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Old 11-15-2011, 08:40 AM   #1
Timex
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Question What is the best tap & die set for the money?

So I almost pulled the trigger on a Matco 76 piece (676TD) metric and standard tap and die set on epay. But I held on pulling the trigger because I really wanted the 117 piece set with the drill bits and extractors, too (676TDP). (If you're going to go first class, then my God, go first class, as it were.)

Then I saw a related product that looked eerily similar: ATD Tools (ATD277) - also 117 piece with identical layout and packaging! I then looked at the 117 piece set Snap-On offers and, wouldn't you know it, theirs also has (from what I can tell) the SAME layout and same packaging: 76 tap and dies, 41 high speed drill bits and spiral extractors.

The prices on these are drastically different, despite the suspiciously similar packaging. I mean, the case has the same molding, same flap for storing the bits, right down to a T! Snappy wants 458.00 for theirs, Matco 406.95, and the ATD Tools can be had for 122.99 on tooltopia.

Here's the links to each:

Matco 117 PIECE TAP DIE & DRILL SET (676TDP)

Snap-On Set, Tap and Die, U.S./Metric Combination, 117 pcs. (1/4" to 1/2" NF/NC, 3mm to 12mm) (TDTDM117A )

ATD Tools 117 pc. Machine Screw, Fractional & Metric Tap & Die Drill Bit Set (ATD277)

What gives?! Check it out and see what you think, before I pull the trigger on it (which is probably going to be the ATD Tools one for the price).

Aside: I know one must keep one eye open with Matco as they sometimes "sneak" in non-US products into their premium USA heritage brand name (Matco, opposed to the off-shoot brands GearWrench, Silver Eagle (SE), etc.), which I DO NOT like one bit. Fortunately, I have both eyes open and can usually distinguish on a per product basis, for hand tools at least.

Last edited by Timex; 11-15-2011 at 09:27 AM. Reason: Added links for comparison
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:52 AM   #2
87handmedown
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Honestly, I'm extremely pleased with my NAPA brand standard and metric tap and die sets.

Here's the metric:
http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...511_0100552925

and the standard:
http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...141_0100552925

I'm not going to say that they're the BEST... but I paid right at $100 for both and they have done exactly what I've needed them to do every time.
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Last edited by 87handmedown; 11-15-2011 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:15 AM   #3
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 87handmedown View Post
Honestly, I'm extremely pleased with my NAPA brand standard and metric tap and die sets.

Here's the metric:
http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...511_0100552925

and the standard:
http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...141_0100552925

I'm not going to say that they're the BEST... but I paid right at $100 for both and they have done exactly what I've needed them to do every time.
Yeah that seems to be the going rate for a full SAE and metric set, price wise. But I also really would like to have a good full set of bits and extractors, too...which is why I was looking at those other kits. I could buy the bits and extractor seperate, sure enough, which I'll consider too. But that ATP Tools set had full metric and SAE AND the 41 bits/extractors for just a bit more at $120-ish:

ATP Tools 117 pc. Machine Screw, Fractional & Metric Tap & Die Drill Bit Set (ATD277)

I definitely can't bring myself to pay full price for the name brand stuff for these ... I won't use them THAT much.

Last edited by Timex; 11-15-2011 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

There is a huge difference in quality. I have that same matco set, the first time I used it,the tap I was using snapped like a twig. I was just cleaning some threads. I also have a smaller snapon set http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....re&dir=catalog
Way better but pricey.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

$406.00? Huh? I bought my Matco 76 piece set for $199.00 on the truck a few years ago. It was on sale at the time but the regular price was only $230.00. BTW if you do get the Matco set their warranty service is really good, you will break a few pieces sooner or later.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:20 AM   #6
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Most of the truck brands are OEM Irwin/Hanson; check them out here:

http://www.irwin.com/tools/brands/hanson
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

I bought the HF set that goes up to 1" on sale for $69 and used a 20% coupon - can't beat the price. However, I only use the taps that are larger than 1/2". The smaller ones break off far too easily so I have some good made in USA for the smaller sizes.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

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Originally Posted by FergusonTO35 View Post
$406.00? Huh? I bought my Matco 76 piece set for $199.00 on the truck a few years ago. It was on sale at the time but the regular price was only $230.00. BTW if you do get the Matco set their warranty service is really good, you will break a few pieces sooner or later.
The 199.00 one is the 76 piece, the 400.00 one is the 117 piece. Basically, it has a bunch of high speed cobalt drill bits and 5 spiral extractor bits to go along with it...tucks up in the hole in the case of the regular 76 piece.

Breakage is the main thing. I don't consider myself the clumsy type, but it happens sometimes. I've always used the cheapo taps/dies in the past but never had a full set. It is a scary thought to have one break in a hole for what was supposed to be an easy tap job.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Stabe View Post
I bought the HF set that goes up to 1" on sale for $69 and used a 20% coupon - can't beat the price. However, I only use the taps that are larger than 1/2". The smaller ones break off far too easily so I have some good made in USA for the smaller sizes.
You got it, man! Those smaller suckers, especially the fine threaded ones, are the the little rascals I worry about. It's hard to say what I'll end up tapping out. I'm kind of ecletic when it comes to projects, if it isn't a TODO.

Nice project you got cooking there, BTW! That MG ought to be a screamer that will make all Miata morphs jealous of style! (I think the older Miatas look like a rubber dingy on wheels.)
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

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Originally Posted by billymade View Post
Most of the truck brands are OEM Irwin/Hanson; check them out here:

http://www.irwin.com/tools/brands/hanson
Bingo! That looks like them, just in different branding and color. Same layout, same everything, right down to the included paperwork! Product ID: 26377

So, why so much variance on the prices across all the brands!? I mean, wow, from as low as 125.00 bucks, to as high as 450.00 bucks! Other than warranty, WHY!? I'm betting that they are made in the same factory. So do they have better QC on the name brands, and maybe extra processes (heat treatment, coatings, etc.)?

I like quality stuff, but it has to be justified. I am NOT one to get butt pumped for no apparent reason!

Anyway, thanks for the confirmation. I think the rest of us should think twice about this too. Unless snappy has a 'Flank Drive' or Matco has an 'Opti-Torque' process on it or other information and technology ... I'm skeptical.

Unless I find a hell of a deal on a Snap-on or Matco set, I'm just going to get the cheaper. Screw the warranty premium, it won't help me the moment a tap breaks off and is buried to China (no pun intended) in an engine block (again, assuming they are the same manufactured product).
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:44 AM   #11
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Quote:
The 199.00 one is the 76 piece, the 400.00 one is the 117 piece.
Oops, I really need to pay attention!!
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:32 PM   #12
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

I was doing some more research regarding these "117 piece" kits that so many folks offer. If you do a search on ebay for "117 (piece, pc) tap die" you will see no less than 6 brands.

I notice some come with a gold-ish zinc coating, and some are silver/steel color. The zinc-coated ones are cheaper in price. In either case, they all say "high carbon steel" but only some say industrial grade high carbon steel. I don't if its just semantics or if really has significance.

Anyone got any idea about what that may mean? Any metalurgy experts here? I'm getting obessed with this, but grrrrrrrr, I wanna know the scoop.
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:02 PM   #13
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

I have a harbor freight set and it hasn't failed me yet, the die holder is kind of cheap tho and I don't expect that to last as long as the rest of the kit.
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Old 11-15-2011, 02:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

i do not like the matco drill bits i have the 117 piece set and they suck
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Old 11-15-2011, 03:54 PM   #15
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

High carbon steel is high carbon steel, sure some might be a little better than others. If you want something better look for HSS/High Speed Steel taps and dies. I own an older USA made Craftsman Pro set in metric, they are HSS. While I don't use them often they seem pretty good to me. I also have an older New Britain SAE set. Not sure what they are made from but my father and possibly grandfather used them for many years.

Get a good set, use them correctly and they'll last you a long time, unless you're using them every day then they will wear out at some point.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:57 PM   #16
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

I look for old sets on ebay pretty much. I just got an old made in usa craftsman metric set for about 35, only goes up to 10mm but goes all the way down to 4mm. Nice little set. Also have the cheap small snap on metric rethreader set, which really aren't for tapping new holes but work well for cleaning up threads, especially since they are flat bottom plug(bottom) taps and have socket heads so they are good for what I think is referred to as blind holes(holes that don't go all the way through something) that you find frequently on cars and engines. Taps are one thing I won't even look at chinese made, japanese I would buy though from a reputable company, but I try to find usa stuff becuase if one breaks in a deep hole like a headbolt your chasing threads on your day just got a whole lot worse.

I'm always keeping an eye out for a nice 117 pc set but alot of the used ads its hard to see the condition of the taps when the seller takes shitty pics.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

Remember: Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The Chinese and other low-labor cost countries have been cloning famous brands for years. While they may look the same, the quality is not. For an apples to apples comparison search for an Irwin 117 pc. set. Irwin is the maker for Matco, Snap-On and other tool truck brands.
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Old 11-16-2011, 06:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

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Originally Posted by briggsguy17 View Post
Remember: Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The Chinese and other low-labor cost countries have been cloning famous brands for years. While they may look the same, the quality is not. For an apples to apples comparison search for an Irwin 117 pc. set. Irwin is the maker for Matco, Snap-On and other tool truck brands.
Yeah, the Chinese and their damn imitation and manipulation. They are legendary imitators. Not to be political, but then there is the whole principle of it - their currency manipulation, business practices and how my money is being handed over to another country. As far as I'm concerned, outsourcing major aspects of business to another country like China is like selling your soul to the devil!

billymade said the same about the Irwin Hanson brand. I looked into them and they do have the most documentation and visible product details to back up their brand. Things like showing how their tap and dies are made, the features of their tap and dies, even simple but helpful things like laser stamping the recommended associated drill bit size right on the die, and so on. Some of those opther brands don't have didly shit on that kind of stuff, so I'm obviously skeptical on forking out my money on them.

The goal is to buy one nice and complete kit. In the past, I've just had hand-me-downs and inherited tap and dies of various sizes, just to get by. So either one nice and complete, TRUSTWORTHY set, or screw it, wont buy a set at all (or buy the cheapest piece of shit I can find).

Unfortunately, the full 117 piece Irwin kit isn't exactly cheap either and I'm not entirely sure about their warranty process yet, but I thougt I read they are lifetime warrantied. But if it is true that matty and snappy brands are the SAME thing with different stamping, I may go that route, simply for better warranty accessibility.

So I guess if I buy a set, it will be the Irwin Hanson set direct, or maybe if I can find a deal on the Matco or Snap On set.
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Old 11-16-2011, 06:34 AM   #19
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

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Originally Posted by filtered View Post
High carbon steel is high carbon steel, sure some might be a little better than others. If you want something better look for HSS/High Speed Steel taps and dies. I own an older USA made Craftsman Pro set in metric, they are HSS. While I don't use them often they seem pretty good to me. I also have an older New Britain SAE set. Not sure what they are made from but my father and possibly grandfather used them for many years.

Get a good set, use them correctly and they'll last you a long time, unless you're using them every day then they will wear out at some point.
Do you know how to tell if a tap and die, drill bit, spiral extractor, etc. is HSS rated, other than documentation? I mean, as you well know, a lot of times the documentation SUCKS on this kind of stuff! I frankly don't trust it and prefer other knowledge to guide me. You find this approach helpful in so many unexpected ways, I'll tell you!
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:36 AM   #20
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Default Re: What is the best tap & die set for the money?

I have the Irwin set and its great. No problems
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