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Making a tap and die - will this work?

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 07-10-2017 05:21 PM 924 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnMcClure

100 posts in 479 days


07-10-2017 05:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question jig threading threading wood

I recently saw some wooden “nuts and bolts” for kids to play with. I want my kids to have some!
I’d want 1/2” diameter for toys, but while i’m at, I want 1” or 1.25” diameter for my own stuff. But buying that many threading kits would be expensive.

My plan is to buy a steel bolt and nut of the desired diameter, and work them with a file and sandpaper to make them into a tap and die.

Do you think this is a waste of time?

THE DIE: I would sand the ID of the nut on the first couple threads, creating a tapered entrance. Then, using a triangular file, I would cut 2 or 3 grooves in the ID of said nut, making each thread into a cutterhead.
Then just hold the nut in a vise and try to turn the (appropriate size) dowel into it.

THE TAP: Starting Tap: I would sand down the OD of the screw’s end over the first few threads. Then use the dremel to cut 2 or 3 grooves up the length of the bolt.
Finishing Tap: Same thing, without creating the taper.

Chamfering the workpieces, lubricating them with BLO seem to be common recommendations for any wood threading operation. With these precautions, does this seem like it’s worth the time to try?

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail


15 replies so far

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

915 posts in 2790 days


#1 posted 07-10-2017 05:25 PM

Seems to me that it would work. On one of “The Woodwright’s Shop” episodes, Roy made a custom tap and die that seemed to be pretty easy to do and can be done with different diameters. Worth looking into. Not sure what episode it was, but it was from the earlier days.

-- Mike

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

479 posts in 1308 days


#2 posted 07-10-2017 06:39 PM

The major problem with using an existing nut and bolt is that the common grades of hardware have pretty loose thread fit tolerances. Pre-made machined taps and dies are extremely precise and cut threads that work every time. Your tap/die made from a coarse thread bolt and nut will only cut coarse, poorly-fitting threads.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

747 posts in 333 days


#3 posted 07-10-2017 06:46 PM

Also you will not have the necessary clearance for the chips so you will need to back the tap or die out more often.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

3660 posts in 2147 days


#4 posted 07-10-2017 06:47 PM

You have nothing to lose but time. Of course time can be precious. We only get so much time. Your call.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View JohnMcClure's profile

JohnMcClure

100 posts in 479 days


#5 posted 07-10-2017 06:57 PM

William, I hadn’t thought of that – a bolt and nut that thread together easily will, when used as tap and die, form a corresponding nut and bolt that do NOT thread together easily. There’s a possibility that will work in my favor, but particularly for the kids’ toy version, it probably won’t.
But AlaskaGuy is right, it’s just a little time – so I’ll try it on the 1/2”, and see if it holds promise.

If it works it would be a great way to teach kids about threading!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

1234 posts in 1552 days


#6 posted 07-10-2017 07:10 PM

Using a bolt as a tap works well. Using the nut will, as Jon says, not work. But the good news is that the outside thread cutter is quite easy to make yourself. Setting up a router jig is also doable

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View bbasiaga's profile

bbasiaga

1011 posts in 1833 days


#7 posted 07-10-2017 07:57 PM

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/81764

I saw this here a while ago…doesn’t look too hard to put together and could do what you want I think

Brian

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View papadan's profile

papadan

3584 posts in 3207 days


#8 posted 07-10-2017 08:06 PM

John, you can make tap and die sets to use on wood. Make sure you use course threads the size of the dowels you want to use, 1/2”, 3/4” 1’. Use hardwood for the nuts and bolts but not course grain. Maple or Walnut work very well.

Screw your grade 2 or 5 bolt and nut together so they are flush on the back side. Grade 8 is too hard and may break your drill bit. Put them in a vice on a drill press with the back side up. Drill 3 holes spaced around the threads of the nut and bolt. Use a drill bit just over the size of the joined threads.

Take the nut and bolt apart and using a file, straighten the cutting edge of both pieces. This will leave you with your tap and die with clearance holes for the chips. See attached picture.

I have done this many times for threading wood, brass and even mild steel. Good luck. Dan

View Rick_M's profile

Rick_M

10638 posts in 2218 days


#9 posted 07-10-2017 08:08 PM

It will work but big tap and dies can be found reasonably cheap on ebay, NOS, bulk sold as singles, or even slightly used.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

479 posts in 1308 days


#10 posted 07-10-2017 08:47 PM



It will work but big tap and dies can be found reasonably cheap on ebay, NOS, bulk sold as singles, or even slightly used.

- Rick M

Yep, and I imagine that even a heavily used and worn tap or die should still be plenty sharp enough to handle threads in wood, even if it’s life of cutting metal is over.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View brtech's profile

brtech

1006 posts in 2761 days


#11 posted 07-11-2017 03:04 PM

There is also this:
http://wwthreadtaps.com/

View Carloz's profile (online now)

Carloz

981 posts in 430 days


#12 posted 07-11-2017 04:12 PM

Wooden threads have usually much higher thread pitch than the metal counterparts so your idea as well as idea to use threading tools for metal may not be ideal.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4807 posts in 3799 days


#13 posted 07-11-2017 04:25 PM

Papadan, that’s a new trick on me. Thanks for posting.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

479 posts in 1308 days


#14 posted 07-11-2017 07:18 PM



Wooden threads have usually much higher thread pitch than the metal counterparts so your idea as well as idea to use threading tools for metal may not be ideal.

- Carloz

Depends on the species of wood and the grain direction. Also I think that most people who are tapping threads into wood are doing so to attach metal fasteners, so the threads will need to match metal thread profiles.

It’s also reccomended to stabilize the wood grain fibers in the tapped hole by soaking with thinned epoxy and then chasing the threads with the tap again to clean up the epoxy.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View Gilley23's profile

Gilley23

390 posts in 220 days


#15 posted 07-12-2017 11:14 AM

While all of that will work, it is IMO too much trouble for what you’re trying to accomplish. Just find the cheapest, crappiest, Chineseiest (it’s a word, look it up), highest pitch tap and die set that you can. This is wood that we’re dealing with here!

Good luck and I hope that the kids enjoy it!

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