Cut Threads Quickly With The Best Tap and Die Sets in 2018

The best tap and die set contains a wide assortment of taps and dies. Since there are two standards in the U.S., you should purchase a set that offers both metric and SAE sizes. Unless you are extremely slow and careful, using plenty of cutting oil is going to be crucial to successful threading, as lack of lubrication will cause your dies to bind and break.

Remember to cut a full turn, then back off half a turn, apply cutting oil as needed, and then repeat the process. Do a few practice cuts before you tackle a job that will not give you a second chance, as a tap and die set is a precision tool, and very unforgiving. Here are our top picks:

TOP PICK:

GearWrench 3887 75-Piece Tap & Die Set

The thing that earned the GearWrench 3887 a ranking as the top tap and die set is the ratcheting handle. Instead of having to reposition your hands for each fraction of a turn, the double-ended ratchet allows you to simply crank backwards a short distance. The 3887 includes most common sizes in both SAE and metric, which is important for precision thread-cutting.

Be sure to use a high quality cutting oil, or you will run the risk of breaking your dies. Even though this set is made overseas, it is sufficiently well-made, and the ratchet turns solidly without any annoying “wiggle” in the mechanism. The plastic case keeps everything organized for you, and that will save you time once you get used to the location of your most commonly used pieces.

Using a tap and die set takes practice and patience. If you are not familiar with the process, the ratcheting handle can lead to costly mistakes. Because the ratchet agearwrench-3887-reviewdds torque to the process, it is easy to apply too much force, and that could lead to broken taps or dies, or even causing you to strip the threads on what you are trying to repair. As long as you approach the job slow and careful, this GearWrench set will not cause you any problems.

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RUNNERS UP:

Irwin Tools 26376 Tap and Die Set 76-Piece

If you are looking for an excellent, high quality tap and die set that is made in the USA, the Irwin Tools 26376 is a good candidate. It includes taps and dies for both SAE and metric sizes, and the handle is small enough to prevent over-torquing when you are cutting threads. Many feel that this Irwin Tools set is just as good as (or better) than some of the professional sets by the likes of Snapon, Norseman, or Matco which cost hundreds more.

That said, the Irwin set is not perfect. While the tools themselves are of top notch quality, the plastic case is not very well made, and the pieces have a tendency to rattle around during transportation. While it’s not a big deal for most, you can get around this by lining each position with a piece of paper towel to help hold the dies in place.

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Neiko Tap and Die Set 76-Piece

For use at home or in the garage, the Neiko tap and die set is another good option. It contains all of the commonly used taps and dies, and the case design is well laid out so you can easily find the piece you need. All of the parts are made from high-quality metal and are designed to stand up to the torque necessary for cutting thread or drilling out new holes.

You may want to look at a heavier set if you use your tap and die set in a commercial setting, but this one will do fine for repairs and custom cutting around the house.

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7 thoughts on “Cut Threads Quickly With The Best Tap and Die Sets in 2018

  1. it’s better to buy good dies and taps individually, when you need them. these kits are not very good, working with bad taps is awful and breaking a tap sucks.

    • Hi Hank and thanks for the comment. Absolutely breaking a tap sucks. But I wouldn’t say buying them individually is necessarily the best. Any manufacturer that sells the pieces individually will also sell a set. In the long run, buying pieces one by one will usually cost more even if you won’t ever need the 75+ pieces of a set.

      If strictly going by quality, the Irwin Tools set is the best out of the bunch here. I believe it’s just as good as the much more expensive Matco or Snapon. Only reason why it didn’t get our top pick is the price. Someone who will only use these tools occasionally would probably get the most bang for their buck with the Gearwrench set.

      If using taps/dies for a living on a daily basis, you definitely want to look at Irwin Hanson, Snapon, Norseman, or Matco (which Irwin appears to now make).

  2. If you haven’t tried it yet, Tap Paste is far and away the BEST tapping fluid out there. Substantially better than Tap Magic, Rapid Tap, and even Moly Dee in my experience. Kind of hard to find right now, but it is really growing in popularity, so should get much easier to find soon. Most of the supply shops in our area have it in stock now because all of their customers were demanding it! Until then, we were ordering it through Penn Tool Co http://www.penntoolco.com/tap-paste-professional-machining-lubricant/. You won’t be disappointed

  3. One thing I find annoying is the combination sets. I already have all of the SAE taps and dies I need, for the most part, and can always buy an individual one if it did come to pass that I needed an SAE tap or die. It is metric that I need, but I need virtually all of them up to around 16mm, in four thread pitches when such applies. The metric ones I have came in a combo set and I keep coming up with needing one I don’t have, plus the ones I have, with the exception of individual purchases of Irwin and other brands, tend not to last that long. What is up with all of the combo sets? It takes about 35 sizes to cover most of the metric needed for the smaller sizes to 16mm, and if using starter and bottom taps this would mean more than 100 items. It is not practical to combine them and have enough of both types, so why not just include all metric or all SAE and size the case to fit? All I can find in such sets are cheap Chinese types. I could do with just 35 starter taps and dies and buy the bottom taps here and there, if the cost would be very high, but seems that fairly complete sets of metric taps and dies should be more common than they are.

    • I tend to agree. All metric sets do exist (ie: 53 piece or 66 piece Irwin sets) but they’re just not going to be as popular as the combination sets which most users will start with (so more $$$ for all-metric or all-SAE). Like other tool sets (sockets, wrenches, etc.), there’s more competition to get someone to buy their brand and potentially become a long-term customer so combination sets are also going to be priced more aggressively.

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