Skill Set: The Basics of Tap and Die

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

4026 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

4026 Articles


Taps and dies are the two tools you use for cutting threads into material around a hole (tap) and for cutting threads into a rod (die) for mating with that hole. The basics of how to do it are quite simple. All you need to know are a few steps and you need a tap and die set. The above video gives you the most rudimentary rundown. Although the tap and die set linked here is from a 2007 Toolmonger review (that we included in one of our old This Week in Tools roundups), it at least gives you a good idea of what to expect in a decent Tap and Die Set.

Oh, and you also need to know what tap and/or die sizes you need for your specific fastening job. You can find tap and die calculators online. Here’s one.

Tip: As one of the commenters on YouTube reminds us, it’s a good practice to “clean the threads” as you tap (or die) by backing out three turns for every three turns you cut forward. This helps insure that you get a good clean cut.

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