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Taps, a Cutting Tool Used to Create Threads

Updated on August 24, 2012

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Tools For Creating Threads

Nuts and screws are, respectively, female and male parts. These parts feature screw threads that are created using various cutting tools, for example, taps.

The process of using a tap as your threading tool can be described using the term tapping. Different taps are used to created female pieces, like a nut as mentioned earlier. While other types do exist, three popular taps chosen by machinists are plug taps, bottoming taps and tapper taps. Most commonly used in the United States are plug taps. Plug taps are the best type to use for production purposes as they are capable of creating threads in just a few turns. This tap is distinguishable by its steep tapered point. With no tapered point at the end, a bottoming tap is not used to start threading, but instead is used with blind holes. A blind hole is one that has an insertion point, but does not go completely through the workpiece. Thus, bottoming taps are used to bring a thread to the desired depth in a blind hole. Then there are tapper taps, which resemble plug taps but feature a more gradually tapered tip. These taps are best to use when threading by hand.

The process of using a tap can be described in a few steps. First, you must determine the size and depth you want your thread to be. This will likely be dependent on the screw you will use. If you are unsure of the exact measurement needed for the screw hole, a technical publication can provide you with answers to this problem. Once you have determined the size of hole required for the screw you will be using, begin the process of tapping by drilling a hole with a drill bit that will be the correct size for the screw. From here, a cutting lubricant should be applied. Then, get your tap ready, secure your workpiece and begin to turning the tap clockwise to create the threads. While cutting the piece, be sure to keep the tap you are using straight and after every couple turns, reverse the direction of the tap, bringing it out a little, to wipe away loose chips of material. Once you have reached the desired depth with the tap, begin turning the tap counterclockwise until it is completely out of the piece. Clean up any excess cutting lubricant and chips of material and then attempt to attach the screw.

Taps are just one cutting tool among many. Some other types of cutting tools include drill bits, milling cutters, reamers and various types of saws.

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