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Surprisingly, to us at least, Tap and Die is not the name of a very forward thinking, online only assassination company. They are instead a set of tools, one with a very specific purpose, but which could be extremely useful additions to the armoury of any well equipped at home mechanic.
Designed to thread holes and/or add threading to turn simple rods into bespoke sized screws and bolts, the best tap and die set will be a loyal and useful tool. It has applications across a wide range of home construction, DIY and auto mechanic jobs, and if you’ve never used one before you may quickly come to wonder how you survived without one. In this guide we’ll take you through some of the best examples out there right now, and help you to find the perfect tap and die set for you.
The Best Tap and Die Set
We’ll start off with this GearWrench tap and die set. This is one of the largest sets that made it to the list, so if you are looking for a great entry-level product this could be the one for you.
We have a price tag a shade under 150 bucks here, so that is quite an investment. But what are you getting for that money? Well, 34 Dies and 34 Taps. That is going to give a size range that will just about cover any needs you may come across working on your car or in your home. You also get a large T wrench with comfortable handles, a medium tap adaptor and a die adaptor.
Like we said up top, if you don’t already own a tap and die set this could be a great place to start out – you have just about everything you need in one handy box.
75 Piece Kit
Injection Molded Storage Case
SAE & Metric Measurements
- Weight7.55 Lbs
Excellent Range of Taps & Die
Good Quality Protective Case
Full Set of Wrenches and Adaptors
Carbon Steel Construction
Our next tap and die kit is this, another entry-level style of kit. It is almost half as small as the one we just looked at with a total of 40 pieces included in this kit. That does on the one hand mean that you are missing out on some sizes of taps and dies compared to the bigger kit. It does help to keep the price down on the other hand though.
This set has been made from bearing steel for a high quality, extremely durable finish. It’s also nice to see that the taps and dies are cut with CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) machinery by the manufacturer. This has been done to ensure the most accurate tools have been produced here.
The wrenches and adaptors have not been made with user comfort in mind, and the measurements are SAE only – if you need metric measurements, prepare to get out the conversion charts. All in all though this is a pretty decent kit for a very good price.
40 Piece Kit
Made from Bearing Steel
CNC Machined & Heat Treated
- Weight3.31 Lbs
Excellent Value For Money
Accurately Machined Taps & Dies
SAE Only Sizes
Wrenches/Adaptors are not Ergonomic
This next kit comes from ABN and it is certainly comprehensive. A 60 piece set compatible with both Metric and SAE measurements means this is a tap and die set that should not be found wanting no matter what job you are tackling.
Hardened alloy steel has been used in the construction of these tools, and that is a stand out feature we love to see. It means you are looking at a kit with the toughness and durability to cut a wide range of materials and carry on doing it for prolonged periods of time – everything from aluminum to cast iron should be within the remit of this tough set.
The wrenches and adaptor are again not the most ergonomic or comfortable on the market, whilst the storage case is strangely laid out. That makes it a little larger than many other cases on the market, which could cause some garage storage issues. Still, that seems a small price to pay for such a tough and durable tap and die kit.
60 Piece Kit
Hardened Alloy Steel Construction
Metric & SAE Measurements
- Weight2 Lbs
Very Tough Construction
Big Case is Poorly Designed
Our next entry is this frankly huge tap and die set from Irwin Tools. Not only is this the largest case to make the list, boasting an incredible 117 pieces in the kit, it is also by far the most expensive. A clearly premium kit therefore, with a premium price tag to match, but does it justify the outlay?
Clearly in terms of diversity of bits, taps and die sizes this is not going to be beat. As we said this is by far the biggest kit on the list so it really has all sizes covered. It also has a great selection of tap wrenches and pitch gauges all packed neatly up in a well-designed case. The high carbon steel construction is another strong justification for that price tag.
Are there any arguments against the price tag? Yeah, there are a few. Of the 117-piece kit, 41 of those pieces are drill bits. If you already have good power tools in your armory, you probably already have a good drill bit set. This is a very good set of premium tap and die tools. Just make sure that if you are investing the money here you’re not duplicating anything you already own.
117 Piece Kit
High Carbon Steel Construction
Comes with Full set of “T” Wrenches
- Weight10.35 Lbs
Huge Variety of Tool Sizes
Very Tough Construction
Well Made Storage Case
Big Price Tag
Big & Bulky Kit
Lot of Drill Bits
TEKTON are the manufactures of the next tap and die set to make the list. It is a 39-piece kit that contains 17 tap and corresponding die sizes along with a standard wrench and smaller T wrench. It is all packed into small and very neat (and very bright) red storage box.
All in all this is a pretty basic kit. It is however good to see that the tools are manufactured of milled alloy steel. Given it is quite an expensively stocked kit, and given its relatively low price point, it is nice to see that a superior grade of steel has been employed in the tool construction.
Steel alloy is just about the only premium feature in what is otherwise a plain, straightforward and entry level tap and die kit. That being said, whilst it may be simple that metal should make this set both effective and long lasting.
39 Piece Kit
Milled Alloy Steel Construction
“T” Wrenches, Die Stock and 1x Screwdriver
- Weight3.04 Lbs
Good Selection of Taps & Dies
Small and Neat Storage Box
Decent Value for Money
Gino Development, who have the authority to import and trade tools manufactured under the True Power name, are responsible for the next entry to make the list. Boasting an incredible 60 piece kit, manufactured of alloy steel, with SAE and Metric compatibility and coming with a sub 40 buck price tag, is this tap and die set too good to be true?
Well… yes and no. Look, here at Car Bibles we are good at finding products that represent great value for money. This set does represent phenomenal value for money, but it is also clearly a budget entry to the market. There have been some reports, for example, of incomplete kits being sent to buyers, and it cannot be ignored that the set is manufactured in China.
Being made in China is not the automatic red flag for poor quality it used to be. But it is still not exactly a stamp of quality like Made in Germany brings when discussing tools. On the one hand, this kit is represents excellent value for money. On the other it is a bit of a gamble in terms of quality. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the gamble.
60 Piece Kit
Alloy Steel Construction
SAE & Metric Measurement Sizes
- BrandGino Development
- Weight4.37 Lbs
Hardened Alloy Construction
Wide Size Compatibility
Made in China
Some Quality Control Issues
Boasting that it is a pro grade level of tap and die set right there in the product name, does this set from Neiko live up to the billing? As is so often the case, the answer is yes and no.
There are certainly a number of very interesting, high-end features here. Chief amongst them are the construction materials employed. Each tap and die has a steel body with titanium tips to all the cutting edges. That, according to Neiko, provides a cutting surface up to 20 times stronger than traditional steel. That is very impressive, as is the range of tap and die sizes this kit contains, including some larger sized bits that are not found in all sets.
On the downside, you can choose either a SAE or a Metric kit – there are no kits with dual measurements. The case is also a minor issue, as we have used too many of these styles of case over the years. Eventually through use the top mounted pieces will start falling out every time you open the lid. Still, they are minor gripes against a very well put together tap and die set of impressively tough construction.
45 Piece Kit
Steel and Aluminum Construction
Small and Neat Storage Case
- Weight13.95 Lbs
Titanium Tipped Cutting Edges
Good Size Selection
Poorly Designed Storage Case
Only SAE Sizing’s
If you know what you are getting when you purchase this set it’s actually not too bad. This is the cheapest full set of tap & die tools not only to make our list, but, we would guess, also the cheapest set to be found just about anywhere.
Despite the low cost, you are getting a 40-piece kit here. That translates to 17 tap and 17 die bits, a pretty useful number of sizes. What you are not getting though is premium construction. Pretty standard steel has been employed here. That means they are fine for plastic and very thin metals, but will struggle to get through the tougher stuff like iron or steel alloys.
Still, allowing for the extremely low price it’s hard to be too critical. Pick these up if you only work with softer materials, don’t expect them to cut through titanium and you have a decent set of tap and die tools here for a very, very reasonable price.
40 Piece Set
- BrandPerformance Tools
- Weight2.85 Lbs
Good Range of Sizes
Very Basic Tool Set
GearWrench are back for their second entry to make our list, though this one is slightly different from the other products we’ve looked at so far. What we have here is just a 5 piece wrench set – there are no tap and die bits included with this set.
That may seem a little strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The wrench that is part of full GearWrench kits is by far the best on the list. It is simple to use, has lovely wide handles and even boasts rubber inserts to aid with grip. Now you can pick one up all by itself as a spare or a replacement for your own wrench.
It’s certainly not cheap and does in fact cost more than a number of full tap and die sets we’ve looked at today. It is however a premium tap wrench that, to us at least, makes a very strong case for justifying that price tag.
5 Piece Set
T Wrench and Adaptor Only
- Weight2 Lbs
High Quality Wrench
Useful as a Spare or a Replacement
Wrench Only – No Tap or Die Bits
We’ll finish up with this set from Lang Tools that are a little different from the traditional tap and die sets we’ve been looking at already today. This set, instead of cutting new threads, is designed to repair old bolts and threaded bolt holes.
That’s a pretty interesting concept, and it certainly has us sitting up and taking notice. If you’re the type of mechanic who works with vintage or older cars, then this could certainly interest you too. Instead of removing old bolts and cutting new holes, this tool could help to salvage a lot of vehicle fixtures instead of replacing them.
On the other hand, if you need to cut brand new bolts or holes or add more threading to something then you are going to struggle with this kit. It really depends on what work you’re planning to do and what kind of vehicles you work on, but if repairing is more your thing than replacing you should take a look at this set.
26 Piece Kit
7 Die Sizes
6 Tap Sizes
- BrandLang Tools
- Weight1 Lbs
Made in USA
Repairs Damaged Nuts, Bolts and Other Threaded Applications
SAE Sizes Only
Doesn’t Cut New Threads
Best Tap and Die Set Buying Guide & FAQ
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best Tap and Die set for you. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new tools and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely useful product.
What to Look for In a Tap and Die Set
- Tap and Die Bit Diversity – These tools are sold as a set for good reason. You really should look to get as much diversity in the sizes of the taps and dies as you can. That way you will be able to pull the right size out of the box when you need it.
- Wrenches – All tap and die bits need to be mounted in a wrench. Broadly speaking, they are all roughly the same, with a few notable exceptions. The tap wrench from GearWrench, as we noted in the review above, is the best on the market. That’s why they sell it as an individual tool too.
- Storage Case – More than with many other types of tools, the storage case is an important part of the tap and die set. Frankly, because these sets can come with multiple parts, you do want a case that is well designed to keep all the little pieces well organized and safely stored.
- Construction Material – Steel is the base metal used in the construction of these sets – but not all steel is created equally! Look for steel alloy or, even better, Titanium tipped cutting surfaces. The better the metal the tougher the tap and die so they so they can cut into more materials and they will stay sharper for longer.
- Metric/SAE – The size of the tap and die is also important. Metric is of course the European measurement system, SAE are based on US sizes (so use inches instead of millimeters). This is important as you may struggle to use a SAE tap and die set on a vehicle with metric measurements. If the car is made in the US, it probably uses SAE measurements. If it is a European carmaker, it’s probably the opposite. If can look for a set with dual Metric and SAE compatibility of course then you don’t have to worry about this.
Why Do You Need a Tap and Die Set?
- Create New Threads & Holes – The main purpose for these sets is to add threading to a fresh, drilled hole in a range of materials. Creating threaded holes can be very useful when you are working on your car. You can for example use these new bolt holes when attaching a new trailer hitch to your vehicle frame.
- Create Bespoke Bolts – Bolts come in set sizes, which is usually fine. Sometimes though you may need a bespoke size, and that is where a tap and die set comes in. The best die set will allow you to turn any ordinary rod of metal into a bespoke sized bolt, which can be extremely useful.
- Repair & Remove Old Bolts – Finally, you can use your tap and die set to remove old, damaged bolts. You can also use it to repair bolts and bolt holes. If this is something you do often, you could consider investing in a set that specializes in repair rather than making new bolts (see below).
Types of Tap & Die Set
There are essentially two types of tap and die set, and one is far more common than the other, something which played out in our list above.
A Traditional Tap & Die set can be used to cut new threading into cut holes and metal rods. They are by far the most common type of set which is why almost all the kits we looked at above are of this type.
A Traditional Tap & Die set is that much harder to find, but can be extremely useful nonetheless. As its name suggests it is used for repairing old bolts and holes where the treading has been damaged or eroded by use or time. They can therefore be extremely useful for people working on older cars or restoring vintage vehicles.
Best Tap and Die Set FAQ:
Q: What is a Tap and Die set?
A: A tap and die set is essentially two tools in one. The Tap is the longer shaped piece that looks vaguely like a drill bit. This is used to add threading to a cut hole so that a bolt can or screw can be used.
The Die is the rounded, squat bits. They can be used to revolve around a rod of metal and cut threading into it. That way, they turn a plain piece of metal into a new and bespoke sized bolt.
Q: How do I use a Tap and Die set to remove a broken bolt?
A: This is one of the best party tricks for a Tap & Die set, and it’s surprisingly easy too. You need to attach a small bit to your power drill, and work a drill hole into the bolt. Then, take a slightly larger bit and make the hole bigger. Do this again until only about 25% of the bolt is left.
At this stage, get your Tap tool and work it into the hole, cut into the bolt. Spray liberally with a lubricant like WD40 and you should be able to reverse direction on the tap and start drawing the bolt out.
Q: How do I remove a rounded Allen key bolt?
A: Very similar to the above – if the Allen key bolt is big enough, drill out a hole that you can work your tap into.
If it is too small for that, you could try etching two small slots parallel to each other on the bolt head. When you do this, you will be essentially making a very crude looking screw head. Grab a flat head screwdriver, work the blades into the etches you’ve cut and see if you can remove the bolt.
Our Top Pick
There are some top quality tap and die sets on this list – but hey, we’re Car Bibles, that should come as no surprise. Picking the best one is tough though even for us, so we’ve decided to pick the best entry-level set. That, for us, has to be the GearWrench 3887 75 piece set.
As we mentioned in our review, it just has everything you need to get started all delivered in one convenient (and very useful) storage case. With its very reasonable price tag too, it is a great place to start from. Once you have been using it for a while, it provides a great jumping off point to upgrade your tap and die tools at your own pace and to suit your own needs and requirements. That means you’re not spending a huge amount up front but can gradually plow a little extra money into your set over time once you have real-world experience of just how useful these sets can be.