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quasi
09-09-2007, 02:10 AM
Are good quality tap and die sets extinct. I have been trying to upgrade my button dies for tailstock threading, and my Tiwanese tap and die set. Ebay is full of cheap rethreading dies and taps, even the brand names like Craftsman, Snapon, Mac,....

I finally scored a couple of old Craftsman tap and die sets, made by Greenfield. They are complete even with original screwdrivers. Small set is 4-36, 6,8,10-32, 10-24. Large set is 1/4-1/2 nc and nf plus 1/8 pipe thread.

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s320/buckbrush1961/td2.jpg

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s320/buckbrush1961/td3.jpg

Evan
09-09-2007, 05:19 AM
Ebay is full of cheap rethreading dies and taps, even the brand names like Craftsman, Snapon, Mac,....
The real brand names such as Warrior, Wizard, Dormer and SKF etc are still not made in China and are still expensive and worth every penny.

Nice sets btw.

DR
09-09-2007, 08:04 AM
Are good quality tap and die sets extinct.

The best quality taps and dies don't come in sets. You buy individual pieces as needed.

Make sure any pieces you buy are HSS (high speed steel), they'll be marked as such. If they aren't marked they'll be carbon steel, making them not much better than re-threading tools.

Peter N
09-09-2007, 08:55 AM
Hey, a nice sharp quality carbon steel tap will hold a good edge and cut just as well as HSS.
High speed steel is going to be tougher than carbon steel, but carbon steel will take a better edge, thats why they use it for chisels.

You don't need to use high speed steel for tapping, it's main advantage is that it has a very good 'hot' hardness.
And when you make a tap in the workshop you'll make it from carbon steel (drill rod/silver steel).

That being said, all the better brands listed by Evan use HSS for taps and dies.

It's not all bad ya know :D

Peter

airsmith282
09-09-2007, 09:39 AM
i have a set of mastercraft canadain tire tap and dies but i do buy seperate dies and taps that are not supported in the ctire kits as they only goto 1/2 inch and i use larger ones then that so buying them seperate and getting good quaility ones vs cheap ones well i ca say with the better quaility taps and dies they do seem to cut the sae the difference is the better quaility taps and dies do last longer then the cheap ones, i bought a milbro die and tap and they were junk so i up graded that tap and die to the american vermont model this was a 7/16 tap and die and they work slick and last a long time so far i have had no issues with them at all for the jobs they do. now the HSS set fi have is good and works well and i have snaped a few taps and they have been replaced as well no problems and the HSS 9/16 and 5/0 ones i have from another maker work great as well lots of use on them and still cut good only buggered 1 tap so far from thoes pretty expecnsive but it was warrantyed and reaplaced for me no hassle , now the bg problem i do have is when iam threading 9/16 and 7/16 316 Stainless steel this seems to play havoc on my taps and dies i think i need to get better quaility taps and dies for thoes metals ,,

Carld
09-09-2007, 10:48 AM
I disagree Peter, carbon taps and dies are not as good as HSS. They are only fit for cleaning up or chasing threads. A carbon steel tap or die will not hold up taping new threads. The carbon taps and dies I have used are only good for one or two threadings in making a new thread in a hole or threading a rod. Don't even try to tap or thread SS with a carbon steel tap/die.

We never used carbon taps and dies in the job shops I have worked in and I don't use them at home. Pay a little more and buy something that will last many threadings.

I reciently bought some very small nembered adjustable Chinese HSS dies. While they cut ok I was not satisfied with the adjustability of them and will pay for the better grade in the future. I think Vermont and Cleveland are still USA made but I will be sure of the quality in the future.

JoeFin
09-09-2007, 10:58 AM
I highly value my Taps and Dies.

The majority of times, threading is a 2nd or 3rd op. of a nearly completed part. For the HSM this means you could have spent hours getting it to this point only to have import quality taps and dies perform a shoddy job at the near end.

Morse, Greenfield, Butterfield, and Titan (for the new stuff) are invaluable assets to the work bench, (I say this from trial and error) Master Mechanic, and Vermont American, (Ace Hardware) might as well be Chinese made when it comes to harder materials such as SS. And donít even get me started on the Chinese stuff. Itís more like a bad joke.

Believe me, many a Tap and Die has hit the trash can for performing a shoddy job in my shop.

Here are some well cared for and cherished Taps I purchased from the estate of a late machinist who passed away leaving them to his widow.

http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa83/Freakindj/000_0006-1.jpg

http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa83/Freakindj/000_0005-1.jpg

and the corresponding reams for close fit work

http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa83/Freakindj/000_0001_00-1.jpg

Would be nice to have one of them fancy sets all gussied up in one of them fitted cases, but for right now Iíll stick with what works

J Tiers
09-09-2007, 11:24 AM
Those low-class cheapies like OSG and Greenfield......... Pah!


The best dies and taps I have are old "Card" ones. Must be from the 1940s, and still cut very well. Oh. yeah, they DID come in sets, but the sets are usually of small ones, with the very small size dies, possibly the 13/16 size.

For some reason, many newer dies do not "start" as well as old ones. I have never tried to measure the reasons why, but there must be reasons.

There ARE good quality sets. I recently came into a set of small metric taps and dies. The smallest size is 16 thou, and the dies are all about 1/4 inch OD. Very good quality Japanese watchmaker set.

Lew Hartswick
09-09-2007, 11:39 AM
I highly value my Taps and Dies.

http://i198.photobucket.com/albums/aa83/Freakindj/000_0006-1.jpg

If I "highly valued" some taps I wouldn't let them bang into eachother
the way those are doing in a box.
...lew...

JoeFin
09-09-2007, 12:30 PM
If I "highly valued" some taps I wouldn't let them bang into eachother
the way those are doing in a box.
...lew...

Lew Ė

Message understood and my humble apologies are offered for treating such fine old taps in that manor.

But frankly Dear Sir, you are beginning to sound like my wife. I am grossly out of space and in serious need of expanding my current shop sq. footage. How ever the Wifey unit is nagging about her desires I finish installing the Hot Tub and cazebo (which includes underground electrical / plumbing / concrete installation) she has been wanting and once again my desires of an additional 300 sq. ft. of floor space goes on hold.

To amend for my ways I offer this per your review
New Huot Tap Dispenser (http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-HUOT-13500-FRACTIONAL-TAP-DISPENSER-CHEST-CABINET_W0QQitemZ150157890945QQihZ005QQcategoryZ25 297QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphoto hosting)

Which will have to suffice until such time as I may fully reconcile the situation

Legalese
All puns are intended and fully for the enjoyment of the poster unless viod in the city and or state you are residing in, at which time the poster claims no liability and or binding agreement shall be made.

DR
09-09-2007, 01:48 PM
Here are some well cared for and cherished Taps

No offense meant, but to me that's an odd way to talk about taps. Taps are like razor blades, when they're dull you get a new one.

I may be the minority on this though. I've seen widows selling their husband's treasured cutting tools. "They're just like new, they served him well over the years". Invariably, it seems to me the tools will be dull.

Fasttrack
09-09-2007, 02:07 PM
Yup i agree with DR



I've got a set of Irwin taps (new) that are not nearly as good as the hanson and morse taps i got for my uncle. They were all new from him (he buys pallets of damaged tools and then sells what he doesnt want... usually they are mis-marked, damaged packaging etc but otherwise they are in good condition) and they work way better and seem to have lasted alot longer than the irwin ones. The morse ones seem to cut better than the hanson ones, too. They start alot better and dont seem to gall as bad.

As a side note, one of the pallets that my uncle got in had some pliers and etc from channel-loc. He gave many of them to my dad and i but i noticed that all of the pliers were smooth jawed. Apparently thats why they were being sold as damaged goods, none of the ridges that were supposed to be on the jaws ever got cut!!

JoeFin
09-09-2007, 02:29 PM
No offense meant, but to me that's an odd way to talk about taps. Taps are like razor blades, when they're dull you get a new one.

Yes that is true

That is if they cut correctly in the first place when they are "Brand New" directly out of the wrapper/package.

I have purchased from the local hardware store Hanson, and Vermont American (also marketed under "Master Mechanic") both USA made that would NOT cut threads correctly. Not even once! I've taken them back, complained to the owner of the store, ect, ect, it doesn't do any good. They are not allowed to stock any thing else.

So yes, when they cut correctly, even if they are 40 - 50 years old, you bet "Cherised, well care for" applies.

As for common sizes I use most often I buy them by the package.

platypus2020
09-09-2007, 03:09 PM
25-30 years ago, it seemed very few people has taps and dies at home, unless the worked at a machinist, now I can now buy a 80 piece inch and metric tap and die set from the local Rite-Aid drug store or Wal-mart for $19.95. Of course they are junk, but the people buy it don't know the difference, and unless absolutely got to have an 8mm x 1.25mm at 9pm on a Sunday night, most HSMers aren't going to buy it. I can go to Home Depot and buy a Vermont-American 3/8"-16 tap for about $4.00, I can go to an industrial supply store 6 blocks away and buy a Bennington or Greenfield for about $4.00, but the average person doesn't know that.

Its true nothing works like a sharp tap or die, either new or well cared for, but even a cheap tap is better than no tap. I've have had them turn to crap after 2-3 holes, but they did work, if its an odd thread or one your going to use only once or twice carbon steel can and will work, just not for long.

Jack

Peter N
09-09-2007, 04:41 PM
I disagree Peter, carbon taps and dies are not as good as HSS. They are only fit for cleaning up or chasing threads. A carbon steel tap or die will not hold up taping new threads. The carbon taps and dies I have used are only good for one or two threadings in making a new thread in a hole or threading a rod. Don't even try to tap or thread SS with a carbon steel tap/die.

You're being a little bit harsh on good old carbon steel Carl, it's far better than you may think.
A new 'quality' carbon steel tap will cut just as well as HSS, but being less tough it's not going to last as long, but it will cut tough material just as easily.

In the best traditions of Sir John, here's one I made earlier<G>.

A little while ago, I needed a 3/8" BSF tap to make up half a dozen mild steel nuts for a friend, and not having one to hand I made this from Silver steel (1% carbon).
It's been knocking around on the bench for a few weeks after it was used, and happily was still reasonably pristine.


So I cut off a bit of mild steel, drilled it 8.5mm, than tapped it with this.


http://www.onepoint6.co.uk/Carbon_Tap_A.jpg


Then I cut off an 1" 304 stainless (I haven't got as much material as Sir John to waste), and drilled and tapped that too.

http://www.onepoint6.co.uk/Carbon_Tap_C.jpg


Then I cut off a length of 1/2" gauge plate, and drilled that.
This stuff is O1 tool steel, ground on both sides, and the grinding also seems to give it quite a hard skin.
Pretty tough stuff as you can see from the fancy blue swarf made when drilling it.

http://www.onepoint6.co.uk/Carbon_Tap_D.jpg


Then I tapped that with the home made carbon steel tap too.


http://www.onepoint6.co.uk/Carbon_Tap_x.jpg


I didn't bother with the third hole, as to be honest my home made tap was beginning to get a little bit of a twist in it.
Bear in mind that this tap was knocked up and very roughly hardened in quite a hurry at the time, so the reliefs are far from correct,
and the cutting teeth aren't perfectly formed for a tap either.

But it still cut half a dozen mild steel nut threads in the first place, another one today, and then more in stainless steel and tool steel.
Of course HSS will last longer, and be a better bet for production shop, but don't write off the old-fashioned materials yet.
It makes very sharp lathe cutting tools as well.

Peter

SDL
09-09-2007, 04:44 PM
Quote


I disagree Peter, carbon taps and dies are not as good as HSS. They are only fit for cleaning up or chasing threads. A carbon steel tap or die will not hold up taping new threads. The carbon taps and dies I have used are only good for one or two threadings in making a new thread in a hole or threading a rod. Don't even try to tap or thread SS with a carbon steel tap/die.

We never used carbon taps and dies in the job shops I have worked in and I don't use them at home. Pay a little more and buy something that will last many threadings.
Carbon stell taps are fine if made by a top quality manufacturer. I have carbon stell taps made by Dormer and Presto and they cut fine (1970s Vintage) its the quality that matters.

What they will not do is hold up to use for machine tapping, which is why they are not found in proffesional shops but for hand use they are fine, if good quality.

If they dont cut you wouldnt be able to be make D bits out of silver steel (Drill rod).

I accept that the top brands dont market Carbon steel taps nowdays but they do turn up at model engineering shows, car boot sales, yard sales etc.

As always you get what you pay for. :D

Steve Larner

BadDog
09-09-2007, 05:09 PM
I had one of the much bemoaned "Craftsman" HSS tap-n-die sets. This was their "top line" HSS set, bought on sale after Christmas. Seems it was well under $100, maybe $80 or so? It's the larger set, don't recall the exact size, but covers fractional sizes from 1/2" down to "small as I care" in coarse and fine. For my fabrication (new threads) and mechanical (mostly rethread) work this was and IS a fine set in spite of my now somewhat more refined tastes in such things. The similar set in "Carbon Steel is pure crap for anything but rethread and won't hold an edge. I know this because my neighbor bought that CS set, and with his much lighter use, it was all but unusable in the common sizes.

Perhaps the reason HSS works much better is that the cutting edges get remarkably hot (very localized) when threading, even manually. Or, perhaps the "hight grade"(?) material comes in corespondingly higher priced sets, and so gets better QA? I dunno, but in consumer grade tap/die sets, the HSS sets seem to be much better in my limited experience.

However, I rarely touch that Craftsman set any more, except for the occasional (non adjustable) die. While at a poorly attended machine shop auction, I chanced uppon a HUGE set of high quality (mostly US) taps from #80 up to 3/4 in a vast array of thread pitch and style (taper, plug, bottom, spiral, helical). Seems like I got it for $30, and some were still in tubes, others appeared as if unused. Yes, I was, and still am, happy with that purchase. Unfortunately, I've not yet found a similar deal on adjustable die buttons, so if single point won't do the job, I'm still reaching for the non-adjustable hex dies from that Craftsman set, and they still do the job just fine for my limited needs...

Carld
09-09-2007, 05:41 PM
Peter, I am glad the carbon tap and dies work for you. They do not hold up for me or anyone I have worked with in any of the several shops I have worked.

Yes, most times carbon steel will cut a few threads with each thread being worse than the one before. However a quality HSS tap or die will make 30 or more threads before it shows signs of degrading if properly used.

For the difference in price the HSS is more than worth the difference. If hard pressed I would buy a carbon steel tap or die for a few emergency threads and have done so.

It is always best to buy the best quality because I am not sure that the lower priced HSS taps and dies are high quality HSS or even correctly hardened.

Years ago I started buying the hex shaped dies to clean and chase threads. I bought HSS because sometimes I would have to cut new threads with them. Lately when I was looking for a new one I found it hard to find anything but carbon steel locally. I had to order from a catalog to get HSS. I suppose most people look at price rather than quality and long term use.

The taps and dies in hardware stores and Lowes and Home Depot are not good quality and mostly are carbon steel. Even the ones marked HSS do not hold up much better than the carbon steel.

I have not had to make a tap or die yet but if I did I would try to make it out of tool steel so it would last longer and carbon steel if thats all I could find.

jimmstruk
09-09-2007, 06:05 PM
How about a different point of view. I own a large set of US thread and a large set of metric tap&dies. Yes they are JUNK but in my repair business theres no telling what comes next. With a large assortment of taps, dies, and thread guages I can usually at least identify what I am working with. Another tool that I like is my electronic calipers, can switch from sae to metric measure instantly. Even the junk tools will clean rust and misc crap from threads. If there are threads to be cut from blank material one would need to use much higher quality tooling. JIM

Peter N
09-09-2007, 06:19 PM
I have not had to make a tap or die yet but if I did I would try to make it out of tool steel so it would last longer and carbon steel if thats all I could find.


Carl it's just occured to me that we may be disputing something based on a misunderstanding.

When we talk about carbon steel for taps on this side of the pond, we mean high carbon steel such as silver steel, which we also call tool steel.

So we may actually be in agreement after all that.:)

Peter

heavysteamer
09-09-2007, 06:35 PM
This carbon steel vs HSS business is very interesting. I gunsmithed for many years and would NEVER use a HSS tap in a gun. Finely made carbon steel taps are the only thing to use.

Norman Atkinson
09-09-2007, 06:50 PM
Again, this is where the language or the interpretation of the language becomes apparent.

We in the UK talk about silver steel which has no silver whatsoever and we, on both sides of the pond talk about carbon steel which is iron with a small percentage of carbon. Until the introduction of high speed steel it was used for lathe tools. And of course, high speed steel may not contain any steel at all and stainless steel isn't steel. Incidentally,nor is drill rod always used for making drills.

As the late Professor C E M Joad who wasn't a professor said in BBC Brains Trust 'It all depends on what you mean by*********' He then started his usual preface 'When I was in Patagonia******' where he was a professor!

That should keep you all going for a while.

Err cheers, says Norm, quietly ducking out again.

jmm360
09-09-2007, 07:28 PM
Norm,
Could you be a little less cryptic for the benefit of us a little to the west of you? I always enjoy your posts but you've lost me here.
Regards,
John

lazlo
09-09-2007, 07:33 PM
Hi Joe,


Morse, Greenfield, Butterfield, and Titan (for the new stuff) are invaluable assets to the work bench, (I say this from trial and error) Master Mechanic, and Vermont American, (Ace Hardware) might as well be Chinese made when it comes to harder materials such as SS. And don’t even get me started on the Chinese stuff. It’s more like a bad joke.

With the exception of Titan (which I've never used), I've had the exact same experience with the taps and dies on your list. Irwin HSS dies seem to be a step above
Vermont, but definitely second-tier (i.e., not in the same class as Morse, Greenfield, Butterfield,...).

Another of my favorites for taps, dies and endmills is OSG (Japan) -- fantastic quality. Comparable quality and performance (quality of cut and durability) to the first-tier
American taps and dies.


Those low-class cheapies like OSG and Greenfield......... Pah!

Are you serious Jerry?? OSG and Greenfield (Kenametal) are among the best taps and dies money can buy. And in the case of Greenfield, you're talking lots of money.
I also don't buy the "old dies were the best" -- modern metallurgy is vastly better than it was in the 40's and 50's, especially when it comes to HSS.

By the way, one Ebay curiosity I've never been able to figure out: you can buy brand-new industrial grade taps on Ebay in lots (12 or 16 taps) for a song, but you almost never see dies, and when you do, they're worn as Hell. Similary, taps are often on sale at MSC, Enco, J&L, et al, but dies are almost never on sale. Why is that?

I end up buying the HSS Greenfield and/or OSG dies from J&L Industrial when they have their monthly 25% off 5 items sale. Seems like the best deal going...

lazlo
09-09-2007, 07:51 PM
The real brand names such as Warrior, Wizard, Dormer and SKF etc are still not made in China and are still expensive and worth every penny.

I'm not sure what to make of SK, and SK Facom anymore -- they've changed hands so many times in the past three years I can't even figure out who owns them, let alone where their tools are coming from.

S-K was one of the oldest US hand tool manufacturers in the US, but they were bought by Facom (a French company) in the late 80's and became SK-Facom. But then Stanley Tool Works bought Facom, and S-K separated from Facom, but still distribute Facom tools.

So as far as I can tell, SK Facom no longer exists, and if you go to the S-K web page, there's no reference to Facom or Stanley Tool Works:

http://www.skhandtool.com/

If anyone can figure that one out, or if S-K hand tools are still Made in USA, I'd sure like to know! :)

By the way, the split of S-K and Facom, and/or the buy-out by Stanley Tool Works, is probably why there are fire-sales on the 'Net on SK-Facom tools.
Pretty good deal if you ask me...

Uncle O
09-09-2007, 07:52 PM
This carbon steel vs HSS business is very interesting. I gunsmithed for many years and would NEVER use a HSS tap in a gun. Finely made carbon steel taps are the only thing to use.


Heavy....Please give your reason(s) for not using HSS on firearms.
I am curious.
Thanks.

J Tiers
09-09-2007, 08:08 PM
Are you serious Jerry?? OSG and Greenfield (Kenametal) are among the best taps and dies money can buy. And in the case of Greenfield, you're talking lots of money.
I also don't buy the "old dies were the best" -- modern metallurgy is vastly better than it was in the 40's and 50's, especially when it comes to HSS.

Not exactly serious. But the "Card" dies always seem to do just a little better than the others, high $ or no. Must be something about the leading edge and relief, etc.

lazlo
09-09-2007, 08:13 PM
We in the UK talk about silver steel which has no silver whatsoever and we, on both sides of the pond talk about carbon steel which is iron with a small percentage of carbon. Until the introduction of high speed steel it was used for lathe tools. And of course, high speed steel may not contain any steel at all and stainless steel isn't steel.

Hi Norm, good to hear from you again! :)

I don't think there's as much of a cross-the-pond gap in terminology as you might think. "Silver Steel" in the UK is "Drill Rod" in the US, which are ground tool steels: O1, A2, D2, S7 and W1.

High speed steels like M2, and M7 (molybdenum alloy) or M-42 (molybdenum & cobalt alloy) have the high strength, hardenability, impact toughness, and wear resistance of tool steel, but have red hardness above 1000į F (I'm too lazy to convert that to Celsius :) ).

High quality taps and dies are usually made from M2, or in some cases, M42 (cobalt) high-speed steels. Peter has a good question about why that's necessary, since dies obviously don't get that hot from threading.

As far as the "carbon steel" terminology, cheap die sets are case-hardened from 1018 or 1020, which is why they don't last very long. There are also "alloy steel" dies which are probably something like hardened 1045 -- I'm guessing that's what Peter is talking about. Some of the Irwin and Vermont tap and die "super sets" advertise "hardened alloy steel" -- but are sold at a price-point below the HSS sets. I've never used those kind of dies, so I can't comment.

As far as some high-speed steels not containing steel, perhaps it's pedantry, but I'm guessing you're referring to Stellite, Tantung, Blackalloy et al -- those are cast cobalt alloys, and aren't steel at all. They're not magnetic, and they don't rust :)

Mark Hockett
09-09-2007, 08:13 PM
Peter,
It sounds like the taps you make are made with material that is much different from the material they use to make carbon steel taps here, especially if your taps will twist and not break. In the U.S., store bought carbon steel taps such as Hanson, Irwin or Vermont American are made with very hard brittle steel. These taps are very unforgiving. The slightest bind or hitting the bottom of the hole will cause the tap to snap off with almost no extra twisting force. When hand tapping it is very easy to get a bind by going a little off center or if you don't have a steady hand. I was taught long ago to use a hand-tapping guide when using carbon steel taps. Using carbon steel taps on a machine under power is playing tapping Russian roulette.

I my shop most tapping is done on either the CNC machines or the BP under power. I use only high quality HSS taps. I have many HSS taps that have tapped over 500 holes in steel and are still sharp. Last week I ran 60 pieces of 1144 stress proof with a 1/4" X 28 tpi thread and the HSS tap I used had previously been used on this job two times before for a total of 180 holes. When I was done the tap was still sharp and I will use it the next time. I would never trust using a carbon steel tap for that job. Another advantage to HSS taps is they are available in many special configurations such as spiral point, spiral flute, flute less cold form taps, short flute CNC taps and they are available in many tolerance levels, there is a HSS tap that will work in almost any situation.

The cost of a quality HSS tap is not much more than buying the same size carbon steel tap at the hardware store. So when I look at the benefits of the HSS taps; stronger, can be used for hand or machine tapping, last longer, more forgiving if binding occurs, and can be purchased in many different configurations and tolerances, I see no reason to ever purchase a carbon steel tap. The only time I would use steel tap is if I had to make a special one.

aboard_epsilon
09-09-2007, 08:34 PM
these from this seller have been marketed on ebay for many weeks

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/TUNGSTEN-Tap-Die-Set-Popular-Metric-Sizes-Brand-New_W0QQitemZ130151992397QQihZ003QQcategoryZ64819Q QssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

he claims they are made of tungsten ...
do you guys think that is so ...
they don't look dark enough to me

all the best.mark

lazlo
09-09-2007, 09:40 PM
he claims they are made of tungsten ...
do you guys think that is so ...

I have a couple of T-15 (tungsten) Morse-brand drills that I got off Ebay, and they're a dark grey (not black) color, but I can't tell if that's some kind of coating.

They're hard as a witch's heart -- they drill through 4140 HT like it's butter.

Some kind of tungsten-based HSS would make for nice tap and dies!

lazlo
09-09-2007, 09:42 PM
Heavy....Please give your reason(s) for not using HSS on firearms.

I vaguely remember a gunsmith telling me that he didn't use HSS taps on firearms because he couldn't drill them out if they broke.

Mcgyver
09-09-2007, 09:43 PM
The best quality taps and dies don't come in sets. You buy individual pieces as needed.

Make sure any pieces you buy are HSS (high speed steel), they'll be marked as such. If they aren't marked they'll be carbon steel, making them not much better than re-threading tools.

DR, fully agree on the first point, second, mostly .... as a practical statement, yes all the good stuff commonly available is hss, but there is nothing to say that high quality taps can't, and haven't been made from carbon steel. There might correlation but there's not causality in saying carbon taps are low quality. i can't quote chapter and verse on the history of tap manufacturing, but the old BA taps I have for example are nicely made and of carbon steel. for that matter, the advantage of hss over carbon is it holds up to higher temps - what's the advantage to taps/dies being made of hss anyway <edit> in our home shop, hand tapping environments?

lazlo
09-09-2007, 09:48 PM
i can't quote chapter and verse on the history of tap manufacturing, but the old BA taps I have for example are nicely made and of carbon steel. for that matter, the advantage of hss over carbon is it holds up to higher temps - what's the advantage to taps/dies being made of hss anyway?

The problem is that most "carbon steel" tap and dies are case-hardened low-carbon steel. Once you wear through the case, it's done.


Another advantage to HSS taps is they are available in many special configurations such as spiral point, spiral flute, flute less cold form taps, short flute CNC taps and they are available in many tolerance levels

Good point Mark


The cost of a quality HSS tap is not much more than buying the same size carbon steel tap at the hardware store.

That's true for taps, but HSS dies are much more expensive than carbon steel dies (about twice as expensive).

heavysteamer
09-09-2007, 10:21 PM
Heavy....Please give your reason(s) for not using HSS on firearms.
I am curious.
Thanks.

A fine grade carbon steel tap is sharper than HSS so cuts much better(at first), when they start to go dull, they feel like HSS taps new. Then they are discarded.

Second reason is that if (when) a tap breaks in a fine firearm, a carbon steel tap is much much easier to remove than a HSS tap.

I suspect that a major problem with cheap carbon steel taps, besides probably inferior material, is that they are made too quickly and some of the temper is drawn during manufacture. You just can't get them hot, or you will lose hardness.

ulav8r
09-09-2007, 10:27 PM
Quality carbon steel taps are used by gunsmiths for two reasons. First, they are harder than HSS taps and will cut clean threads in harder steels. Second, if a tap happens to break off in a valuable gun part, it is easier to remove than a HSS tap. Because the carbon steel tap is more brittle, it can often be broken up with a punch and removed in pieces. In a through hole you can just punch the body of the tap through and then pick out the teeth. If that doesn't work, it can be removed with a small welding tip on an oxy-acetylene torch by heating the tap fragment to red heat and then quickly shutting off the acetylene and burning it out with oxygen. Use of stop paste around the hole will help to limit heat flow from the tap to the part.

speedsport
09-09-2007, 10:32 PM
and where might one find some of this "stop paste"?

heavysteamer
09-09-2007, 11:15 PM
and where might one find some of this "stop paste"?

I usually got mine at Brownells. Sometimes at a welding shop.

lazlo
09-09-2007, 11:16 PM
Quality carbon steel taps are used by gunsmiths for two reasons. First, they are harder than HSS taps and will cut clean threads in harder steels.

Why would a carbon steel tap be sharper than a HSS tap? All fine taps are ground (cheap taps are cut), so a ground HSS tap should be the same sharpness as a ground carbon steel tap.

Also, M2 tool steel bits, the one's you buy for lathe tooling, are supplied as Rockwell 62 - 64. There's no way a carbon steel tap would be harder than a HSS tap.

I just checked Brownell's, and many of their gunsmithing taps, including their premium "Perfect Cut" taps are high-speed steel:

http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p=9963&title=%22Perfect+Cut%22+PREMIUM+TAP

Brownell's explanation of carbon steel taps:

"We supply our taps in Carbon steel whenever possible. If one should break off in a hole, the remains can be "shattered" with a punch for easy removal."

heavysteamer
09-10-2007, 12:01 AM
Well, time marches on. (although 1912 is hardly modern time) I would still probably use high quality carbon steel taps unless I had access to an EDM.

J Tiers
09-10-2007, 01:14 AM
I believe that if you use the correct carbon content tool steel, you can make "carbon steel" VERY hard.

I have seen reference to hardening in mercury, and lye solution, etc, with the idea of removing heat as fast as possible and getting the metal as hard as possible. Naturally such pieces were not tempered, and were very hard and strong, but shatterable.

chief
09-10-2007, 01:47 AM
SK tools are still made in the US. I won't get into the tap and ide arguement but there always is option "B", make your own.

Norman Atkinson
09-10-2007, 03:40 AM
Initially, I was getting a bit concerned about arguments which arise merely from the language(s) and definitions. I was therefore having a jest at English English. We do get tied in knots. The French have something like a body to control the language but the Brits don't. I have a good associate who is onto his second book in the English Language- until another lady told him that he wasn't much good at English either. She taught a member of the Royal family!
Yes???

Coming back to 'silver steel', and one source gives a rough make up as
Min% Max%
Carbon 1,1 1,2
Manganese 0.30 0.40
Silicon 0.10 0.25
Chromium 0.40 0.50
Sulphur - 0.035
Phosphorus - 0.035

These were for Stubs's product of 1970

OK, this can be tempered down from almost diamond hard.
Again, as JT suggests can be case hardened.

Going off at a minute tangent we have gauge plate as well.

JT intringued me with the comment about the difference in carbon steel and HSS. I have yet to put a microscope on T&C but claims have been made that the grain structure of carbon steel is such that it will hone to mirror finish whereas HSS cannot. ( Don't shoot me down, fellas, I ain't got the microscope fitted)

This leads on to a funny sort of remark. I recall that some time back, another Brit( he had to be) who had his favourite cutting tools although there were similar graded items in his possession. The thing is that I felt that he was right. Neither he nor I were including crap tools from an Indian Bazaar made out of fakir's nails. Going around in my circle, the microscope idea quite valid.

Have I finally gone round the twist? Suffice to say that my mate has one on his Pultra lathe.

Thinks, I better sneak out and let the experts have another go.
I'm all ears!

Norm

J Tiers
09-10-2007, 10:22 AM
I didn't refer to case hardening....

Ther is an optimum carbon content, which is around 0.89%. That optimum content allows the hardest steel.

The quench rate also affects the hardness. A very rapid quench , as in mercury or a water solution that "wets" the steel better (and boils @ higher temp), gets the very hardest possible result.

The honing I don't know about, but it might well be true.

In any case, I believe that while HSS has the "red hardness" property (nothing to do with "uncle Joe" or Nikita), it may not have the "ultimate hardness" capability of a straight carbon steel.

"Carbon steel" is here used to denote a steel which is primarily iron and carbon, deriving its hardness from the carbon, not an "alloy steel".

lazlo
09-10-2007, 10:56 AM
Coming back to 'silver steel', and one source gives a rough make up as:

Norm, I'm assuming that you can buy Silver Steel/Drill Rod in the various different tool steels like O1, A2, D2, S7 and W1?
Does the UK use the same designations for tool steels?


claims have been made that the grain structure of carbon steel is such that it will hone to mirror finish whereas HSS cannot.

That's interesting -- I've never heard that before. I've put an honest-to-goodness mirror finish on a HSS lathe toolbit, but I've never looked at it under a microscope :)

I just looked at a medical supply store, and scalpel blades are indeed made from carbon steel (or stainless steel), but it's not like they're going to need a wear resistant vanadium tool steel or high-speed steel for cutting flesh.

Norman Atkinson
09-10-2007, 01:48 PM
Robert,
No to the grades of silver steel. One tempers accordingly to suit ones needs.
Someone may shoot me down but that is my impression.

This difference in finish obtainable in HSS and carbon steel seems real. I read it up and then say microscope slides of the grain pattern- hence the microscope idea.

Going back into ancient history, my father was a blacksmith and served his apprenticeship at the local steel works. OK, he always used German Hamburg Ring open razors which he ground and honed. and these were carbon ones.
He used to make all his tools and made carbon edges on mild steel wood plane irons.

Again, I note old books on Northumbria Bagpipes specify carbon steel tools.

Hope this is of use

Norman

DR
09-10-2007, 03:52 PM
Again, I note old books on Northumbria Bagpipes specify carbon steel tools.



I don't know anything about those books, but if they're about making tools they likely would specify carbon steel tools.

High speed tools are not readily "home made" because of the more complicated heat treatment procedures.

tdmidget
05-23-2011, 07:23 PM
these from this seller have been marketed on ebay for many weeks

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/TUNGSTEN-Tap-Die-Set-Popular-Metric-Sizes-Brand-New_W0QQitemZ130151992397QQihZ003QQcategoryZ64819Q QssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

he claims they are made of tungsten ...
do you guys think that is so ...
they don't look dark enough to me

all the best.mark

I think that you are gullible to even consider this claim. There are "tungsten type" high speed steels, the highest tungsten content being T6, at 20%. Similarly the "cobalt" tools often vaunted are actually " molybenum type" M 42, at 8% Co. The highest cobalt content is M44, with 12% Co.
Claiming it on E bay don't make it so.

philbur
05-23-2011, 08:01 PM
This is commonly quoted in text books as a plus for carbon steel tools. When fully honed it is claimed to result in a better surface finish.

Phil:)

Quote:
claims have been made that the grain structure of carbon steel is such that it will hone to mirror finish whereas HSS cannot.

Dr Stan
05-23-2011, 08:17 PM
I believe that if you use the correct carbon content tool steel, you can make "carbon steel" VERY hard.

Yes one can make carbon steel very hard, however there is a trade off. With increased hardness one also gets increased brittleness which is why you will seldom find a carbide tap or die.

gwilson
05-23-2011, 09:36 PM
Carbon steel,especially plain carbon steel like W1,will take the sharpest edge of the steels. HSS will not take as sharp an edge because it has a more coarse grain structure.

W1 can reach 67 rockwell when hardened,before tempering. The HSS I have tested is usually 63 rockwell,and I had the finest Versitron hardness tester at work.

Of course,you can't use a 67 R.C. tool because it has little mechanical strength. You can draw it a bit harder than 63,though. However,it is recommended that carbon taps be drawn to a purple color in the old gunsmithing books,which would put it more like 57 rockwell.

It is true that carbon steel taps have been recommended for years because you can get broken ones out easier. Nowadays,I can easily mill out HSS taps with carbide end mills like butter. If you aren't well equipped,the carbon is easier to deal with.

My old 1964 Craftsman HSS,chrome coated tap and die (adjustable) set is still going strong. Now,you can't get them that way from Sears.

I also have several hundred very old American made taps by the best makers. These are just about all carbon steel,probably from the 30's or 40's. I bought them from the widow of a tool dealer I had done business with for many years. They have worked fine. Of course,they won't hold up as well as HSS,though.

I do antique repair of mechanical antiques,and am always having to make special taps for non standard 18th.C. threads. I make them from 01,or W1.

These are quick and dirty. I grind an angled face on the front ends which provides a cutting edge. Then,freehand,I grind a bevel around the circumference of the leading edge. It gets progressively deeper as I go around the tap,providing clearance. They work great. I have also ground them into beveled squares or triangles,as was most often done in the 18th.C.,when they made no fluted taps. They cut surprisingly well,and are completely satisfactory for the odd 1 off jobs I have to do.