How do I manufacture internal & external threads by hand using dies & taps?

Written by steve sloane
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How do I manufacture internal & external threads by hand using dies & taps?
Taps are used to create female threads. (tools image by Witold Krasowski from

An internal thread--called a female thread--is the thread on the inside of a hole, that a bolt screws into. It is created with a tap. An external thread--such as the threaded end of a gas pipe--is called a male thread. It is created with a die. Taps are cylindrical pieces of metal with a thread on one end which fits into the pre-drilled hole. Dies look like a fat metal washer, with threads around the central hole. This fits over the end of a pipe and is twisted to create the pipe thread.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Power drill
  • Metal drill bit
  • Tap
  • Cutting oil
  • Rag
  • Vice
  • Metal pipe
  • Die

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  1. 1

    Drill the hole to the correct depth, using a metal drill bit. Use the same diameter drill bit as the diameter of tap--for example, if the hole is 1/2-inch diameter, use a 1/2-inch diameter tap. Clean away any shavings from around the hole.

  2. 2

    Place cutting oil around the tap's thread. Then put the tip of the tap into the drilled hole, making sure the tap is 90 degrees to the hole.

  3. 3

    Twist the tap clockwise 1/4-turn. Then twist it counter-clockwise a little, to remove any shavings. Twist it again clockwise another 1/4-turn, before twisting it counter-clockwise to remove more shavings. Continue in this fashion until the tap reaches the end of the drilled hole. Remove the tap by twisting it counter-clockwise, and wipe away any shavings/oil from the entrance of the hole.

  1. 1

    Tighten the pipe in a metal vice. Brush cutting oil around the end of the pipe.

  2. 2

    Fit the die over the pipe end at 90 degrees to the pipe, and slowly make a clockwise 1/2 turn.

  3. 3

    Turn the die counter-clockwise 1/4 turn, to remove shavings. Then make another clockwise 1/2 turn, before turning it counter-clockwise 1/4 turn, as before. Continue in this fashion until the thread's length is a little short of the die's thickness--in other words, stop threading just before the newly-cut pipe thread starts to poke out at the end of the die. Turn the die counter-clockwise to remove it from the pipe.

  4. 4

    Wipe any oil and shavings from the pipe thread, and remove the pipe from the vice.

Tips and warnings

  • Carefully wipe away the shaving with the rag, as the shavings will be sharp.

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