You might remember that, recently, we ran a review for the Brute XLT Tapper from Champion Cutting. The tool got a big thumbs up from us, largely due to its ability to simplify an arduous and time-consuming task. Guys that work in metal fabrication, automotive fabrication, industrial construction, and even fleet maintenance will all appreciate the joys of a tool that saves time and helps get through the tedium of threading with a tap and die set. But, for those of you who don’t know a whole lot about machining, some information about taps and dies might be helpful. To truly appreciate why a tool like this would be a great thing to have on hand for a machinist, it helps to know what it does, and the tools that it replaces.
When Will I Need A Tap And Die Set?
Basically, a tap and die set will allow someone to create screw threads. A tap will cut threads into the female part of the mating pair, while the die will cut threads in the male part. Take nuts and bolts, as an example. In machining, a tap would be used to cut threads into the inside of the nut, and the die set would be used to cut threads around the outside of the bolt.
If you look back at the article about the Brute XLT Tapper, you’ll notice that Tim used this new tool to thread holes that he’d cut into an I-beam. Who knows what his actual plans were with those threaded holes, but who really cares? The important thing is that it only took him seconds to thread each one. The alternative here would be to use a hand tapper, which would require hard work and time. Half a turn forward, followed by a quarter turn back. Rinse and repeat. Clearly, a powered tapper that does the heavy lifting and saves bits from breaking is preferable.
As far as the die half of the tap and die set equation goes, it doesn’t look like Champion Cutting Tools has any sort of attachment to make cutting threads in bolts any easier. But, who’s to say that project isn’t in the works yet?
Chasers vs. Tappers
Don’t confuse Taps and Dies with Thread Chasers (Restorers). A tap and die is used to cut new threads from stock, but a Thread Chaser is used to fix or straighten existing threads. Chasers are also called Thread Restorers. Thread Chasers look more like a bolt and nut, but with relief areas cut into them. The relief is much less distinct as the tap and die. In addition, typical in a Thread Restorer kit are thread files with different thread pitches. This allows you to fix threads on a bolt with a sawing or filing action. You just have to ensure that your thread file is parallel with the existing threads.
Whether it’s new threads to be cut, or old threads to be fixed, now you know. If you are a mechanic, or you plan on doing any serious wrenching on cars, you should pick up a Tap and Die set. After you get that, then plan for getting a Thread Restrorer kit too. You’ll have them for life.