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alex
alex Dork
11/10/09 10:06 p.m.

I really like having taps and dies around. Very handy. I'm also cheap. Harbor Freight has them for cheap. Are they any good, or more trouble than their worth?

motomoron
motomoron Reader
11/10/09 11:11 p.m.

They're fine 'til you need to actually cut threads. Then, if you're lucky it can function as a single-use tool.

Even the mid-quality American made stuff like Hanson doesn't work nearly as well as the good stuff, but it's sufficient for home shop use. I have this set in my shop at work and an earlier version at home-

http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PARTPG=INLMKD&PMPXNO=952952&PMAKA=310-1376

As they wear out/break/disappear I replace with better stuff bought as singles from McMaster-Carr.

Consider this: I've been using the older one of these sets for 10 years and have probably replaced a dozen small taps in the most used sizes. I paid north of $400 for a top quality US made drill set (#1-60, fractionals from 1/16 to 1/2, letters A-Z) and it too has served for 10 years with fill-in as necessary from McMaster-Carr.

Cheap cutting tools aren't a bargain.

NYG95GA
NYG95GA SuperDork
11/11/09 12:10 a.m.

The trick I've found when using cheaper threading taps is to have the exact proper size drill bit to clean/start the hole, using liberal lubricant, and GOING SLOW! Dab some axle grease in the tap flutes for the filings to stick to, cut the threads about 1/2 turn at a time, and back out to clean off filings. This may be slow, but if you keep the flutes clear of filings, the tap seems to bind less. If it ever starts to noticably twist, don't force it! Go even slower; maybe 1/4 turn each cut. Yes, it takes forever, but once you've broken off a few taps in a hole because of impatience, you'll take the extra time.

DrBoost
DrBoost HalfDork
11/11/09 1:37 a.m.

In this case, don't waste your time with the junk. Get a good set. Ebay is where I'd start

RedS13Coupe
RedS13Coupe Reader
11/11/09 3:43 a.m.

I've done at least 20 holes with our HF tap and die set and it seems as good as when we started... We just use plenty of oil and the right sized drill bit and everything was fine.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker Dork
11/11/09 5:34 a.m.

I have had pretty good luck - but like posted by others... right size drill, lots of lube and I also put the work in a fixture on the drill press, tap in the chuck and rotote the chuck by hand so the likelyhood of me snapping it off in the work is less likely.

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
11/11/09 5:48 a.m.

The HF ones have been okay as thread chasers to fix buggered threads, but I don't know I'd trust them to do a unthreaded hole. The tool to hold the bit that came with mine broke pretty early on. I've replaced one or two of the bits already. It's okay as an emergency bail-out for stripped or rusty threads but if I were building stuff from scratch I'd buy a professional quality set.

vibiant
vibiant New Reader
11/11/09 6:34 a.m.

Ditto. They chase threads just fine, I've had much sucess with them in that arena, but that's all I'm ever going to use them for.

DrBoost
DrBoost HalfDork
11/11/09 7:12 a.m.

I guess it's because I used me tools to feed my family for soo many years, but I'd never trust that Chinese junk. I've had my fair share of cheap-crap tools. On rare occasions they've worked out fine (impact sockets come to mind) but for stuff like that, go pro. If/WHEN you break one off in a hole you will wish you picked up a nice set.

Ian F
Ian F HalfDork
11/11/09 7:37 a.m.

My experience with H-F tap and die set:

year is 1999. Purchased a 1997 Colnago Master Ti frame online... had never been built up and the threads for the cable guide on the bottom bracket shell had never been cut. "No biggie," I thought, "I'll just break out my trusty H-F metric tap & die set..." Brand new, never been used...

Set up the required 5mm tap. No dice. Won't catch in the hole... "hmm... " I think... and chase the hole with a drill bit... Still no love between metal and tap... Add some cutting oil... nope.

After fighting with it for the better part of an hour, I finally say "eff this!", go to Sears and buy a small Craftsman metric tap set...

...which taps the threads in about 20 seconds.

H-F set went straight into the trash... along with the SAE set that had never been used... both were eventually replaced with Craftsman sets which have never let me down and that small metric set lives in my bike-wrenching tool box (which I used to take to races and was used many times).

monsterbronco
monsterbronco New Reader
11/11/09 8:34 a.m.

does the whole craftsman tool replacement work with taps and dies?

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
11/11/09 8:47 a.m.

As others have stated, the HF sets are good for chasing threads, which is what I use mine for mostly. I have a HF SAE and metric set. Actually the ones sold today are better quality than the ones HF sold 20 years ago. I have used them to cut new threads, but you do have to be extra careful. When I really need to cut threads in something like 304 stainless, I use a real industrial tap, preferably carbide or nitride coated.

NYG95GA
NYG95GA SuperDork
11/11/09 9:45 a.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: When I really need to cut threads in something like 304 stainless, I use a real industrial tap, preferably carbide or nitride coated.

Amen to that! Cutting, drilling and tapping aluminum: eezy breezy.. Mild steel: much the same.. Cast iron: take it slow, no problem. Stainless: Eeek! Call machine shop to see if they can work me in. I've never had much luck with attempts at thread cutting in it. It seems to intimidate me. Absolutely requires top line tools!

carguy123
carguy123 Dork
11/11/09 10:13 a.m.

I've had just as much good luck with the cheap taps and dies as the expensive ones. I never wear them out and the always cut clean threads but sooner or later I apply too much pressure or get off center with the pressure and I snap them. I've found no difference in cutting, life or resistance to snapping with the cheap or the expensive ones.

4eyes
4eyes Reader
11/11/09 9:49 p.m.

MSC is your friend for tap & die, drill sets etc.

alex
alex Dork
11/11/09 10:05 p.m.

I suppose I should have specified that chasing buggered threads (or cleaning up the threads on bolts/studs) would be 98% of the kit's use. In that case, it sounds like the cheap HF junk may come in handy.

4eyes: MSC? I'm unfamiliar. Care to elaborate?

ditchdigger
ditchdigger Reader
11/11/09 11:15 p.m.

The real benefit of the HF set is to get you used to having taps around and see how invaluable they are. Then as you break or wear out each one (seriously? one loose M10X1.25 hole and its done for?) you replace it with a quality piece when you need it. Eventually you will own one quality tap of each of the most used sizes and pitches and a crappy blow molded HF case to keep them in.

RedS13Coupe
RedS13Coupe Reader
11/11/09 11:47 p.m.
Giant Purple Snorklewacker wrote: I have had pretty good luck - but like posted by others... right size drill, lots of lube and I also put the work in a fixture on the drill press, tap in the chuck and rotote the chuck by hand so the likelyhood of me snapping it off in the work is less likely.

yeah, guess its worth adding that we always used them on the lathe, turning the work piece by hand until it was real good and started, then locked the workpiece and finished up by hand.

Perhaps there is more then one HF tap set? Ditchdigger mentions a blow molded case, ours came in a blue metal box with a (cheap) plastic insert to hold all of them.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper SuperDork
11/12/09 5:24 a.m.

I've ruined more threads trying to chase them straight with cheap taps and dies.

That said, I've used the hf drill bits and they work just fine.

bludroptop
bludroptop Dork
11/12/09 7:30 a.m.
RedS13Coupe wrote: Perhaps there is more then one HF tap set?

Correct. I looked at them last time I was at the store - GRM 20% coupon in my pocket - but didn't buy either.

The really cheap one looked incredibly crappy. The more expensive one - less crappy, but it still did not inspire confidence.

I trusted my gut, which was screaming "run away".

alex
alex Dork
11/12/09 8:47 a.m.
bludroptop wrote: I trusted my gut, which was screaming "run away".

Funny, mine says the same thing most of the time I'm in Harbor Freight. Odd how things that seem like such a good idea in the weekly email seem so crappy once they're in your hands.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
11/12/09 12:21 p.m.

I've used the HF's and I don't like them at all.

I have a Blue Point SAE set that's 25 years old, works great and I have tapped all kinds of stuff with them. I got a Craftsman metric set a while back, the handles are cheesy but the taps and dies are great. So I just use the BP handles with the Craftsman taps and dies. Several years I broke down and bought a Craftsman thread restorer set. I have found that using taps and dies to restore threads makes them sort of sloppy, the real deal does not. Their number is 971-2050.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00942275000P

Now, I did find something HF that I really like: those one way roller bearing type ratchets. Nearly zero swing (they don't have to 'click') and so far I haven't been able to bust one.

Toyman01
Toyman01 HalfDork
11/12/09 3:54 p.m.

I have HF's big set of taps. I haven't had any problems but I only use them in aluminum. I haven't tried them in steel yet.

4eyes
4eyes Reader
12/3/09 10:58 p.m.
alex wrote: I suppose I should have specified that chasing buggered threads (or cleaning up the threads on bolts/studs) would be 98% of the kit's use. In that case, it sounds like the cheap HF junk may come in handy. 4eyes: MSC? I'm unfamiliar. Care to elaborate?

http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRHM good stuff, and a lot of fabrication supplies.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
12/3/09 11:08 p.m.

THREADJACK: Where do you buy good quality taps online? Everything local to me seems to be tapers but I need a bottom tap (heh, heh... bottom...tap... shut up!) in 10 X 1.25mm for cleaning head stud holes. Not at all something I can find in a bin at the local Sears and I'd like to save the SnapOn tariff if at all possible.

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