A good tap and die set is an absolute must have for any serious Toolmonger. They’re necessary for metalworking, but they’re also incredibly useful in more common situations as well — like, for exampel, cleaning out or straightening threads that (somehow) got mangled or making a bolt out of some loose stock when you don’t have the right size handy.
Because these are such simple tools, we haven’t really seen a lot of innovation in tap and die sets — until we came across GearWrench’s unique ratcheting T-handle. It’s a great idea, and it’s packaged in a set that performed well in the Toolmonger shop.
Read on past the jump for our hands-on experiences and lots of pictures.
Note: Click on smaller photos for larger ones.
This 75-piece set comes in a standard molded plastic case designed to hold all the parts in place for easy location later. As with many of their other tool cases, GearWrench doesn’t skimp on the latches. Unlike manfuacturers who apply a simple plastic hinge — which inevitably fatigues and breaks — GearWrench gives you a metal hinge which should last for some time.
Inside the case you’ll find the taps on the top in plastic holders which rotate up for easy access, the dies in snap-in molded plastic cradles in the bottom, a foam divider to help hold everything in place, and a single 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheet of folder paper with a conversion chart to help you determine which drill to use with which tap.
The star of the show, however, is GearWrench’s ratcheting T-handle, which can be found front and center in the bottom half of the kit. With two nice thermoplastic rubber grips on the ends, this wrench features a grip-the-socket-from-the-outside ratcheting system identical to those found on GearWrench’s Pass-Thru ratchet set. In fact, the 3/8″ drive sockets and extensions from other GearWrench sets will fit into the T-handle.
GearWrench provides two “chucks” that fit into the T-handle to grip taps and dies. (Theoretically this means you could also use your Pass-Thru ratchet to drive taps and dies, though this seems less useful than the combining these kits the other way ’round.)
As this set includes both metric and SAE taps and dies, GearWrench includes both metric and SAE thread gauges. Also included are all the tools necessary to adjust and maintain the kit.
Read on to page two for our in use experiences.