I'm tired of shredding steel with crappy Chinese taps and dies. Can someone recommend a reliable American brand I should seek on eBay or Craigslist? Or does anyone out there have and extra set to sell?
Buy a Snap-On set. Your dealer will replace them when they break.
Snap On has become picky with replacements in recent years. I have a nice Mac Tools set, and they will replace also, and generally won't even question--just as it should be. But alas, neither company product is what I would call over the top. FYI, You may end up spending $400-500 for a really good set if it covers alot of sizes.
Watch yard sales, eBay etc and get some of the old Craftsman sets. Good stuff and generally inexpensive.
I bought a good Craftsman set some 20 years ago; it is still doing the job. I can't speak for the newer stuff. I've had mixed results from the Tractor Supply house brand.
Try searching tap and die sets on McMaster Carr's website.
Haunt farm sales and other auctions. It's a great way to find good old tools, usually cheaper and better than new.
There are some used 41 piece USA Craftsman tap and die sets on ebay for $50 or so. They will likely solve your need.'
Something to think about when looking for die's, look for a set that you can adjust the depth of cut. I have a few but not as many as I would like. Good for cleaning threads or material that is not easy to cut threads in one pass or just to control the depth of cut.
McMaster Carr is an excellent source for quality cutting tools if your not too familiar with the industry. I order cutting tools from them occasionally, mostly when I am in a pinch and need something overnight. They have always delivered name brand, high quality cutters... Even tho their catalog makes the tools sound generic and vague. I use the "live chat" on the website to inquire about specific brands, and have never been disappointed.
Prices however... Can vary between cheap to outrageous. Do your homework, all the tool dealers have their sweet spot products and brands. Google is your friend!
Also try Fastenal. They are a full line machine tool supply now. They rarely have anything in stock at my local store, but you can stop in and look thru all the catalogs and talk with a real person about what your looking for.
MSC has a really complete and easy to use online catalog. I often use their website to "shop" for what I want, then research other companies prices from there. If you don't have a high volume account with them, the term "gouging" could be often used to describe their prices.
I use DGI supply for most of my tooling. I have good reps, and they don't mess with my prices without telling me. Website isn't too good unless you know exactly what you are looking for tho.
I know where to look .... I live on the East coast ... the land of attics, basements, garages, farm sales and flea markets. It's the actual brand name I'm asking about. I saw a craftsman set on eBay and when I looked at the actual pieces ... they were marked China! I see incomplete sets and individual pieces all the time at flea markets. Give me a good old stand by reliable manufacturer from the 1950s.
I build replica cars for a hobby and thread and tap rod and holes in plate steel often. Up to 1/2''. About 2 years ago I bought a tap and die set #60366 from Harbor Freight. I thought ''well if I can do these bracket irons I'll get a better set later''. I have used this set constantly since. I've been careful to use cutting oil every time, and grind a lead-in taper on all the 1/2'' rod I've threaded and have had excellent results. I must say I had BIG doubts but this has turned out to be an excellent purchase. HF's store brand, Pittsburg hand tools have a lifetime guarantee.
Mark, Vermont American has always made a pretty good set and Irwin is decent also
Mine are mostly Ace, and Greenfield.
Mark, look for the old Craftsman stuff. You can get a feel from the packaging about the decade it came from and the stuff from the fifties and sixties is first rate. Later, like every thing else, quality began to decline as price became the main selling point.
Watch Ebay for quality tap and die sets. They show up from time to time. I found a Ace super set on Ebay that's as good as any I've seen. Craftsman and other older US brands mentioned are good. I found some other taps and dies at our local Ace hardware that are really good US made. They sell complete sets if you need one.
I don't think the older Ace sets are connected with Ace hardware that's around today. Maybe someone here would know for sure.
I use the harbor freight ones for basic stuff, but it is a must to use good USA made ones for critical jobs, the cheap ones tend to be very brittle and will break or snap off under load.
IIRC, HF offers both High Speed Steel and Carbon Steel tap&die sets, CS is cheapest of the cheap, quality and precision of both are similar. jb
I still buy Craftsman with mostly good reliability. My Craftsman Tap & Die set is now 2 years old and still OK.
In august of 2010 when I finished the new shop building I went to sears and ask to see the biggest,baddest tap and die set they had.
"we don't have it here in the store but I can show you on the computer" He cliced around and sure enough for 300 bucks I could get a big set.1 photo showed a die up close and I got a glimspe of something.I ask him to zoom in on that. Yep CHINA wrote right on the die and he wanted to know if I wanted to go ahead and order it.
I said NOPE/.
I went to harbor freight and bought both a metric and a standard set for 69.99 each. I have used them ALOT and I would not believe it had I not did it myself.Trouble free and I thread alot of stuff. The sets I have are in big flat black boxes about 18x24 in size.
I have alot of loose china and and Greenfield 1's to.
Mark, if want machine tool quality go to McMaster-carr, they have an online catalog. I used them got over 40 years in the machine tool industry
I bought the Dayton brand, sold by Grainger, in 70's, and all but about two of the taps are still in use. If you find any old ones of that brand, buy them.