Best Tap and Die Sets: Fix Those Broken Threads

Time to graduate from tinkerer to master with these tap and die sets.

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED Oct 26, 2021 8:27 AM
Best Tap and Die Sets: Fix Those Broken Threads
Share

You might be good with a wrench, but things happen and you should be prepared to mess up. That said, if you don't know how to get yourself out of the bind you just put yourself into, the whole concept of saving money by doing it yourself goes out the window, especially when it comes to stuck or broken bolts and screws. A tap and die set is the kind of kit you need to keep around the shop. Otherwise, a chewed-up thread is going to make your life miserable. There's a lot of options out there, though. So, we want to take some time to talk about what some of our top choices are and give you the rundown on what to keep an eye on while shopping.

Best Tap and Die Sets Reviews & Recommendations

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

The price is good, the quality is respectable, and it's built to last. Tekton hit the ground running as an affordable tool brand, and this tap and die set is a great option. It uses high-grade materials, including a hardened tungsten alloy to ensure that whatever you're cutting into won't bite back. As for what's covered, you get a 45-piece set that covers a solid selection of metric sizes, ranging from 6 x 1.0 to 24 x 3.0 fine thread, and 6 x .75 to 24 x 1.5 coarse thread. An SAE version is also available. 


The cutting tools aren't all there is to like, though, as this set comes with two respectable T-handle tools for driving taps and dies, and everything is packed neatly into an organized, clearly labeled storage case. We should point out that this kit is backed by Tekton’s respectable guarantee. While the case does get the job done, it can use some improvement. It's rather frail and its contents can scatter. Also, it seems that there are some issues regarding the T-handles not being able to stand up to much stress, which is something you need to be careful of while working. 

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Tekton
  • Part Number: 7561
  • Thread Type: Metric

Pros:

  • Built to last 
  • Covers a solid range of metric sizes 
  • High-grade construction 

Cons:

  • Poor case design 
  • T-handles could be better constructed 

This budget-friendly offering covers a wide range of metric and SAE thread sizes and separates everything into separate cases for convenience. Let's say you've got projects that rely on metric and SAE fasteners. Do you really need to double down on tap and die sets? Not exactly, as this double-header from Orion Motor Tech covers a solid range in both. This offering covers a total of 34 different thread sizes in both SAE and metric, fine and coarse threads. It’s neatly organized into a labeled storage case, and because they are separate colors, you can rely on color coding for quick selection. 


And despite everything you're taking home, this entire setup is about half the price of many top-shelf setups that feature far fewer pieces to work with. We should make it clear that this isn't the kind of tool set you keep around for generations. The quality is a little lackluster and may be just good enough to get through a few demanding jobs. Furthermore, the cases don't have the best hold on the contents, and there are common issues surrounding quality control. 

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Orion Motor Tech 
  • Part Number: TAD-0040_MAIN
  • Thread Type: Metric and SAE

Pros:

  • Affordable price point 
  • Covers a wide range of fasteners 
  • Separate storage cases included 

Cons:

  • Not built to last 
  • Quality control issues are common 
  • Case has poor hold on contents

It’s a master set with a great case, throw in the ratcheting drive tools and there’s no leaving it out. If Gearwrench isn't one of your go-to brands as a DIYer by now, maybe it's time to give it a shot. And this tap and die set includes ratcheting tools for driving taps and cutting with the standard set of dies. That already makes major improvements to your workflow, but the tight 5-degree swing arc they give you to work with might just revolutionize it. It's also a master set that covers a solid selection of metric and SAE fastener sizes in fine and coarse thread, and a high-quality storage case vastly outshines what most kits come with.


Of all things to hold this kit back, it seems to be the ratcheting system. The mechanism can come apart, however, the warranty does offer some peace of mind. That said, the warranty does not cover taps or dies themselves, which is something of a disappointment. We should also make a note of the price being a lot higher than some hobbyists are willing to pay.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Gearwrench 
  • Part Number: 82812
  • Thread Type: Metric and SAE

Pros:

  • Large number of pieces 
  • High-quality case
  • Lifetime warranty 

Cons:

  • Ratcheting system not built to last 
  • Taps and dies not covered in warranty 
  • Pricey

The impressive selection covers everything from machine screws to large fasteners, which can save you in a pinch. If you have experience with tap and die sets, you know they don't cover absolutely everything. But this kit from Segomo just might keep you from pulling your hair out when that one funky bolt chowders up on you. This is a 60-piece set that covers SAE sizes with a metric variant available. In addition, it packs everything nice and neatly into a labeled case that will fit within your tool drawer. 


The cutting tools also rely on a hardened steel alloy that’s a cut above a lot of the really cheap stuff on the market. Is this the end-all-be-all set? Not quite as though it sits at a middle-of-the-road price point, the T-handles are its main weak point in terms of quality and durability. And the labels on the case may be too small for many to read. The case also doesn't have the best grip on taps, which can be a major pain.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Segomo 
  • Part Number: TD60MMSAE
  • Thread Type: Metric and SAE 

Pros:

  • Covers a wide range of sizes 
  • Case retains reasonable size 
  • Cutting tools are better than most in this price range 

Cons:

  • Case has poor grip on contents 
  • Labeling on case can be hard to read 
  • T-handles can break easily

Titanium cutting edges make it easy to clean and create threads, and a solid selection of thread sizes is a bonus. We're wrapping up our list with this set from Neiko as it's within the average tool budget but is built to last longer than much of the competition. That claim of a long service life is backed by the set’s titanium cutting edges that are designed to resist any materials you're likely to tap into or cut threads on. Of course, everything sits neatly into a storage case. 


Something we feel makes this set more appealing is the finish of the tools, which may seem superficial, but the aesthetic appeal does have a positive boost on your working experience. Of course, the real draw is that the superior cutting edges can be used for a total of 20 different SAE thread sizes in fine and coarse thread, with a metric version also available. The storage case and T-handles, however, are the weak points, as the case has a poor grip on its contents and the handles tend to break easily. 

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Neiko 
  • Part Number: 00916A
  • Thread Type: SAE

Pros:

  • Titanium cutting edges ensure a long tool life 
  • Covers a solid range of SAE sizes 
  • Unique finish can positively impact working experience 

Cons:

  • Poor case design 
  • T-handle break easily 
  • Quality control issues are common

How We Selected The Products 

Though these are specialty tool sets, it takes little more than basic knowledge of a project and what to look out for to make sure you're in the right ballpark. However, you have quite a few options to choose from when you perform a basic internet search, so it's only natural to question what exactly we took into consideration when narrowing things down. 

For the most part, we decided it's best to stick with what we know. We know you need cutting tools made with precision and exceptionally hard materials. Much of the brands we leaned on here are those we've leaned on in the past, and we trust them to make quality tools. If we haven't used a brand before, we made sure it at least meets the demands of someone looking for a decent set of taps and dies that covers a respectable range or offers decent value according to what others have to say about it. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

There are a lot of different options when it comes to tap and die sets. The process of picking the right one can seem complicated when you consider all the different variables, but it's really not that bad. This quick buying guide is here to help you sort through your options and hone in on the kit that truly suits your needs. 

What to Consider When Buying Tap and Die Sets

Types of Tap and Die Sets 

The first thing to figure out is how big of a tap and die set you need to get the job done. This might seem self-explanatory, but it's always good to talk through the basics. This way, we can at least help you understand which kit makes for a good start and what to prepare for down the line. 

Specialty Set 

What we're calling a specialty set would be a small kit that covers one or a few odd thread sizes. These are really handy if you need to create or repair threads that aren't all that common on automotive applications or those that are limited to specific applications. 

It can seem tempting to try and find the tap or die that covers just one thread size to save money when you're getting started, but we don't recommend doing so. We say that because you never really know what kind of problems you'll run into with fasteners, and it's best to prepare for as much as possible. 

Single Thread Type

Most kits on the market feature somewhere around 45 pieces and cover either metric or SAE fasteners. These are a great starting point for many as one kit is usually enough to cover the majority of fasteners car owners will deal with on a single application. 

In today's day and age, most folks will want a metric tap and die set, while classic vehicle owners should lean toward SAE. That's nothing more than a rule of thumb, though. Eventually, you should invest in both, but it's ok to start with a kit that covers the types of fasteners your current application has to work with. 

Master Set 

What we're calling a master set is one that covers sizes in both SAE and metric thread types. In all reality, this is usually the best starting point. We say that because there are applications that rely on either measuring system, you likely own plenty of projects that call for either, and there's never telling what the future has in store. Covering as many bases as possible now can save you headaches down the line. 

The only real drawback to a master set is that they do typically cost more money because you are essentially buying two kits at once. You should also know that, even with a comprehensive selection, there's still a good chance that you'll need to pick up additional taps as it’s hard to find any single kit that covers absolutely every possible fastener size. 

Tap and Die Set Key Features

Now that you know a little more about your options let's dive into the key features. You should be able to dial in on the best kit for your money in just a few minutes if you keep an eye on the details below. 

Proper Thread Type

Obviously, you know you need a kit that covers the thread type you're working with. If you're working with a vehicle produced in the last 20 years, you probably just need a comprehensive metric kit. However, you should still check to verify as there's always the chance you'll need SAE sizes in any situation. 

The more you know about your vehicle, the better. If there's one size that appears more often than others or an odd size is prevalent, you should pick a kit that covers them at the very least. If you can't find an odd size, still invest in a comprehensive kit and the funky tap or die on the side. 

Useable Storage Case  

The storage case has very little to do with the performance of the tools themselves, but we can't stress just how important they really are. Poor quality cases or those that can't fit where you need to store them are a surefire way to run into a massive headache. That one fastener you need under fire will go missing, and you'll be up the creek without a paddle. 

Quality Construction.

It's easy to simply tell you to buy the best tools you can afford. There is a lot of merit behind that statement, especially when it comes to specialty tools like taps and dies, where precision is everything. Not everyone has the means or can justify the expense of pro-level tools, though. We suggest doing a little bit of homework and reading into the materials used and how well the tools are crafted. The product description will typically tell us what the taps and dies are made of, while the reviews are always the best way to find out what shortcomings are present. Your job is to decide whether or not the set is still good enough to tackle the job you need it to. 

Tap and Die Set Tips and Tricks

Picking out and using tap and die sets takes a little bit of knowledge, but it's not rocket science. Even so, we do have a few tips to share with you that will help you to get the most out of any kit you select. 

  • Back Off. As you clean or create threads, make sure to back the tool off every 1/4-turn. This prevents binding and potential damage to the project or tools. 
  • Lube is Your Friend. Always keep your taps and dies clean and lubricated, especially when you're cutting threads. You're bound to run into trouble otherwise. 
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Thread Repair Kits: Sometimes, a thread is just too far gone. Thread repair kits make it possible to restore internal threads so that you can use the original fastener size. 
  • Keep it Clean. If you're tearing anything down, it's a good idea to run your fasteners through dies and clean internal threads with taps. This makes sure there's no debris trapped in threads that will slow assembly down or throw off torque readings.

FAQs

You have questions of your own. Unfortunately, we don't know exactly what's running through your mind. However, we think addressing the FAQs surrounding tap and die sets will get you squared away. 

Q: What is the best material for a tap and die set?

It's ultimately dependent on the material you're working with. You just need to make sure the cutting tool is harder than the material you're working with. In most cases, hardened alloy steels work just fine. However, carbon steel, titanium, and cobalt are all excellent choices. 

Q: What's the difference between a tap and die?

To put it simply, a die creates external threads while a tap creates internal threads. The average wrench turner will likely use taps more than dies because hardware is replaceable, but you still want to keep both on hand. 

Q: Can you tap cast iron?

Yes, you can tap cast iron. It is important to be careful of hard spots that can break your tools, though. The good news is that taking your time and not forcing your taps is the key to avoiding the situation. 

Q: Is titanium a good material for tap and die sets?

Titanium is an extremely hard metal, making it a great choice for tap and die sets. It cuts through metal easier and will last longer than most alternatives. Just bear in mind that the entire tool isn't likely to be made of titanium — just the cutting edge. 

Final Thoughts

We really think that the Tekton 7561 Tap and Die Set, Metric, 45-Piece is a great starting point for most DIYers, but the value of the Orion Motor Tech SAE & Metric Tap and Die Set 80pcs is hard to ignore for those who need tackle as much as possible on a budget. You tell us what you think. We'd love to know what you feel is the best tap and die set for the money.