smaller taps that are used a lot.
    mike

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    If I were you I'd probably buy as I needed them and start with those you know you most likely need. The prices in this link look reasonable although I know nothing about the company. I can't even imagine shipping being expensive from the UK to Zimbabwe.

    UNC

    What will be saved if your relative gets stopped at customs? There could be duty to be paid.

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    You can invest thousand of dollars in taps & dies. I have sets in NC and NF by TRW. They go from number 2 to 1.5". They include 3 taps per pitch. Each of the sets cost about $500 each and each box is 1 meter long, 2.5" deep and .5 meter wide. Each box weighs about 25 lbs. Some sizes I have duplicates because they break and wear out. Somehow I think what I have is not what you are prepared to pay for. You should consider Chinese sets sold by Ali express for free shipping. Some Chinese taps and dies are very good, but it can be a crap shoot.

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    I gave up on Hanson and its ilk and got decent threading taps and dies from OSG, Hertel, etc. The difference between them and carbon steel taps is night and day. They cut good threads. They don't break. They should last for thousands of operations each. So far as I know, none come in sets.

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    Bear in mind that much of the non-US stuff you work on may well be BSW and BSF rather than UNC and UNF. You can just about get away with it for sloppy fits except for 1/2", which is 13TPI in UNC and 12TPI in BSW.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    You can invest thousand of dollars in taps & dies. I have sets in NC and NF by TRW. They go from number 2 to 1.5". They include 3 taps per pitch. Each of the sets cost about $500 each and each box is 1 meter long, 2.5" deep and .5 meter wide. Each box weighs about 25 lbs. Some sizes I have duplicates because they break and wear out. Somehow I think what I have is not what you are prepared to pay for. You should consider Chinese sets sold by Ali express for free shipping. Some Chinese taps and dies are very good, but it can be a crap shoot.
    IMO better to buy each size separately. Sets are pretty limited in what is available and most of the sets are low quality (appies to both domestic and imports)

    Limited collection of maybe 10 taps both unf and unc sets you back about 200 usd assuming about 10 bucks per tap on average. Good dies are another story but I wouldn’t buy all of them as dies are not that much needed.

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    I'm a tool head. I enjoy spending money on hand tools. But a $5,000 tap and die set is not the answer for you. It's hard to believe a guy in the US would recommend Chinese tools but for your application this set from Harbor Freight would do everything I think you will be doing. (Sorry guys, it's just the truth.)

    45 Pc Titanium Nitride Coated Alloy Steel SAE Tap & Die Set

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    I'll 2nd the individual of better quality

    My weekends often involve someone stopping by to get help fixing a car part they have attempted to put together with the wrong bolts or a cross threaded hole. Something at the shop during the week would be a 2 minute job.
    Nothing worse than needing a tap on a Sunday, and having an Irwin from a respected hardware store or HF make the threads worse than I could have done with a ice pick....just my 2 cents

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    the Ace Hanson / Irwin sets are good for the occasional use. I have a set of imperial and metric, but for any machine tapping, or tapping of tough stuff I use OSG EXO taps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zimbo View Post
    Morning Gents,

    I am in the market for an imperial tap and die set and have a relative coming out to visit, so needing to take advantage of the offer of free shipping 
    I am in need of an imperial set of taps and pondering the various options, buying individual 3 piece sets vs. a full set and have decided on a set as I don't run across much imperial stuff here.
    Dormer and Snapon sets are pretty expensive for occasional use.

    Do most of the sets cover majority of the common sizes you use day to day including course and fine pitches? I am not very familiar with imperial sizes. eg common day to day for me is 6,8,10 & 12mm in both standard and metric pitches. 7mm is an odd ball. Not sure I would use dies other than cleaning threads.

    Mainly working on older engines and various machinery. On implements and chassis I have tapped stripped holes to metric. John Deere, Inveco and Perkins mainly.

    I have read Hanson is mid range, but see they are branded Irwin and most sets come with metric which I am adequately kitted out with already. Are they any good? Or should I just bite the bullet and get NC & NF of the common sizes, and then which make and what would an acceptable ball park price I should be looking at?
    Hand taps I am leaning towards.

    https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/03959335

    Your views and input as usual are much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Greg
    Do you mean Imperial, as in British Empire? That would imply Whitworth and British Standard Fine threads. Or are you confusing American Unified National Coarse and Fine threads with an obsolete term some still use to refer to inch-based threads? The Empire is long gone from the USA and even from Southern Rhodesia, so calling threads Imperial is confusing at best.

    As others have said, the run of the mill sets of whatever type are usually carbon steel and only fit for last resort threading or cleaning operations. If you want to be able to drill a hole in steel and tap it, get single plug taps of the useful sizes, 2-flute spiral point for through holes and 3 or 4-flute hand taps for blind holes in professional-grade ground high speed steel. I have not needed a 3-piece set of taps in years; plug grind will work for almost any job. I don't recall using a taper-grind tap in the last three or four decades. If I have to have a bottom tap and don't have one on hand, I modify a plug tap.

    And yes, I do have a few decades-old tap and die sets, both metric and inch. They are stuffed back in dark places, pretty much forgotten, and with good reason.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickseeman View Post
    I'm a tool head. I enjoy spending money on hand tools. But a $5,000 tap and die set is not the answer for you. It's hard to believe a guy in the US would recommend Chinese tools but for your application this set from Harbor Freight would do everything I think you will be doing. (Sorry guys, it's just the truth.)

    45 Pc Titanium Nitride Coated Alloy Steel SAE Tap & Die Set
    The harbor freight tap/die sets are complete crap. I should know, I have one. They are okay for chasing a thread, but terrible for cutting a new thread.

    I would skip the hand taps and buy good quality spiral point and spiral flute taps in whatever sizes you need. I have had good luck with the YG-1 combo tap line. They work well in both ferrous and non-ferrous.

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    While this may be unfair to some brand that's more expensive than I would consider buying, "There's no such thing as a good tap set". If it's a set, the taps are mediocre or far, far worse. If the taps are good, they don't come in a set. And I almost always want multiples of each thread size, which sets don't give you.

    Figure out which threads you need, buy 2-6 each of a good quality spiral point tap for that thread. For sizes under 1/2", don't bother with separate taper, plug and bottoming taps. If you need bottoming taps, you can quickly grind the end of a spiral point tap down to 1-2 threads of lead.

    Anecdote, and admittedly it was a really crappy tap and die set. Good friend of mine, not a machinist, had carefully preserved a family tap-and-die set (bought by his dad, or something) and asked me to help one of his daughters thread a shaft and cut a matching internal thread. The die holder broke. The tap holder broke. No cheaters, just hand pressure. The die did work, but two different sizes of taps absolutely did not work. One snapped like a piece of chalk, and the other was ground with negative relief angles or something. The poor girl was utterly frustrated, since this was the last thing needed to complete her project. When we sent Dad out to the hardware store for something, I asked him to get a replacement tap. Cheap Irwin, but it worked. Never seen a kid light up so fast when 20 minutes of futile struggle was replaced by a quick "Here, this one works, you finish it."

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielG View Post
    The harbor freight tap/die sets are complete crap. I should know, I have one. They are okay for chasing a thread, but terrible for cutting a new thread.

    I would skip the hand taps and buy good quality spiral point and spiral flute taps in whatever sizes you need. I have had good luck with the YG-1 combo tap line. They work well in both ferrous and non-ferrous.
    I returned one of their tap and die sets when it would not cut a thread. In 6061-T6 aluminum! However, it's not the one he pointed to. That one does not say it's HSS, but the dies are not hexagonal, which is sort of a positive sign...it's just got to be better than the one I returned because it could hardly be any worse.

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    I have tap & Die sets from both Snap On and harbor Freight. The best thing I can say about the Harbor Freight ones is that they make fair thread chasers. I wouldn't expect much when using them on anything other than plastics or occasionally 6061 aluminum.

    The Snap On set on the other hand was purchased in the late 1970's. I've used it thousands of time for tapping and threading. It was outrageously expensive back in those days and even more so today.

    Since getting into the machining business in the 1980's I started buying individual sizes by the package. It's more cost effective buy quality taps & dies as needed. I used to store them in compartmented drawers in the shop. That worked fine as long as the work came to the shop. Several years ago I made a compartmented wooden case for standard taps & dies from 6-32 to 1/2". I put one of each size in the appropriate compartment and take the box with me when working outside or at a remote location.

    I still buy taps & dies by the package on an as needed basis. When I'm down to only 1 in the drawer and 1 in the box I reorder. Most reside in the shop drawers until needed.

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    If you live in the States, buy as you need might be a smart approach. No disrespect to Zimbabwe, but I feel like if you are fixing heavy equipment in Southern Africa, you probably need it when you need it and a quality tap and die set could make a difference. Again, no disrespect intended, but I feel like people who ask for tap and die sets, really need thread chasers/restorers, not thread cutting tools. So I'm just going to offer the following just in case:

    My suggestion is to start with a rethreader kit. Rethreaders straighten /repair existing threads. The sets come with thread files that let you fix the first one or two screw threads. If you have access to Snap On, they have a good set with the most useful sizes in both metric and imperial sizes. We can find cheaper versions here in the States. Snap On's set is made by Kastar, who also make a similar set for Sears Craftsman. Either way, I would start there.

    Next, I'd buy a tap and drill set from MSC direct. If you are cutting new threads, chances are you will need the correct imperial drill. You will need 2 sets; one for UNC and one for UNF. These sets don't come with tap handles. Even good quality tap and die sets often come with really cheap tap handles. I like Starrett tap handles. Regardless, I would buy tap handles separately.

    Last step is dies. You want round dies and quality die handles. Not sure where to find good quality. I have GTD die handles. Not even sure they are still in business. But if you are fixing equipment, you probably will need dies less frequently than taps. I feel like you might be better off with the rethreading dies.

    So in summary, I recommend:
    Snap On rethreader kit or Craftsman (equivalent)
    UNC and UNF tap and drill sets from MSC or similar
    a few good quality tap handles (Starrett or ??)
    dies as needed or not at all

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    Quote Originally Posted by L Vanice View Post
    Do you mean Imperial, as in British Empire? That would imply Whitworth and British Standard Fine threads. Or are you confusing American Unified National Coarse and Fine threads with an obsolete term some still use to refer to inch-based threads? The Empire is long gone from the USA and even from Southern Rhodesia, so calling threads Imperial is confusing at best.
    You jump on him for using a term that you think is obsolete and then you say "American Unified threads". There is no such thing as "American Unified National Coarse and Fine threads". There were American threads, and there were British threads, but when their bolts didn't always fit our bombers during WWII this caused a problem. So after the war we agreed to a UNIFIED thread for both of us.

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    I've bought taps and dies as I go so I have quite a mixed collection. Whenever possible, I buy from my local jobber and get OSG or similar quality. I prefer shorter taps with three flutes because I've found them to be stronger and I often power tap with them in my mill.

    I've got some very good taps from 3-48 to 1/2-13 and 1/2 20 so that covers my needs. I stay away from the Irwin/Hansen 4 flute ones that are sold in hardware stores. They are OK for cleaning out threads in a pinch, but I wouldn't use them for original threads.

    As to metric, which the OP doesn't need, I was given a set of the H.F. ones in a large metal box and they are fine for as little as I need metric.

    As mentioned above, I'd advise the OP to pick them up a few at a time as needed rather than a set and buy quality ones.

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    Not a fan of tap and die sets, but I do have an old Vermont set that are good quality HSS.

    OP is doing repair work, so hand taps are appropriate. If I had to get a whole set, I'd look to Greenfield.

    Greenfield Industries

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    To address the other part of your question, working on old equipment I would expect to run into mostly coarse threads 1/4-20, 5/16-18, 3/8-16, and 1/2-13, with maybe a 7/16-14 odd ball thrown in. Roughly equivalent to the metric sizes you listed. I might throw in a number taps if you ever get into smaller stuff 4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-24, and 10-32. Note that both 10-24 and 10-32 are in common usage despite 10-32 technically being a fine thread. Roughly the size range equivalent to 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm (a 10-32 will screw in to a M5x.8 hole in a pinch). Most heavy equipment/AG won't use much in the way of fine pitch screws (1/4-28, 5/16-24, 3/8-24, etc.) but if you have the money and space they are nice to have.


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